How the Rising Healthcare Costs Impact Seniors

Entering your golden years should be a stress-free, exciting time full of lifelong realization, relaxation, and hobbies. However, for many seniors today, that’s no longer the reality. Healthcare, in particular, is leading to growing concerns for our aging population and their loved ones.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s predictions, by the year 2030, older people are expected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. Despite a growing number of births, there will be fewer deaths to offset this number.

At the same time, the costs of healthcare are also increasing rapidly to the point where the average American is struggling to afford the right healthcare. In this article, we’ll examine how the rising healthcare costs will directly impact seniors not only today but into the near future.

Out of Pocket Costs

Medicare is a federal program that helps make healthcare more affordable those over 65 years old. While Medicare Parts A through D offers solutions to a growing problem, they’re not free of out of pocket costs. Many people have a lack of understanding about how Medicare works, especially Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C.

If you learn about Medicare Part C, you’ll discover that it’s likely the most flexible solution that allows seniors to get more coverage when they need it most. Otherwise, they’re on the hook for around 80% of their costs.

The Health Services Research journal anticipates that by 2035, the average senior will spend one out of every seven dollars of their retirement fund on medical care. This is a significant increase from past years. As the cost of medical care goes up for everyone, seniors are forced to pay more out of pocket, despite government programs.

This means seniors will need to plan more throughout their lives to save more money for retirement in anticipation for these costs. For those with lower incomes or who don’t have the means to excessively save, this will lead to an inability to get the right medical care even with Medicare.

More Assistance Needs

Another growing concern with the rising cost of healthcare is the new types of assistance needed by the aging population. In the past, it was more common for the elderly to live with their family as they age. Today, this isn’t nearly as commonplace.

In addition, the advancements in modern medicine are keeping people around longer. They’ll now need to prepare for a significant increase in retirement years as more people are living to 100 (and beyond). As people get older and older, they also face more expensive medical problems and are more likely to need hands-on care. This doesn’t come cheap.

The advanced assistance needs not only cost an arm and a leg, but we simply don’t have enough medical workers to meet the demand. In a world where our older population outnumbers the youth, we’ll need a new wave of medical staff to meet the demand. Without it, seniors face the reality of medical and retirement facilities that are understaffed, poorly maintained, and unsafe.

Necessary Changes

In the next few years, we need new changes to our healthcare system in order to help not only seniors but the entire population. As you can see, out of pocket costs are on the rise even for those with Medicare. Beyond this, the needs of seniors today are growing rapidly, and we simply don’t have the workforce to meet this demand safely.

What can be done? First, we need additional federal spending. While Medicare is a very beneficial system, it’s simply not doing enough for the populations who need it. We also need more medical advancements that not only are successful, but that actually cost patients less. Luckily, we’ve seen huge strides in telemedicine and other modern solutions that are more cost-effective.

Only time will tell the full extent of the rising cost of healthcare. This is a problem everyone can feel, but seniors are hit excessively hard by these issues. Hopefully, as younger people enter leadership roles, we’ll see more innovative solutions that help everyone lead a healthier, more affordable life.

What is Vascular Dementia?

There are so many potential healthcare concerns that today’s seniors need to be aware of. One of the many conditions for seniors to be on the lookout is vascular dementia. If you aren’t already familiar with vascular dementia—here are all of the basics about this condition that every older adult should know.

What is Vascular Dementia?

Vascular dementia, also known as multi-infarct dementia, is the second most common cause of dementia in older adults. While it is not as widely known as Alzheimer’s, many people may not be aware of the signs of vascular dementia when they are faced with the signs and symptoms. However, it does attribute to 15 to 20% of dementia cases in older adults.

Unfortunately, vascular dementia is difficult to diagnose because it is rather complex in nature.

How Does Vascular Dementia Compare to Alzheimer’s disease?

With Alzheimer’s disease, the brain’s nerve cells break down. Vascular dementia is different—it occurs when part of the brain doesn’t get enough blood, which carries the nutrients and oxygen the blood needs.

This can happen when the vessels that supply blood to the brain become narrowed or blood. While some people suffering from a stroke will get vascular dementia—it doesn’t happen with every stroke patient.

More typically, vascular dementia can develop over time, after someone has several “silent” strokes.

What are the Symptoms of Vascular Dementia?

While vascular dementia can be relatively difficult to diagnose, there are some significant signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for.

This includes:

  • Issues with short-term memory
  • Laughing or crying at inappropriate times
  • Getting lost in familiar surroundings
  • Unexplained wandering
  • Issues concentrating
  • Trouble planning or doing everyday activities
  • Issues managing money and everyday tasks
  • Inability to follow instructions
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Inability to control bladder
  • Delusions or hallucinations

However, these symptoms can be similar to those presented in Alzheimer’s related dementia. One of the biggest differences in these two types of dementia is that it most noticeable impairs coordination or balance. Typically, people with vascular dementia will have issues walking or balancing, especially early on. While this can be a symptom with Alzheimer’s dementia, that typically doesn’t occur until much later in the progression of this disease.

These symptoms often get worse during a stroke. Typically, when diagnosing this type of dementia, doctors look for symptoms that progress noticeably and quickly, while dementia associated with Alzheimer’s tend to progress at a slow and steady pace.

All seniors and their caregivers should be aware of these signs and symptoms of vascular dementia—so they can pay attention to the signals of this common type of dementia.

Sun Safety Tips for Seniors

Now that the weather is starting to heat up, for many seniors living around the country, it means it is about to get hot and sunny where they live. And while some sun and a healthy dose of vitamin D may be a huge welcome for many seniors, it doesn’t mean that there still aren’t some safety concerns regarding the sun—especially for elderly and older adults.

So, whether you are planning to spend some time outdoors, are a full-time beach bum in Florida or if you have some tropical vacations in your future—it is important to know some sun safety tips that will keep any senior well protected during this time of year.

  • Always wear sunscreen. Even if you are someone with a darker skin tone that doesn’t burn easily—it is important to wear sunscreen…at all times. Even when it is isn’t hot out. Senior skin is thinner and more susceptible to burn and seniors are more susceptible to skin cancer as well.
  • Protect the eyes. Seniors already have fragile eyes and need to be taking steps to maintain proper eye health. This not only means going in for regular appointments and screenings, but also means protecting the eyes from sun damage. Prolonged sun exposure can also cause the eyes to deteriorate at a faster rate. The best way to stay protected is with a pair of quality, polarized sunglasses.
  • Stay hydrated. Even if you aren’t feeling particularly hot, sitting out in the sun can cause you to become dehydrated. This means drinking water (not sugary drinks) and avoiding alcohol and caffeine. Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration then younger adults and medications can also have an impact on a senior’s hydration as well.
  • Check medication bottles. Seniors who are taking medications should be checking for warnings on the bottles of all of the meds. What many seniors don’t realize is that the efficacy of certain medications can actually be impacted by that user’s exposure to sunlight.
  • Avoid peak hours- Being safe in the sun doesn’t mean staying indoors at all times. In addition to seeking shade as often as possible—seniors should also make sure that they are seeking shade or taking a break during the peak hours of sun. The sun tends to be at its hottest and brightest (and at its highest risk for causing damage) between the times of 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
  • Know when your skin is about to burn. Even if you don’t feel hot, if your skin is starting to feel warm or looks pink or feels itchy or sensitive—then it is time to go inside and get out of the sun. While paying attention to heat is important for hot weather safety—knowing the signs of sunburn is equally important.

Remember, even if it isn’t hot, sun exposure can actually do some damage, and seniors are even more susceptible to the sun than younger adults. Keep these tips in mind if you are looking for the best way to enjoy the sun—without being damaged by the sun.

Popular States for Retirement Every Senior Should Look Into

Retirement is such a big goal for so many seniors, and while it can be difficult for many seniors to save enough for retirement—once they are ready to retire, nothing is better then getting to enjoy some much-deserved relaxation. When seniors retire, they can finally start spending time doing the things they want to do, and live where they want to live.

So, where should seniors look to live?

Well, for the adventurous senior who is interested in trying out a new state during retirement, there are many great options. While there are many obvious choices, and many seniors will choose to live near family when they retire, here are a few other popular states that retiring seniors should look into.

Idaho- It may not have warm weather year round, but this state has a low cost of living, good healthcare access and low crime rates! Plus there is no state income tax on Social Security, making it a smart choice for the penny-conscious retiree.

South Carolina- Looking for a warm state that has an affordable cost of living, safety and access to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches? Look no further than South Carolina. Here you can access small towns, big cities like Charleston and beach front communities all while soaking up a healthy dose of southern charm.

New Hampshire- Another great option for retirees that are worried about all of the nickels and dimes of retirement. After all, New Hampshire is one of the few states in the U.S. that doesn’t have an income tax on most forms of income. This not only means Social Security, but IRA and 401(k) distributions as well.

California- Seniors who are looking for an adventure will love living in California. Whether they want beaches, mountains, or both, there is something for every taste in California. Plus, the year-round sunshine doesn’t hurt either. While it might not be the most affordable state on the list, it is a safe and sunny place to spend retirement.

South Dakota- Looking for an affordable place to retire? South Dakota is the place to go. Plus, it stays warm and it doesn’t have an income tax. Seniors can avoid harsh winters and enjoy an affordable cost of living. This has South Dakota on the top of the list of many rankings for financial magazines and corporations.

Florida- It should come as no surprise that Florida is on our list of the best states to retire in. Most seniors would agree that there is no better place than the Sunshine State. This state has a very high senior population, meaning retirees will be around many of their peers. Plus, it doesn’t have state income tax—which is an added financial perk.

If you are planning for your retirement and looking to take an exciting next step that involves a big move—consider these states. They are some of the best for active seniors like you who want to make the most of their retirement years.

Fun Travel Destinations for Seniors Who Want to Beat the Heat

Summer is coming, and while most of us are ready for a break from the cold of winter—for most seniors, summer can be very traumatic. The heat, humidity, and blazing sun can all present serious risks for seniors, who are more susceptible to the heat and the sun then younger adults.

So, when the dead of summer hits and seniors are dealing with extreme weather conditions day after day—there is no better time to plan a trip away up north where anyone can beat the heat and have some (not so hot) fun while they’re at it.

Cannon Bay, Oregon- Seniors will have trouble believing they are in Oregon once they get to this cozy town. There is an average high of just 53 degrees year round and cool, comfortable weather at Cannon Beach—perfect for seniors who want to take in a beach vacation, without all of the heat.

Seniors can stroll along the beach, walk through Ecola State park or browse the quaint downtown district filled with locally owned shops and restaurants.

Manchester, Vermont- One of the most beautiful town in this region in Manchester. It is a quaint historic town that has some of the best fly fishing (and regular fishing) in the country. There is always something to do in Manchester and a beautiful downtown area. Plus, since it is near the Bromley and Stratton Mountains, you can enjoy cool, shady and comfortable days—even in the summer.

Seattle, Washington- Seniors who prefer an urban escape for their vacations will love Seattle. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States and during the summer it stays cool and comfortable (and not so rainy). There is hiking near by at the Cascade and Olympic mountains (even for novice walkers), lots of walking paths, beautiful shorelines, fishing and whale watching.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin- This midwestern gem is one of the most popular destinations in the area and has plenty for the whole family to do. There are waterparks and activities for grandchildren, boat rides and entertainment options for grandparents and almost 100 different dining options available all in one beautiful area of the country. Plus, the weather never gets too hot, even in the summer.

So, this summer when you are feeling too overwhelmed by the sun and the heat, and need to take a break from the hot weather—consider these senior-friendly travel destinations for a fun week trip or a quick long weekend away to somewhere a little more comfortable.

Spring Cleaning Tips That Will Get Any Senior Ready for the New Season

While it may not seem like it to everyone—spring really is just right around the corner, meaning there is no better time to engage in some annual spring cleaning. This is a great way for any senior to get rid of clutter, reorganize, and get your home clean and ready for some warmer weather.

Whether you live in the same house you have been in for decades, or are trying to manage a new setup in an assisted living community, everyone can benefit from a little spring cleaning. Here are a few helpful tips that can help seniors safely engage in some spring cleaning this season.

  1. The Right Tools Can Be Your Friend- Little tools like a duster with an extender or a long-reach squeegee for your window can help you safely do your cleaning without having to push or strain yourself, and is a great way to prevent potential falls. Another great tool that can help prevent strain and injury is the right sized broom and a self-standing dustpan—you will thank us for those later!
  2. Clean Out the Medicine Cabinet- Spring cleaning time is the perfect time to clean out your medicine cabinet. Expired medications will not do you any good and they will clutter up your medicine cabinet—they can also present a potential health and safety risk should you accidentally take an expired medication.
  3. Check Your Smoke Detectors and Fire Extinguishers- This is another routine chore that many people forget to do, but is one that can help keep your home safe. Fire extinguishers actually have an expiration date! If you can’t reach your smoke detectors on a small step stool—ask someone else to do it, even small ladders can be a serious hazard.
  4. Put Away the Clutter- We all have clutter, but when those “organized” clutter piles start making their way to the floor and the stairs, they can actually be a fall hazard. If you are looking for a great way to keep this clutter organized, consider getting some small bins that will help keep the clutter contained and stored properly.
  5. Know Your Limits- It can be easy to get in the swing of spring home cleaning and feel like you want to tackle it all—but you need to know your limits. Don’t push yourself too hard, use small step stools, instead of large ladders and don’t strain yourself trying to lift anything too heavy.

Remember, if you are unsure about your ability to safely clean your home on your own, you should never risk it and always ask a loved one or family member for help. This is a great time to help you feel more clean and organized and ready for a fresh start with the new season!

Dieting As a Senior: What Every Older Adult Should Know

There are so many people today who are looking to start a new diet as a way to lose weight and feel a little better about themselves. Whether you are trying to lose those last five stubborn pounds, or are searching for a bigger transformation, dieting for weight loss can be hard. It can be even more difficult for seniors, who don’t have the same fast metabolism they once did to help them out.

Any senior who is looking to lose weight will want to keep a few tips in mind, as dieting after 60 can be slightly more complex, and seniors will want to make sure that they are staying safe and healthy as they attempt to lose weight.

The first and most important thing for seniors to remember is that, no matter what their age, the “golden rule” of weight loss is still the most important: you need to burn more calories than you eat or drink. This is the basic approach that will help you reach that weight loss goals. Here are a few other basic tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t forget to eat for nutrition. While it is important to watch your caloric intake, you should also be eating foods for their nutritional value. Limit empty calories like processed foods or sugars that have no nutritional value.
  • Make sure to eat a lot of (real) and healthy foods. This includes fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, low-fat or fat-free dairy and lean meats and poultry.
  • Avoid fad diets. These are often dangerous, straining on the body and deliver results that don’t.
  • Add more protein to the diet. Seniors are at risk for losing muscle mass as they age—so diets should include a lot of protein, about one gram for every two pounds of body weight. Protein helps you feel fuller longer, which helps with weight loss. Great sources of protein include eggs, grass-fed beef and salmon.
  • Hydrate with water. While what you eat is important, so is what you drink. Seniors on average tend to be more dehydrated than younger adults, and a hydrated body will work better, perform as it should and help you burn off calories. Also drinking water instead of sugary or high-calorie liquids will also help keep your caloric intake down.
  • Don’t forget to exercise. Exercise should always be part of any weight loss plan. Try to focus on building muscle mass with light weights or body weight—as all seniors need to build muscle as they age (because as we age, we tend to lose muscle mass). This is also a great way to burn calories.

Any senior who is considering starting a new diet, should always talk to their doctor first before making any drastic lifestyle changes. This is particularly important for any senior who is being treated for a health condition or taking any prescription medications.

What Are Continuing Care Retirement Communities?

Today, there are so many different resources available for seniors as they age, and a number of different types of living communities that cater to the needs of today’s seniors. One of the most popular types of these facilities are known as continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs).

If you are unfamiliar with these communities and what they can offer—it may be time to take a look at what CCRCs can do for you or a senior loved one.

The goal of a continuing care retirement community is to allow residents the opportunity to get the appropriate level of care throughout a variety of stages in their life.

Simply put, these communities offer care across a continuum, so seniors can enjoy everything from independent living all the way to skilled nursing care in one community, as their health needs change. This all happens in one community, which means seniors do not need to move or transition to a new living community when their health care needs change.

Here are a few other important facts that everyone should know about continuing care retirement communities:

  • The minimum age requirement for these communities is 62 due to the restrictions from the Housing for Older Persons Act.
  • These communities generally expect residents to move in while they are still healthy enough to live independently, and then transition to other forms of care, as needed.
  • CCRCs will offer a variety of different apartment, room and housing options within a single building or campus.
  • There are typically three types of contracts available with these communities, and seniors can choose an option based on their projected needs.
  • The typical progression of options in this community are independent living, then assisted living followed by skilled nursing services.

The great news is that these communities are becoming more and more popular across the United States, as seniors are seeing a need for having care options now and into their futures. This also helps seniors who are worried about the stressors of moving or about getting in to crowded assisted living communities in the future. Seniors who are interested in these types of communities should try to get in while they are still able to live alone independently—the great news is, these communities always have wonderful amenities and things to do, making them fun places to live for any older adult.

CCRCs are great living options for seniors who want to plan for their needs now and their needs for the future and can help any older adult find a comfortable and accommodating place to spend their golden years, no matter what health changes come their way.

Tips for Seniors Handling a Long Flight

Spring is right around the corner and as the weather starts to heat up, more and more people are going to start to be planning big trips and long flights to their favorite getaway destinations. However, while some people are frequent fliers, for many seniors, the process of a long flight can be overwhelming and more taxing than its worth—even when traveling to a fabulous final destination.

So, for seniors with a long flight in their future, whether they are traveling for fun, or visiting family or friends, there are a few tips to keep in mind when handling longer flights, that can keep the travel experience less stressful and the final destination that much sweeter.

Choose Your Disability Options When Booking a Flight

When booking a flight, especially a long one, make sure that you stop and look at the disability options available for that flight. Many major airlines, such as Southwest, allow passengers to select disability options right online when they book their flight. This includes options like wheelchair assistance, help with boarding, assistance animals, bringing an oxygen concentrator or needing a place to store your own wheelchair. The more prepare the airline is for any special assistances you will need—the better.

Request a Wheelchair From the Airport

If you have some mobility issues, but don’t have your own wheelchair—the airport can help. This can make the process of getting too and from that long flight much easier. You just need to contact the airport ahead of time to make the arrangements. This way you will get to your flight on time and won’t be too tired from your journey through the airport.

Bring Your Medications in Your Carry On

You never know what will happen on a long flight (and you never know what will happen with your baggage when taking multiple flights) so it is always best to be safe rather than sorry with your medications. Bring all of your medications (including any over the counter options) you have on your flight with you just in case.

Pack a Pillow and Blanket

Sleeping on planes can be very uncomfortable, but sleeping through a long flight is not only a great way to pass the time, but to help you feel less tired or jet-lagged when you land. Pack a travel pillow (they may seem strange, but they are great for your neck and actually quite comfortable) as well as blankets to sleep with. Many planes are quite cold and you don’t want to rely on those small, thin airplane blankets.

Consider Compression Socks

If you are prone to feet and ankle swelling or blood clots (as some seniors are), then you may want to consider compression socks when you travel. These socks will promote blood flow from the feet to your heart, so when you land you won’t have uncomfortable swollen ankles, but instead will be ready to walk through the airport and on to your next destination.

Travel can be a lot of fun for any senior, but you never want travel to add extra stress on yourself because of a flight. Keep these tips in mind so you can make the most of any upcoming flight that may be in your future.

5 Signs It is Time for Memory Care

Making the decision to place your loved one or parent in a memory care facility can be an extremely difficult one. However, in most cases, moving a senior with Alzheimer’s, dementia or similar memory issues is what is best for them and their quality of life moving forward.

Memory care is a big move and a big change for many seniors and their families, and it is an important decision—so how do you know when it is time to make such a big decision? Here are five of the most common signs that a senior is ready for memory care.

  1. You Are Constantly Worried About Their Safety– As most family members would agree, there is nothing as important as making sure your senior loved one is safe. If you are worried about your loved one living on their own, becoming violent, forgetting basic safety precautions, wandering or anything in between—then it is likely time for memory care. There is nothing as important as keeping your senior loved one safe.
  2. You Are Acting as a Caregiver But Have Serious Burnout– There are many family members who will attempt to act as a caregiver to a family member with dementia before they consider professional care. This is a very big undertaking and it can cause serious burnout. Eventually, if you have caregiver burnout it is best for both you and your loved one if you find another way to provide care for them. Caregiver burnout can seriously impact your quality of life and prevent you from being as great of a caregiver as you want to be.
  3. Your Loved One is Experiencing Unexplained Physical ChangesSometimes dementia is so serious that it can start to change someone physically. If you have noticed frailty, significant weight changes or serious changes in posture, it may be physical side effects of their dementia. Many seniors will forget to eat, develop hunched posture from being unsure all the time, or start to become frail from a lack of nutrition. These are all physical cries for help.
  4. Your Loved One is Struggling to Keep Up With Their Hygiene- One of the most common indicators of a senior needing additional care (more specifically memory care), is when seniors are unable to keep up with their basic hygienic needs. If you notice your loved one hasn’t been showering lately, or combing their hair, or see that they are wearing unwashed clothes or the same clothing every time you see them—they may not be able to take care of themselves any longer. Luckily, in memory care, they will have someone available to help them with these everyday tasks and responsibilities.
  5. Your Loved One is Hoarding or Making Unnecessary Purchases- This is one sign that many people don’t realize is associated with dementia. If your loved one starts making bizarre purchases, such as buying 50 bars of soap, or you notice hoarding behaviors, it may be a sign that their mental faculties are declining and they need some help.

Pay attention to warning signs such as this, if you are living with a senior adult who may be prone to dementia. They can be big indicators that your loved one is in need of professional help.