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  • September 29, 2015 06:36:54 AM

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The Amada Senior Care blog discusses all things senior care - including in home care, assisted living, health and wellness, nutrition, long-term care insurance, and veterans programs.

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Caregivers Improve Relationships Between Aging Parents and Adult Children

The post Caregivers Improve Relationships Between Aging Parents and Adult Children appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

Some 53 million adult Americans (more than 1 in 5) are unpaid family caregivers, according to a report published earlier this year by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. The number of family caregivers increased by 9.5 million between 2015 and 2020. While family caregiving can be a rewarding experience for both a senior parent and an adult child, often it is a situation that leads to stress and burnout.

According to Today’s Caregiver, families in the US provide 80 to 90 percent of in-home, long-term care for seniors. Many of these families are headed by adults that are part of what has come to be known as the “sandwich generation” – middle-aged adults that care for an aging parent while still caring for their own children.

The Sandwich Generation

According to Family Caregiver Alliance, the typical “sandwiched” caregiver is a woman in her mid-40s who is married, employed and cares for her parent (usually mother). However, the number of men caring for aging parents continues to grow. Nearly 60 percent of caregiving family members work full or part-time, and caring for a senior often affects their work performance. Due to time constraints, they may not be able to take that big promotion.  The rising needs of senior parents may force an adult child to work less hours. This cycle will continue to create stress and financial strains on the sandwiched adult. Many of these adults live in rural areas that often have geographic barriers to professional resources, which isolate them from other caregivers or family members.

In most cases, the senior living with an adult child needs assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) – simple, routine tasks like getting dressed or bathing. Along with this, many families also help their aging parents coordinate medical needs, administer medication, and provide financial, emotional and spiritual support. If these services were provided by the national healthcare system, the cost would be nearly $250 billion per year (source: Today’s Caregiver).

In addition to financial and emotional strain, caring for an aging parent can also cause relational strain on many levels. According to a survey by AgingCare, 80 percent of family caregivers said that caring for an aging parent put a strain on their relationship or marriage, and 48 percent said it was causing them to “drift apart.” Children of sandwiched adults may not understand that their grandparents need care, too, and may come to resent the aging senior. Even if they do understand, an aging senior will likely use up more of the parent’s time, causing the parent to miss out on bonding with their children.

Many times, the parent-child relationship between the senior and sandwiched adult is strained due to reversed caregiver roles. Friendships can be lost due to lack of spare time, and any of these relationships can be damaged due to the sandwiched adult “lashing out” because of stress. AgingCare’s list covering “9 Ways Caring for Parents is Different Than Caring for Children” illustrates common stressors.

Reaching Out for Help

When do I find time for myself? For my marriage? How do I split my time between my own children and my aging parent? Where can I find resources to help me?

The heavy load carried by the sandwich generation brings about common stressors that leave adult children asking these questions and more. Not being able to accomplish everything will usually cause guilt. Since the average time that the adult child will care for their aging parents is 8 years, the stress that builds up and the difficulty of the situation may eventually force the child to a realization: it’s time to reach out for professional help.

Just having this thought can make an adult child feel guiltier, but it is important to remember that one can provide quality care for someone only if they are taking care of themselves. In many cases, some needs are better met professionally. Hiring an in-home caregiver or placing a senior in the right assisted-living community can provide many new opportunities for the senior and adult child.

An in-home caregiver will allow an aging senior to remain in a familiar environment in the adult child’s home, or to “age in place” in their own home. An assisted-living community offers an intermediate step for those who need assistance with ADLs but do not need the 24-hour medical care of a nursing home. Such communities offer social stimulation, exercise, nutritional guidance and transportation.

Of course during the current pandemic, many assisted living communities have suspended social activities and are closed to visitors as they strictly follow Covid-19 safety protocols. However, researching communities now will prepare you to make a decision for yourself or a senior loved one when doors reopen and admission bans are lifted.

With the support of an in-home caregiver or an assisted-living environment, a senior is able to maintain a sense of independence and can enjoy an improved quality of life. By relieving the stress of meeting a senior’s caregiving needs, an adult child can better focus on his or her own needs and the needs of other family members. Peace of mind will come with knowing that the beloved senior in the adult child’s life is receiving quality care.

That said, many feel that the most important aspect of this arrangement is that the time spent with an aging parent can truly be quality time. Instead of being pulled in all directions at once, sandwiched adults will have more time to cherish the relationships they have with spouses, children, and their aging parents or loved ones.

At Amada Senior Care, we recognize the love and effort shown by family caregivers day in and day out.  Amada is dedicated to enriching lives—not only the lives of our clients, but also their families. If you or a loved one are experiencing caregiver burnout, it may be time to reach out for professional help. Amada can help relieve the stress of meeting a senior’s care needs, allowing caregivers to better focus on their own needs and the needs of other family members. Peace of mind will come with knowing that the senior is receiving quality care, and time spent with the aging parent can truly be quality time. Click here to find an Amada office near you or call 866-752-1961.

 

“Caregivers Improve Relationships Between Aging Parents and Adult Children” edited by Michelle Flores, Amada blog contributor. Photo by Logan Weaver @Unsplash.

The post Caregivers Improve Relationships Between Aging Parents and Adult Children appeared first on Amada Senior Care.


LTCi – Who Benefits the Most? Policyholders or Loved Ones?

The post LTCi – Who Benefits the Most? Policyholders or Loved Ones? appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

Do you have a plan to pay for long-term care (LTC) services? Long-term care insurance (LTCi) helps protect a policyholder’s income and assets against the financial risk of an LTC event. While people may think policyholders benefit the most, LTCi can protect the whole family. November is Long-Term Care Insurance Awareness Month, a reminder of the importance to educate yourself and your family.

 

LTCi benefits policyholders in many ways, including the following:

  1. LTCi Protects Your Hard-Earned Income & Assets

It’s no surprise that LTCi services are expensive. According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey, the median cost to live in an assisted living facility is $48,612 per year. In 20 years, the cost is estimated jump to over $86,000 per year.

Do you have income and assets set aside to pay for care in the future? When planning for retirement, don’t forget to factor in LTC costs. Or, transfer your risk to an insurance company now to protect yourself when the need may arise. LTCi protects policyholders from the financial burden of an LTC event so you can keep your hard-earned income and assets.

  1. YOU Decide Where & How to Receive Care

Outside of protecting your income, one of the best reasons to buy LTCi is to protect your ability to choose. When you plan for LTC, you get to decide where and how you want to receive care.

If you prefer to stay in your home, LTCi can pay for home care several days a week or even 24-hour care if your needs increase over time. If you enjoy being social and living in community, LTCi can also pay for assisted living at the location of your choice. By buying LTC coverage and sharing your wishes with your loved ones, you get to decide your future.

  1. Fewer Surprises

Chances are you already plan for the worst-case scenarios with car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and life insurance. LTCi is no different.

When there’s over a 50% chance of needing care in your lifetime, planning ahead helps avoid the panic which can result from an unexpected LTC event. Long Term Care Insurance doesn’t just help pay your LTC bills, they also offer dedicated care coordinators to answer questions and help make sure you’re getting the care you need.

LTCi Benefits for Loved Ones

LTCi policyholders aren’t the only people who benefit from LTCi coverage. Here’s how family members and loved ones also benefit:

  1. Less Financial Strain & Care Coordination

Many family members take on the time, physical strain, and financial expense of a parent or grandparent who needs LTC services. When you’re covered with LTCi, your loved ones can focus on making sure you’re being properly taken care of and not worry about making sure the bills can be paid.

  1. A Plan to Follow

If you don’t create an LTC plan for yourself, your loved ones will be forced to make one for you. This can involve making decisions on where and how you receive care. When your wishes are clearly outlined, your loved ones have a plan to follow and know exactly what to do and who to call to get the LTCi claims process going.

  1. Protects Their Health & Offers Peace of Mind

Caring for a loved one can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing on individuals, especially over a long period of time. Family caregivers are more prone to depression and even shorter lifespans. LTCi protects your family’s health and gives everyone peace of mind.

So, Who Benefits the Most?

Everyone! Policyholders keep their power to choose and protect their hard-earning income and assets. Loved ones gain a plan to follow and protect their own health and income. Everyone gains peace of mind as the insurance company handles the financial burden and care coordination of an LTC event.

Interested in a creating an LTC plan for your future? Request a free LTCi quote from the top insurance carriers today.

This blog is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific estate planning, insurance, tax, or legal advice. Please note, LTC Consumer and its representatives do not give financial planning, tax, or legal advice. You are encouraged to consult with your tax advisor or attorney concerning your own situation.

 

“LTCi – Who Benefits the Most? Policyholders or Loved Ones?” by Shelley Bohlman of MasterCare America, Amada Blog Contributor.

 

The post LTCi – Who Benefits the Most? Policyholders or Loved Ones? appeared first on Amada Senior Care.


Simple Ways to Support Family Caregivers

The post Simple Ways to Support Family Caregivers appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to honor the estimated 41.8 million American adults who are caregivers for an elderly, ill or disabled loved one. More of them—about 24 percent—are caring for two or more loved ones (up from 18 percent in 2015), according to the Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 Report co-authored by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving. As the senior population grows, and the need for in-home care increases as well—nearly four in 10 seniors have at least one disability—these unpaid caregivers provide an estimated 37 billion hours of informal care every year to family members, friends and neighbors.

Though caring for a loved one can be rewarding in several ways, the demands placed on family caregivers often lead to stress and burnout. This is most common for those in the sandwich generation—middle-aged adults caring for an aging parent while also still supporting their own children. Though caregiving is a labor of love, it can be physically and emotionally draining. Being a family caregiver may create financial strain as well—as many caregivers tend to reduce their work hours or take unpaid leaves of absence.

That is why even the simplest act of support for these family caregivers can mean the world. However, many of these caregivers will not ask for help— that’s why it’s important for all of us to reach out and encourage them and ask what we can do to help. Here are a few ways to offer support and show the caregivers the appreciation they deserve.

Offer Respite Care

Sometimes what family caregivers need the most is simple—a break. Whether that means offering to take over for an hour while they run a quick errand, or for a few days while they enjoy a much needed vacation, respite care will give them a chance to focus on caring for their own needs. A break will help family care providers recharge for the tasks at hand. Consider reaching out to an Amada senior advisor, who can offer guidance and suggest resources. Click here to find one near you or call 866-752-1961.

Prepare A Meal

A healthy diet is key to maintaining physical health and energy. However, many family caregivers may struggle to get the proper nutrition they need because of the long list of other tasks. In addition, up to one in two adults age 65 and older may be malnourished or are at risk for malnutrition, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Offering a home-cooked meal for the whole family can be a huge help. Or help arrange delivery of nutritious meals through a service such as Meals on Wheels America or a state program such as California’s Great Plates Delivered.

Help Around the House

With so many tasks on their to-do lists, household chores often get neglected, especially time-consuming jobs like cleaning out the garage or mowing the lawn. Or with the holidays around the corner, you can offer to help decorate the house and yard (or pack up the decorations after the new year). No matter how small the task, it is sure to help.

Say It’s Okay to Seek Mental Health Support

Caring for a loved one is a true labor of love and yet during especially demanding times, it can feel like a heavy obligation. Add to this the stress of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with family caregivers trying to minimize exposure risks to keep an elderly loved one safe, and the adult at-home care provider might start experiencing symptoms of depression. Remind the family caregiver there are resources designed to support their mental health—from stress-busting meditation apps like Headspace and Calm to wellness webinars offered by Mental Health America and other community-based nonprofits. Look into whether local family services organizations or your county Council on Aging might be offering virtual support groups and telehealth counseling.

Provide Encouragement

Sometimes the smallest act can brighten someone’s entire day. Sending a card of appreciation and encouragement with flowers or a gift card will show a caregiver that you value what they do. Many family caregivers don’t get the chance to hear “thank you” from the loved one they are caring for. This is also one of the easiest ways to let them know you are there to support them.

Raise Support

Showing support during the month of November is nice, but why not do something that could help family caregivers indefinitely? Let your state representatives know that you support the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage Family Caregivers (RAISE) Act, which would create a national strategy to support family caregivers, and the Credit for Caring Act, which would create a federal tax credit for eligible family caregivers who also work. You can also support respite care programs in your community. Enhancing caregiver programs is becoming more important as more of us live longer.

Promote Self-Care

Encourage family caregivers to be honest about their own personal needs and embrace their own self-care. This should be a regular practice—not just during National Family Caregiver Month—and it is especially important now as we head into the holidays. If they’re not yet familiar with it, introduce family care providers to A Caregiver’s Bill of Rights. Compiled by The Family Caregiver Alliance, it encourages caregivers to:

  • Take time for self-care. This is not selfish; it is necessary for caring for another.
  • Recognize the limits of your endurance and strength, saying “no” when energy is running low.
  • Get angry and express difficult feelings when needed.
  • Receive affection, forgiveness and acceptance from others for what you do.
  • Ask for help, manage your time in a way that works for you, and avoid attempts by relatives to manipulate you through guilt or anger.
  • Take pride in what you have accomplished and applaud your courage.

At Amada Senior Care, we recognize the love and effort shown by family caregivers day in and day out.  Amada is dedicated to enriching lives—not only the lives of our clients, but also their families. If you or a loved one are experiencing caregiver burnout, it may be time to reach out for professional help. Amada can help relieve the stress of meeting a senior’s care needs, allowing caregivers to better focus on their own needs and the needs of other family members. Peace of mind will come with knowing that the senior is receiving quality care, and time spent with the aging parent can truly be quality time. Click here to find an Amada office near you or call 866-752-1961.

 

“Simple Ways to Support Family Caregivers,” Written by Taylor French and Michelle Flores, Amada blog contributors. 

The post Simple Ways to Support Family Caregivers appeared first on Amada Senior Care.


Thanking and Honoring Our Armed Forces on Veterans Day

The post Thanking and Honoring Our Armed Forces on Veterans Day appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

Falling on Wednesday next week, November 11th is an historic day around the globe as it marks the armistice between the Allied nations and Germany that officially ended World War I. Twenty years later, Armistice Day was declared a federal holiday in the U.S. November 11th took on added significance after WWII when communities around the country held celebrations honoring soldiers. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed legislation officially changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day in the U.S., designating it to honor those who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces.

To those of you who are veterans, please accept the heartfelt gratitude all of us at Amada Senior Care have for the sacrifices you and your family have made. We sincerely thank you for all that you have done to protect our personal freedoms and nation’s safety. To others reading this, we invite you to celebrate this holiday by extending thanks to the approximately 18.8 million living veterans in the United States.

At Amada Senior Care, we are honored to be in the position to care for those who have given so much. Our mission of enriching lives means we provide exceptional care that enables clients, who include aging veterans, to live safely at home and maintain their independence. Our commitment extends to actively hiring veterans and military spouses as an inducted member of the Department of Defense’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership. Many Amada franchise owners and employees were motivated to work in senior healthcare because of a loved one who served. We continue to be inspired by the courage and commitment of veterans under our care. Here are just a few of their stories:

“Helping people has always been my passion, especially working with our veterans,” says Glen Schecter of Amada Ventura County. “My dad was a WWII veteran and worked as a veteran’s advocate for more than 30 years. Thanks to his influence, helping veterans and seniors has been part of my life both personally and in business.”

Glen’s dad, Mort Schecter, was a tail gunner during the war, serving in the Army Air Corps from 1942-45. According to this article, he flew 35 combat missions in France and Germany aboard a B-24 Liberator.

Mort and his crew pose behind the B-24 bomber in which they flew during WWII.

As a member of Jewish War Veterans and the American Legion, Mr. Schecter would spend 25 years as a volunteer three times each week at the Sepulveda Veterans Ambulatory Care Center. On Nov. 3, 2012 at the age of 89, he received the Veteran of the Year Award from the County of Los Angeles Department of Military and Veterans Affairs during a ceremony at the Rose Bowl.

Mort Schecter (in brown jacket) receives the Veteran of the Year Award from the County of Los Angeles Department of Military and Veterans Affairs during a Nov. 3, 2012, ceremony at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

“I asked my dad ‘Why did you pick that position?’” Glen said. “He told me jokingly, ‘So I can go back and take a nap when I needed to.’”

Mort Schecter also was awarded the Legion of Honour medal (the highest decoration bestowed in France) that was presented personally by the Counsul General of France. Mr. Schecter passed away at age 93 in 2016, having helped hundreds of veterans.

Glen Schecter, VP of Client Relations
Amada Senior Care of Ventura County (CA)


“John told me of the difficulties he had to deal with caring for the men he led and protecting them with his own body,” said Bob Schricker of Amada Nashville about his client (and now close friend) John Tucker. “He said that the way he deals with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is that he had to do something that was bigger than him after he returned from Vietnam. He felt he would have been a suicide statistic like many other veterans if it weren’t for his grandmother’s earlier guidance as he was growing up. It is an honor to help John.”

Bob Schricker visits with Vietnam veteran John Tucker.

“I am a Vietnam veteran as well and we developed a friendship right away,” added Bob, who served as an Army drill instructor. John is confined to a wheelchair due to arthritic knees, and Bob was able to obtain medical equipment from the VA to assist with his mobility around his home. Bob installed a carpet runner so that he could wheel about easier. Bob also was successful in arranging local medical care for John who, although he can drive, was having difficulty making the long drive to the Nashville VA Medical Center.

John, who will soon be 77, has gained his upper body strength back since his hospitalization two years ago.  He is featured on the Wall of Heroes at the Veterans Clinic in Gallatin. About a year ago, John and Bob were guests on “PTSD Warrior Stories,” a YouTube series by veteran and country singer Chris Turner.

“We are honored to serve this patriot,” said Kevin Fehr, owner of Amada Nashville and founder of CommuniServe, a nonprofit that raises funds to help pay for services for veterans.

Kevin Fehr, Owner, and Bob Schricker, Caregiver and Director of Community Relations
Amada Senior Care of Nashville

 


“At Amada Senior Care of WV, we are so honored to have many veterans under our care. THREE of our clients are 99-year-old WWII veterans! Each of these veterans had outstanding military careers and it has been so enlightening to hear their stories of their heroic service.

Mr. Freeland is a Marine Corps veteran.

Mr. Freeland served in the Marine Corps and was a member of the Edson Raiders from 1940-44. This was a special unit for amphibious light infantry operations, typically landing in rubber boats and operating behind the lines. Mr. Freeland was a platoon leader who was present at the Battle of Iwo Jima. He will turn 100 in September and is still healthy enough to live at home alone with just a little help from the VA and Amada Senior Care.

Mr. Dumont served in the Navy Air Corps.

We started service earlier this year with Mr. Dumont on his 99th birthday! He served in the Navy Air Corps from 1938 to 1942.  After his military service, he went on to a long career with Union Carbide and is still a highly active member of the Putnam County community. He was flooded with calls on his birthday and continues to have many caring visitors call and stop by to check on him.”

Kari Peyatte, Owner
Amada Senior Care of West Virginia

 


Me and my dad, Sgt. Maj. Jose Luis Flores-Diaz
at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball.

Seeing my dad in his Marine uniform when I was growing up was a larger than life experience – no matter if he wore his camouflage uniform, service uniform or blue dress uniform. It wasn’t until I was about 12 years old and stumbled across a letter that I realized the depth of his commitment to his country. The letter was from my cousin’s father writing about how much he loved visiting our family. My father and my uncle both served in Vietnam. My father was able to return, my uncle was not. Still, I didn’t truly understand what that meant and the sacrifices it represented until I was in my 30s and accompanied my dad to his first and only Vietnam vets reunion. He never talked about the war, except for answering a couple of my direct questions. I learned so much more about his experiences from the men he served with. There are no words to describe the humility, pride, sorrow, and other emotions you feel upon hearing what our service men and service women have gone through because their country asked them to.

Michelle Flores, Marketing and Franchise Support Specialist
Amada Senior Care Corp.

 


Ways to Honor Our Veterans

Treasure your independence, the independence of others and sacrifices made by our veterans. Here are easy ways to do that:

  • Take Time to Reflect on what independence means to you or what it meant to veterans who made sacrifices for it.
  • Read up on history to learn about the Revolutionary War and other conflicts our veterans have fought in to protect freedom.
  • Say “thank you” to any veteran you know or meet.
  • Listen to a veteran’s story with patience and attention. Let them share their experience, hardship and lessons to a kind, listening ear.
  • Hold a moment of silence with your family or friends to reflect on fallen soldiers and the value of independence.
  • Volunteer at a local institution that benefits veterans in need.
  • Donate to an organization that provides financial assistance to veterans.

 

“Thanking and Honoring Our Armed Forces on Veterans Day,” written by Michelle Flores, Amada contributor.

 

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Senior Tips for Adjusting to the End of Daylight Savings Time

The post Senior Tips for Adjusting to the End of Daylight Savings Time appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

This Sunday, November 1st marks the end of Daylight Savings Time for most of the country. We “fall back” and turn back the clock an hour—thus getting an extra hour of sleep time. Sounds like a wonderful windfall, right? For many older adults, the transition to shorter periods of daylight and longer periods of darkness may throw off our equilibrium for a few days. But for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the time change can exacerbate “sundowning” symptoms, including irritability, restlessness, agitation, and confusion that begins or worsens as the daylight fades.

It is not yet understood why sundowning (also known as “late day confusion”) and other sleep disturbances happen to Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers. Some studies indicate as many as 20 percent of people with dementia will experience “increased confusion, anxiety and agitation beginning late in the day, while others may experience changes in their sleep schedule and restlessness during the night,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The National Institute on Aging states that one possible cause of sundowning is that “Alzheimer’s-related brain changes can affect a person’s biological clock, leading to confused sleep-wake cycles.” During the day (when there is typically light) is when most of experience optimized brain function. An older adult may feel more tired and stressed as the day wears on. Come the evening, the senior may feel greater fatigue, as well as agitation and even depression. NIA offers these tips for family caregivers helping senior loved ones cope with sundowning.

If you care for a someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you may experience more difficulty in assisting that individual during this season. In addition to physical symptoms like insomnia and tremors, you may see changes in behavior such as mood swings, anxiety, ignoring directions and aggression.

Here are some ideas for reducing some of the stress that the end of Daylight Savings Time may bring (and for sundowning in general):

• Darkness can trigger agitation and confusion, so turn on lights early in the afternoon to brighten the home and try to keep rooms well-lit after dark.

• Keep to a schedule and maintain routines, but you may need to slowly adjust timing. For example, if dinnertime was at 5 while it was still light, change it to 4:30 or 4. Then over a few days, slowly adjust back to the regular dinnertime at 5. Try to have the senior you care for go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

• When at all possible, schedule appointments and outings during the morning hours.

• Take advantage of sunny days by participating in an outdoor activity when the weather permits.

• To help promote bedtime at a consistent time, try to increase cognitive, physical and social stimulation as part of daily activities during the daytime.

• Limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol and long naps during the day, and make sure to avoid food or snacks that can disrupt sleep. Avoid large meals at dinnertime; instead, make lunch the largest meal.

• Try to distract the sundowner sufferer with any positive reinforcement, like engaging the person in a fun activity or turning on some soothing music.

Above all, stay calm and reassuring. It takes time for any of us to adjust to a time change. But if you find yourself or a senior loved one struggling with a persistent issue related to the end of Daylight Savings Time, reach out to your medical professional to seek advice. A consultation with your family physician or a medical exam may reveal another cause to the issue, such as a medication side effect.

 

“Senior Tips for Adjusting to the End of Daylight Savings Time,” written by Michelle Flores, Amada Blog contributor. Photo by Harli Marten @Unsplash.

 

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The Importance of Finding Purpose in Your Senior Years

The post The Importance of Finding Purpose in Your Senior Years appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

Our values are constantly evolving with age. Upon arriving at a milestone, many of us question life and its meaning. Every time we do this, we are reevaluating what is referred to as sense of purpose. Your sense of purpose is dependent on your values and it will most likely change many times throughout your life. The things that define you one day may longer seem relevant the next.

Typically, it’s a major life event – the death of a loved one, a tough breakup, or a drastic change in career – that will trigger the need for evaluation and make you question the meaning of your life. Now we can add COVID-19 to this list of triggers. During this time of pandemic, many older adults in particular are having a tough time envisioning their “new normal,” according to Kaiser Health News. This is made more challenging still if they’re grieving the loss of a loved one to the disease or feeling isolated due to social distancing safety practices.

Unfortunately for many seniors, time is not on their side and their sense of purpose may never be regained once it’s lost. The importance of finding purpose in your senior years extends far beyond having enough time to regain a sense of identity. A senior’s ability to live purposefully has the power to determine both the quality and quantity of their remaining years. This is illustrated by five senior retirees who AARP recently interviewed about making a difference in their second-act careers during the age of coronavirus.

The Health Benefits of Living Purposefully

The benefits associated with having a sense of purpose in life has been a topic of interest for years. Prior to scientific research, many associated the idea of living purposefully with spiritual or religious practices. We have come a long way since then, and researchers finally have an abundance of strong evidence supporting the idea you may need to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Extend Your Life
One of the most supported theories associated with purpose is the one that suggests there is a correlation between a person’s sense of purpose and their life longevity. Many studies have been conducted to determine whether there is some merit to this theory and the results are always the same: people who feel a greater sense of purpose generally live longer than those who lack feelings of purpose.

Researchers have even made sure to control other factors that could affect lifespans such as age, emotional well-being, and gender. Still, the results consistently support the idea there is a positive correlation between the degree a person feels a sense of purpose and how much longer they live. This is particularly important for seniors because age did not affect the results. A purpose was able to buffer against the effects of aging regardless of how old the subjects were.

Maintain Brain Health

In 2012, Patricia Boyle, a researcher at Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, led a study to further understand the relationship between purpose and brain health. A purpose in life was accepted to be associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, disability, and death, but this study was conducted to gain a deeper understanding of how purpose protects the brain.

As expected, the study further supported the notion there is a relationship between having a sense of purpose and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, the study found that higher levels of purpose reduced the deleterious effects of Alzheimer’s disease by serving as a neural reserve. It did this by increasing the amount of damage the brain could withstand before becoming clinical.

Another study showed those who felt they lived purposefully slowed the rate of cognitive decline by an average of 30 percent. This was found even in brains that contained key indicators of Alzheimer’s disease such as plaques and tangles. Purpose acted as a kind of buffer for its effects on the brain. If Alzheimer’s disease is a concern for you, finding a sense of purpose may be something to consider.

Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
Many of us know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep disturbances have been associated with higher rates of cognitive impairment, mortality and overall health issues. Unfortunately, many elderly adults experience more sleep disturbances as they age, most commonly sleep-disordered breathing, REM behavior disorder and restless legs syndrome.

One of the most recent studies identified a relationship between sleep quality and sense of purpose. Older adults who lived purposefully slept better than those who were aimless in life.

More Reasons to Find Your Sense of Purpose
Other possible benefits associated with finding purpose include the following:

  • Less likely to suffer from age-related disabilities
  • Reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke
  • Less susceptible to stress
  • Likely to take better care of health
  • Increased resilience
  • Preserve strength

Identifying your Sense of Purpose

The idea of having a sense of purpose can be a difficult concept to grasp. This is partly because living with purpose varies tremendously from person to person. Some people describe their purpose in life as the meaning they derive from life and its occurrences, while others take a more direct approach claiming their sense of purpose is equivalent to their reason to live. Nonetheless, your sense of purpose should bring you joy and it ought to be in line with your personal values.

Finding your sense of purpose doesn’t have to be difficult. Your sense of purpose can be derived from something as simple as taking care of a pet or working in the garden. So long as you have something (or someone), you have found your sense of purpose. Most importantly, it doesn’t matter when or how you decide to live purposefully, it just matters you do.

 

“The Importance of Finding Purpose in Your Senior Years,” written by Ashley LeVine and updated by Michelle Flores, Amada Blog contributors.

 

The post The Importance of Finding Purpose in Your Senior Years appeared first on Amada Senior Care.


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