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Get Health Screenings Done When Recommended – Healthy Aging Habit 24

healthscreenIf you are seeing a good primary care physician, hopefully once a year, they will perform some basic screenings based on your height and weight, blood pressure and health complaints.

I’m not a doctor, but culled information online and am sharing what I found. This is not a substitute for medical advice and I encourage you to regularly see your primary care physician who will help you know when screenings are right for you.

In general, everyone should be seeing a dentist at least annually if not twice a year. Oral hygiene is a major component of good health.

In general, your doctor will perform or recommend regular screenings for:

  • Cholesterol
  • A full body scan for moles or skin lesions if you have a familiar history

For women: Breast, pelvic, and pap smears

For men: Testicular

For women at 40, Mammograms are recommended unless there is a familiar history and then this is usually done earlier.

For men, at the age of 50 they recommend prostate screenings unless you are a high-risk individual then you start typically start at the age of 40.

50 is the magic number for a colonoscopy. If there is a familiar history, it is ten years earlier than the youngest family member with colon cancer.

At 65, it is recommended that men and women should have a bone density study every 2 – 5 years; this may start at the age of 60 if you’re in a high-risk population.

For those of you caring for loved ones with dementia, I will leave it up to you to determine how to manage preventative health care recommendations. I do know that I had to fight a regular battle with her care community over vitamins and supplements. I also struggled with the recommendation to add Ensure to her diet. My Mom was very clear that she wanted quality of life over quantity. I believed that she should eat what she wanted. It was the one thing she could choose to do and control.

I hope you will discuss these issues with you, or your loved one’s doctor. Early detection can not just save your life, but afford you a much better outcome. Suggested.

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Get an Annual Flu Shot and Consider the Recommended Vaccinations – Healthy Aging Habit #23

flu shotAs a caregiver, I started to think about how my health (or poor health) would impact my parents. I didn’t want to be the one to bring the flu to them, so made sure I got annual flu shots. I avoided the shoots for years thinking that having a dead virus shot into my arm sounded kinda gross … it still does, but know I know the value of avoiding the flu for myself and others.

In my role as a Daily Money Manager, I research varied ways to save my clients money—from simple things like reviewing phone and cable plans to bigger issues like refinancing and downsizing options.

At a training workshop, I learned that the lack of vaccinations is estimated to cost the American people $15.3 billion. It never dawned on me how much money NOT getting a flu shot costs me either directly on medication and doctor visits, or indirectly through lost wages and discomfort.

In addition to the flu vaccine, three other vaccinations. Some are recommended for adults over 60, but for many it may be a good idea to get it early.

Ask your doctor about these vaccines for those you are caring for, but they might also benefit you and I hope you will discuss them with your doctor.

  • Shingles or herpes zoster vaccine — if you know anyone who has developed shingles, you know how debilitating it can be. The healthcare cost of treating shingles is estimated at $1 billion a year. There are more than one on the market now and they are hard to get. Get on a waitlist if they are out at either your doctors or a local drug store.
  • Tdap — while many of us with kids still in the household are familiar with this vaccination, only 16% of adults over 65 have gotten it. My son received the vaccination that includes vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis but did contract whooping cough. It was awful in a 13-year-old, but apparently, it’s even more devastating for adults. Next time you need a tetanus shot, ask if you can get Tdap instead.
  • Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 for the prevention of pneumonia, which kills more annually than any of the others mentioned.

The annual flu shot is now a household habit and the I’ve already discussed the other vaccinations with my primary care physician. Completed.

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Talk to your Children about your Healthy Aging Choices and Listen to What They Say – Habit #22

funnyquotesagingparentAs an adult child that lived through caregiving for two parents over 5 years, and as a parent of two children, I have been very open about how I believe families should function in terms of support and care.

My parents planned well thinking that they would never “be a burden” to their children. However, when they both ended up with dementia, a family member needed to be intimately involved in their care and well-being. The hard part for me what that my parents firmly believed they never needed any help and half of my caregiving battle was managing around their inability to see how they were failing.

As my children grow and one now has flown the coop, I plan to be open with them when it comes to discussions about our care and well-being. If and when they are managing their own careers and raising their own children, I will make sure to regularly check in to listen to them on how and if they could help. I want them to have their lives, but I do also hope that I can rely on them to at least have general oversight if my husband and I should we need it. There are options for us if they can’t help.

I know that I can hire specialists to help with the day to day needs. I don’t expect my kids to do it for me. But I also know that family knows best and would prefer if one or both of my children would be a POA or Trustee for us when they are ready to step into that role.

What I find most interesting is how many adults with children over 30 are reporting that their kids won’t listen to them when they try to share their plans or discuss their finances. Maybe for many it feels like a weaponized conversation about inheritance or their adult children just aren’t ready to have it.  What I do know is that you better have had this conversation with the people you are counting on to help you before the help is needed. Experienced.

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Tour the Local Adult Communities – #21

50plusadultsIn my role as a caregiver, I learned that my own community had very few aging life care, memory, or assisted living communities. I toured all three at the time to understand what they had to offer. I learned that the one we liked the most had a really long wait list.

Now that I work with older adults and their families, I have seen that most of my clients are only moving in AFTER there is a critical incident. Sadly, that limits the choices since many of the best communities have long wait lists.

When I start to work with an individual and family because they need help with the day-to-day bill pay, medical care or home upkeep, I always suggest they tour and select one. You can get on a wait list and you never have to move in, but should something happen, YOU or YOUR LOVED one got to choose the place.

For many communities, the individuals on the wait list have the ability to use the community for any short-term rehabilitation or skilled nursing needs.

It is reported that one in three working Americans will become disabled for 90 days or more before age 65 (TMA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that at 65, 7 out of 10 American’s will need long-term care services. That information means that most of us are going to need some help and what we do know gives us more control over future events.

You may find a local 50+ community in the area that might be better suited your lifestyle. There are now a lot of choices you can make for living well.

You have probably received a postcard inviting you to a local community or heard about a nearby senior fair. It’s worth an hour of your time to get familiar with the resources for when someone needs them. Suggested.

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Learn How to Advocate for your Medical Needs – Healthy Habit #20

iwantanswersThe days of the family doctor are gone. Most doctors are crushed for time as they try to address your needs in what feels like a shrinking time window. The average time physicians are spending with patients is less than 24 minutes. According to The Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2017. Thirty percent of physicians spend 17 – 24 minutes with their patients. That is followed by 29 percent of physicians who are spending between 13 – 16 minutes with patients.

Here is a quick primer on 6 Ways to Be Your Own Health Advocate by Elizabeth Renter. In short, you need to arrive prepared and refuse to leave until you have a diagnosis or next step toward one. You may need to repeat this cycle if your condition persists. 

You have probably noticed that no one seems to do more than glance at the 4 (plus) pages you diligently completed before your appointment. After caring for my parents and navigating a host of doctors with them, I learned to come prepared for each appointment. I could quickly cite their health issues, medicines, and stated the reason for our visit. I learned that if the doctor in front of me could not resolve the issue, I would find a secondary resource to help.

It is now the requirement of every adult to be their own advocate. The healthcare system is unable to do that for you.

When it comes to short-term memory issues (remember this is not a normal consequence of aging) it is important to push to get diagnosed. It could be a side-effect from a medicine — and it can happen with medicines you have taken for years. If you notice a change, bring it up with your primary care physician. Some will do a screening for it, but I recommend you request a referral to a neurologist. Memory issues are not really a primary care physician’s expertise. The earlier you know you have an issue, the earlier YOU can decide how you want to live should it be permanent and should you decline.

This ideal applies to any medical issue that is impacting your quality of life. Push to find a reason and understand how it may impact the rest of your life.

If you know this is not your skillset, or are overwhelmed by other matters, consider a consultation with an Aging Life Care Manager. In minutes they would resolve issues that I failed to unravel in days when it came to caring for my parents. Visit this website to find one located near you.

Can you eventually figure it out? Most likely. I know because before I knew about Aging Life Care Managers, I was working to handle a lot of the issues as the primary family caregiver for my parents. However, I would do anything to have a mulligan and spend that time enjoying my parents’ company instead of fretting over the next medical hurdle to traverse. Wished.

 

 

 

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Organize your Finances and Accounts – Healthy Habit #19

Everyone who has had to step in and help a loved one knows how difficult it is to make sense of someone else’s finances.

Most couples can remember a time when they needed to access an account but were unable to because it was in the other person’s name. The phone and utility companies don’t care if you are married or on the home title or mortgage.

It will take some time and organization to make it easy for someone to access, but the reality is that for every adult I have worked with, all of your important information can fit into a 2” ring binder. Filing cabinets become organized dumping grounds for our personal papers and most people will admit they often have trouble finding their own information in the system they set up for themselves.

You can download a free guide to walk you through how to organize your binder here. If you want a workbook that will walk you through this process you can find it on Amazon (it’s less than $17).

Having it organized will save you time, and once it’s done, it’s easy to stay on top of the organization. One of the most important things you can do, is to create a simple roadmap of your finances. Many households have multiple bank accounts and often those people who would step in to help don’t know which account the income drops into and which account is step up to pay the mortgage, long-term care insurance, or even auto-pay utilities or other services on which you rely. Here is a simple example:

financialMap

It’s very basic, but can easily provide you with an easy way to understand your account set up and the interconnections between your financial assets.

Getting this done will benefit you now by saving you time in the long-run, and benefit you later if someone does need to step in and help you.

I started doing this organization when I was caring for my parents. It took me over a year to get a handle on all of the accounts and finances. I wanted to make sure that when my siblings visited, they could easily step in to help me. It was the origin of my business MemoryBanc. I  hope you will access the free resources to set up a system that will benefit you and your family. Shared.

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Write or Print out Your Usernames, Passcodes, PINs, and Security Questions and Answers – Healthy Habit #18

digitalkeyPasscode keepers and your browsers’ ability to save access codes time savers. However, should you have a shared household, need to step in and help someone, or have someone step in and help you – without this information the inability to access your online accounts can be a huge roadblock.

I know we have been told NOT to write down this information for years. I get that for employers who have IT departments who can reset your access. At home, we don’t have this and having this written down will save you time and frustration.

How many times has your answer to your own Security Question been rejected? Every time I do a public speech on What to Save and What to Shred, this question always gets an uncomfortable laugh as half the room raises their hand to admit this has happened to them.

Have you ever needed to contact your phone provider or the power company and the account is in the name of your partner, roommate, or spouse?  If so, you will know that you will be unable to make changes or service specific account needs if the person to whom the account is titled is not on the call with you. For the variety of accounts that fall into this category, I learned long ago to login as the owner of the account and handle our service needs in the portal. Saves ME time and allows both me and my spouse to fill in for each other should we be traveling or unavailable.

I have a book that my husband and kids are familiar with that includes all of my usernames, passcodes, security questions/answers, and PINs. I use the book every week to quickly look up or update my online accounts. The average consumer has 90 online accounts, and as a business owner, I have closer to 150 accounts.

My husband and kids also have documented and shared their information in case I ever need to step in and help them. For my kids I told them to put it in a sealed envelope I would only open in an emergency. It was an easy ask since they knew I had already provided them with an option to access my accounts. Parents have no online access rights to their children’s accounts.

The good password keepers have an option to print out a summary and I hope you will do that. In many cases, I have families that have shared this information in a document on their computer only to find out that no one knows the passcode to get into the computer. So I just recommend you have one option be paper access that can be stored in a safe or even hidden in plain site.

I guarantee having this will save you time and angst and be a huge help to those that may need to access your shared accounts when you are not home, or provide them with the keys to your digital legacy should they want to protect it and you are unable to do so. Advised.

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