Help Seniors Surrender the Keys-When is it Time to Stop Driving?

Driving is a privilege that many of us take for granted. When a person loses their ability to drive, it is often devastating. It’s a loss of autonomy and freedom, and a tangible recognition that the individual’s faculties are declining. However, it is inevitable that as we age our ability to drive safely diminishes. At some point, we all must face the fact that driving is no longer an option. So, how do we approach this subject with our aging loved ones? How do we know when it’s no longer appropriate for them to drive? This is a very touchy subject for many seniors. Here are some tips that can help you handle the situation.

Signs that it is time to surrender the keys :

Some older people recognize that they can no longer drive adequately. Their discomfort will push them to willingly hand over the keys. But in most cases, people fight to retain their driving privileges. The best way to determine if your loved one needs to stop driving is to get in the car and take a ride with them. Here are some clear signs that a person may not be able to continue driving safely.

  • Bumping curbs, especially when turning
  • Forgetting the destination
  • Multiple minor accidents or “fender benders”
  • Passing/missing exits or turns
  • Lack of signaling for lane changes and turns
  • Rolling through stop signs, instead of stopping
  • Difficulty seeing traffic lights/distinguishing the colors
  • Forgetting the route to a commonly-known destination
  • Generally not paying attention to surroundings
  • Difficulty steering or pushing brake/gas pedals
  • Vision issues including cataracts and macular degeneration

How to discuss the subject with your loved one:

Start Early and Talk Often

Begin discussing the issue long before the individual actually needs to give up their driving privilege. This gives them plenty of time to digest the information and expect the transition. Have frequent conversations about the matter. Speak candidly, creating an open and honest exchange.


It’s very important that you approach the situation with empathy. Begin by softly encouraging the individual to stop driving. Explain the dangers, without pointing out the person’s driving mistakes. For example, you don’t want to say something like, “You need to stop driving. You missed two turns yesterday and almost hit the neighbor’s dog this morning.”’ Instead, try using gentler language and asking questions that provoke discussion. For instance, an alternative statement would look something like, “I’m worried that you are going to get hurt. Do you still feel comfortable behind the wheel?”

Don’t Force it

Allow your loved one to come to their own conclusions about driving. Don’t force them to stop unless it is necessary. There may be a time when you have to take the car and keys. However, it is much more productive to let the individual come to that decision on their own. Encourage them to evaluate their feelings about driving. Point out the unsafe environmental factors. Bring attention to the horrible traffic conditions and crazy drivers on the road. When you put the fault on the environment, rather than the driving abilities of your loved one, you remove some of the resistance.

Examine the Alternatives

There are numerous transportation options. It’s helpful to evaluate all the choices with the aged individual. There are ride services like Uber, Lyft, even taxis. Many communities also provide some sort of transportation specifically designed for senior citizens. Additionally, you might want to consider relocating your loved one, in order to be closer to family members or within walking distance of important locations. Reassure the individual that he or she will not be stuck by showing them all the promising substitutes for driving.

A number of states have laws in place that attempt to stop hazardous older drivers. However, these laws often are not comprehensive enough and most older people must voluntarily stop driving. It is an emotionally charged subject and requires gentle negotiation. When handled with patience and understanding, families can resolve this issue w

The Harsh Reality of Ageism

Senior citizensPrejudice is generally frowned upon in our society. We strive for inclusion, fighting against racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry. However, unfavorable stereotypes of older people are widely accepted, and ageism is not treated with the same seriousness as other types of bias. Unfortunately, senior citizens feel the harmful impacts of societal ageism. In order to create positive changes, we must understand the problem. Here, we will examine ageism and how it is affecting our aging population.

Cultural norms

Americans spend billions of dollars each year to hide signs of aging. There is an underlying belief that getting older is undesirable. Our culture values youth. We associate seniors with diminished mental capacities, rather than wisdom. When someone is confused, it’s common to say they are “having a senior moment.” We would never allow such negative language to describe other minority groups. Yet, we find it amusing to give birthday cards stating that an older person is “over the hill.” Is this the message we want to send to aging people? The implication is that once we are aged, life just goes downhill, and we are deemed fairly useless.

Medical professionals

While it’s probably unintentional, many physicians regularly reinforce ageist beliefs. They are less likely to recommend technological solutions for seniors, because they think older patients will not understand or use high-tech solutions. Doctors also tend to accept physical ailments as a natural part of aging, rather than looking for other potential causes. Therefore, many seniors do not receive the best care.


Public portrayals of aged individuals are often stereotypical, unrealistic, and overall negative. Television is especially responsible for pervasive ageism. Older characters are inclined to be one-dimensional and ridiculously stereotypical versions of senior citizens. They are underrepresented on television, but when they are shown, they often have these generalized qualities:


  • Childlike
  • Cranky
  • Unapproachable
  • Bumbling and confused

There is also a bizarre representation of older people who are hyper physically active. An example is an 85-year-old male character jumping out of airplanes for fun. It’s just another unrealistic portrayal of aging.

The impact

The most important part of the ageism equation is how it affects seniors. Some people may believe it’s just lighthearted humor to use ageist language and stereotypes. However, it deeply impacts aging individuals. It creates negative outcomes, both mentally and physically. Ageism causes people to feel useless, depressed, and anxious. From a physical standpoint, research shows that older individuals experience more health problems if they believe aging is the cause. Seniors who reject stereotypes are overall happier and healthier.

How can we help?

Healing begins with education. Psychologists and other mental health professionals must educate the general public about the mental and emotional dangers of ageism. Additionally, seniors should be knowledgeable about these false stereotypes. We need to focus on the positive aspects of getting older and ensure that aging individuals feel useful. We all need to feel that our lives have purpose. This may be even more crucial as we get older.

The systemic ageism running rampant in our society is problematic and unfortunate. To correct the problem, we must first recognize and understand it. Informing people of the harmful effects of ageism is the best way to begin the healing process. Hopefully, this institutionalized prejudice will become as unacceptable and taboo as racism and sexism.   


How to Cope with Aging Parents and Sibling Conflicts

Caring for aged loved ones frequently creates stress and conflict for family members, especially among siblings. It’s difficult for families to provide quality care when they are busy arguing. So, it is in the best interest of our aging relatives that we understand why these disputes occur and how we can solve them.

Areas of Conflict


The most common reason for fighting between siblings is a perceived imbalance of responsibility. If one sibling feels as if she is doing all the work, a grudge builds quickly. Or, if a sibling believes he is providing most of the financial assistance; he may think that he is being treated unfairly. Most often, the adult child living closest to the aged relative, is the person who provides the majority of the hands-on care. She is the one driving mom to doctor appointments and doing the grocery shopping. Anytime a particular sibling feels that they have been delegated more than a fair share of work, resentment, anger, and frustration eventually come to the surface.



Disagreements about money typically involve an aging parent’s assets. Siblings may argue about how to pay for care and how to handle funds. Some adult children adamantly protect assets because they hope to inherit the parent’s estate. However, it is often necessary to liquidate resources in order to help pay for care. Furthermore, some adult children believe they are entitled to a larger share of the future estate because of the disproportionate amount of care they currently provide the parent. Families regularly begin fighting over the estate years before the aged person passes away.


  • Communication – As with any conflict in life, communication is the key. Siblings and family members must speak honestly and openly about their feelings and the issues. In order for this to work, people must put their egos aside and focus on the well being of the senior in question.
  • Professional advisors – A great way for families to step aside and view the bigger picture is to hire a trained mediator. This could be a senior care advisor, family therapist, or even a qualified religious counselor. A neutral third-party can generally calm the waters and bring a fresh perspective to the situation.
  • Personal responsibility – Understand and accept your role in the quarrel. Do your best to put aside negative emotions and blaming others. Simply do what is best for the aging individual and let the rest go. You will have plenty of time later to deal with hurt feelings, now is the time to take care of your loved one. .
  • Planning – Determine in advance which sibling will handle each responsibility. Set up regular meetings or conference calls to discuss current status and changes.  This ensures that everyone is on the same page and provides an opportunity for open discussion.  Siblings may want to switch responsibilities as circumstances change.These meetings might take place twice a year, quarterly, or even monthly, depending on the situation.

Family conflicts are difficult, requiring tremendous patience and understanding to overcome. However, it is necessary to resolve these issues in order to provide the best care for your aging relatives.


Protecting Seniors from Scams

Protecting Seniors from ScamsFor countless years, senior citizens have been targeted by criminals. The vulnerable nature of older people opens them to potential scams. With so many tech-savvy seniors, the Internet has created a breeding ground for cons. More than half of the people age 65+ are active Internet users. We can’t stop crooks from singling out older folks, but we can help protect our loved ones from these vultures. Below are some tips to help seniors avoid fraud.


The key to prevention is knowledge. An individual must recognize a fraudulent scheme in order to avoid it. Criminals will contact potential victims in numerous ways. It may come through email, snail mail, telephone calls or texts, and even in person.

Common Scams

  • Identity theft – A thief doesn’t need much information from a person in order to steal their identity. If they are contacting your loved one, they probably already have the birth date, phone number, name and address. All a malicious person needs now is the last four digits of a Social Security number to match with this information. Armed with this data, they can open bank accounts and credit cards in the victim’s name. They may even be able to access current accounts or take out loans, essentially destroying the person’s financial life.
  • Telemarketing – It is not illegal for telemarketers to call and attempt to sell things to retirees . However, callers often use this as an excuse to fish for private data. The fraudulent telemarketer gathers bank account or credit card information to use without authorization. They might also request passwords to access accounts.
  • Grandchild impersonation – In this case, a senior receives a phone call from a distressed sounding person saying, “grandma?” or “grandpa?”  The victim believes this is a grandchild calling, so of course they respond. The grandchild impersonator then tells some traumatic story that requires the grandparent to wire money. The story often involves bail or hotel money, perhaps a lost wallet or a mugging also.
  • Sweepstakes – In this scenario the target receives a very official-looking check and letter from a fake sweepstakes. The sender requires the recipient mail a portion of the money back before depositing the check. So, the victim sends the money but a few weeks later the “sweepstakes check” bounces.
  • Charities – Fake charity organizations contact seniors to beg for donations.
  • Financial exploitation – These are simply dishonest people taking advantage of aged individuals. It may manifest as an “advisor” persuading seniors into bad investments or home maintenance workers who never complete the job.
  • Trusted organizations – Criminals place trusted names and logos on snail mail and email, in order to entice readers to share information. Phishing emails are a perfect example of this. The victim receives an email from their bank or credit card company that seems perfectly legitimate. The message states that there is a problem with the account and the   recipient must click a link to log in and correct the issue.  However, it is just someone impersonating the bank or credit card company with the intention of  stealing account information.
  • Religious affiliations – Your loved one may receive phone calls or texts from a bogus church or religious leader. These will often be signed by a “ “Reverend’ or “Bishop.” They typically ask for money or personal information.
  • Scare tactics – This usually looks like a notification that services or accounts will be discontinued unless the reader clicks a link, shares information, or pays a fee.
  • IRS phone call – This is a relatively new scam where someone calls claiming to be from the IRS stating that if the individual doesn’t pay an overdue tax bill immediately, the police will be dispatched to arrest them. Please note, the real IRS will never call.

Prevention Tips

  • Stop unsolicited communication – Add phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry. This will stop the majority of sales calls. Make all phone numbers unlisted or private. Most phone carriers offer this as a feature. You can also opt out of receiving junk snail mail.
  • Email safety – Avoid opening emails from unfamiliar people/companies. Furthermore, even if the sender appears official or familiar, you should not click on a link or share confidential information.
  • Do not divulge personal data – It is important that you never share identifying information unless you are 100% certain that you are communicating with a trusted organization/person. The best way to ensure that you are speaking to the correct person and not a crook, is to call an official phone number or log into your account through the browser, not by clicking a link. For example, if you receive an email stating that your account is going to be closed unless you login to correct some information; simply type the address in your browser and visit the site. You can then log in safely, without compromising your information. Moreover, if you receive a phone call or email from what appears to be your bank, find the actual phone number from one of your statements or their official website and simply contact them directly, rather than sharing information with someone who calls you.
  • Online payment method – Use a credit card rather than a debit card for use on the Internet. Credit cards generally have better security measures in place.
  • Antivirus software – Make sure your device has up-to-date antivirus protection.
  • Passwords – create strong passwords
  • Do not wire money – This is an outdated method of sending money. It has been replaced with safer, more efficient ways of transferring funds. If someone asks you to wire them money, it is most likely a scam. Additionally, if someone asks you to purchase gift cards and read them the serial numbers, this is a red flag.

Knowledge truly is power, and it is our best defense against fraud. Unfortunately, criminals are not going away anytime soon so we must be vigilant in educating older individuals about these dangers.


Alzheimer’s vs Dementia – Understanding the Difference

Alzheimer-vs-dementiaPeople often use the terms Alzheimer’s and dementia interchangeably. While they are similar, there are some essential differences. If your loved one is dealing with one of these issues, it’s beneficial to comprehend how they differ. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia. A person can have dementia without having Alzheimer’s. However, Alzheimer’s is responsible for 50%-70% of all dementia, which is likely why people use these terms synonymously. It’s vital to know the cause of a person’s dementia to provide proper treatment and care. Some dementia cases are entirely treatable and can be resolved quickly.

What is dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term describing a set of symptoms, rather than a specific disease. It is estimated that there are 80 to 90 various causes of dementia. It is a neurological issue affecting cognition. Symptoms include:
• Memory loss
• Decreased ability to concentrate
• Difficulty communicating
• Inability to plan
• Deterioration of abstract thinking

Irreversible causes of dementia
As stated above, there are many causes of dementia. However, there are a few conditions that are primarily responsible for causing it. These are irreversible, meaning they cannot be cured. These conditions create permanent and sometimes degenerative brain damage.
Irreversible causes:
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Parkinson’s disease
• Huntington’s disease
• Brain injury
• Stroke
• Alcoholism

Reversible causes:
Some dementia can be corrected. The primary causes of this type of dementia include:
• Malnutrition
• Adverse reaction to medication
• Acute infections
• Dehydration

What is Alzheimer’s disease
Shockingly, some researchers estimate that every four seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common cause of dementia. 40 million people worldwide are affected by this disabling disease. There is currently no cure, but scientists, doctors, and researchers continue to search for answers. They have had some success in slowing the progression of the disease. For all of the time, effort, and funding put into studying Alzheimer’s, there is still a great deal we do not understand about it.
Some common symptoms:
• Difficulty sleeping
• Disturbed memory
• Drastic mood changes
• Increasing confusion

Early diagnosis is vital because treatments may be able to slow the disease. If you suspect your loved one has Alzheimer’s, have them tested immediately. Diagnosis is made through advanced imaging technologies. Basically, doctors take pictures of the brain to decide if a person has Alzheimer’s. It is a very noninvasive and effective way to test for this disease. Spinal fluid analysis is another method of testing, although it is more invasive and involves a lumbar puncture.

There is no shortage of information available about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If your loved one has been diagnosed with either of these conditions, take the time to educate yourself so you can help in providing the absolute best solutions. Many families struggle to deal with these disorders. It can be very stressful and devastating for everyone involved. Luckily, there are numerous support systems in place to help families get through it. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your community for assistance. You may find comfort and knowledge in support groups, religious organizations, and wellness education programs.


Alzheimer’s Association

Dementia Society of America

Parkinson’s disease foundation





Tips for Depressed Seniors

Tips for Depressed Seniors Depression is a common problem for the elderly. However, it should not be accepted as a normal or necessary part of aging. Treatment is available for this condition. If you believe your elderly loved one is suffering from depression, seek help immediately. Below are some tips to assist you.


Recognizing Depression

The first step is to observe your loved one and determine if she is, in fact, suffering from depression. A few of the more obvious signs include:

Increased or decreased appetite

Lack of energy

Loss of interest in activities

Increased sleep

The important thing to look for is a change in behavior. For example, if your mother went to church every sunday for the past five years but no longer attends because she prefers to sleep, this is a red flag.

Tips for Fighting Depression


It is crucial for elderly people to have a social network. Creating new friendships and fostering existing relationships has an enormous impact on increasing overall happiness and wellness. There are numerous ways seniors can make new friends. Some of these include attending church, joining a book club, taking a class, or just spending time in a local coffee shop.

Restrict Alcohol and Drugs

It is estimated that at least 17% of seniors have a substance abuse problem. They often try to self medicate with drugs and alcohol to suppress pain from physical ailments or to escape anxiety and depression. However, drugs and alcohol exacerbate depression in the long-term. It is also very dangerous to mix alcohol with various medications and since most elderly people take numerous medications, this can be lethal.

Improve Sleep

Sleep deprivation is a significant contributing factor to depression. Seniors often experience interrupted sleep cycles, which puts them at risk for depression. Treat insomnia to avoid this. Read our article on seniors and sleep for more information.

Grief versus Depression

Most elderly people have experienced the loss of friends and loved ones. It is useful to understand the difference between grief and depression. Grief typically resolves itself over time while depression requires proactive methods for improvement. Grief comes in bursts of intense emotion and depression is a persistent long-term condition. Grief can lead to depression, so if your loved one seems to linger in grief for too long, it may be a sign that they are slipping into a state of depression.

Depression is a serious issue for people of all ages. It is particularly dangerous for elderly people since they are already at risk for so many other issues. If you suspect your loved one is depressed, please seek assistance immediately.


The Crucial Role of Adequate Sleep for Elderly People

Sleep for Elderly PeopleWe know that sleep is important for everyone. The body needs rest in order to repair and energize. Serious mental and physical problems are associated with sleep deprivation. Unfortunately, many seniors suffer from inadequate sleep. In this article, we examine the unique role sleep plays in the lives of seniors.

How much sleep do seniors need?

There is some debate on this issue. Most experts believe aging adults need the same amount of sleep as they did in previous life stages . The average amount being 7 to 9 hours per night. Some researchers believe elderly people need a bit less sleep, closer to seven hours. Seniors often split their sleep throughout the day, getting four hours at night and another three or four during the day napping. This is considered healthy and safe, as long as the individual gets enough sleep during a 24 hour period. The one thing everyone agrees on, is that the quality of sleep is the most important factor. Seniors suffering from sleep deprivation often have poor quality of sleep rather than insufficient quantity.

Why do seniors have poor quality sleep?

When sleep is interrupted, it disrupts the sleep cycles and diminishes the quality of sleep. Elderly people experience interrupted sleep patterns for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Medication – A number of medications cause sleep disruption and insomnia. Combining medications may also lead to these issues. Most aged people are on numerous medications.
  • Anxiety/depression – It is common for elderly people to have experienced the loss of loved ones, spouses, and close friends. This causes significant anxiety and depression. Major life changes that seniors experience during this stage of life also create a lot of stress and anxiety.
  • Biology – As we age, our bodies slow production of chemicals and hormones we need for sleep. This includes things like melatonin.
  • Neurological conditions – Conditions that affect neurology like parkinson’s and stroke may create disruptions in sleep.
  • Pain – Arthritis and other painful physical conditions make it difficult for elderly people to remain asleep for long periods of time.
  • Sleep apnea – This is the most common sleep disorder among seniors.

Dangers of inadequate sleep

  • Falls/injury – Without proper sleep, people become more prone to falls and injury.
  • Illness – There is an increased risk of illness when the body does not receive proper rest. This can be something as simple as a common cold or more severe like a stroke.
  • Anxiety/depression – These mental issues are exacerbated by lack of sleep.

It is vital for elderly people to receive the proper duration and quality of sleep. Seek professional advice if you think your loved one is sleep deprived.

Tips to Protect Your Aging Loved Ones from Injury

Tips to Protect Your Aging Loved Ones from Injury

Injuries are a leading cause of hospitalization for elderly people. These traumas are often caused by a fall. There are a number of inexpensive items available to help seniors avoid falls. Here, we will examine a few of these products.

The bathroom is a hot spot for injuries. It is often difficult to maneuver in and out of the shower/tubs and to transition to or from the toilet.


  • Shower/tub bench – these benches give your loved one a stable place to sit in the shower or tub.
  • Slip prevention – it is important to have a non-slip surface inside the shower or tub. This can easily be solved with a mat or non-slip stickers.
  • Grab bars – these bars are often installed near the toilet or shower to provide something for the individual to grab onto for stability.

It is crucial that the floor remains free of clutter and debris. Furthermore, keep an eye on rugs or mats that become frayed or create a tripping hazard. Wires should be kept out of high-traffic areas around the living quarters. If your loved one uses any type of mobility assistance device like a cane, walker, wheelchair, or scooter, make sure the environment is suitable for that particular aid. For example, a walker may easily get caught on rugs, so you would need to remove them or guarantee that the rugs were not causing an issue.

Emergency call systems
One of the best ways to protect your loved one is to use an emergency call system. Many assisted-living communities provide these safety measures. If your loved one is in an independent living community or still resides in their own home, there are products available for individuals. Many of these devices are non intrusive wearable products that simply provide an extra level of safety.

Bed rails are a very easy way to ensure that a person does not fall out of bed. Special bed alarms are available to let caregivers know if a person falls out of bed or needs assistance. Bed railing also offers some leverage and stability when transferring in or out of the bed.

These are just a few easy ways you can protect your aging loved one from injury.

Featured Daily Living Aid – Electronic Magnifiers

electronic magnifier


A significant number of elderly people are visually impaired. There are many low-vision aids to assist individuals in their daily living activities. One of the most useful devices is the electronic magnifier. Visually impaired people generally cannot read standard-sized print. These magnifiers allow people to read virtually anything. With a little practice, an individual can also learn to write using the magnifier. For instance, it can be used to fill out forms, write checks, and sign papers.

What is an electronic magnifier?

It is simply a camera that feeds into a screen. So whatever the camera “sees”, is fed into the screen. It is often an 18 inch or larger flat screen monitor. The image size can be adjusted, as well as contrast and color. 

How is this more beneficial than a handheld magnifier?

Handheld magnifiers are limited in their capabilities. It is very difficult to hold a magnifier steady to keep the image clear. Furthermore, they only magnify a small window of the overall text or picture. Additionally, it is nearly impossible to write while holding a magnifier in one hand and attempting to keep it steady enough for a clear image. Most electronic magnifiers are tabletop devices that remain in one place, providing a stable image. There are also no options to change colors and contrast with a traditional magnifier.

What is the cost of an electronic magnifier?

As with any product, prices vary by a considerable amount. The more features your magnifier has, the greater the expense. Generally speaking, prices range from $1,000-$5,000. A number of different companies sell these devices. A quick online search will reveal plenty of options.

Understanding the value of an electronic magnifier

It is helpful for sighted people to comprehend the immense positive impact these devices have on the lives of visually impaired people. Imagine your loved one being able to independently read recipes, the newspaper, a favorite book, or even look at family photographs. They can fill out their own paperwork, sign birthday cards and important forms. The person does not need to ask for assistance every time she has something to read or write.


If your family member suffers from any type of severe vision loss, consider this month’s featured daily living aid-an electronic magnifier.   

What is Memory Care?

What is Memory CareMemory care is a specialized type of assisted living designed for people with progressive cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Residents are on a separate wing or floor of the community. It is also known as an SCU (specialized care unit.) Most memory care units are located within a larger assisted-living community. However, there are some communities solely dedicated to providing memory care assistance. Whether it is located within a larger community or stands alone, there are some significant differences between memory care and standard assisted-living.


Memory care environments are created with simplicity in mind. They are easy to navigate so residents can enjoy mobility with less confusion about their surroundings.


Memory care generally has strengthened security measures. This may include emergency call systems RTLS, and surveillance equipment. There are also door locking systems to keep residents from wandering. Elopement is a serious concern, so these specialized units place a high priority on avoiding this type of problem.


As you might expect; the increased level of care comes with a higher price tag. Medicaid and Medicare will often help offset some of the cost involved in this type of care.

Memory care communities also provide all the services of a standard assisted-living community. These include three daily meals, transportation, 24\7 supervision, access to medical care, programs for socializing and entertainment.

Selecting the right community

When seeking the best community for your loved one, there are a few things to keep in mind. Ask about the training of staff to ensure they have qualified caregivers. Memory care requires specialized training, so you don’t want an untrained caregiver taking care of your loved one. Check that the community has specific security measures in place to keep residents safe. People with cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s have a tendency to wander. This can be very dangerous. It’s always a good idea to visit the community to get a feel for it. Your instincts are unfailingly the best guidance in determining the optimal community for your loved one.