How the Net Neutrality Repeal Impacts Seniors

Net Neutrality rules were put in place to protect the Internet and those who use it. These directives prohibited Internet service providers from throttling internet speeds or blocking access to particular websites. Under these guidelines, Internet access was treated as a utility. This means everyone had equal access to services. The growth and freedom experienced through the Internet are largely due to the protections of net neutrality. Unfortunately, Net Neutrality has been repealed, and it is likely to have a significant negative impact on everyone. Many seniors, especially those living on a fixed income, will be affected. Even senior living communities will suffer some consequences. So, how exactly will the Net Neutrality repeal impact senior citizens?

Two Separate Paths  

The most likely outcome of the repeal involves Internet service providers creating two distinct pathways to the Internet. In other words, there will be a “fast lane” and a “slow lane.” In order to access the web at reasonable speeds, individuals will need to pay more money to use the “fast lane.” Furthermore, companies who receive high amounts of traffic to their websites will pay additional “tolls” in the form of fees likely passed on to consumers. People who are unwilling or unable to pay will simply have to deal with slower Internet speeds. Some websites and services may even be completely blocked for users who cannot pay for service upgrades. This would clearly have a negative impact on low-income people, including seniors living on a fixed income. Internet access could be limited or even nonexistent for many people. Seniors use the web, just like younger people. They communicate with friends and family, pay bills, watch videos and acquire information. All the amazing things the Internet has to offer could be restricted unless one can afford to pay the extra fees. Currently, 20% of Americans cannot afford Internet service. This number is expected to increase substantially under the new Net Neutrality repeal, as discussed in The Guardian..

Mobile Plans

Most mobile plans already have data caps. Plan prices will likely increase, and consumers may need to pay extra in order to access certain websites and services via their portable devices. Some older adults are already struggling to pay for cell phone service. Increased pricing may force them out entirely or cause them to switch to a less reliable mobile carrier. This could be dangerous as seniors need to be able to make emergency calls and communicate with important contacts.

The Impact on Senior Living Communities

For communities to conduct business and provide quality services, operators will need to purchase “fast lane” Internet packages. The increased pricing will be an inconvenience, but most senior living communities can afford the additional cost. Specific websites or programs may require special subscriptions. In this case, communities may have to drop some features to stay within budget.

80% of Americans are in favor of keeping Net Neutrality regulations. It is impossible to predict the exact impact of the repeal. In the meantime, some government entities and public organizations are fighting to reinstate Net Neutrality rules. For now, anything is possible and the fate of the Internet is in the hands of the Internet service providers. We can only hope that they will wield their power with grace rather than greed.

 

Preparing Seniors for Hazardous Winter Weather

 With winter in full swing, many areas throughout the country are experiencing dangerous weather conditions. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable during these situations, as caregivers or emergency call responders may be unable to travel and reach the individual in need. There are some things you can do to help your aged loved one prepare for hazardous winter weather.

Cold Temperatures

Freezing temperatures can be quite dangerous for seniors. If a person’s body temperature falls too low, he or she may suffer from hypothermia or frostbite. These conditions can be fatal. In fact, people over age 65 account for approximately half of the annual deaths caused by hypothermia. The most obvious way to prepare for cold weather is to dress in warm layers. Ask your loved one to stay indoors whenever possible and wear a hat, gloves, and scarf when venturing outside. Warm socks and appropriate footwear are also essential. Indoor temperatures should be kept at a comfortable level. Additionally, it is advised to store extra blankets in case of emergency.

Power Outage

It’s important to prepare for a power outage: not only for cold-weather circumstances, but for any emergency or natural disaster. Ensure that your loved one has easy access to flashlights, batteries, a battery-powered radio, a first-aid kit, some bottled water and nonperishable food items. Most experts agree that about three days worth of supplies are sufficient to get through a minor incident. If a power outage occurs during freezing temperatures, and your older loved ones have no access to heat, it’s crucial that they dress warm indoors and move around frequently to raise core body temperature.

Isolation

Seniors often become isolated during the winter months because travel is more difficult. Loneliness may lead to depression, so it’s important to initiate frequent contact with the older people in your life. A brief, daily phone call may be enough to keep a person’s spirits up. You can also ask friends or neighbors to stop in and check on your loved one. Frequent contact is the key.

Carbon Monoxide

The use of a fireplace, gas or propane heater, or lantern can create dangerous carbon monoxide. It is crucial that you have properly working carbon monoxide detectors in the home if your loved one is heating with these methods. Overexposure to this particular gas can cause serious illness or even death.

Ice

Slipping on ice is dangerous for anyone, but seniors are especially prone to injury and complications from a serious fall. To help avoid accidents, ask your loved one to stay indoors until roads and sidewalks are clear. If they must go outdoors, shoes with excellent traction are necessary. Furthermore, remove shoes immediately upon returning indoors because ice and snow that have attached to the shoes will melt, creating slippery indoor conditions. Additionally, replace worn cane tips to help provide safer mobility. Emergency call alert systems are helpful for seniors who live alone.

If your loved one is in a senior living community, check with the community to determine what precautions they take to protect their residents. Confirm they have working Fall detection systems. Ask about how they ensure floors are kept dry, and what procedures are in place to ensure residents, particularly those with dementia, do not wander outside unmonitored.

Winter weather hazards should not be taken lightly. Following these simple precautions can prevent a catastrophe for your aging loved ones. Take the time to ensure that the seniors in your life are prepared for the winter season.

 

Understanding and Preventing Frailty in Aging Adults

Frailty in Aging AdultsFrailty is a common issue for senior citizens. It is not, however, an inevitable part of aging. Frailty is a syndrome caused by numerous mental and physical factors. Frail people are more likely to become disabled and spend time in the hospital. They tend to get infections more easily because their immune systems are not functioning properly. People who smoke, suffer from depression, have serious medical problems, or are underweight are prone to frailty. While there is no cure for this complex condition, frailty syndrome in older adults can be prevented and treated.

What is frailty syndrome?

It is generally measured by the following symptoms:

  •         Muscle weakness
  •         Fatigue and exhaustion
  •         Weight loss
  •         Slow movement, especially walking
  •         Low activity

Sarcopenia – This is an underlying biological factor of frailty and is characterized by a loss of muscle mass. It is different than muscle atrophy because it replaces muscle with fat and fibroids. Individuals experiencing sarcopenia have decreased muscle strength and general muscle weakness.

Osteoporosis – This condition most often affects older women. It is indicated by low bone density, and those afflicted with this condition are more likely to experience bone fractures and breaks. It can have a significant negative impact on a person’s quality of life and longevity.

Prevention

Fitness

Physical activity is crucial to help avoid frailty. Just a little exercise each day can make a significant difference. Physical activities should be structured according to the individual’s abilities. Walking, for example, is a wonderful way to improve balance, muscle mass, and heart health. Resistance exercises are great for increasing muscle mass as well. If the person is able, he or she should use weights or bands for this endeavor.

Cognitive wellness

It is also important to keep the mind active. There are numerous ways to exercise the brain. Crossword puzzles and games are a popular choice among aging people. Reading and socializing can also help flex “brain muscles.”

Mental illness

It is vital to recognize and treat any psychological conditions, such as depression. These disorders can heavily influence the progression of frailty. When properly maintained and treated, mental illness will have less of a negative impact on a person’s physical health.

Nutrition

It’s no surprise that nutrition is an important factor in maintaining muscle mass. Protein is especially influential for muscle health. The best approach is to have a well-balanced diet, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein. Additionally, seniors should consume plenty of water, particularly if they live in warm climates.

Frailty is a serious issue for aging adults. It can cause a person’s health to decline dramatically. So, it is essential that efforts are made to prevent and treat it. Unfortunately, there is no single, perfect solution. Rather, a holistic approach is needed to ensure aged individuals have optimal overall wellness, which can help prevent and treat this syndrome.

 

What Is a CCRC, and How Do I Select the Right One?

memory-care A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is an ideal senior-living option for those planning to “age in place.” A typical CCRC offers several housing choices, as part of a continuum of care. These generally include independent living, assisted living,Skilled nursing (also known as nursing homes),and, sometimes, memory-care units. They can be the most expensive accommodations for aging adults, but they can be worth the cost. Residents have the flexibility to expand and change services as needed, without having to move to a new community. Care is individualized, and therefore it is more precise.

CCRC Services

Most community operators encourage residents to socialize, offering numerous education and entertainment programs. Other basic services may include the following:

  • health care services
  • meal preparation
  • personal care and hygiene
  • housekeeping
  • transportation
  • emergency assistance

3 Common CCRC Contract Types

  1. Extensive – Also called life contracts, extensive contracts are the most expensive because they include health care services and assisted living with no additional fees.
  2. Modified contract – A modified contract is similar to an extensive contract, except health care services are limited. If a resident needs additional services, he or she is charged a separate fee.
  3. Fee per service – This contract is less expensive initially. However, residents are charged for services on an as-needed basis.

Selecting the Right Community

It’s important to note the financial health of any prospective CCRC. These communities are very costly to maintain and tend to cut resident services when they are struggling financially. You want to ensure that this is not going to be a problem for your loved one in the future. An easy way to determine if a community is financially stable is to check residency rates. Such rates should be at or near capacity to maintain financial wellness.

Do some research online as well. Medicare.gov can provide ratings for skilled nursing facilities, as do individual state’s long term care ombudsmen. And there are a number of resources available to help you through the evaluation process.

Compare the costs to the cost for maintaining your loved one in their current home. Costs like transportation, companion care, housekeeping, transportation, meals, and medication assistance when added to mortgage or rent costs can end up being the same or more as a CCRC, so don’t automatically assume a CCRC is out of their budget range. Also consider if the community has an “entrance fee,” a one-time up-front payment and whether that is partially refundable. And don’t be afraid to ask what the annual increase is so that can be factored into your loved one’s budget.

Evaluation Tips

If possible, spend a few days in a community observing and assessing it. Some important factors to consider include the following:

  • The property – Is the facility properly maintained? Check the interior and exterior of the community. Does it feel like home, or does it seem institutional? It should be comfortable and homey so your loved one is at ease.
  • The residents – Speak with the residents. Inquire about their experiences in the community. Are they happy with the services? Do they have issues or complaints? Do they feel as though it is a good value? Most importantly, are these residents the type of people whom you want as friends and neighbors?
  • The staff – Speak with the staff to determine if they are friendly and genuinely caring. Ask to see licenses and credentials. Look at recent inspection reports. Make sure to inquire about any complaint investigations.

Finding the right community for your loved one is crucial to his or her happiness and well-being. Take your time with this endeavor. Above all, trust your instincts. If something feels “wrong” with a community, simply scratch it off your list and move on.

CCRCs offer wonderful senior-living solutions. As always, due diligence is the key to selecting the right services for your aging loved ones.

Preparing for a Loved One’s Golden Years

 Caring for aging loved ones has its challenges. The unexpected will undoubtedly occur. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prepare. It’s probably impossible to avoid all obstacles, but anything we can do to make circumstances more manageable, is well worth our time. A little planning and preparation truly go a long way. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a loved one’s golden years.

Documents

It is crucial for at least one family member to have access to the aging individual’s important documents. It is very stressful to gather needed records in the middle of a crisis. Having these in advance will save your family from unnecessary anxiety. Commonly required documents include:

  • ID – A photocopy of the person’s photo ID or driver’s license.
  • Certificates – You need certified copies of birth, marriage, and if applicable, spouse’s death certificates.
  • Social security card
  • Medical insurance cards – Medicaid, Medicare, and other health insurance cards.
  • Vehicle titles.
  • Passwords to online accounts.
  • Military records if applicable.
  • Contacts – Significant addresses, phone numbers, and emails.

Advance Directives

Living Will

This legal document is extremely helpful. It defines an individual’s wishes if they become unable to advocate for themselves. It generally refers to end-of-life care and decision-making. Your loved one outlines instructions on how to handle issues like mechanical ventilation, resuscitation, and pain management. It leaves little room for debate, giving families some much-needed relief during an immensely stressful time.

Health Care Power of Attorney

This legal document allows your loved one to choose someone to make decisions on their behalf. Of course, this person should generally understand the wishes of the aged individual. This type of advance directive requires a great deal of trust.

Frequent updates

Some information needs to be revised often. Try setting up a quarterly schedule to record changes.

 

Medication

Having a current list of medications is vital. Furthermore, note any allergies your loved one has to food or medicine. It’s helpful to have copies of medication dosage, filling pharmacy, and the doctor who prescribed it . Don’t forget over-the-counter meds, vitamins, and supplements that the individual takes regularly.

Finances

A person’s financial information is very private, so it’s understandable why your loved one may not want to share much of this data. However, it is tremendously useful to have on hand. This is especially true of expenses. If an individual must spend several weeks in the hospital, someone needs to make sure personal bills are being paid. In more serious situations, assets and investments play a crucial role in providing proper care. You may need to have an in-depth discussion with your loved one to explain how important it is for someone to have access to their finances. Perhaps they can select a trusted family member with whom to share this information. It should include assets, investments, expenses, bills, and bank account details,

We can’t predict the events that will occur as our loved ones age. We can, however, prepare and plan for various potential situations. Put forth a little effort now to prevent your family from experiencing unnecessary strain in the future.

 

What Is a Senior Care Consultant and Do I Need One?

senior care consultant

Elder care is a complex issue. It is often overwhelming for families to determine the best course of action for their elderly loved ones. Fortunately, there are professionals who can help.

What Is a Senior Care Consultant?

Senior care consultants are health service professionals with an express focus on aging and elderly care. They are also called geriatric care managers. Many of them have worked as social workers, psychologists, gerontologists or nurses.

Services Provided by a Consultant

  • Planning – The consultant will work with you to create the best plan of care.
  • Finding Resources – Services related to nursing, and elderly care are countless. The consultant will pinpoint the best options for your particular situation.
  • Senior benefits – A consultant will discuss with you things like Medicaid, Medicare, and other state and federal programs precisely designed to benefit the elderly·
  • Family Consultations – The consultant will assess your family circumstances. With this, she will be able to determine the level of care needed. She will also ensure that family members are in constant communication with her and with one another. Getting a consensus among members in making care decisions is one important task of senior care consultants.
  • Legal Matters – Consider hiring a consultant who works in partnership with an elder lawyer. Do you need assistance in legal matters involving your elderly loved one, such as advance directives, living wills, or estate planning? Guardianship and revocable living trusts are additional legal matters you may need to address.

Do I need a senior care consultant?

This really depends on your specific situation. Finding the best care is a time-consuming endeavor. If you have the resources and time available to navigate these waters alone, then you likely will not need a consultant. However, if you are a busy person or simply feel overwhelmed by all the information, a senior care consultant is a wonderful solution. Having a professional to help with these huge decisions relieves an enormous amount of stress from family members. We all want what is best for our loved ones. Evaluate your needs and decide if a consultant is right for you.