Making a ‘Retirement Plan’ for Driving
A key component to aging in place is mobility — being able to get around independently. And in much of America, ‘mobility’ equals ‘driving.’ However, there may come a point when driving themselves is no longer a safe option for seniors; diminished vision, cognitive changes, and medication side effects are just some of the hazards that can jeopardize elderly drivers. But often, the issue isn’t raised until it must be dealt with, and it can be a point of contention between patients who want to feel independent and the caregivers or family members who must ask for the keys.
Giving up driving — or having driving privileges taken away — can be a difficult transition, one that may be harder to accept if it happens abruptly. Medical care can suffer, and feelings of isolation can contribute to depression. This NPR story takes the example of a few savvy seniors who made an advanced plan for ‘driving retirement.’ Researching transportation options and discussing possible solutions well before they are necessary may be preferable to scrambling once a need is already apparent (much like advanced care planning, in fact). Acknowledging that driving might not always be a feasible transportation choice can put wheels in motion toward safer driving practices now…and an easier transition to potential ‘retirement’ later.
(It’s Never Too Soon To Plan Your ‘Driving Retirement’; NPR)
Meat and Meat Products Linked to Cancer
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified processed meat as ‘carcinogenic to humans,’ where it joins known cancer-causing substances like tobacco and asbestos. The agency estimates that eating the equivalent of two slices of bacon daily increases a person’s risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. Moreover, red meat, including beef, lamb, and pork, has been classified as ‘probably carcinogenic.’ Americans have long been advised that the amount of meat in our diets is risky for heart disease, weight management, and other health concerns; this latest announcement adds another wise argument for enjoying meat in moderation.
(Bacon and other processed meats can cause cancer, experts say; Reuters)
For Medicare Open Enrollment, Researching Options Can Pay Off
Open enrollment for Medicare has begun, and continues through December 7. Many seniors enrolled in Medicare, and/or in a separate prescription drug plan, tend to stay with whatever plan they already have. But this article makes the case for shopping around for the best coverage and price, especially for drug plans. The Medicare website offers a plan search tool that can be personalized to your specific needs. No matter what your situation or coverage, it’s a good idea to read up on your options and the time frames for enrollment.
(Check Your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, Then Check It Again; New York Times)
- You can’t reduce your risks without knowing your risks. This study found that seniors had better outcomes when they received personalized counseling based on the results of a health questionnaire. Residential Home Health offers a 15-question, 60-second Home Care Assessment that can also identify risk and identify the potential benefit of home health care. (Health risk assessments may benefit elderly; Reuters)
- For seniors who need some assistance in their care and daily living, this new legislation opens up more avenues for support in the home, an exciting alternative to a more costly skilled nursing or inpatient facility. (Congress Passes Bill to Increase Home Health Options; Home Health Care News)
- This article offers suggestions and reassurance for times when you may be at a loss for what to do. (Coping with the Impending Death of a Loved One; Pallimed)
- Our favorite of author Eric J. Hall’s tips for Alzheimer’s caregivers: Let your loved one make some decisions, but narrow the options down to two or three to make the choice a manageable one. (Advice for Alzheimer’s Caregivers: 9 Simple Tips for Simple Daily Tasks; Huffington Post)
- Investigating the ‘off-target effects’ of a drug — that is, results beyond the one it was designed for — can bring surprising results. A drug already approved for leukemia is having startling effects on Parkinson’s symptoms and associated dementia. (Can a Cancer Drug Reverse Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia?; NPR)
- The realities of aging in place can lead to more seclusion, whether intentional or not. This piece outlines the risks that come with isolation, as well as practical tips for healthy engagement with family, friends, and the community. (Helping Seniors Avoid Isolation; Inside Elder Care)
- It’s called ‘relaxation response training,’ and its stress-busting effect does a body good. (A sun salutation a day may keep the doctor away; Reuters)
- In this recent study, patients managing their diabetes were able to stay on course and out of the hospital with a regular schedule of care and oversight. (Patients using nurse practitioners are less likely to have avoidable hospital admissions; MNT)
- The American Cancer Society revised its recommendations for mammography back in October. Everybody’s guidelines are a little different; here’s the breakdown. (OK, When Am I Supposed To Get A Mammogram?; NPR)
- Mammogram results can require follow-up tests for many women (this article estimates that 6 in 10 women have a false-positive experience in their lifetime). The medical community is hoping to find ways to alleviate the anxiety of waiting for that next appointment and additional results. (Called Back After A Mammogram? Doctors Are Trying To Make It Less Scary; NPR)