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October 2, 2020 Senior Lifestyle0

Our senior population has always been at risk of isolation. Being amid a pandemic has increased that risk exponentially. While human to human contact has been minimized for every demographic, the need for companionship and connection is, perhaps, more vital than ever. Luckily, the addition of a pet may help fulfill many of the emotional needs that are lacking in a senior’s life. Read on to learn our top five reasons why the senior in your life could benefit from having a pet. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are several benefits of owning a pet. This includes decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness, and increased opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities, and socialization.


With the Coronavirus pandemic and the growing potential for senior isolation, pets may provide a sense of companionship to their owners. Loneliness may lead to depression and anxiety. The addition of a living being may help the senior in your life overcome those conditions and cope with long periods without friends or family around.

The bond between a human and their pet should not be underestimated or taken lightly. A study conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which included 2,233 pet owners in the United States (74% of dog owners, 60% of cat owners, and 45% of bird owners), considered their pet to be a child or family member. Imagine the amazing psychological and mental health benefits that would have on a senior, who’s family has grown up and moved out. The study also revealed that pet owners in the United States spent $34.4 billion on their pets, making the pet industry nearly double the toy industry’s size.


Pets may offer the elderly a reason to get out and get active. You may be wondering, “what is the best pet for a senior?” For those who can still walk and move about with ease, a dog may be the perfect addition to their lives. It will give them a reason to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. Generally, larger dogs require more extensive exercise regimens and more space (i.e., a big yard). If that isn’t available, consider either a smaller dog or an elderly dog. Check with your local ASPCA or shelter. They may even offer free pet adoption for seniors. With several fire evacuations in effect on the west coast, many pet shelters are overfull and in need.

Cats also make fantastic pets for seniors because they are relatively self-sufficient and don’t need to be taken for walks. A self-cleaning litterbox may be all that is required. If the cat is allowed outdoors, consider installing a pet door so that they can go in and out without any assistance.


Because the senior population may be vulnerable, they have an inherent risk for home theft or burglary. If no one nearby can help protect them from predators, a pet may offer the perfect solution. Even though most well-natured dogs won’t necessarily attack someone who trespasses, they will likely bark and make noise when anyone approaches their home. This can, at the very least, give the senior an alert that someone is coming. If the pet of choice is a larger or more aggressive breed, they may be territorial enough and pose a threat to unwanted visitors by looks alone.

Emotional Support

After the passing of a spouse, many elders wind up living alone. They may go days or weeks without friends or family members stopping by for a visit. This can lead to emotional (or physical) isolation. All human beings need touch and connection to maintain their mental health. A pet can be the perfect solution for fulfilling this need. Mammals especially enjoy being pet, touched, cuddled, and spoken to.

According to Dacher Keltner, Ph.D. and professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkely, “To touch is to give life.” In his article, he explains that preterm newborns who received a mere three 15-minute sessions of touch therapy each day for just five to ten days gained a whopping 47% more weight than premature infants who had received standard medical treatment. He also explains that touch signals safety and trust, it soothes, and even calms cardiovascular stress. This is all due to the release of oxytocin, aka, “the love hormone.” This release is triggered by touch and contact. A pet may be the perfect means to stimulate this response, and these benefits for a senior who lives alone.

Structure and Routine

After a lifetime of working hard and a fruitful career, many elders may be burdened with a sense of futility and boredom after they retire. The transition from upholding many responsibilities and caring for others to a life alone with no assignments may lead to depression and confusion. The pandemic proved to many people of all ages that it could be easy to lose track of what day it is and the time when the structural confines of schedules and tasks are removed from our lives.

For an elder who lives alone, a pet may help instill a sense of purpose, structure, and routine. Taking care of a living being who demands food at certain times, regimented exercise, health and wellness checks, and regular hygiene care may be an excellent addition to the life of someone who doesn’t have much else to worry about. It could give them a sense of structure and routine.

In addition to these five benefits of pet ownership, there are many opportunities for socialization with other humans based on having a furry friend. If you are in the Boston area, here are several Meetups for pet owners. Most places have Meetups, so feel free to search the city that you live in to connect with other people with pets.


Senior citizens are often stuck at home for several days on end. When they have outlived their spouses, or don’t have family nearby, they are more prone to becoming bored and depressed. Luckily, there are a number of senior activities that can help them stay active and engaged.  

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), physical activity is vital for healthy aging and can reduce the risk of premature death. Adults 50 and older are especially at risk for chronic diseases, and physical activity is helpful in the prevention of these. In order to maintain their mental health, activities for seniors should also stimulate their brain, engage their creativity, and activate their problem-solving skills. Anything that fosters a sense of community is especially beneficial for maintaining their quality of life. If you are wondering what activities are good for seniors, read on for our top ten list.


Water-based exercise can decrease the risk of chronic illness. It is also helpful for those who suffer from arthritis. Because movement in water naturally provides resistance, swimming and water aerobics are ideal cardio exercises for seniors. The weightless sensation in water makes these movements low-impact on joints, which is especially helpful for aging adults with chronic pain. Many community centers, senior activity centers, and YMCAs have indoor pools and offer senior programming.


While shopping may seem like a chore to some, it is a great way to get seniors out of the house and in a more stimulating environment. With COVID-19 still present and considered a major risk for our more vulnerable population, indoor grocery stores may not be the ideal choice for a recreational shopping trip with your mom or dad. In this case, consider searching for and visiting outdoor flea markets, farmer’s markets, or craft fairs. Search the local newspaper for yard sales in your neighborhood as well.

COVID-19: Social Distancing Tips for State Re-Openings
Senior Isolation During the Coronavirus Pandemic


Sometimes all it takes to combat boredom and isolation for an elder is to change up the scenery. When limited mobility is an issue, consider taking them for a scenic drive or road trip. If you live in an area where the leaves change color in the fall, they will enjoy driving through nature to see the beauty. If you are in the Boston area, consider taking them on a day trip to drive up to the top of Mount Greylock. It is the highest point in the state, and the summit is accessible by car. The views from the top are incredible and they can enjoy fresh, clean, Berkshire air.


If you aren’t quite sure how to motivate seniors to participate in activities, consider setting them up with a chair yoga video at home. Since in-person classes are largely minimalized due to the pandemic, and many seniors are staying in whenever possible, they can easily enjoy this low-impact activity from the comfort of their own living room. There are many health benefits of practicing yoga. Contrary to popular belief, the student does not need to be at all flexible or athletic. Much of this ancient practice is done through breathing and meditation, making it accessible to older adults.

Yoga Physical Therapy: Healing From Within


Golf can be a fun and exciting way to get your senior outside and with friends. They can walk from hole to hole or ride a golf cart if mobility is an issue. Sunshine and fresh air can do wonders for mental and physical health at any age but is especially important for seniors who may be stuck indoors for long periods of time. Golf is also a sport that can help exercise and refine gross motor skills, which naturally decline with age.


Even when space is limited, seniors may enjoy the creation and caretaking of a small herb garden in their kitchen. It can be rewarding to nurture new life. Plus, who doesn’t love the flavor of fresh herbs in their cooking? Herb gardens can also be healing and aromatic in the home. Many herbs and small plants are easy to find, grow, and maintain.


Once the herb garden has matured, seniors will enjoy cooking with their new, home-grown ingredients! This can be a fun and creative way to incorporate healthy life-preserving habits into their routine. If the seniors in your life don’t know about Pinterest, this can be a phenomenal resource for finding unique and exciting recipes. It may also be a great gateway to introduce unfamiliar technology.

Get Tech Savvy: 3 Best Apps for Seniors


Scrapbooking is one of the best craft activities for seniors. Nostalgia is common for the elderly population. Compiling old memories, photographs, and keepsakes into beautifully curated pages may bring joy to those who spend a lot of time alone, indoors, or sedentary.


Knitting and crocheting are also some of the best craft activities for seniors. Patterns can be as simple, free-form, or as complex as they would like. Creating something beautiful and functional from a single strand of yarn will likely feel rewarding. There is nothing more comforting or sentimental than a hand-made blanket from someone you care about. By requesting that they make these items for you and other members of your family, you are likely to give your elders a sense of purpose.


Our final activity is to bring your mom or dad to the library. A membership card is free and will give them access to thousands of books, articles, and in some cases public computers with internet and collections of DVDs and videos for rent. If they aren’t gung-ho about social media or reading the news online, they may enjoy a low-key outing to the public library. There they can potentially join book clubs and connect with other seniors with common interests.


It can be challenging to see your parents’ health in decline. A normal part of the aging process involves changes in diet, which all too often results in malnutrition. When senior citizens consume less food, they can easily miss out on important nutrients that will help them to stay healthy, strong, and energized. Vitamins and supplements can be helpful in an effort to replace and replenish, but when it comes to bioavailability, there is really no substitute for ensuring that proper senior nutrition is achieved. With some advanced planning and careful consideration of ingredients, disease-causing dietary deficiencies can be managed or avoided. Read on to learn more about foods that will boost memory, immunity, and energy levels in order to optimize recipes for your elderly parents. 

Foods to Boost Memory

According to AARP, Vitamin E may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. Findings from a study involving more than 600 patients revealed that a daily high dose of vitamin E extended participants’ ability to accomplish everyday tasks (such as getting dressed, bathing, or eating) independently by an average of six months. When you are considering food options for your elderly parents, there are some vitamin E and omega rich ingredients that you should considering including.

Unrefined oils (like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil) are a nutrient-dense option. They can be added into salad dressings, used for cooking, or drizzled on top of meat or veggies for extra flavor and boosted senior nutrition. Avocados are a superfood as well as a source of vitamin E. Bonus! They require very little preparation. This is great news for those short on time who are tasked with planning make-ahead meals. If the senior in your life is picky or gets bored easily when it comes to dining, consider preparing them seafood. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna are high in omega-3s and can be prepared in a variety of ways, so you can easily switch it up each week.

Nuts, seeds, and whole grains are healthy additions to diet plans for the elderly as well. Whole grains are rich in fiber and are usually easy to chew and swallow. Oatmeal is a perfect breakfast choice when it comes to senior nutrition. It is somewhat of a blank canvas and therefore an opportunity to provide some variety in flavors every morning. Fruits, nuts, and seeds can be added to oatmeal. If they cause difficulty in the digestion process, nut and seed butters are not only potent for brain health, but also beneficial for the heart.

“Am I Having a Senior Moment or Could it be Dementia?”

Immunity-Boosting Foods 

Perhaps now more than ever, we are aware of the vulnerability of the senior population. With the pandemic at the forefront of every news broadcast and every social media feed, the awareness and desire to protect our elderly population is greater than ever. Even prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, it was understood that when it comes to older adults, nutrition guidelines must include immune-boosting ingredients. There is a strong connection between the body’s immune system and the body’s gut health. Keeping the perfect balance of healthy bacteria can make or break a person’s defense to common colds, the flu, or any other predatory invasion of the biome.

The consumption of probiotics can be a gamechanger in promoting gut health and efficient digestion. Chances are, your parents or grandparents already have to take a fair amount of medications. Rather than adding in probiotic supplements, you can add yogurt into their meal plan. Many brands of yogurt on the market are loaded with sugar, preservatives, and other additives. This can weaken its potency, or worse, be detrimental to the health of the consumer. You are better off sticking with plain yogurt and adding it to smoothies or nutritional drinks for seniors. While you are preparing the blender, add in some elderberry, which is loaded with antioxidants (and delicious flavor), pomegranate juice, which is high in vitamin C, and wheat germ, which is high in zinc.

Another staple for make-ahead meals for seniors should be sweet potatoes and carrots. They are easy to prepare and keep without spoiling for a long time. These beta-carotene providers will help remove free radicals from the body. You can sprinkle them with sautéed garlic for flavor, and to aid in fighting bacteria and viruses.

The Importance of a Strong Immune System

Foods to Boost Energy Levels

Senior nutrition can play a critical role in how much energy a person has, how often they need to sleep, and for how long. Many older adults take prescribed medications that cause dehydration. An obvious dietary choice (though not a food) is to consume more water. However, another – perhaps more enjoyable – way to hydrate is to eat watermelon. This miracle fruit is a potent antioxidant and can help alleviate muscle soreness. It is also rich in vitamin C and lycopene, which can boost immunity and heart health.

Walnuts are another prime source for a quick energy boost, carrying an abundance of protein and fiber. Experts say that foods are helpful in maintaining the health of the body parts that they visually resemble, and walnuts resemble a human brain in that they are a similar shape. Improved cognitive function, memory, and mood can be achieved by adding walnuts to diet plans for the elderly.

The old adage, “You are what you eat,” may have been written to teach children about food choices, but it still holds validity in a nation that is (according to the health.gov Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020) rampantly exceeding the recommended intake of added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that dietary factors correlate directly to diseases common in our senior population. Because the elderly population tends to operate at a lower caloric intake, it is exceedingly important to ensure that their calories count. By cutting out the junk and including an abundance of nutrient-dense foods that boost memory, immunity, and energy levels, you can prolong and optimize the health of your loved ones.


July 10, 2020 Senior Lifestyle0

It sure is a wild time to be alive! With the help of modern medicine, the average lifespan of a human being is 79 years. That means that our average senior citizen was born in the 1940s and 50s. In that era, people relied on typewriters and rotary-dial phones to conduct business. Forget Tinder! You had to actually know someone well enough to ask them in person if they would meet you for a milkshake for your first date. You could really wow them with your favorite song on the jukebox. Color television and microwave ovens were brand new inventions. It is safe to say that we have come quite a long way! From smartphones to smart home devices to Elon Musk’s latest and potentially greatest invention, the Neuralink, it is no surprise that technology has become overwhelming for the older population. Let’s review some of the best apps for seniors.

According to a 2017 AARP study, mobile and traditional computing devices are the primary technology resource owned by Americans aged 50 and older. Seven out of ten seniors own a smartphone. This tells us that with the ever-changing nature of technology, seniors are adapting to modern times. While they may be reluctant, there are some fantastic apps on the market that even the elderly who struggle with technology could benefit from. Their overall quality of life may be improved with the click of a button.

Technology for Seniors: Our Top 3 Apps for Elderly Folks:

1. Find my iPhone

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, about 40% of people aged 65 or older suffer from memory impairment. While misplacing your phone is a common occurrence for people of any age, the elderly population is more vulnerable to this scenario since they often forget where they are or where they have put things. Luckily, there is an app in place to help! Find my iPhone to the rescue!

Am I Having a Senior Moment or Could it be Dementia?

Once it is set up, users can utilize any iOS device to find their missing iPhone and secure all its data. When in use, the app will show the phone’s location on a map, remotely lock it to keep trespassers out, play a sound so you can find it, display a message so that the finder will know how to reach you, or erase all of the data on it.

Note that we do recommend that you help your senior set it up immediately after purchasing a smartphone. The app only works once it is installed and connected to an iCloud account, which may be something that the average senior will struggle to accomplish alone. The concept of the cloud can be difficult for the elderly to grasp, so it may be easier to simply set it up and connect all of their apps for them.

2. Audible

For the senior in your life who has poor vision or likes stories and books but is no longer able to read them, Audible may be a great app to help them stay entertained. Amazon developed this platform, so it is incredibly user-friendly and offers the most extensive selection of audiobooks of all industry competitors.

Many seniors spend a lot of their time alone, which often translates to watching a lot of television. Audible is a great way to keep your loved one entertained while no one else is around. Too much screen time has notoriously negative impacts, such as eye strain, headaches, and neck, back, and shoulder pains.

According to a study published by the Washington Post, screen time is on the rise for our senior population. While Audible is facilitated through an electronic device, it offers a nice break from watching television, as it is audio-only. For the elderly struggling with technology, the ability to listen to classic literature from their generation may be pivotal in turning off the TV. We also love Audible because the subscriber is not bombarded with ads once the book begins.

3. Be My Eyes

This revolutionary app was created for people who are blind or vision impaired. As we age, our vision changes, often causing loss of peripheral eyesight, light sensitivity, Cataracts, and dry eyes. If only there were a gadget for the elderly living alone, that would enable them a perfect set of eyes on demand! Thanks to Be My Eyes app and video chat technology, there now is!

This amazing platform connects visually impaired users to live people who are available to assist via video chat and screen sharing with every-day tasks. This can be anything from choosing matching attire to reading recipes with fine print to finding a lost set of keys. Beyond the sheer functionality of this app, the senior in your life will undoubtedly appreciate the live human interfacing, since they are often alone.

4. Display Text & Size (Bonus)

Number four is a bonus item because it is not an app, but an elder tech hack. Did you know that you can customize the display settings on any iPhone to make the visual elements easier to see? They offer various settings that would help a variety of sight impairments, such as color blindness or far-sightedness.

To use, go to Settings on your iPhone. (This is the icon that looks like a gear.) Select Accessibility and then Display & Text Size. From there, you can adjust several display elements. For seniors, we recommend switching to a larger, bold font and increasing contrast. This will make their use of technology a lot smoother and more accessible.

Because technology has advanced so quickly, our senior population may feel a bit overwhelmed. The world they grew up in was very different, and life moved at a much slower pace than it does today. Luckily, that has created an amazing opportunity for products, apps, and assistive technology devices for the elderly to be developed. It may take some getting used to, but technology can improve the overall health and quality of life for the senior population.


July 3, 2020 Senior Lifestyle0

For many, assisted living can be a touchy subject. After a lifetime of independence, building, and providing for a family, the senior in your life may find it difficult to consider moving from their home into an assisted living facility. The truth is that at a certain point, the mental and physical health of your loved one may be greatly improved and preserved under professional care and supervision.

Have you noticed unexplained bumps or bruises when visiting mom or dad? Do they sometimes forget where they are going or forget to turn off appliances when they are finished with them? Are they still driving? And more importantly, are they doing so safely? (Hint: look for scratches or dents on their vehicles.) If any of these scenarios sound familiar, it may be time to begin talking with your loved one about transitioning to senior living.

A 2017 AARP report stated that an average of 52% of people aged 65 or older will develop a severe disability that will require Long Term Support and Services (LTSS). The average duration of need over a lifetime is about two years. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there are currently 28,900 residential care communities with 811,500 residents in the United States.

What is Senior Living?

Senior living facilities are condos and apartments within complexes or communities, often chosen when living at home is no longer the most practical option. There are several options to consider when searching for the perfect place for the senior in your life. Finding the right assisted living facility will involve assessing the level of care that your family member requires and ensuring that adequate services can be provided to meet their needs. For example, some facilities are suited only for independent living, while others offer Alzheimer’s Care, which is far more comprehensive.

When ‘shopping’ for the perfect place for you or your loved one, one should consider whether or not there is a need for 24-hour staff, if meals and medications need to be managed and/or administered, and if they will need assistance with bathing, dressing, transportation, and using the restroom.

The Benefits of Assisted Living Facilities

There are many advantages to moving to assisted living, both from a health and lifestyle perspective. Some significant benefits include:

Combats Senior Loneliness

Most senior care facilities have common areas for social and recreational activities. This allows your loved one to develop and engage with a community. Most likely, the same cannot be said if your mom or dad is home alone for all or several hours each day. A study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) argues that both social isolation and loneliness are associated with increased mortality. While you are working all day or tending to a family of your own, your mom or dad may be stuck inside for hours with no one but their favorite soap opera stars to keep them company. In an assisted living facility, they will be given the life-prolonging gift of human engagement, socialization, and specialized care.

Senior Isolation During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Memory Loss Prevention: 6 Steps to Maintain an Active Mind

A Focus on Nutrition and Experiential Dining

There is a wide range of meal services provided by assisted living facilities. On the higher end, residents may enjoy farm-to-table dining, and in some cases, they even enjoy entertainment during their meals. Many places have transitioned from cafeteria to restaurant-styled dining to give seniors a better and more social experience. One of the latest trends is 24-hour access to food (via grab-and-go and food/snack carts.) Regardless of the delivery or presentation, most assisted living facilities are focused on the health and well-being of the residents. Therefore, they offer nutrient-dense meals and monitor residents’ intake and consumption to ensure that they are getting what they need for optimal health and longevity.

Peace of Mind

When you make the (albeit difficult) decision to place your loved one in residential care, you can rest assured that they are closely monitored and tended to by healthcare professionals. Gone will be the days spent worrying whether mom slipped and hit her head on the counter. Your worries about why dad didn’t answer the phone after dinner last night can be put to rest. When your beloved senior requires help, whether it be transportation, clean clothes, or even a social outing, they will have access to several amenities and caretakers who can provide these services for them.

Signs it’s Time to Transition to Senior Living

While it may be a stressful topic of conversation, there are a few tell-tale signs that it is time to talk to your parent(s) about transitioning to senior living. When having this discussion, it’s crucial to keep in mind and highlight the benefits mentioned above and that you have their health and well-being in mind.

If you have noticed excessive weight gain or loss, neglected household maintenance, or an increase in falls/injuries, assisted living may be the best option for your loved one. Seniors who consistently need to be reminded to take their medication, or struggle with personal hygiene or preparing meals would benefit significantly from a team of professional caretakers, ensuring that these essential tasks are handled.

In some cases, the decline of a senior citizen may involve Dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. In these cases, there are assisted living facilities that specialize in memory care. According to AARP, some signs of Dementia to watch for are difficulty with everyday tasks, repeating stories, becoming disoriented, or exhibiting aggression. If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia (or other conditions involving cognitive decline), he or she will eventually and inevitably require 24-hour supervision and skilled nursing.

For the health and safety of the elders in your life, assisted living deserves careful consideration. Even though it may be a challenging and emotional topic, it may be the best option for the optimal care and longevity of your senior family member. Many of the preconceived notions about assisted living facilities are things of the past. New standards and trends in place may make the remaining years of life in senior living a place of community-oriented enjoyment and relaxation. HP Legacy Care Group serves at several in the Boston area.


We are sleepless in Seattle, Los Angeles, Newark, and Boston… Americans across the country are adjusting to the societal changes brought on by the novel coronavirus. As the death toll and unemployment rates continue to climb, and the uncertainty of when life outside will resume, fear and anxiety are causing poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation for many.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 50 million Americans were already suffering from over 80 different types of sleep disorders, and another 20 to 30 million said they experience intermittent sleep problems. As the lines between work, child care, and home have become blurred, the pandemic presents a host of new challenges for people who already experience sleep problems – even for those who previously had none. 

The Coronavirus As A Sleep Inhibitor

Maintaining a daily routine is paramount to our overall well-being. Consistency in our daily activities, such as wake-up times, commuting schedules, regular work hours, designated exercise time, and bedtimes, served as “anchors” to our underlying daily rhythms. However, the coronavirus outbreak changed our daily lives and routines overnight. Without a regular schedule, that absence of consistency in conjunction with the ever-changing pandemic landscape, we find ourselves ruminating in the dark over all of the stressors of the day. 

Sleep impairment, as a result of too many sleepless nights, can aggravate mental and physical health issues. Beyond general irritability and the inability to focus, chronic insomnia impacts a range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Insomnia has also been linked to an increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. A lack of sleep can exacerbate these health problems.

How to Manage Coronavirus Anxiety in this Unprecedented Time

Most healthy adults need 7-9 hours of optimal sleep a night, which helps regulate mood, improves brain function, and increases energy and overall production during the day. Ample rest also supports the immune system, which reduces the risk of infection and can improve outcomes for people fighting a virus. Sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, with the average time clocking in at less than seven hours, according to The National Institutes of Health.

How Do You Know If You Are Sleep Deprived?

If you are getting less than 8 hours of sleep a night, you are probably sleep-deprived. Some people are more resilient to the effects of sleep deprivation, like older adults, while others, like children and young adults, are more vulnerable. Occasional sleep interruptions are typical; however, excessive missed hours can lead to daytime sleepiness, poor job performance, emotional difficulties, and increased anxiety.

Some signs include:

  • Yawning
  • Moodiness
  • Fatigue
  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty learning new concepts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Increased appetite

How You Can Get A Better Night’s Sleep

Sleep is a critical biological process and has essential benefits to both physical and mental health. Sleep is vital for all of us all of the time, but particularly now as we are faced with a pandemic. To nip insomnia in the bud, below are a few suggestions to help achieve a better night’s sleep:

1. Establish a regular sleep routine. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night with the goal of at least 7 hours per night. Your body’s internal clock will eventually adjust, optimizing quality sleep. You may be tempted to sleep in on the weekends, but consistency is the name of the game.

2. Limit screen time at night. Avoid computers, cellphones, tablets, and tv at least an hour before bed. The blue light and light from the television are stimulants and suppress melatonin necessary for sleep. Avoid excessive news consumption, particularly at night. Pandemic updates will most likely increase levels of stress, making it more difficult to fall asleep.

3. Get regular exercise. While the crisis has limited our options for physical activity, there are many ways you can stay moving. People who exercise regularly do experience better quality sleep and fall asleep faster. Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a day supports the biological process in the brain that contributes to higher quality sleep. Exercise does speed up metabolism, elevates body temperature, and increases cortisol levels, so try not to exercise too close to bedtime.

4. Get some vitamin D. Exposure to light plays a crucial role in how our bodies regulate sleep. Spending time outside in natural light, especially in the morning, has a positive effect on our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep/wake cycle, is a 24-hour internal clock that helps our brain cycle between sleepiness and alertness. Keep curtains and blinds open as much as possible, move your desk close to a window and take breaks outside for some sunlight and fresh air.

5. Food for thought. Eating a healthy diet plays a role in how well you sleep. Avoid stimulating foods and drinks such as caffeine, alcohol, sugary foods, and refined carbs. These can trigger wakefulness during the night. Also, avoid heavy or spicy meals late at night as they often result in stomach upset or heartburn—limit fluids close to bedtime to reduce late-night trips to the bathroom.

6. Practice a bedtime routine to calm your mind. For most of us, our brains are highly or overstimulated most of the day. Taking steps to manage overall stress levels can make it easier to wind down before bed. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or mindful meditation, taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music will quiet an overactive brain.

7. Improve your sleep environment. Sometimes even small changes to your sleep environment can make a big difference in the quality of sleep. Make the room as dark as possible as too much light signals the brain to stay awake. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room with a temperature between 60 and 67 degrees. Try a diffuser with a favorite scent like soothing lavender, which can decrease your heart rate and lower blood pressure helping to induce sleep. And, working from home does not mean working from bed. Reserve the bedroom for sleeping, and you know.

The novel coronavirus news changes rapidly, and the times are uncertain. It’s essential to pay attention to self-care and emotional well-being. If you feel your sleep problems are worsening or that the steps taken to improve sleep are ineffective, it is vital to seek the advice of a medical professional.


COVID-19 has quickly become an economic crisis. Many economists agree that we are headed into a recession if we haven’t gotten there already. America has weathered economic downturns in the past, and they are relatively common, with eleven taking place between 1945 and 2009. Despite the fear they induce, they are considered a “normal” exercise in the expansion and contraction of economic cycles. 

However, unlike any other downturn, this one is unique in that it is a result of a virus and the rapid speed at which it has gripped the country. For the sake of public health, businesses large and small have been shuttered for the unforeseeable future. Human suffering from illness and death as a result of the coronavirus has been exacerbated by the staggering number of jobs lost and loss of income.

The abrupt shutdown of economic activity induced by the coronavirus was underscored by 26.5 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits, representing 16.2% of the labor force since mid-March. The financial implications are apparent, but the long term effects on our physical and mental health remain to be seen. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) is warning that the economic fallout could have “persistent negative effects.” It says, hundreds of thousands of people could develop chronic and mental health problems as a result of financial concerns.  

Addressing Coronavirus Financial Concerns

Navigating your finances is difficult in the best of times. With May 1st fast approaching, monthly bills will be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. For people who are no longer earning a regular paycheck and are facing financial hardship, fear of losing a home or calls from creditors can cause a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety.

How To Help With Aging Parents’ Finances

Because of the unique nature of the current recession, forced by government-imposed shutdowns, more assistive programs have been put in place to help support those in need: 


If you have lost your job or your hours have been reduced through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Despite the high number of claims, you are encouraged to apply. If you have never filed for unemployment, there is no longer a physical office you must go to. Registering online is your best bet. If you reside in Massachusetts, go to this website.

Disability Insurance (DI):

If you are unable to go to work because you were exposed to COVID-19, you can file a Disability Claim (DI). Disability Claims are a short term benefit for people who have a full or partial loss of wages due to non-work related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Applications and terms of eligibility (certified by a medical professional) can be found here.

Paid Family Leave (PFL):

If you are unable to go to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member from COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a PFL claim. To do so, go to this site.

Federal Unemployment Assistance:

Due to the loss of insurance formerly provided by an employer, individual states have been permitted to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19.

For unemployment insurance information go here.


To ease the burden for renters, many housing providers across the country are offering flexibility in a variety of forms, including rent deferment, payment plans, and more. Contact your landlord to discuss options if you are facing financial hardship due to the virus. Many states have imposed moratoriums suspending evictions and foreclosures until the end of April, and the CARES act puts a 120-day eviction moratorium in place nationally for residents in properties that are part of a government program or that have a federally backed mortgage loan. 

Tax Returns:

The US Treasury Department has pushed back tax filing and tax payment deadlines to July 15th. 

Bank and Credit Card Relief:

Financial hardship programs have been adopted by several institutions like American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Discover, and more, providing relief to customers. This form of assistance could potentially be in the form of waived fees, deferred or lower payments, lowered interest rates, increased credit lines, and deferred loan payments. If you need assistance, call a trained customer service representative to discuss possible assistance opportunities.

Student Loans:

Federal student loans can be deferred for 60 days with no penalty. The forbearance period began March 13th and will last at least 60 days, according to the Department of Education. Borrowers wishing to take advantage of the deferral should contact their loan servicer.

Balancing Mental, Physical and Financial Health

Worries and anxiety can be overwhelming as we try to adjust to this new normal of living during a pandemic. Staying informed through reliable sources, utilizing community and federal assistance, and healthy stay-at-home tips below are the best ways to ride out this storm.

Be mindful of your health and mental wellness:

  • Get enough sleep. Try to maintain a regular schedule, even if working at home is new.
  • Participate in regular physical activity. While gyms are closed, a walk in the park or neighborhood at the appropriate distance does a body good.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Drink caffeine and alcohol in moderation as they can trigger anxiety and interrupt sleep.
  • Do something for someone else. Having a purpose like helping a neighbor in need will support mental health.
  • Set priorities. Set realistic daily goals and give yourself credit when you have achieved them. Recognize that some days will be better than others.

Americans and the economy are financially vulnerable due to coronavirus. At this point, there is significant uncertainty regarding how prolonged and how severe this economic downturn will be.

The economic impact of the coronavirus is affecting us all, and financial wellness is essential. But physical and emotional health should always be a priority.

Quarantine Pains: Staying Active During Self-Isolation
How to Manage Coronavirus Anxiety in this Unprecedented Time

We have been advised by medical professionals to contact our primary care physician if we are suffering from any of the major systems of the coronavirus. It is equally important to seek the advice of a trained medical professional if you or a loved one is suffering from emotional stress during this challenging time. 

Hoping mental health problems such as anxiety and depression will go away on their own could lead to worsening symptoms. To get help, you may want to reach out to a friend, loved one, or clergy member in your faith community. Your primary health care provider should be able to refer you to a mental health professional as well. There are also organizations such as The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for help and guidance. 

Stay safe, Stay healthy, and remember you are not alone in this challenging time!


Sore back? Achy knees? Tight in places you have never been tight before? Strange, isn’t it? Considering we have been in quarantine for just over a month, which means we are not really doing a whole lot to cause these pains. Or so we think. Have you been staying active? Believe it or not, being in a sedentary environment such as we are causes strain on even the most habitually desk- or couch-bound person.

With the closure of non-essential businesses, we kissed our access to our beloved gyms, workout classes, and activities goodbye. And with stay-at-home orders across the United States (and New England weather that is utterly confusing), our opportunities to get out and moving on our own are quite limited. But our bodies need movement to remain functional. So, even if you aren’t someone who exercises regularly, the simple act of commuting to work or your daily activities helped keep your muscles loose and your joints nimble. Now what?

a senior woman holding her wrist in pain

Plus, the added stress and anxiety that comes with quarantine forces our bodies into positions that reflect how we are feeling: shoulders turn inward, back folds forward, head hangs low. The perfect equation for discomfort. We are all feeling new or pronounced aches and pains due to the pandemic. However, while self-isolation is rough on all our bodies, it is particularly detrimental to the physical health of our senior loved ones who may not be as active as they used to be.

Staying Active: Easy Ways to Get Moving During Quarantine:

The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of work to start feeling better. In fact, simply being more mindful of how you carry yourself, and making a point to move just a little more, can make all the difference. Here are some easy ways your senior loved ones can relieve themselves of pain during self-isolation.

Walk Around the Neighborhood

Going out for a walk is not against the rules… yet! Walking is immediately accessible for most and can be done just about anywhere. If you are used to going to work or a daytime activity, you may not realize just how often you were on your feet; now, being homebound, you don’t have to go very far to get what you need!

a middle aged couple staying active by walking their dog down the street

Taking a 10-minute walk around your neighborhood is an excellent way to stretch your legs and get your blood flowing. If you are lucky enough to live near a trail, even better! Walking is low-impact and easy on the joints. In fact, studies have found that walking may protect against arthritis, and can help reduce arthritis-related pains. The fresh air will also work wonders for your mental health during this difficult time.

How to Manage Coronavirus Anxiety in this Unprecedented Time

Practice Tai Chi

Tai chi is a Chinese martial art that can be easily practiced at home. The exercise combines slow movements, meditation, and deep breathing, with the intent of stimulating vital energy, or “chi.” The ancient tradition has become a popular exercise among older adults in the Western world, largely due to its accessibility: it is another low impact exercise, making it easy on the muscles, joints, and tendons, it can be performed anywhere, and it requires no equipment.

a senior woman staying active by practicing tai chi

Some benefits of tai chi include:

  • Improved balance, which decreases the risk of falls
  • Increased flexibility and stability in the ankles
  • Boosted core strength, which reduces back pain and aids stability
  • Strengthened muscles in the legs
  • Improved cognitive function and memory
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Increased strength for people suffering from chronic illness, such as heart disease and cancer

Considering the nature of being in self-isolation, and the increased risk of feeling lonely during this difficult time, the mental and emotional advantages of tai chi are of particular importance. If you are stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, give it a try in your backyard or living room. Due to the inability to find an instructor at this time, the next best way to learn is by watching online videos for beginners, of which there are plenty!

Take Frequent Breaks

It’s easy to get so absorbed in our favorite Netflix shows or the ongoing news related to COVID-19 that we lose track of time (in fact, too much news can trigger coronavirus anxiety). What was meant to be an hour indulgence has turned into several hours of being inactive, which is not doing our bodies any favors.

a middle aged couple staying active by dancing in their backyard

Treat your day like you would if you were not stuck at home; take breaks every hour or so, whether to use the restroom, dance, water plants, make a phone call, or simply take a lap around your house. Exercise devices like FitBits have features that remind users to “get up and move!” at the top of every hour, which is helpful if you are prone to forgetfulness.

Yoga & Stretching

Yoga has long been promoted as highly beneficial for older adults who struggle with osteoarthritis, imbalance, pain, and other physical limitations. Self-guided stretching is an easy way to promote flexibility, improve range of motion and mobility, and stave off joint deterioration. Holding a certain position for too long can damage tissue, cause muscle tightness, and promote pain in your joints.

two seniors sitting on exercise balls and stretching

And, considering how sedentary we are during quarantine, it should come as no surprise that you’re experiencing pains that you may not be used to:

  • Neck and Shoulder Pain: If you are working from home, you are likely sitting in a non-ergonomic chair and hunching over your laptop or phone for hours on end. Tilting your head and neck for an extended period can create a lot of strain, which can make its way down your back. Also, if you are carrying coronavirus anxiety, this can quickly translate to tension in your neck and shoulders.
  • Upper Back Pain: This can also be a cause of hunching over at your at-home workstation for too long. Your upper back and shoulder blades will quickly fatigue when your elbows aren’t at your sides for an extended period of time.
  • Hip Pain: This may be a result of sitting a lot. When you are constantly bending at the waist, you are shortening your hip flexors, and thus, making them tight.
  • Lower Back Pain: This is also a case of sitting too long or leaning forward excessively.

Yoga is ageless and adaptable, working with all body types, speeds, and abilities. Staying active is especially important for seniors. We recommend that seniors spend at least five minutes stretching a day, even if they aren’t experiencing muscle tightness.

While physical activity is essential in your overall health, don’t forget the importance of eating smart for brain and hearth health! Your diet is just as important as your exercise routine during this trying time. Also, be sure to discuss the best forms of exercise for your senior with a physician before getting started.


A consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic is forced isolation on seniors who rely on socialization. COVID-19 is exacerbating loneliness, which is dangerous to the health and well-being of older adults. Here are some ways you can understand and alleviate the health risks of senior isolation during this trying time. 

As the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) forces us to practice safe social distancing, our neighborhoods, local communities, and airwaves have been flooded with ever-changing advisories related to the pandemic. Government officials have been scrambling to flatten the curve while addressing urgent medical care needs as well as our nation’s rapid plummet into an economic recession. 

However, little attention has been given to what some medical professionals are calling a social recession” – a fraying of social bonds that continue to unravel the longer we go without human interaction. Social connections help us address the challenges we face as individuals and as a society. So, while many parents are overwhelmed with the new normal of having their children learning from home while they are working from home, the greater concern may fall on their own parents. How can forced isolation affect older adults, especially when they may have already been lonely, to begin with? COVID-19 could very well magnify the health risks of solitude.

The AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect has cautioned that more than 8 million adults aged 50 and older are negatively affected by social isolation and loneliness, a “growing health epidemic” akin to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. 

Research has also shown that people who are isolated and have feelings of loneliness are at a higher risk for health conditions such as high blood pressure, cognitive decline, heart disease, a weakened immune system, and depression.  

And this was on a normal day, before COVID-19 swept across the nation, prompting “stay-at-home” directives in most states in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. We now face travel restrictions, and the closure of schools, houses of worship, community centers, and all “non-essential” businesses. We have even been advised to see only the people we live with, keeping us apart from most family and friends.

According to the Centers For Disease Control (as of April 2020), the most vulnerable to the virus are the elderly (people 65 years and older) and people with underlying medical conditions such as:

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • A compromised immune system 
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease (undergoing dialysis)
  • Liver disease
  • Severe obesity

So, we must consider the potential negative repercussions of age, the aforementioned medical conditions, and loneliness when combined.

What “Social Distancing” Means for Older Adults

We are all at risk of feeling lonely and isolated during this time of social distancing. However, the people who are at higher risk for severe illness, our elderly population, may bear the brunt of the social separation. 

Self-isolation for many older adults means a sudden disconnection from all social outlets. Family and friends are warned to stay away, or at a distance of six feet, leaving most elders at home alone (with the exception of those requiring private care). Even those residing in senior living residences and nursing homes are in forced isolation, with the closure of communal dining rooms, halted group activities, and visitor restrictions.

The isolation needed to slow the rate of the virus could incite dire health consequences for older adults and people with disabilities or preexisting health conditions. The unfortunate paradox of doing what is necessary to keep our loved ones safe will ultimately require action to mitigate mental and physical consequences.

How We Can Help With Senior Isolation

Social and physical distancing does not have to mean social disengagement. Here are some easy ways you can help ease your loved one into the new normal:

  • Use technology to stay connected: There are many online options to facilitate “togetherness” with family and friends. Facetime, Skype, Zoom, and Facebook are free and easy ways to get that much-needed “face-time.” Most older adults own a smartphone, desktop computer, or laptop where virtual exercise classes, worship services, books, and games are readily available. Logging into some of these platforms may not be intuitive for some seniors, but a quick Zoom call with a grandchild or a tech-savvy family member will give them the tutorial they need to access these useful tools. Remember, patience is a virtue. And don’t forget the good old fashioned phone call. Designate time to talk, and don’t rush the conversation. With so many working from home, allotting some time in your weekly routine to spend virtual time with a lonely neighbor or loved one will go a long way.
  • Send mail: Encourage friends and family to write cards and letters. Send a care package with favorite snacks, playing cards, puzzles, essential household products, and family photos. A trip to the mailbox will give your loved one a chance to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. Physical correspondence will serve as a reminder that they are in your thoughts.
  • Offer to do necessary errands: Those at risk for suffering the severest consequences from exposure to COVID-19 will be unable to retrieve daily necessities such as groceries and medications. Offer to grocery shop for those in need, and drop it off at their door. Be sure to wave and say hello from the appropriate distance before you go.
  • Start a book or movie club: We all need to know what is going on in the world during this troubling time, but spending too much time watching “breaking news” concerning the virus can cause additional anxiety and stress. Recommend family and friends select a book of the week, and plan a video conference to discuss it in an improvised book club. If your loved one is not a reader, send the gift of a Netflix membership, and have virtual movie nights. 

COVID-19: The New Normal

Social solidarity has come to life as the Coronavirus has taken hold of the nation. We have seen heartfelt moments of families visiting loved ones through windows of nursing homes, anniversary signs, birthday songs, and love letters displayed from a distance. If our new reality means “drive-by” hellos and car parades for birthdays, then this is what we shall do to maintain some sort of normalcy.

Human beings are social animals instinctively, and the Coronavirus has threatened those connections. No one knows how long this social isolation will go on. But we do know that people’s well-being will certainly take a hit during these uncertain times. Because the negative effects of social isolation on mental health are vast, it’s crucial that we check in with our loved ones. As we continue to face the biggest challenge of our lives, let’s make it a priority to reach out to our senior neighbors and family members who may be having a difficult time dealing with the stress and anxiety that social isolation inflicts. 


January 1, 2020 Senior Lifestyle

Is it time to start managings your parents’ finances? Here is how you can approach the conversation with care and sensitivity, to ensure that your parents are as comfortable as possible.

When is the right time to have a conversation with our elderly parents about the state of their finances? For most families, the topic of money and personal finances was verboten when we were growing up. And for most of us, we delay discussing because it can be uncomfortable, and it may feel like an invasion of privacy.  

Not having a dialogue, and not preparing for a senior loved ones’ financial well-being when they are no longer able to live independently can end up being a costly endeavor for family members. A study by MetLife found that nearly 10 million adults over the age of 50 are providing care for their aging parents. The study estimates the potential costs to family caregivers (in terms of lost wages, social security benefits, and pensions) to be around 3 trillion dollars or an average of $300,000 per caregiver. 

Managing Elderly Parents’ Finances: Starting The Conversation

The best time to discuss handling your loved one’s financial affairs is before they need help. Being proactive, while mom and dad are cognitively sound and able to discuss their wishes will help minimize a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty down the road.   

Still, money matters are a delicate issue, and the topic should be broached respectfully and in a sensitive manner. Having a family meeting or an “intervention” over the holidays will likely alienate you and put an end to any future conversations. Family dynamics are unique, and it may be easier for one or two adult children to initiate the first conversation. 

Below are a few tips that may make your parents feel more comfortable when the time is right:

  • Start by putting your own financial house in order: A non-threatening approach would be to let your loved one know you’ve recently compiled all of your own financial information, and wonder if they have done the same.
  • Treat mom and dad as equals: Some aging parents may resent the role reversal of the child taking care of the parent. Talk to them as if they were an adult friend, and you are there to look out for them, not look after them. 
  • Offer to help: Ask parents if they need help paying their bills. If they accept, this will allow you the opportunity to identify problems early on. If they use an accountant or financial planner, ask permission to speak with him/her for better insight into the big picture.

Many seniors are understandably reluctant to allow anyone, including their own children, access to accounts and other “private” vehicles. Mom and dad need to know your objective is not to find out how much money they have, or what you stand to inherit. Rather,  the real goal is to help them organize their financial life. You want to ensure they have sufficient savings to meet their needs to cover future medical and long-term care costs.

Setting Up the Right Legal Documents

Find out if mom and dad have set up a living will. This is a written legal document that defines their wishes for end-of-life care, or a trust. Also, ensure that they are current. Have they designated individuals (power of attorney) to make financial and medical decisions on their behalf if they become ill or mentally incapacitated.  

Taking charge will be much easier if the proper legal forms are in place before they are needed. These documents will allow the executor the authority to carry out specific actions. This may include paying bills, accessing bank accounts, and signing legal documents on behalf of your loved one.

Legal documents can be created using templates or through online services. However, there are complexities when it comes to setting up specific types of Power of Attorney (POA), and all POA’s are not created equal. There are levels of authority associated with types, and it may be worth hiring an attorney or financial advisor to assist with the proper use of these legal documents. 

Compiling Financial Documentation

It is wise for everyone, regardless of age, to assemble a portfolio of all necessary financial information. Create a paper or online document that lists the names of banks, account numbers, investment accounts, insurance information (with policy numbers and providers), mortgage and lender, household bills and expenses, and a list of any outstanding debt. A document with consolidated information should be kept in a secure location that trusted family members know how to access. 

Financial Document Checklist

  • Bank accounts 
  • Credit card statements
  • Social security statements
  • Pension, 401k and annuity documents
  • Investment Documents (stock certificates, savings bonds, brokerage accounts)
  • Insurance policies (life, health, long-term care, home, and auto)
  • Tax returns (past five years)
  • Property deeds
  • Vehicle titles
  • List of loans/other debt

Questions to Ask

  • Where do they keep their money and financial records? Gather names of financial institutions and account numbers. Determine if they use a safety-deposit box at a bank, or if they have a lockbox and file cabinets at home. (Don’t forget keys to lockboxes)
  • What is their annual income and its source? Do they receive: a monthly pension, dividends from investments, alimony, or disability?
  • What are the monthly expenses? Mortgage, loans, car payments, credit card debt, utilities, and other monthly expenses. 
  • How are bills paid currently? Do they write paper checks and mail them, or do they have online bill pay? Which checking accounts are they drawn from? (Remember online codes and passwords)
  • Do they receive Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid checks?
  • Do they have other health insurance in addition to Medicare?
  • Did they purchase a long-term care policy? Traditional health insurance plans do not cover the cost of senior living facilities or home health care.
  • Do they have a financial advisor, accountant, or a lawyer? Get names and contact information.

There may be signs that your aging parent(s) may need you to step in and help manage their financial affairs. For instnace, if you notice late fees on bills, unpaid taxes, calls from creditors, uncharacteristic purchases, or questionable charity donations, you need to intervene.

You may also suspect mom or dad may be the targets of scam artists. Elder financial fraud is no joke, and adult children need to pay attention to possible exploitation. According to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in 2017 alone, reports of suspicious financial activity involving older folks totaled $1.7 billion.  

Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving

As our parents age, many of us will take on increasing responsibilities for our loved ones’ physical, mental, and financial welfare. Taking an active role in open communication while they are in good health will help in guiding your parents through this stage of their lives.

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