Senior Connection

Dec 19, 2012

5 Signs That Your Aging Parents May Need Help

Visiting your aging parents for the holidays after not having seen them for a while can be eye-opening. You might notice some changes – confusion when they’re relaying a story, less agility when they’re getting out of a chair – but there also could be some serious red flags that your parents might need the help of a caregiver or a different living situation.

Below you will find a list of things to look for. This was originally published by Safety Mom, and can be found here!

Change In Routine – Have they lost interest in social activities they used to engage in and/or have they distanced themselves from friends and/or family?

Poor Eating Habits – Check the refrigerator, is it well stocked or is it pretty bare with expired food? Are they eating regularly?

Not Managing Finances – Are there stacks of mail and bills unopened? Take a glance at their check book and bank statements to make sure they’re paying bills promptly, not bouncing check or overspending.

Disregard For Personal Hygiene – Is your mom the type that has always been perfectly dressed and groomed? Has she lost interest in her appearance? Does your dad seem rather disheveled? These could be signs of depression or another issue.

Frequent Injuries – Chances are your parents might not want you to know if they’ve slipped and fallen or injured themselves. Look for signs of bruises, a limp and/or that they’re favoring one arm over another. Check the house for fall hazards such as throw rugs, clutter on the floor – especially near stairs, slippery surfaces in the bathroom and poor lighting on staircases.

It’s hard to admit that your parents are getting older and need help but it’s important to take a realistic look at the situation.

Nov 8, 2012

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is an official United States holiday honoring armed service veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11th. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919.

The United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution seven years later on June 4, 1926, requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. A Congressional Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday: "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'."

U.S. Representative Ed Rees from Emporia, Kansas, presented a bill establishing the holiday through Congress. President Dwight Eisenhower, also from Kansas, signed the bill into law on May 26, 1954.

Congress amended this act on June 1, 1954, replacing "Armistice" with "Veterans," and it has been known as Veterans Day since.

Nov 1, 2012

Positive Affirmations

by Eric Leverone, CMAA Associate

When coping with caregiver stress, the power of positive thinking should not be underestimated. Of course managing your time, handling the many emotional ups and downs and physical exhaustion that accompany the role of caregiving is difficult. However, you do not need to let negative emotions take control and allow them to interfere with your quality of daily living. You are in the driver’s seat when you take control of your emotions with positive affirmations.

Positive affirmations are a great tool for turning negative emotions into positive ones. They help reprogram your subconscious mind to think positively instead of negatively. In order to make a positive affirmation you first have to create a statement of intention. For example, you might want to have a greater feeling of peace, so you would make the statement “I am feeling more peaceful every day.” Make sure that the statement is phrased in a pro-active and positive way. For a positive affirmation to be effective it must be phrased as if it were already true. Instead of saying “I want to feel more peaceful” or “I wish I was more peaceful,” make sure to say “I am feeling more peaceful.” You also want to be sure your making a positive affirmation that is realistic and not too extreme. Be careful not to make such a statement as “the entire world is my oyster and I am the greatest person alive.” Statements like this will cause your subconscious mind to question its validity and label it as untrue. Once you have created your positive affirmation, make sure you frequently say it to yourself. Repeating it several times in the morning, afternoon, and before bed makes for an effective positive affirmation that is helpful to all stressed out caregivers.

Just about any caregiver scenario that is burdened with stress will benefit from positive affirmations. Take Melinda for instance. She is a hardworking 50 year old caregiver for her 88 year old father who lives at home with her. Between her day job, babysitting for her grandchildren, and caring for her father, she has very little time to herself for which she can rest and recharge. Melinda feels as though her father doesn’t always appreciate all her effort and hard work. In fact, her father sometimes complains about what she makes for dinner. She often gets upset and yells at her father when he does this, and sometimes says things she regrets later. When this happens, she unwittingly allows her father to control her emotions that give rise to anger. When Melinda decides to make a positive affirmation she takes control of her emotions and doesn’t allow herself to feel unappreciated, despite her father’s complaints. She creates the positive affirmations “I make tasty, nutritious meals for dinner” and “I remain happy amongst my father’s grievances.” Repeating these positive affirmations to herself several times a day for many weeks, she eventually finds them to be true and accomplishes them with very little effort. She has retrained her subconscious mind and now responds the way she would like to without letting her father get the better of her. Melinda’s father still complains about dinner sometimes but, to his surprise, she no longer yells or gets upset. He is beginning to realize his complaints do not affect her and voices them less often.

For Melinda and any caregiver, the power of positive thinking is a real force with real results. It is a great tool that can only make the quality of your daily life better. So please take the time to examine your caregiving experience and make the positive affirmations that are going to make your life better and less stressful. Even if you are not convinced that a few words repeated to yourself over and over will make a difference, try it and you might be surprised. Just remember to stay positive!

Oct 24, 2012

What To Do If You're Suddenly The Caregiver For A Loved One

Huffington Post, Post50
Tory Zellick Author

My mother was the cliché stay-at-home-mom: Dinner was on the table every evening; laundry was washed, folded, and put away twice a week; the refrigerator was forever packed with fresh, healthy food; and the house was always spotless. So when I walked into the living room at 6:30p.m. and saw the place unvacuumed, with dinner nowhere in sight, I immediately knew something was wrong. I sat on the couch next to my mom, who was reading a book. She placed the book in her lap, looked me in the eye, and calmly uttered three words that forever changed my life: "I have cancer."

I was 18 years old.

To continue to read this article, Click Here!

Sep 26, 2012

Many Doubt Medicare's Future

Published in The Hill, Healthwatch.

Most people who are not on Medicare doubt the program will supply good and affordable healthcare by the time they turn 65, according to a new survey.

In its 2012 Health Confidence Survey, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) found most of those polled who are not yet eligible for Medicare lack confidence in several dimensions of the program's future.

Specifically, 80 percent expressed partial to no confidence that they will be able to afford healthcare while on Medicare without struggling financially.

A similar 77 percent were unsure that Medicare will afford them a good choice of medical providers, and 75 percent doubted that the program will guarantee them the medical treatments they need.

This entire story can be read here at Healthwatch.

Sep 11, 2012

Is There A Vaccine That Protects Against Westnile Virus, Eee Or Other Mosquito Related Illnesses?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Aug. 21, 47 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes, with 1,118 of those cases diagnosed in humans, resulting in 41 deaths.

Sharone Green, MD, infectious disease specialist at UMass Memorial Medical Center, answers questions about West Nile virus (WNV) prevention, symptoms, treatment and more!

To read the entire article, click on UMASS Memorial Medical Center.

Aug 21, 2012

How Will the Medicaid Expansion for Adults Impact Eligibility and Coverage?

A Report From The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and The Uninsured

Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides for the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to adults with incomes up to 138% FPL ($15,415 for an individual or $26,344 for a family of three in 2012), which would make millions of currently uninsured adults newly eligible for the program. The Supreme Court ruling maintains the Medicaid expansion, but limits the Secretary's authority to enforce it. This change in enforcement authority may impact state decisions to implement the expansion. This brief provides an overview of current Medicaid eligibility for adults and data on uninsured adults to provide greater insight into the implications of the ACA Medicaid expansion on coverage for adults across state.

To read the report Click Here!

Jul 30, 2012

Japanese Equestrian Defies Father Time As The Oldest Competitor At London Olympics

Story by

LONDON – The oldest competitor at the 2012 Olympic Games has revealed the extraordinary sacrifices he has made in order to remain a medal contender well past retirement age.

Hiroshi Hoketsu, who will represent Japan in the equestrian discipline of dressage at the age of 71, told Yahoo! Sports how chasing a slice of history and becoming the oldest Olympian in the last 92 years is the result of a fanatical commitment to the sport.

"I have not seen my wife, Motoko, for more than a year," said Hoketsu, who lives and trains in the German town of Aachen in order to team up with his horse, Whisper, and his Dutch coach. "It is difficult to be away from home for this long as an old man and I owe everything to her patience and understanding."

Hoketsu will take part in his third Olympics, 48 years after making his debut and finishing 40th as a show jumper on home soil at the 1964 Tokyo Games. Despite continuing to rise at 5 a.m. every day to ride horses, he quit competing and became a successful international businessman for pharmaceutical companies.

After hanging up his business suit and briefcase, Hoketsu still had the itch to compete and entered the world of competitive dressage at his wife's insistence. At the time, neither predicted his comeback would result in qualification for the Beijing Games four years ago and now the London Games.

Hoketsu credits his performances to dedication and a bond with his mount that he describes as "magical." He has become a star in his homeland and a poster boy for the elderly.

Full story with pictures, Click Here!

May 17, 2012

Aging and Sleep

Along with the physical changes that occur as we get older, changes to our sleep patterns are a part of the normal aging process. As people age they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger. It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age. In fact, research demonstrates that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood. So, what's keeping seniors awake? Changes in the patterns of our sleep - what specialists call "sleep architecture" - occur as we age and this may contribute to sleep problems. Sleep occurs in multiple stages including dreamless periods of light and deep sleep, and occasional periods of active dreaming (REM sleep). The sleep cycle is repeated several times during the night and although total sleep time tends to remain constant, older people spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep than in deep sleep.

Many older adults, though certainly not all, also report being less satisfied with sleep and more tired during the day. Studies on the sleep habits of older Americans show an increase in the time it takes to fall asleep (sleep latency), an overall decline in REM sleep, and an increase in sleep fragmentation (waking up during the night) with age. The prevalence of sleep disorders also tends to increase with age. However, research suggests that much of the sleep disturbance among the elderly can be attributed to physical and psychiatric illnesses and the medications used to treat them.

If you would like to read the entire article, Click Here!

Mar 28, 2012

Free Event for Seniors and Caregivers

ElderCare 2012
Never Too Old to Play

May 8, 2012
10:00 - 3:00

The Manor
42 West Boylston Street (Rte. 12),
West Boylston, MA

60 Exhibiting Organizations Giveaways & Raffles Refreshments
Be sure to visit the exhibitors... you might just win some great prizes!

Informative Seminars

What you don’t know about paying for nursing home care could cost you your life savings and force you to sell your home.
Presented by: Attorney Carol F. Barton, Elder & Disability Law Advocates

Do you want to live life to the fullest? Join this interactive presentation & play with the exploration of stillness, movement, & laughter.
Alleviate pain & the stressors of everyday life through mindfulness mediation.
Presented by: Diana Kamila, Senior Teacher at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society, UMass Medical School

Will your assets last for your lifetime? At this seminar you will receive our free Be Organized - Be Prepared Kit and Long Term Planning Guide. Presented by: Attorney Nicholas G. Kaltsas, Elder & Disability Law Advocates


Stretch, move and breathe your stress away.
Presented by: Katie Cohen, RYT, LCSW from Centered Seniors ~ Living Gracefully

Enjoy the beautiful and graceful moves performed by the Dancers of Central MA-USABDA

Fasten your seat belt. You’ll take a drum ride with Bob as he turns the ignition on to the
highest octane songs of artists including The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Nat King Cole, and James Brown.

2:30 - RAFFLE WINNERS ANNOUNCED - Must be Present to Win!

Health Screenings & Information

Blood Pressure, Grip Strength, Stress Analysis, Glucose, Medication Review and more.

For More Information Contact American Health Resources, Inc. - 508-588-7700 -

Feb 2, 2012

Fewer Beds for Men Entering Nursing Homes

The New Old Age; The New York Times

Searching for a nursing home for his hospitalized father in semirural Massachusetts, a friend of mine recently came up against an unexpected barrier. It's harder to find a bed for a man than for a woman.

File this under: Stuff That Makes Sense When You Think About It, But You Usually Don't.

Nursing homes are heavily female, like the elderly population itself. A report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2010 found that about two-thirds of residents were women. In some homes I've visited, it looks closer to 80 percent.

And most rooms in nursing homes are "semiprivate," one of the great euphemisms of modern health care. Medicaid, which pays for most nursing home care, will cover only a semiprivate room.

So since a man entering a facility can't bunk with a woman, an available bed in a room assigned to a woman will require another woman. The man goes on a waiting list until there's a bed in a room with another man.

To read the entire article, Click Here!

Jan 30, 2012

Advanced Style

An author/photographer's unique look at the New York fashion scene

Ari Seth Cohen is the creator of Advanced Style, a blog that focus's on the fashion style of older adults, primarily, older women. He roams the streets of New York looking for the most stylish and creative older folks. "Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest." Advanced Style offers proof from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age.

After three years, the blog has grown to include a bevy of writings and videos. He and his videographer, Lina Plioplyte, a New York-based freelance, hope to release a documentary of their work, some time this year.

He and his "ladies" just finished a performance on the Today Show, where the "The Ladies did an incredible job!!!", says Ari.

To view the documentary trailer, Click Here! You won't be disappointed.

Jan 23, 2012

Top 10 Trends in Senior Housing for 2012

Published in Senior Housing News

Adaptability is one of the cornerstones of human evolution. Evolution is a slow process but adaptability, or the ability to “get by” in the short term, happens quickly and is reactionary. With the economy in a state of disarray during 2010 and 2011, the senior living industry and businesses in other areas were focused on survival. But as time heals wounds, we enter a new chapter that allows the senior housing industry to adapt to the the influence of politics, economics and society. This concept of adaptation provides the foundation for long-term change versus radical change, and 2012’s senior housing trends are about adapting to the current reality and positioning for the fiscal realities and political/policy uncertainty in the future of senior housing.

Jan 2, 2012

Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors

Health Care/Medicare/Health Insurance Fraud

Every U.S. citizen or permanent resident over age 65 qualifies for Medicare, so there is rarely any need for a scam artist to research what private health insurance company older people have in order to scam them out of some money.

In these types of scams, perpetrators may pose as a Medicare representative to get older people to give them their personal information, or they will provide bogus services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics, then use the personal information they provide to bill Medicare and pocket the money.

Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

Most commonly, counterfeit drug scams operate on the Internet, where seniors increasingly go to find better prices on specialized medications.

This scam is growing in popularity—since 2000, the FDA has investigated an average of 20 such cases per year, up from five a year in the 1990s.

The danger is that besides paying money for something that will not help a person’s medical condition, victims may purchase unsafe substances that can inflict even more harm. This scam can be as hard on the body as it is on the wallet.

Funeral & Cemetery Scams

The FBI warns about two types of funeral and cemetery fraud perpetrated on seniors.

In one approach, scammers read obituaries and call or attend the funeral service of a complete stranger to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. Claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them, scammers will try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debts.

Another tactic of disreputable funeral homes is to capitalize on family members’ unfamiliarity with the considerable cost of funeral services to add unnecessary charges to the bill.

In one common scam of this type, funeral directors will insist that a casket, usually one of the most expensive parts of funeral services, is necessary even when performing a direct cremation, which can be accomplished with a cardboard casket rather than an expensive display or burial casket.

Fraudulent Anti-Aging Products

In a society bombarded with images of the young and beautiful, it’s not surprising that some older people feel the need to conceal their age in order to participate more fully in social circles and the workplace. After all, 60 is the new 40, right?

It is in this spirit that many older Americans seek out new treatments and medications to maintain a youthful appearance, putting them at risk of scammers.

Whether it’s fake Botox like the one in Arizona that netted its distributors (who were convicted and jailed in 2006) $1.5 million in barely a year, or completely bogus homeopathic remedies that do absolutely nothing, there is money in the anti-aging business.

Botox scams are particularly unsettling, as renegade labs creating versions of the real thing may still be working with the root ingredient, botulism neurotoxin, which is one of the most toxic substances known to science. A bad batch can have health consequences far beyond wrinkles or drooping neck muscles.


Perhaps the most common scheme is when scammers use fake telemarketing calls to prey on older people, who as a group make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average.

While the image of the lonely senior citizen with nobody to talk to may have something to do with this, it is far more likely that older people are more familiar with shopping over the phone, and therefore might not be fully aware of the risk.

With no face-to-face interaction, and no paper trail, these scams are incredibly hard to trace. Also, once a successful deal has been made, the buyer’s name is then shared with similar schemers looking for easy targets, sometimes defrauding the same person repeatedly.

Examples of telemarketing fraud include:

“The Pigeon Drop”
The con artist tells the individual that he/she has found a large sum of money and is willing to split it if the person will make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from his/her bank account. Often, a second con artist is involved, posing as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger.

“The Fake Accident Ploy”
The con artist gets the victim to wire or send money on the pretext that the person’s child or another relative is in the hospital and needs the money.

“Charity Scams”
Money is solicited for fake charities. This often occurs after natural disasters.

Internet Fraud

While using the Internet is a great skill at any age, the slower speed of adoption among some older people makes them easier targets for automated Internet scams that are ubiquitous on the web and email programs.

Pop-up browser windows simulating virus-scanning software will fool victims into either downloading a fake anti-virus program (at a substantial cost) or an actual virus that will open up whatever information is on the user’s computer to scammers.

Their unfamiliarity with the less visible aspects of browsing the web (firewalls and built-in virus protection, for example) make seniors especially susceptible to such traps.

One example includes:

Email/Phishing Scams
A senior receives email messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or institution, asking them to “update” or “verify” their personal information. A senior receives emails that appear to be from the IRS about a tax refund.

Investment Schemes

Because many seniors find themselves planning for retirement and managing their savings once they finish working, a number of investment schemes have been targeted at seniors looking to safeguard their cash for their later years.

From pyramid schemes like Bernie Madoff’s (which counted a number of senior citizens among its victims) to fables of a Nigerian prince looking for a partner to claim inheritance money to complex financial products that many economists don’t even understand, investment schemes have long been a successful way to take advantage of older people.

Homeowner/Reverse Mortgage Scams

Scammers like to take advantage of the fact that many people above a certain age own their homes, a valuable asset that increases the potential dollar value of a certain scam.

A particularly elaborate property tax scam in San Diego saw fraudsters sending personalized letters to different properties apparently on behalf of the County Assessor’s Office. The letter, made to look official but displaying only public information, would identify the property’s assessed value and offer the homeowner, for a fee of course, to arrange for a reassessment of the property’s value and therefore the tax burden associated with it.

Closely related, the reverse mortgage scam has mushroomed in recent years. With legitimate reverse mortgages increasing in frequency more than 1,300% between 1999 and 2008, scammers are taking advantage of this new popularity.

As opposed to official refinancing schemes, however, unsecured reverse mortgages can lead property owners to lose their homes when the perpetrators offer money or a free house somewhere else in exchange for the title to the property.

Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams

This simple scam is one that many are familiar with, and it capitalizes on the notion that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Here, scammers inform their mark that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind and need to make some sort of payment to unlock the supposed prize. Often, seniors will be sent a check that they can deposit in their bank account, knowing that while it shows up in their account immediately, it will take a few days before the (fake) check is rejected.

During that time, the criminals will quickly collect money for supposed fees or taxes on the prize, which they pocket while the victim has the “prize money” removed from his or her account as soon as the check bounces.

The Grandparent Scam

The Grandparent Scam is so simple and so devious because it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets, their hearts.

Scammers will place a call to an older person and when the mark picks up, they will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having done a lick of background research.

Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram, which don’t always require identification to collect.

At the same time, the scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.”

While the sums from such a scam are likely to be in the hundreds, the very fact that no research is needed makes this a scam that can be perpetrated over and over at very little cost to the scammer.


To Enhance The Quality Of Life For Area Seniors And Their Caregivers, The Central Massachusetts Agency On Aging Will Provide Leadership, Information And Resources, Coordination Of Services And Advocacy.