Seniors Can Now Lower the Potential of Identity Theft with MySSA

View Original Article Here: Seniors Can Now Lower the Potential of Identity Theft with MySSA

Signing up for MySSA and using it regularly can now help reduce identity theft risks that have plagued senior citizens for years. 

Metlife Mature Market Institute estimates that senior citizens lose a minimum of $2.9 billion a year to identity thieves. There are several ways a criminal can steal someone’s identity, and elders were particularly susceptible to a few tactics.

One of the more common ways in which seniors’ identities become compromised is through the mail. For instance, any criminal can easily access an elderly victim’s mail which may contain sensitive information such as social security checks or credit card statements.

Introducing the My Social Security Account

Creating a My Social Security Account is one of the first steps everyone should take in preventing future identity theft.


Even if you’re a few years from collecting social security, the account will allow you to access your Social Security Statement, obtain estimates of your future benefits, and verify your earnings. You can even request a replacement social security card from the comfort of your own home.

Those who already receive benefits can use their MySSA account to get proof of their benefits, change contact information, change direct deposit information, and replace a lost or stolen Medicare Card. A My Social Security Account provides more than just security. It provides an easy way to access necessary information without tedious steps.

Senior Citizens & Identity Theft Risk

Identity theft occurs when a criminal accesses someone’s personal information and uses it to steal money from their victim. Thieves can clean out bank accounts and ruin credit with only a few pieces of identifying information.

Seniors are at the greatest risk of having their identity stolen. People were more trustworthy when they were growing up. Seniors are more likely to think that the stranger on the phone has their best interest in mind, and are less liable to be suspicious.

Seniors often have a considerable amount of savings compared to the rest of us, which means they are one of the more lucrative targets for identity thieves. Adults over 50 control at least 70% of the national household net worth. Seniors are especially vulnerable and offer a large sum of money to those who want to take advantage of them, which makes them a perfect target for identity criminals.

Online Phishing

Identity theft has been a concern for a long time, and the methods criminals use are developing. Online identity theft is becoming an increasing worry, especially among elderly users who aren’t as computer literate.

Online thieves often send spam emails to their victims asking for personal information. These emails may appear to come from a reputable source, such as Amazon or eBay, but they’re a criminal impersonating a company.

Online Exposure

Sometimes criminals can gain access to information through insecure websites. Seniors may not be as confident on the computer as the rest of the population. They are more likely to click on suspicious links and visit unsafe websites. When this is the case, the victim may not be aware that they put their identifying information at risk before it’s too late.

Fraudulent Phone Calls

Another way criminals get hold of personal information is through phone calls. Criminals specifically target seniors over the phone due to their trusting nature and lack of online presence.

There are several ways a criminal can extract information over the phone. Sometimes they pretend to be the IRS, other times they’ll pretend to represent a charity. Seniors are trusting, so it’s far more likely that they’ll divulge some of their personal information for a chance to help a worthy cause.

The phone calls seniors receive make it clear that they are the ones who criminals target at a larger rate. After the age of 60, people are more likely to receive scam phone calls. They could be offering assistance on a computer, telling you they can reduce your pain, or extorting money out of you by telling you you’re in debt to the IRS. Remember, no legitimate organization will require that you offer any personal information over the phone.

Credit Card Theft

Physical theft has never changed, and the prospect of thieves stealing seniors’ credit cards and wallets are always a concern. A person may not even notice that someone stole their credit card if it was a card they barely use. Theft has always been a slight fear for those who are older, but criminals are making it, so they don’t even have to steal your wallet anymore.

Lately, criminals have made it even easier to take their victim’s information. They no longer have to steal the physical card to take the information. Identity thieves place small scanning devices on credit card machines, allowing them to take the number and run up a tab before anyone notices.

Mail Scams

Just because a senior isn’t active online doesn’t mean identity thieves can’t target them by the “phishing” method. Criminals use regular mail to accomplish the same results as they do online.

The thieves send their victims letters that appear to be from a reputable source – somewhere like a bank or doctor’s office. These letters will request some personal information, and anyone who sends something back to these thieves will usually end up losing a considerable amount of information

Mail Theft

Thieves stealing information from the mail has been a problem for as long as identity theft has been around. This method is one of the oldest, and criminals still use it. Seniors are especially susceptible to mail theft because they frequently receive checks and statements that contain sensitive information.

mail theft

There are several ways in which criminals will steal mail. They can steal it right out of a mailbox, or they can go dumpster-diving to look for documents containing social security numbers and account information. Since seniors usually have a lot more money saved-up, they are one of the best victims for identity thieves who use this method.

Thieves who steal mail can victimize the elderly in a few ways. They can cash checks on the victim’s behalf, but one of the more common methods thieves use is to take the personal information off of the documents they find in the trash. Social Security checks and statements are of specific concern, as these offer multiple forms of identifying information.

Using the information gathered off of a Social Security Statement, thieves can make a profit in various ways. They can bill insurance companies for services, file taxes under the victim’s name, and many other means of making money. These thieves can even target a person after they have died, using the deceased’s information to collect checks and benefits.

A MySSA Account Can Prevent Senior ID Theft

As a whole, seniors are the most vulnerable to mail theft. Computers may not come as second-nature to senior citizens who prefer to receive information in paper form. Unfortunately, receiving paper copies of your Social Security Statement puts you at extreme risk of having your identity compromised by criminals.

Creating a MySSA account is one of the best ways to ensure your identity is well protected. In your account, you can access your Social Security Statement without receiving any mail. This feature eliminates the threat of criminals stealing the mail and using it for their own gain.

For additional security, the My Social Security Account now requires a two-step verification process, where the user is sent a one-time security code when they log in.

On top of the security, the My Social Security Account provides, there are also several features that will make future interactions much simpler. You won’t have to call or send a letter to change any of your preferences. Just log on and make the changes yourself.

The best form of protection from identity theft is to remove the tools that criminals use. Viewing your Social Security online instead of on-paper gives thieves one less way to steal your identity.

How to Create an Online Social Security Account

Creating a MySSA account couldn’t be simpler than it already is. It’s a secure way to ensure that your information is safe and out of the hands of criminals who want to steal from you.

You will provide some of your information to ensure that more of your information isn’t compromised. Follow these simple Social Security account setup steps to protect yourself against people with malicious intent.

  • Make sure you have a valid Email address: If you don’t use your computer much, you may be lacking a valid Email address. You need an Email address create a Social Security Account. There are several free options available online, including Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and many others. Choose which site you like best and make an account.
  • Go to
  • Select “Sign In or Create an Account.”
  • Select “Create an Account.”
  • Read the Terms of Service and check the box “I agree to the Terms of Service.” Then select “Next.”
  • On the next page, enter your first name, last name, and middle initial as it appears on your social security card.
  • Enter your Social Security Number
  • Enter your Date of Birth, Home Address, and Phone Number
  • Adding Extra Security: At this stage, the site will ask you if you want to add additional security to your account. If you select “Yes, let’s start now,” then you will be given three options that will offer your account further verification and extra security. Select “Next” once you are finished adding your information to this page.
  • Answer the Personal Questions: These questions are designed in a way that only the user will know the answers. Make sure that you keep this information secure as well. Select “Next” after you have finished answering.
  • Create a Username and Password: Your username must contain between 8 and 20 letters and/or numbers. These letters and numbers cannot be part of your name or your Social Security Number. Your password must also contain a minimum of 8 characters, and has to have at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number, and one symbol (such as !,@,#,$,%, etc.)
  • Add your Email address.
  • Select Password Reset Questions: These questions offer further security in the case that you forgot your password. Make sure to select questions that provide memorable answers but won’t be too obvious to anyone who may try to be fraudulently accessing your account. Select “Next” when you are finished.
  • Choose How You Want Your Security Code Sent: In this section, you will be asked to provide a means of communication for your one-time security code. If you have a cell phone, you can have the number texted to you. If you don’t have a phone capable of receiving texts or don’t want to receive your code this way, you can have the code sent via email. You can change your registered email at this time.
  • Enter Your Security Code: If you entered your email or phone number correctly. You will receive a one-time security code to enter into this box. Take note that this code only lasts for ten minutes, so if you miss the window you’ll have to receive a new code.
  • Account Created: If you have completed these steps correctly, you will get a message telling you that you have successfully created your account.
  • Signing In: Each time you sign in, you will be required to enter your Email address and password, along with a security code that My Social Security Account will text to your phone or send to you via Email.
  • Visit or call 1-800-772-1213 for more information. TTY number is 1-800-325-0778 for those who are hard of hearing.

About 15 million Americans fall victim to identity theft every year. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to these threats due to their trusting nature and larger savings. One of the easiest ways to stop criminals from accessing your mail is to eliminate the identity theft risks. Use MySSA to prevent identity thieves from stealing your Social Security Statements and putting you and your family at risk.


Enjoy Your Newfound Freedom with These Unique Ideas for Retirement

View Original Article Here: Enjoy Your Newfound Freedom with These Unique Ideas for Retirement

retirement ideas

Americans aged 65 and older are among a vast and dynamic part of the population. However, they also face a unique and very particular set of problems. According to reports, roughly two-thirds of Americans exit the workforce by the time they reach age 66. There are some who retire even earlier than that.

Some aging Americans can ease into retirement without batting an eye. On the other hand, researchers suggest that there are some who suffer from boredom and depression after retirement. If you are among the aging population of Americans, you should develop retirement ideas before retiring. Developing plans and goals for your retirement years can help you enjoy the time more sufficiently.

Before Retirement

Before you retire, there are certain plans you should make. For instance, you should consider your financial plans. To make the most of your retirement, you should develop hobbies and goals. While there are many activities you can do, some are going to cost money.

You should work to have your finances in order before retirement. You should also work on retirement ideas before exiting the workforce. In fact, some of the things you should do the following before you retire:

  • Meet with a financial advisor to plan your retirement investments
  • Talk to your spouse or partner about your retirement ideas
  • Take into consideration that the IRS will continue to tax your income after retirement
  • Create a bucket list of interests, hobbies, and places you would like to visit
  • Assess your personal budget
  • Review the process you will face through Social Security
  • Determine the financial standing of your estate
  • Evaluate your bank account to ensure coverage of any drafts

Each of the ideas given above can help you kickstart your retirement with a measure of ease and success. You can focus less on financial worries and more on activities and adventures that you would like to accomplish.

As an added suggestion, make sure you also participate in a retirement plan. Experts suggest that participation in retirement plans has declined over the years, even among individuals nearing retirement age. Involvement in a retirement plan can help you better plan financially for your exit from the workforce.

After Retirement

After retirement, you have several options. To make use of all those options, you must be willing to try out new things. Your best bet is to set goals and use your imagination. Set goals to do things that you have been wanting to do and have not been able to do while working. You should also set goals to do things that you have never done before. Learning new things keeps the brain active and allows the mind to stay sharp.

Perhaps you have children and grandchildren who live in another state. If it has been awhile since you visited them, make it a point to take the time to do so. Grandchildren benefit mentally and emotionally from their relationship with you. Maybe you have friends that you would like to catch up with, or perhaps you would just rather enjoy some time to yourself or with your spouse.

No matter what goals you want to set for yourself now that you are retired, make sure you follow through with them. If you are stuck trying to develop some retirement ideas, try the ideas listed below:

  • Enjoy the fresh air by taking up gardening
  • Exercise more by going for walks or bicycling
  • Start a collection (coins, stamps, etc.)
  • Join a club, such as chess, and compete against like-minded individuals
  • Find activities near you, such as bingo, where you can likely meet new people and make friends
  • Schedule a vacation for you or you and your spouse
  • Take some time to yourself and go fishing
  • Learn a new skill, such as boating
  • Plan gatherings at your house where you can host card games
  • If your living situation allows, purchase a pet to have as a companion
  • Volunteer at your local animal shelter so you can stay active
  • Take the time to visit with your neighbors more often
  • Enjoy a new craft activity, such as crochet
  • Be more active with activities like golf
  • Pamper yourself by visiting a spa and receiving a well-deserved massage

There is absolutely no limit to the things you can do after you retire. All it takes is the willingness to try new things, meet new people, and fulfill the goals you set. There are plenty of retirement activities you can find to do if you take the time to look for them.

Help with Ideas

When trying to figure out what to do in retirement, it is sometimes best to ask for help from people you know. Friends and family members can offer some great ideas for retirement. In fact, there might be some friends or family members who would like to participate in retirement hobbies with you. The stronger your relationship with your family, the more likely it is that you can seek them out for help.

Participating in activities and hobbies after you retire is a terrific way to get back in touch with the people you love. You should take the time to visit friends and members of your family as much as you invest in time for yourself.

Taking time for yourself is great, of course, but it is also an excellent idea to enjoy the company of others. In fact, enjoying the company of others can help combat any feelings of depression, loneliness, and boredom.

Have your friends and family help you in creating a bucket list. Do your best to fulfill that bucket list as best you can. You can accomplish goals you have always wanted to achieve while also trying new things. Retirement gives you a chance to release your adventurous side.

Of course, you can always relax within the quiet confines of your home and enjoy a delightful book, but it is just as good to get out and mingle. In fact, you should find the right balance between quiet solo activities and fun group activities.

Asking for help with retirement activities from friends and family gives you an excuse to visit the people you care about and love. Perhaps you can even find common interests that you share with others by asking them for ideas and suggestions.

Stay in Touch After Retirement

Part of what makes retirement so difficult for some is because it marks the end of something so familiar. If you think about it, people often spend 40 hours a week working. Some people retire from their careers after 20 years or more.

In other words, that is 20 years that a person spent getting up, going to work, performing the same routines and seeing the same faces. Retirement disrupts that process, which is difficult for at least some individuals.

One of the best retirement ideas is to celebrate this new chapter in your life by staying in touch with people. You can celebrate by meeting up with your former co-workers outside of the workspace. Ask your buddies to join you for a BBQ, card game, or a drink at the bar.

Plan a retirement party so you can invite friends, family, and co-workers to help you celebrate. Throughout the party, make it a point to talk to your guests and find activities that you might share. There might be someone else attending the party who is either nearing retirement or recently retired.

Finding ways to maintain contact with others can make accepting this new chapter of your life easier and far more shocking. Even planned retirement can have an impact on a person. For the first few days or weeks, you may feel happy and excited, but as it sets in that your daily routine is now different, you may start to feel dumbfounded and depressed. Men are especially vulnerable to these feelings.

Rather than focusing on any of the negatives of retirement, focus on all the positives by making it a constant celebration. Your relationship with former co-workers does not have to end. In fact, you now have more opportunities interact with them at your disposal.

Search Your Local Options

There are likely many local retirement opportunities for you. There are often plenty of organizations that offer activities and clubs for retired groups of individuals. Finding out who hosts activities and clubs for retirees is perhaps the best retirement idea there is.

Many organized activities cater to retired individuals from all walks of life. Joining a group of people for weekly events allows you to discover new interests and hobbies. It also gives you the chance to meet someone who shares the same likes and dislikes as you.

Your ability to make new friends doesn’t stop because you retire. In fact, you should make every effort possible to meet someone new and befriend them. Going out to local activities or attending organized events catered toward retirees is an ideal way to do just that.

You can often find local options by searching online, asking around among your local community, or even checking the news. Your local newspaper often posts events throughout your area so that you never miss the opportunity to get out and enjoy something new.

Once you find a group or organization that hosts activities you enjoy, make sure you stick with it. Attending events like that can also provide you with new retirement ideas you might not have thought of before. In fact, you should ask other retirees for some ideas to see what hobbies or interests they enjoy.

Another local option would be a part-time job. Many retirees who hold a part-time job report feeling much happier compared to those who do not have a part-time job to occupy their time. Typically, you would want to stick with something you know, so try finding something that is like what you did throughout your career.

No matter what you choose to do, the key is to just enjoy your retirement to the best of your ability. Have fun, relax, revel in the peace and quiet of solitude or welcome the fact that you can visit with friends and family more often. That is the best way to make your retirement the best it can be.

Nursing Home Signs You May Not Be Noticing

View Original Article Here: Nursing Home Signs You May Not Be Noticing

when is it time for assisted living

As the population ages, more family members find themselves taking care of elderly parents, grandparents or other loved ones. It can be difficult to care for loved ones while working, caring for your children, and keeping up with social commitments. You will likely arrive at a crossroads where you’re forced to ask “when is it time for assisted living?”

While many family members do not want to consider committing their loved ones to an institution like an assisted living facility or a nursing home, it isn’t always possible to move them into your house. As loved ones’ medical conditions worsen, they may need around the clock care, which you may not be able to provide.

Decreased Mobility

Approximately 19 million people in the United States have mild to severe mobility issues, with the median age being between 59 to 67 years old. Disease and trauma can cause changes in gait and balance. The primary concern for people with mobility problems is the increasing likelihood of falls.

Having poor balance or changes in the ability to walk is a common cause of falls for older adults. Falling can lead to serious injuries which can further limit mobility, result in a loss of independence and reduce their quality of life. Some senior citizens do not recover well after falling. Broken bones and hip injuries can become fatal.

If a loved one shows increasing signs of not being able to get around without assistance, then they will need continuous care. You may need to consider asking, “when is it time for assisted living?”

Even if they use a walker, cane or wheelchair, there can be obstacles in a house which can increase their risk of falls. Toys left out on the floor, attempting to go up or down stairs or even a pet can accidentally trip them and further limit their mobility.

Poor Hygiene

If you notice a loved who used to be fastidious often wears the same clothes or their clothes appear dirty, they are unshaven, or their hair hasn’t been washed, this can indicate they are no longer able to care for themselves. While forgetfulness can lead to poor hygiene, so can depression, dementia and physical problems which limit their ability to take care of themselves.

Poor hygiene habits make people look dirty and cause body odor. They may eat without washing their hands, garbage may not be disposed of properly, and they may have poor bathroom habits. These problems may result in illness. Pests, which can carry diseases, may also enter a messy home where they can find food.

Poor hygiene can result in parasitic infections of the hair and skin, the skin can become infected due to bacteria or fungi and food poisoning, or gastrointestinal problems can result from poor toileting habits or not washing hands before eating. Further complications can arise from these issues, such as dehydration, which in some elderly patients can be fatal.

If your loved one shows signs of poor hygiene habits, putting them in an assisted care facility will ensure they get the assistance in staying clean. There will be people to help them bathe, use the toilet, do their laundry and keep their room neat. Some of these problems can help answer the question, when is it time for assisted living? The following video sheds more light on the issue:

Cognitive Declines

While the memory sometimes isn’t as sharp when you’re older, severe cognitive declines are usually due to health issues. Caregivers may start noticing both short- and long-term memory problems, confusion, coordination problems and impaired judgment. Cognitive problems are the result of damage to the brain, either by trauma, genetics, or by abusing drugs and alcohol. Certain medical conditions, such as dementia, can also result in cognitive disorders.

Dementia and Cognitive Dysfunction

Since all forms of dementia affect the brain, it usually results in some form of cognitive problems. Mild Cognitive Impairment, MCI, is common in many older people and is often the first stage of dementia. Its symptoms may include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequently misplacing or losing objects.
  • Trouble remembering words.
  • Become more impulsive.
  • Getting lost in familiar places.

Although some people who have MCI can get better, others will usually experience steady declines if they are diagnosed with some form of dementia.

As cognitive abilities diminish, many seniors may become more irritable, apathetic and depressed. This degradation of cognition may result in family members questioning when is it time for assisted living care for their loved ones?

However, it’s unclear whether depression develops because of declines in mobility and cognitive functioning or if it contributes to the development and progression of reduced cognitive abilities.

Poor Eating Habits

Further evidence of someone’s inability to care for themselves is poor nutrition and eating habits. Many older people will lose weight, their clothes will start looking baggy, and poor nutrition can cause tiredness.

Sometimes people with dementia will forget to eat. Poor dental hygiene may affect their ability to chew food; decreased mobility functions will make it difficult for them to feed themselves or, if they’ve developed depression, they may not feel like eating.

Poor nutrition can further complicate many of the conditions a senior may have, and it can weaken the immune system. A weakened immune system can lead to developing infections, their wounds may not heal well, and the risk of falling can increase because of weaker muscles. A person who has a poor diet may not get enough liquids. Especially a lack of water, which can result in dehydration.

Dehydration presents problems because in some cases, it causes an older adult to become very ill. Severe dehydration can be fatal. During the summer, someone who is dehydrated may not be able to perspire to cool their bodies. As a result, they can become overheated and may succumb to the heat. There are several factors for older people that lead to dehydration, such as:

  • Inability to retain water.
  • Stress
  • Chronic conditions like diabetes.
  • Medications
  • Not eating enough fruits and vegetables.
  • Eating too few carbohydrates.

When is it time for nursing home care? Poor nutrition may be a major hint. Professional caretakers can help seniors to remain in better health through a balanced diet. When a loved one isn’t getting the proper nutrition, an assigned living facility might be necessary.

Changes in Personality

As their physical or mental health declines, some older people may develop changes in their personalities. Where they were once outgoing and friendly, they may become withdrawn and quiet. Especially if they are grieving or undergoing changes in their health that they don’t understand.

They can also become abusive or aggressive seemingly without cause, but certain forms of dementia, infections, strokes, depression, and traumatic brain injuries are the common causes for such personality changes.

Personality changes with Alzheimer’s patients are common as the disease progresses. Another type of dementia, called frontotemporal dementia, affects the parts of the brain responsible for behavior and emotions. These parts are the frontal and temporal lobe.

As you can see from the image, the frontal and temporal lobes are located behind the forehead and around the ears. Behavioral, personality, and changes in relationships are some of the prominent, early signs of this form of dementia. It most often develops among 50 and 60-year-olds, but people in their 20’s or as late as their 80’s can develop it as well.

As the disease progresses, a patient’s ability to form words and understand them may be affected, their muscles may weaken, and some patients develop ALS, or their muscles in their body, including the eye muscles, may stiffen. Someone with this type of dementia may need more help than a sole caretaker.

Links to Depression

Depression also links to the other problems listed above. While depression can be situational and result from losing cognitive abilities, reduced mobility and changes in personality, it can cause some of these conditions. Depression can lead to:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Lack of interest in taking care of oneself
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Isolation
  • Thoughts of suicide

Although depression affects nearly 6 million people 65 and older, only about 10% get help for it. If you notice signs of depression in an elderly loved one, notify their doctor.

With the population getting older, families often take on the responsibility of caring for loved ones at home. Certain conditions can make things complicated. If you find that you continually wonder “when is it time for assisted living care?”, the time may be now.

Have you had any experience with needing to place loved ones in assisted living? If so, tell us your story below.

Erasing the Stigma of Geriatric Anxiety and Learning to Help

View Original Article Here: Erasing the Stigma of Geriatric Anxiety and Learning to Help

anxiety in the elderly

The effects of anxiety disorders are becoming ever more prevalent in our society. Even with new research shining a light on how many Americans suffer from these varying disorders, we have only begun to scratch the surface. This is especially true when it comes to understanding anxiety in the elderly.

Higher rates of loss, increased pain, chronic conditions, and multiple medications can all increase the levels of anxiety in senior citizens. This makes having the discussion about geriatric anxiety a crucial factor in aiding our loved ones who are suffering.

Understanding Anxiety

We all experience anxiety to a certain degree, and it can even help us to be more productive in our daily lives. However, higher levels become disruptive and unhealthy. The effects leave thousands feeling crippled by pain and fear.

It is important to understand that these disorders are genuine biochemical disturbances, often the aftermath of a traumatic event or a genetic predisposition. They are not sign of weakness or a lack of character, and in no way make someone “crazy”. In fact, The National Institute of Mental Health states that tens of millions of people are experiencing the effects of anxiety every year.

Signs of anxiety in the elderly come in a broad range of forms and signals. The most common of these appear when an elderly person is excessively worrying. Sounding outlandish, or even bizarre, many find themselves dismissing these fears as all in the person’s head.

Active listening is an important part of care for the elderly. Taking their concerns into consideration not only helps to ease their anxiety, but can also reveal immediate dangers to their wellbeing such as criminals. In some cases, hearing what they have to say reveals that they may need therapy to help cope with a traumatic event.

While it is certainly challenging to imagine what those with these conditions are experiencing, it is important to be sympathetic when the signs arise in any demographic. The more empathy we display towards mental disorders, the closer we become to properly diagnosing and treating those who suffer.

The Major Forms of Anxiety

There are seven major types of anxiety existing in today’s known psychological realm that have a prevalent impact on the elderly. Learning to identify the signs and symptoms makes all the difference in getting an elderly individual the help that they need. These disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety
  • Acute Stress Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • Phobias

Each is defined according to its own characteristics, and require different forms of treatment. While research is being done on the effects these conditions have on the elderly, we still know very little on how these conditions vary with age. There are, however, signs that you can be aware of.

This video does an excellent job of illustrating the experiences of a person with these conditions. Understanding any form of anxiety without experiencing it ourselves is a challenging task. However, there are professionals out there who are working hard to shed some light on the subject.

In the video, Marie-Ann Schull is speaking about both anxiety and depression. The symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression may overlap. Depression and anxiety combined can be even more difficult to cope with. Identifying the symptoms and seeking the proper treatment can help save a life.

Below are general descriptions that outline the symptoms associated with each of the major anxiety disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Pessimism or reacting in an exaggeratedly depressed manner over minor setbacks may indicate Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This is a chronic condition accompanied by insomnia, aches and pains, exhaustion, and restlessness.

These symptoms must last at least 6 months to be considered signs of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Excessively worrying about finances, health, and relationships are the most common displays of GAD.  However, showing severe distress over something as simple as a television remote ceasing to work can be a sign as well.

Social Anxiety

Those who are terrified by social interaction for fear of judgment have Social Anxiety. Having a harder time hearing, suddenly needing to use a walker, and incontinence can all cause an elderly person to develop this form of anxiety. It inhibits their desire to be around other people, and if left untreated victims tend to isolate themselves often.

Social Anxiety begins as a very simply matter of embarrassment, slowly increasing into a more crippling disorder. It is important to talk with your loved one when major changes are occurring in their lives. Speaking with them is a great way to help them through these difficult times.

Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD

A sudden onset of anger, insomnia, agitation, or violent outbursts are all symptoms that occur after experiencing a traumatic event. Something related to that event triggers these reactions, and causes the victim to relive the trauma they witnessed or experienced. Identifying the trigger is the first step in helping them cope with what caused this disorder in the first place.

Many veterans suffer from PTSD, as do victims of sexual assault and physical battery. Those suffering from Acute Stress have recently witnessed or were subject to a traumatic event, usually within one month, while those with PTSD are experiencing this pain long after the event has taken place. Even though their symptoms are overlapping, each requires extensive therapy to truly heal the person suffering.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

If you are noticing sudden repetitive behavior or obsessive thoughts that interfere with a loved one’s daily life, they more than likely have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. These impulses are uncontrollable, and often harmless aside from the person feeling that they need to do them. However, they can extend into repeated thoughts of harm to one’s self or others.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder comes in the form of thoughts, actions, or both. Motor tics accompanying OCD are not uncommon, including repeated vocal and motor functions. If these symptoms are sounding familiar to you, there are methods of screening to identify this condition.


It is highly common to develop phobias later in one’s life. Experiencing or witnessing a frightening situation often causes a phobia to develop. While a fear of snakes or traveling on an airplane is typical, developing an irrational phobia can severely inhibit the quality of anyone’s life.

A sudden and intense fear of treatment can cause undue stress and anxiety in the elderly. Fearing hypodermic needles, cramped spaces, or even caretakers makes it terrifying for these individuals to receive the care they need. Therapists are working wonders in the treatment of phobias, and can help you or someone you know to overcome them.

Panic Attacks

This type of attack is a sudden onset of overwhelming fear and anxiety without a terrifying event. A pounding heart and inability to breathe often accompany these attacks. An experience like this is extremely frightening for people of any age. Any of the above disorders are known for causing panic attacks in the elderly.

Growing older causes the body to become frailer over time. Panic attacks wreak havoc on heart conditions, trouble breathing, and other symptoms. While it less common for an elderly person to experience the symptoms of a panic disorder, those who suffer from them are at an increased risk.

Aid and Treatment for the Elderly

If you are noticing any of the above symptoms in an elderly friend or family member, it is important to notify their current caretakers or doctor. Letting these symptoms go can result in worsening of the condition or even harm to the person in question. Thankfully, there are a variety of treatments proving effective in helping with anxiety in the elderly.

One of the most effective treatments is seeking the help of a professional. A licensed therapist, skilled counselor, or social worker can all provide aid.

Medications including Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft display a great effectiveness in helping those with anxiety disorders cope with the associated symptoms. It is important to exercise caution when prescribing an elderly person with a new treatment. Talking with a physician helps you to better understand what is being prescribed, and any necessary safety measures.

Anxiety in the elderly is just as prevalent as any other demographic. Addressing their symptoms and disorders is extremely important for their overall wellbeing. Identifying the signs, actively listening to their fears, and understanding their need for treatment are the best ways to help.

Do you know someone suffering from any of these anxiety disorders? We encourage you to share your story with us in the comments section below!

Offering Comfort Through the Stages of Death and Dying

View Original Article Here: Offering Comfort Through the Stages of Death and Dying

stages of death

Death is not a subject that is easy to discuss. Yet, it’s something we all must face someday. If you have a loved one who is nearing this time, it can be helpful to know what to expect throughout the stages of death. While the timeline of death may vary, there are three stages of death that most people will experience. Knowing these stages can help you to be helpful and supportive during this difficult time.

The Physical Stage

The first stage that a person will experience is the physical stage. This stage involves a wide variety physical signs and symptoms that manifest themselves as the body prepares for death. While not everyone will experience these symptoms, it’s likely they will experience some combination of several of them.

Loss of Appetite

As a person approaches the end of their life, their need for energy declines. Foods that were once a source of enjoyment are now difficult to consume and digest. They will prefer foods that are easier to eat and blander in flavor. When this occurs, it’s best to cater to their requests and help them to slowly consume small amounts of food.

Excessive Fatigue and Sleeping

The person may begin to sleep for many hours throughout the day and night. If a person has lost their appetite, it will cause their metabolism to slow down. As the metabolism slows, the body feels an increasing need to sleep. If your loved one is manifesting these symptoms, it’s best to allow them to rest. Try to avoid the desire to wake them as they need this sleep.


As the metabolism slows, you may notice your loved one’s extremities are cool to the touch. This is due to a decrease in blood circulation. When this occurs, the body is attempting to conserve its energy and direct the blood flow to the vital organs.

This decrease in circulation will cause a person’s extremities to be cool to the touch. You may also notice their skin looks paler or even has a slight blue tint.

If your loved one’s skin feels cool to the touch, add an extra blanket to help keep them from getting too chilled.

Urine Decrease

When less food and drink is being consumed, the need to urinate will lessen. A significant drop in blood pressure will also affect this, as the kidneys will be forced to shut down. The urine that is produced will be a dark brown or reddish color due to the lack of hydration. This can be alarming but is a common part of the stages of death.

Change in Breathing Pattern

Breathing patterns change from slow and even to choppy and irregular. This can sound alarming to others, but typically the dying person is completely unaware of this change in their breathing pattern. You may identify their breathing pattern as Cheyne-Stokes respiration. This is characterized by a loud, deep inhalation followed by a pause.

Focusing on the person’s overall comfort during this time is key. Keeping their head slightly elevated and well supported will help.

Increased Weakness

The decline in food consumption and energy levels will cause a person to find even basic activities to be extremely difficult. Things that were once simple like changing their head position or moving an extremity may be impossible. The person may find this to be very frustrating, especially if they are still very mentally alert.

It’s best when this occurs to help in every way possible. This may mean helping them to find a more comfortable position in bed or offering to feed a bit of food or sip of water.

Swelling of the Feet and Ankles

The kidney’s job is to process bodily fluids. When the kidneys can no longer do this, the body pushes fluids as far from the heart as possible. This causes a swelling of the feet and ankles. In some cases, you may notice a person’s face or hands appear to be puffy as well. Swelling of the extremities is one of the primary signs that death is near.

When you identify this symptom, seek to make your loved one as comfortable as possible. Slightly elevating their feet can help reduce this swelling. However, it’s important to consult a doctor before doing so.

Knowing how to properly care for your loved one is important in preserving their quality of life for as long as possible. The following video is helpful in further describing these symptoms and how to help.

The Mental and Emotional Stage

A second stage a person experiences in preparation for death is the mental and emotional stage. This stage of changes can occur simultaneously with the physical changes. As a person processes the reality of facing death, they can experience a wide range of mental and emotional symptoms. It can be difficult for friends and family members to witness this stage. Seek to offer support and acceptance as they work through these mental and emotional changes.

Confusion or Disorientation

When a person’s organs begin to fail, they can experience a change in higher-order consciousness. When this happens, they will experience feelings of confusion and disorientation. They may be unable to keep track of time or remember where they are. Family and friends who they know and love may seem like strangers at times.

It’s best when this occurs for friends and family to continue speaking to the person just as they normally would.


As a person prepares to face the reality of death, you may notice they seem to detach from the people and places around them. This is their attempt to begin letting go. They may appear to be withdrawn or unresponsive to activity around them. However, these symptoms do not indicate that they cannot hear what is going on in the room.

Continue to speak to your loved one as you normally would, as this can be of great comfort to them. The ability to hear is often the last sense for people to lose. This means your loved one is likely to hear you speak even up until a moment or two before they pass away. Your words of love and comfort can be heard even if they are unresponsive.

Mental Restlessness

When the brain experiences a decrease in oxygen, it can manifest itself in mental and physical distress. You may observe your loved one to be repeating the same phrase over and over, or tossing and turning in bed. This can indicate mental discomfort. Something may be bothering the person, causing them to be unable to experience peace in letting go.

Anti-Social Behavior

As a person prepares to be released, they may not want to be around many people. They might stop responding to questions or simply turn their head away when spoken to. This can be difficult for the friends and family who seek to interact with their loved one for as long as possible. However, this is a natural part of the stages of death.

The Spiritual Stage

This stage is the most varied of the three stages of death. Spirituality is something that each person experiences in a unique way. This stage is not defined by a large list of symptoms. However, many people do have several specific spiritual experiences as they move throughout the stages of death and dying.

Visions and Hallucinations

The person may tell you they have visited places that cannot be seen or spoken to someone who has passed away. These experiences of visions and hallucinations are one of the latest signs of death. The person is beginning the process of detaching from life. These visions help lessen their fear in the transition. Support your loved one by listening to what they say.

Desire to Make Peace

As a person nears the end of their life, they may experience a desire to find meaning in the life they have lived. This can manifest itself in through a need to right any wrongs or resolve disagreements with family or friends.

If your loved one is experiencing these feelings, it’s best to be open to these conversations. This will help them move into the final stages of death and give them peace in letting go.

Finding Spirituality

Many people seek comfort in their faith or religion as they approach death. They may request a visit from someone they trust in their religious community. These people will often provide answers to questions and offer a sense of peace as your loved one seeks comfort in the unknown. Praying or reading religious texts may offer a great deal of comfort as well.

Observing your loved one move through the stages of death can be a very difficult experience. It’s natural for you to desire to relieve their pain and discomfort in any way possible. Knowing the stages of death and how to respond to them can be the best way of offering support.

Did you find this information helpful as you offer support and encouragement to your loved one? We’d love to hear any feedback on what you found to be helpful during your experience.

Why Greenhouse Nursing Homes are Rising in Popularity

View Original Article Here: Why Greenhouse Nursing Homes are Rising in Popularity

greenhouse project

No one relishes the thought of putting a loved one in a nursing home. However, often comes the point when the appropriate care cannot be provided at home and a difficult decision must be made. Traditionally, feelings of guilt and despair would accompany the choice. No one wants to put a parent or elderly relative into a place they don’t want to be. Enter the Greenhouse Project.

What is The Green House Project?

There is an alternative to the traditional nursing home model. It’s beginning to take hold all over the country. It’s called the Green House Project, and it provides nursing home care in facilities that are homelier and more comforting for its residents.

Green House Project homes look like actual homes, with 10 to 12 residents in each. These elders are cared for by compassionate staff who focus on the quality of life for each elder.

The Greenhouse Project is a new way of looking at care for the elderly. It is an evidence-based model for senior living. The project builds on the most natural way to do three things: care, live, and thrive.

Caring in greenhouse nursing homes involves nurturing the residents in a circle of care. There is a deep relationship between elders and caregivers. The model for green house homes reverses the typical institutional, organizational chart.

Caregivers in Greenhouse Homes

Caregivers determine the best way to provide care and work in teams to the benefit of each resident. There are very few layers of management. Care providers work as a team to provide activities that elders want to participate in. The elders have input into the activities that are available.

Living in green house homes is more like living in your own home. Between ten and twelve people live in each Green House Project home. Each person has a private bedroom and bath. There is an open kitchen and a great room.

Greenhouse project homes are designed to harmonize with the surrounding community. They have ample access to the outdoors. Each home meets the state and federal licensing requirements for nursing care facilities.

Thriving in a greenhouse project home is important. It is the result of respect for personal preferences and flexible routines. The homes feature a common dining area. The dining area is where residents gather for meals and socialize. Friends and family of residents are always welcome. The staff encourages the residents to pursue their own interests and passions. In this way, they encourage their personal growth. There is a focus on living, learning, and growing, in contrast to the traditional nursing home.

Green House Project History

The Green House Project began in 2001 by Dr. Bill Thomas and Steve McAlilly. Thomas is a geriatric physician. McAlilly was CEO of Mississippi Methodist Senior Services. The men approached the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. They had the idea that elders should live in real homes, not in institutions.

They wanted to provide long term care in smaller, more personal setting. The buildings would look and function like a home. The foundation agreed to fund their vision. The Green House Project built its first home in 2003 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Since that time, the organization has built for veterans and low-income seniors. They have also built homes for residents who require short-term rehab services.

Before founding the Green House Project, Dr. Thomas was a co-founder of the Eden Alternative. The Eden Alternative has a similar mission but implements in a different way. Like the Green House Project, the Eden Alternative focuses on person-directed care. It focuses on changing the way care is provided in existing facilities. The Green House Project creates new facilities designed to offer care in this way.

This video explains the history and concept of the Green House project:

How are the Homes Staffed?

Homes that are part of the Green House Project use a new staffing model. This model is different from that of most long-term care facilities. The basis of the staff is the Shahbaz. A Shahbaz is a direct care provider. They manage the home, work in a team that manages itself, and partner with clinical team members. The Green House Project boasts lower staff turnover and four times more engagement of staff with elders.

The word Shahbaz is ancient Persian word. It means the king’s falcons. The word represents the philosophy of the Green House Project. The philosophy is valuing and empowering the staff. After all, it is the staff who provide the all-important daily care and nurturing to residents. The role of the Shahbaz is to help the elders negotiate old age and find the joy and goodness in their advanced age.

There are several roles occupied by Greenhouse Project staffs, including:

  • Guide – Responsible for supervising the Shabazim
  • Sage – Elder who lives locally and mentors the work teams
  • Clinical Support Team – Comprised of nurses, therapists, and dietitians

The Green House Project Difference

The concept of Green House Project was developed to effect a change in the culture of elder care. Some new approaches include:

Taking a proactive approach. This is to align with the natural rhythms, preferences, and patterns of each elder. The elders are encouraged to keep to their own schedules. They can participate in things they enjoy doing. They do not have to stick to a schedule set by the staff.

A daily community meeting. This engages elders in making decisions that affect the house and the way it is managed.

Care planning is a collaborative practice. It takes place between the Shahbazim, the elder, and their family. The planning focuses on forming deep and knowledgeable relationships.

There is a focus on attaining the highest practicable level of wellness of each elder in the home. This includes physical, social, and mental wellness.

Elders are encouraged to bring personal effects and treasures. They should decorate their rooms as they would like. This helps provide a feeling that is more like home. It also helps the staff and other residents get to know one another.

For Green House Project adopters, the language used reflects the philosophy. Instead of the facility, they say “community” or “home.” Individual is a term used in place of “resident” or “patient.” What others call ‘activities’ are termed ‘meaningful engagement.’

All these ways challenge the existing paradigm of nursing home care. They are making the vision of the Green House Project a successful reality.

The Impact on Healthcare Costs

A 2012 study compared the differences in Medicare and Medicaid costs. It looked at the cost of care in traditional nursing homes and Green House homes. The study looked at 13 sites, 9 of which were Green House sites, and 4 of which were traditional nursing homes.

The study looked at 255 residents. 97 were from Green House homes and 158 from traditional nursing homes. When they were admitted, the residents had comparable conditions. They needed comparable amounts of care. The study collected data from June 2004 until September 2009.

The study looked at the 12-month hospitalization rate. It was seven percentage points higher for nursing home residents. Also, those in Green House homes had better functioning during the period of the study. This led to lower Medicaid expenditures. The total cost savings over 12 months for a Green House resident was estimated at $1,300 to $2,300. This was compared to the cost for a resident in a traditional nursing home.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, recently updated their regulations. The new regulations support the values of the Green House Project. These regulations are regarding the quality of life and care. In these new regulations, CMS changes some of their languages. It has made it more focused on the elder as opposed to their condition. This is like the language used by the Green House Project.

Medicare and Medicaid reimburse Green House Project homes. Reimbursement is the same as it is in a traditional nursing home. For private pay residents, the homes set their own rates. They do this in accordance with the supply and demand in the local market.

Level of Care

A Green House Project home can provide the same level of care as a traditional nursing home. Home regulations are just like all other skilled nursing facilities. They must meet all the requirements. The difference is that the Green House Project home looks like an actual home. It does not look like an institution.

Green House Project homes accept Medicare and Medicaid. Reimbursement works in the same manner as traditional nursing homes. Residents in Green House Project homes have lower costs due to the greater personal and social contact they receive.


As of May 2017, there are over 200 Green House Project homes in more than 30 states.

Many more homes are under development. There are Green House homes for low-income elders, veterans, and short-term rehab patients.

Green House Project homes appear in both suburban and urban areas. There are homes in low- moderate- and upper-income areas. The homes blend into the surrounding neighborhood. This makes residents feel as though they are part of the larger community.

The founders of the Green House Project feel that this model is the future of nursing care.


The Greenhouse Project is aiming to put a different spin on traditional assisted living for seniors. This alternative option has been good for many elders in need of care who are seeking something different than a common nursing facility. Do you have a loved one who has lived or is currently residing in a Greenhouse Project facility? We encourage you to share below in the comments section!

What Is CCRC and What You Should Know About Them

View Original Article Here: What Is CCRC and What You Should Know About Them

continuing care retirement communities

There comes a time in everyone’s life when he or she may not be able to take care of themselves the way they always have. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; it’s merely a fact of life. When this time comes, the best thing to do is acknowledge that it has arrived.

For people of a certain age, continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs, become a viable option. However, moving anywhere at an advanced age is not something that you should take lightly. It could be the last time you move and the place where you spend your golden years. Before deciding on anything, you should be as informed as possible about your options.

What’s Different About A CCRC?

What is a CCRC? That is the $1 million question. Continuing care retirement communities combine features from various types of senior citizen communities. They combine aspects of an independent living facility, assisted living facility, and skilled nursing home all in one.

A CCRC will include various tiers where different residents may live. Where a resident will live within the CCRC will depend on well they can take care of themselves and how much assistance they need. At a CCRC, if your status were to change regarding how much help you need with daily activities, you simply move to a different part of the community.

Independent Living

In a CCRC, residents who can handle a certain level of independence are free to enjoy it. They are likely to live in apartments no different from what you would find in the outside world. The main difference is proximity to others your age with the opportunity to engage in social activities and enjoy the amenities of the CCRC.

Assisted Living

The assisted living corridors at a CCRC will have caregivers to help residents with daily activities. This may include walking, bathing, grooming, taking medication, and more. The caveat is that this typically involves moving out of your independent living apartment and into a different part of the campus.

Skilled Nursing Home

If you or your loved one deteriorates health wise to the point of needing to be in a nursing home, the CCRC can accommodate that. This can even be accomplished without having to move outside the campus. Not all assisted living facilities have skilled nurses working onsite. But a CCRC will have rooms dedicated to those who require nursing home level care.

4 Types of Contracts

Most Continuing Care Retirement Communities will offer residents four types of contracts. This allows them to choose one that fits them best. Typically, there will be an entrance fee in order to secure a spot within the community. There will also be monthly fees that vary based on the services you receive from the CCRC.

Life Care Contract (Type A)

This contract is for residents who to pay the same every month and pay upfront for all costs. Both the entry and monthly fees are likely to be high. However, those fees won’t change even if you move from independent to assisted living and eventually to the community’s nursing home. With this contract, it may be possible to receive tax benefits and part of your entrance fee refunded when your contract is terminated.

Modified Contract (Type B)

A modified contract is similar to Type A, although the CCRC may only provide services to the resident for a set period, typically a month or two. When that period of time is over, you will pay market value for any assisted living or nursing care services. So, unlike Type A, a Type B contract will have a monthly payment that fluctuates.

Fee-for-Service Contract (Type C)

A Type C contract is essentially a pay-as-you-go plan. Whatever assisted living and healthcare services you accrue is what you will pay each month, doing so at market value. If you remain healthy and don’t require much assistance, you can keep your monthly payments low. However, if your condition deteriorates, there is no chance for a discount or tax write-off.

Rental Agreement

Not every CCRC will offer a rental option, but most of them do. Typically, the entrance fee will be waived, but residents should expect to pay higher monthly fees because they don’t pre-pay for any services. The rental option is usually only available when a community has extra space that’s not currently occupied by a resident who’s signed to a contract.

CCRC Benefits

Regardless of what type of contract you choose, continuing care recreational communities offer many great benefits.

Can Adapt to Your Changing Health

This is one of the top benefits of a CCRC. Instead of waiting until your health goes into decline, you can plan ahead so you don’t have to move when it’ll be more difficult to do so. Once you’re at the CCRC, you can seamlessly move from independent to assisted living whenever you need to. Eventually, you’ll be able to receive nursing care when you need it.

Even if you have a temporary health setback, it’s easy to move between different levels of care while living in a CCRC. If you require extra care, you can receive it as needed, and once you have recovered, you can return to your previous level of care and independence.

Can Accommodate Couples

Continuing care retirement communities may be ideal for elderly couples. Instead of one being the caretaker for the other, each can receive the level of care their need. Even if one needs more care than the other, a CCRC makes it possible for the couple to continue living together. Otherwise, different care needs may force them to live in different facilities.

Move in Before Health Fades

A CCRC can be a great way to plan ahead. You can continue to live independently in your own apartment in a CCRC. But because of how they are set up, you know you’ll be covered as you age and require more living assistance. For a lot of people and their loved ones, this is preferable than having to move somewhere once your health has already started to decline.

Social Opportunities

Often, seniors can become isolated as they age, and that lack of human interaction usually isn’t good for their health. However, continuing care retirement communities are just that: communities. They offer you opportunities to socialize with others and engage in daily activities. This kind of lifestyle can help to keep you healthy and active for many years to come.

Healthcare Availability

When living in a CCRC, you never have to worry about having access to healthcare. Even in independent living, you can receive easy access to healthcare when you need it. Having this luxury can provide you with piece-of-mind. Having piece-of-mind can be invaluable as you age and begin to experience more frequent health issues, even minor ones.

Below is a video that discusses many of the basics of a continuing care retirement community.


Of course, continued caring retirement communities are far from perfect. Like anything else in life, there will be drawbacks. So, what kind of tradeoffs can you expect to make if you decide to live in a CCRC?

Sacrifice Independence

This is the biggest thing you give up when you decide to move to a CCRC. In the independent living part of the community, you’ll have a large degree of freedom that’s akin to living on your own. However, it’s not quite the same, and coming to grips with that is not always easy and not always a sacrifice seniors are willing to make.

Financial Commitment

Continuing care retirement community cost will vary from one facility to another, but the price is substantial no matter where you go. The entrance at most places will be at least $100,000 and could exceed half a million dollars at some places. On top of that, the monthly fees should be at least a few thousand dollars, depending on the facility and your contract.

There’s also a great amount of risk if your particular CCRC gets into financial trouble. If the community isn’t in a good place financially, you could see the quality of care decline of your monthly fees increase. If for some reason your CCRC ends up going bankrupt, you could lose all the money you’ve invested into living there for the rest of your life.

Limited Oversight

One of the biggest concerns with continuing care retirement communities is the lack of federal regulations. Nursing homes are well regulated, but that’s not the case with CCRCs, so you never quite know what you’re going to get. The marketing pitch a CCRC gives can be quite different from the product they deliver, which is easy to do with such little government oversight.

Doing the Research

With a variety of both benefits and drawbacks to CCRCs, it’s imperative to do research on an individual community before you commit to moving there. Remember, this is a big decision, so take these steps before deciding.

Check Financial Records

You should be able to get a copy of a CCRC’s financial records simply by asking them. If you can’t decipher it yourself, have an accountant or financial specialist look at it. He or she will be able to find any signs of debt, mismanagement, or any other red flags. Moving to a CCRC is a huge commitment, and you don’t want to live in one that’s in financial trouble.

Take A Visit

Obviously, you’ll tour the community before deciding to live, but go one step further and spend at least a couple of nights there as a type of trial run. That’s the only way you’ll be able to determine if it’s a place you’d like to call home.

While you’re visiting, take the time to talk to the other residents there and get feedback from them on their experience. If the current residents don’t seem happy to be there it may not be a place you’ll want to live. Taking an extended visit is also a great opportunity to observe and speak with the staff. This will help give you an idea on whether they genuinely care about the residents there.

Ask Questions

You can never ask too many questions when deciding whether or not to move into a CCRC. You’ll need to learn about the contract options, the services offered, and how the monthly fees are calculated. You will also want to ask what services aren’t included and whether part of the entrance fee is refundable.

Aside from the obvious questions about services and finances, you’ll want to ask questions about who owns and operates the community. Obviously, there will be questions that pertain specifically to yourself and your situation. Just remember, there’s no wrong question when deciding on a CCRC.


Continuing care retirement communities offer great perks for seniors. Of course, there are tradeoffs to moving into one of these communities. Thus, extensive research is necessary before choosing the community where you want to live.

Do you or a loved one live in a continuing care retirement community? Please feel free to talk about your experience below.

What is the Difference Between Delirium and Dementia?

View Original Article Here: What is the Difference Between Delirium and Dementia?

delirium vs dementia

Both delirium and dementia have similar symptoms, but the two medical conditions are not the same. Delirium usually comes on suddenly, and there are ways to prevent it from developing. The onset of dementia is slower, usually taking months or years to develop with minor symptoms sometimes being dismissed as normal forgetfulness or ignored. With this information, you should be able to tell the differences between delirium vs dementia and understand why awareness of delirium and its causes is important.

Some memory lapses are a natural part of aging, but when it is combined with confusion, disorientation, difficulty concentrating, or speech problems, then there is a reason for concern. Since these symptoms can indicate more than one medical condition, an appointment with a doctor should be made to diagnose the condition.

What is Delirium?

Delirium is a state of abnormal mental confusion caused by the stress of the body or mind. The onset of delirium is usually quick, sometimes developing within a few hours or a few days. There are ways to prevent delirium, which is also known as “acute confusional state” due to its quick onset.

There are several symptoms which indicate a state of delirium, but they can be confused with dementia symptoms due to their similarities. The main symptoms of delirium include:

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Language Problems
  • Memory Issues
  • Difficulty Paying Attention
  • Poor Concentration

For the most part, delirium affects a person’s attention span, but dementia mainly affects their memory. While delirium is treatable and often preventable, it is incorrectly misdiagnosed in approximately half of all cases. Its diagnosis is also complicated because many dementia patients can also develop delirium.

Causes of Delirium

Delirium has many causes, some of which are avoidable. The causes include:

  • Infections
  • Dementia
  • Low electrolyte levels
  • Prescription medications
  • Injuries
  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Metabolic disorders

Untreated urinary tract infections, pneumonia, or encephalitis can trigger delirium. Since these infections can be caused by bacteria, although it is rare in the cause of encephalitis, treating the infections with antibiotics will usually resolve the infection and the delirium.

Delirium caused by low electrolyte levels is usually due to severe dehydration or malnutrition, which is why it is important senior citizens, especially those in frail health, need to drink plenty of water. It is important to seek help if loved ones start showing signs of delirium because the dehydration can be fatal.

Along with low electrolyte levels, low levels of the vitamins thiamine and B12 can also cause delirium. People who are alcoholics may have low thiamine levels, and many seniors get regular B12 injections because they cannot absorb the vitamin from the foods they eat. A vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause confusion, memory issues, and dementia.

Delirium is also a side effect of taking certain medications by themselves, in combination with other drugs, or it may appear as a withdrawal symptom after they stop taking certain drugs. Some of the medications associated with delirium include:

  • Pain relievers
  • Antihistamines
  • Medications to help people sleep.
  • Drugs to treat mood disorders like anxiety or depression.
  • Parkinson’s medications
  • Asthma drugs

Unpreventable Delirium Causes

Many patients may enter a state of delirium after head traumas, stress, or if they have dementia. If someone is in an accident and has a head injury, they may wake up confused, disoriented and stressed to the point they become delirious. Fortunately, delirium resulting from a trauma will usually resolve itself by resting and relaxing as the injury heals.

Stress-induced delirium is very common for senior citizens who require hospitalization due to sickness or injuries. Nearly one-quarter of senior citizens will develop delirium while in the hospital, but that figure jumps to almost 70% when they are admitted to an Intensive Care Unit. Delirium is often missed in patients because the only way to diagnose it is by clinical observation and, in busy hospitals, nurses may not have time to carefully observe patients, except in specialty units like an ICU where careful observation is critical.

Since people with dementia are easily confused and disoriented, many of them will develop delirium during a stressful situation, like being in a nursing home. Some dementia patients may suffer from dehydration or malnutrition because due to complications of the disease. In fact, when assessing the risk factors of delirium vs dementia, dementia is on the list. Some of the other risk factors include:

  • Strokes
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Being elderly
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Multiple medical problems
  • History of delirium

Understanding the consequences of delirium, especially as related to dementia, is important because of the complications patients can develop. In some cases, the cause of the delirium can be fatal, such as the case with untreated infections. However, for other patients, the development of delirium can lead to a general decline in their overall health.

Delirium Complications

It isn’t unusual for patients with chronic or terminal illnesses to develop delirium, including dementia patients. The ability to recover from episodes of delirium depends on a person’s mental and physical health before its onset. While people in good health are more likely to make a full recovery, when comparing patients with delirium vs dementia, those with dementia may experience declines in their memory and thinking ability.

Those who have chronic or terminal illnesses may not be able to regain their levels of physical functioning or thinking abilities they had before delirium. Along with a decline in their overall health, some of the other complications patients can develop includes:

  • An increase in injuries due to falls.
  • Weakness
  • Impaired functioning
  • Mobility declines
  • Combative behavior
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Wandering

Some of these complications also occur in patients with dementia whether delirium is present. To better understand the difference between delirium and dementia, it is important to get an overview of what dementia is and what role it plays in the development of delirium.

Defining Dementia

Dementia is the general term for decreases in mental abilities which are so severe that they affect a person’s daily life. Memory loss is a type of dementia, as is Alzheimer’s, which is the most prevalent form as seen on the pie chart. There are several other types of dementia, including:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Mixed Dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)

Although these, and other types of dementia, may have similar symptoms and causes, they also have unique symptoms and affect the brain in different ways. For instance, the brain of someone with Alzheimer’s will have protein plaque deposits, twisted strands of protein and the brain will also display signs of death. However, the brain of someone with Vascular Dementia will show signs of blood vessel damage, which can appear on brain imaging scans and eliminate an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

When considering dementia vs delirium, it is important to note three of the main differences: their onset, methods of diagnosis, and their treatments.

The following video sheds some more light on the topic:

Dementia Onset

As stated earlier in the article, delirium rapidly develops within hours or days, but dementia usually develops over time, and it can take several months or years before symptoms are obvious. However, there are cases of acute dementia, which is a rapid onset of the disease. A study from the United Kingdom revealed dementia in some elderly patients was triggered by delirium they developed due to the stress of being in the hospital.

Methods of Diagnosis

When comparing delirium vs dementia diagnostic methods, no diagnostic tests exist to diagnose delirium, thus, clinical observation is the only method. However, there are several diagnostic and cognitive tests which can help diagnose dementia and its type. Some of the diagnostic tests for dementia include blood tests and diagnostic scans like CT, MRI, and PET scans.

The main cognitive test is the mini mental state examination or MMSE. While this test doesn’t diagnose the disease, it helps to discover a dementia patient’s level of impairment. This test assesses the mental skills like:

  • Long- and short-term memory
  • Attention span
  • Ability to Concentrate
  • Language use and communication abilities
  • Understanding of instructions
  • Planning abilities

It also includes exercises like memorizing a short list and repeating, writing a grammatically correct short sentence and answering time-oriented questions.

Dementia Treatments

While delirium will sometimes resolve itself as the patient heals from the initial cause or they are prescribed rest and relaxation to reduce stress, the treatment of dementia depends on the type a patient has. There are cognitive medications and therapies which can help manage the disease as some forms are irreversible. However, some causes of dementia are resolved with treatments, and the patient’s abilities may slowly return.

In Conclusion

Since senior citizens are susceptible to delirium due to several of its causes, it is important to focus on the preventable ones, so it doesn’t develop. Along with preventing delirium, eliminating some causes many also prevent some forms of dementia.

What are your experiences in caring for loved ones with delirium or dementia? We encourage you to share with us in the comment section below.

Detecting and Treating Weight Loss in Seniors

View Original Article Here: Detecting and Treating Weight Loss in Seniors

weight loss in elderly

Most of us tend to recognize that elderly people tend to become smaller the older they get. As people age, they lose weight and perhaps even become a couple of inches shorter. Most people believe that weight loss in elderly people is a natural part of aging. But losing a significant amount of weight without trying to do so can indicate a potentially serious health issue for seniors.

Unintentional weight loss is defined as a loss of 5% of your body weight within a six to 12-month period. Recent data suggests that close to 30% of people over the age of 65 experience involuntary weight loss. Weight loss can interfere with day-to-day functionality, causing a decline in quality of life. It can also lead to a higher mortality rate among the elderly.

Studies show that between 9% and 38% of elderly people die within one to two and a half year of experiencing involuntary weight loss. It also increases the odds of being hospitalized or suffering a fall, while causing a decline in recovering from an illness or injury. Thus, the issue must be identified and handled properly before it leads to dire consequences.


The causes and risk factors for unintentional weight loss in the elderly can be quite varied. It can be a by-product of a more serious medical ailment. A disease or medication taken to treat that disease can be the cause of weight loss in elderly people. However, the issue can also be brought about by psychological factors or even as a result of lifestyle.

There is a clever mnemonic for unintentional weight loss in elderly people, “Meals on Wheels.” This helps medical personnel and others recognize most of the possible causes of unintentional weight loss.

Medication Effects

Many medications have common side effects like dry mouth or changes in appetite that can lead to weight loss.

Emotional Problems

Conditions like anxiety or depression may take away the desire to eat.

Anorexia or Alcoholism.

Both conditions are associated with malnutrition, which can directly lead to weight loss.

Late-Life Paranoia

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can increase the risk of weight loss.

Swallowing Disorders

Diets to treat swallowing disorders may be undesirable and over time cause weight loss.

Oral Health

Painful dentures or missing teeth can make eating unpleasant and lead to weight loss.

No Money

Poverty and lack of access to food can cause malnutrition and subsequent weight loss.


Not paying attention during meals due to issues related to dementia can reduce food intake.


There are several thyroid-related conditions that can alter metabolism and cause weight loss. The medications to treat these conditions can also change appetite.

Enteric (Intestinal) Issues

Gastrointestinal distress can signal nutritional deficiencies or lead to a lack of appetite.

Eating Problems

The loss of ability to feed one’s self can lead to poor nutrition and weight loss.

Low-Salt or Low-Cholesterol Diet

Diets designed to improve heart health in the elderly can cause weight loss. They are also less appealing, leading to lower food intake.

Social Problems and Stones

Lack of social interaction can diminish eating habits and prevent access to preferred foods. Also, gallstones can be painful and cause a lack of appetite, leading to weight loss.

To further simplify, weight loss in seniors tends to come down to disease, psychiatry, or life circumstances. Diseases, most notably cancer, as well as the medications used to treat those diseases are a common cause. Psychiatric issues like depression are a common cause of weight loss in elderly people. Any life circumstances that prevent proper nutrition may also be the catalyst for sudden weight loss in the elderly.

Symptoms to Look For

Obviously, noticing a sudden loss in weight over the span of a few months is an obvious symptom, but noticing that kind weight loss is not always easy. Clothes becoming baggy, rings falling off fingers, or the need to tighten your belt can all be signs that you’ve lost a significant amount of weight.

Of course, these are not the only ways to identify weight loss or predict that significant weight loss may be coming in the immediate future. For instance, loss of appetite or a general lack of interest in food or eating is one of the most common predictors of sudden weight loss. As indicated earlier, there are several reasons for a lack of appetite.

Even a change in diet could lead to sudden weight loss. Being forced into a new diet can take away the desire to eat, lowering your overall intake of food. Meanwhile, unintentionally altering your diet could result in malnutrition and ultimately weight loss. Chronic constipation is one way to detect a lack of proper nutrition even before significant weight loss can begin.

Signs of Aging

Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of involuntary weight loss are common parts of the aging process. Changes in your sense of taste and smell are common as you age and can make food less appealing. It’s also common for seniors to feel full sooner, which can also reduce the amount they eat and deprive them of proper nutrition.

Seniors also get sick more often and may struggle to take care of themselves and function on a day-to-day basis. This can play a role in suffering sudden weight loss. Thus, it’s important to recognize when these symptoms begin to set in and start to have an impact on your life.


The links between the elderly and weight loss are so diverse that treatment for it is not always simple. Once the issue is discovered along with the root cause of the problem, then the underlying cause can be treated. Of course, it’s likely that treatment for sudden weight loss in the elderly will take place on multiple fronts.

Dietary Restrictions

One of the first actions that can be taken is removing any dietary restrictions. This can sometimes be complicated for patients with a specific diet to treat diabetes or other conditions. However, relinquishing harsh diet restrictions can encourage someone to eat more. This, in turn, will help to stabilize their weight.

For seniors who struggle with the process of eating, changes in food intake may be necessary. If chewing or swallowing food is an issue, diets consisting of soft foods and liquids can be arranged to help increase food intake. Flavor enhancers can also be useful for elderly people when their sense of taste and smell become diminished.

In other instances, smaller portions and more frequent meals can be effective. This can help to compensate for many seniors feeling full faster. When possible, it’s also possible to increase exercise and activity to increase appetite. Of course, this isn’t always possible with elderly people who struggle with their mobility.

The video below discusses proper nutrition for seniors, which is important in preventing or treating sudden weight loss.



Unfortunately, there are no medications specifically for unintentional weight loss in the elderly. Certain medications can improve appetite and lead to weight gain. But many of those drugs have not been tested on the elderly for this reason. Such medications are also designed for other conditions and come with possible side effects that may not be ideal for elderly people.

However, nutritional supplements can be effective for increasing calorie intake. They are often found in liquid form or other forms that should be easy for seniors to consume. It’s easy to keep in mind that nutritional supplements should not be viewed as meal replacements. They should be taken in between meals to help maintain a healthy weight.

Lifestyle Changes

Of course, some of the possible treatments for unintentional weight loss in the elderly go beyond medicine. A lack of access to desirable foods can lead to a reduced appetite. The same is true if a person is isolated and uninterested in eating. These issues may need to be addressed by a caregiver. A caregiver can help make the proper lifestyle adjustments.


With most medical conditions, the best treatment is prevention. Unintentional weight loss in the elderly is no exception. Once an elderly person loses a significant amount of weight, it can be difficult to regain the lost weight. This makes it imperative to pay close attention to the possible symptoms of unintentional weight loss and treat it before it becomes an issue.

In addition to being aware of the causes, it may be wise for seniors to undergo nutrition screening on a regular basis. Undergoing a nutritional assessment with a professional can help to identify risk factors. This includes many of the “Meals on Wheels” risk factors discussed earlier. Knowing if you’re susceptible to any of these risk factors is a great first step in preventing sudden weight loss.


While many people may believe that losing body mass is a natural part of the aging process, it can be a rather serious issue. Dealing with weight loss in the elderly in a timely manner is crucial. Otherwise, weight loss can lead to other health issues or even death.

Do you or someone you know have experience dealing with unintentional weight loss? Let us know in the comments section.

Senior Citizen Center Activities to Keep You Feeling Young

View Original Article Here: Senior Citizen Center Activities to Keep You Feeling Young

senior activities

When you are considering a senior living facility or community for your loved one, you want to make sure that all their needs will be met. This doesn’t end with providing for their basic care; you will also want them to engage in the types of activities that lead to a happy, healthy, and productive life. Senior activities are essential for both physical and mental well-being. Here we will discuss various activities for older people at home or in assisted living.

Exercise and Fitness for Seniors

Staying active and getting appropriate exercise is key to your senior loved one’s health and happiness. While not all activities are well-suited for all older adults, yoga, biking, swimming, and dancing are three of the best senior activities. Each of these activities has benefits that exceed physical exercise, elevating the mind, body, and spirit.


We know that yoga is excellent for the mind and body. It is a low-impact method of stretching muscles and connective tissue while strengthening joints and improving range of motion. However, the best part of yoga for older adults is perhaps the practice of discipline and mindfulness.

The Yoga Empowers Seniors Study found that yoga was one of the best ways to improve physical function in seniors while impacting mood and positive thoughts. Yoga and similar practices like Tai Chi have been utilized by older people in Eastern cultures to achieve longevity and health for thousands of years.


Cycling is a relatively low-impact activity that can be done indoors for exercise or outdoors for added relaxation and enjoyment. Many assisted living centers to take their most active seniors on group bike tours of nearby towns and parks.

This is a wonderful way to encourage your loved one to enjoy some fresh air and fellowship while seeing the local sights. Biking is also a great way to spend family time with your senior. Bring your kid’s bikes and let your loved one lead the way.

Autumn is the best time to go for a ride. Not only will your senior see the lovely seasonal colors, but the pollen count is lower during the cooler months. Older riders tend to average between 8 and 12 miles per hour. However, speed or skill may vary rider to rider. Remember to encourage your senior to ride at their own pace.


Swimming is a terrific activity for seniors. Whether indoors or outside, swimming provides a low-impact exercise that gets the heart pumping, stretches the muscles, and improves range of motion, without causing a painful impact on knees, elbows, and hips. This makes swimming the perfect activity for seniors who have arthritis, those who have had joint replacement surgery, and is even used as therapy for those recovering from a stroke.

For some quick tips and helpful advice on the best way to use the pool as an exercise tool for seniors check out this informative video.

The following video shows a few water workouts to try:


A recent study looked at the effects regular dancing had on a group of Latinos, aged 55 and over. The study, conducted by the University of Illinois Departments of Kinesiology and Nutrition found that participants taking dance classes improved their physical conditioning including, agility, speed, and range of motion, in ways their peers —not taking dance, did not experience.

There is also research that indicates dancing releases certain hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline, which make us naturally feel more happy and energetic. If dancing is something that interests your senior, encourage them to find their groove. Dancing is certainly one of the most fun and healthful senior citizen center activities.

Enjoy the Outdoors

The great American essayist John Burroughs once wrote, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed. And to have my senses put right once more.” Whether you are looking for a senior living center that will encourage outdoor activities or you are just planning an outdoor activity with an older adult, boating, fishing, and hiking are all excellent options to consider.


Older adults with limited mobility may think boating isn’t an option. However, if you want to set out on a boating adventure, the main challenge will be finding an appropriate vessel. After that, it’s smooth sailing. If your senior is wheelchair bound but able to make the transfer to a boat, they may sit in a regular seat with a lap belt for support.

Many newer boats have flat front decks which may help with the transition. Wheelchair users, though, may feel most comfortable aboard a pontoon boat where they can stay in their wheelchair while on the water.

If you don’t have access to an appropriate boat and just want a few hours of fishing, consider taking your senior to a public access pier. These are required by law to be ADA compliant. Be sure to have appropriate safety equipment such as life vests and floatation devices.


Fishing is a favorite pastime for many seniors. It is the perfect activity for quiet reflexion and even encourages a competitive spirit. Recent studies have found that fishing releases hormones called endorphins into the body which may help seniors cope with chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. Many senior living centers have ponds located onsite that allow fishing. Fishing trips can also be a fun family excursion.

When you are shopping for fishing gear for your senior, make sure to keep any physical limitations in mind. Pick a fishing spot with lots of room for sideways casting techniques to reduce the likelihood of shoulder pain or injury. If your senior is disabled, choose a rod and reel that is easy to cast. According to, there are many ways to make fishing accessible to everyone, no matter their capabilities.

Walking and Hiking

Many seniors enjoy walking and hiking. In fact, many senior living communities offer hiking clubs featuring regular excursions to local trails. We know that walking is one of the best senior activities. Studies have found that walking briskly can lower your risk for several chronic health conditions such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • stroke
  • heart disease

The best part of hiking and walking is that it requires no special skills or abilities. It can be accomplished at any pace. It is important that your senior find an approach that they enjoy, whether your senior is hiking in a group, with a club, or simply taking a stroll each evening for some alone time.

Walking is a terrific activity that your entire family can enjoy alongside older adults. Plan a regularly scheduled hike each afternoon, and everyone will reap the well-known benefits of walking.

Leisure Activities for Senior Centers

Not all activities for seniors need to be a form of exercise. There are many enjoyable recreational activities suited for seniors as well. Games that encourage strategy, skill, and recall are the most helpful.

Card Games

Card games like Bridge, or even Poker, keep the mind sharp and provide opportunities for social interaction, which is important for seniors who often struggle with feelings of isolation. Many senior living centers offer daily card games and weekly tournaments for their residents. Card games like solitaire can also be enjoyed alone. Many older adults find the familiarity of these games comforting and calming.


Chess is the game for masters of strategy. Many seniors have played since they were young children and probably have developed a “habit.” Many agree that chess can be addictive. This perhaps proves once and for all that all addictions need not be harmful. Encourage your chess loving senior to get his daily dose of gameplay.

The love of Chess is also something valuable that your senior can pass along to the younger generations. Plan a time for your children or grandchildren can visit and learn a bit about the game. Chess sharpens and teaches valuable life lessons like strategy, sportsmanship, ethics and critical thinking, impacting the mind of adults and children alike.


Whether playing an instrument or listening to their favorite tunes, music is the perfect leisure activity for many seniors. Studies have shown that older persons who engage in musical pursuits are happier and more fulfilled. Psychology Today reports that music also impacts the cognitive ability of older adults. Researchers found that music positively affected the following abilities in seniors:

  • Cognitive processing speed (recall and response)
  • General and short-term memory performance
  • Semantic or long-term memory

To reap these benefits, encourage participation in senior center activities centered around music. Consider providing technology that will help your senior enjoy music and other entertainment.

Tech Activities for Seniors

Technology can be intimidating to some older adults. However, reports indicate that modern aging adults love their devices just as much as the younger population. Technology offers seniors the ability to keep in touch with friends and family who are unable to visit. It can offer entertainment with a simple swipe of the screen.

Finally, technology offers seniors the tools they need to stay healthy and independent longer. Check to see if there are any classes available for your senior available to help bridge any technology gaps. Many senior living facilities offer these, as well.

Staying Connected

A tablet or laptop can be a lifeline for a senior who is unable to travel or is unable to stay connected with their family due to distance. We know that making international or long-distance calls can add up fast.

For those living on a fixed income, this is an expense they just can’t afford. Apps like Skype, allows seniors to easily make calls anywhere, send text and voice messages at a touch of a button, and enjoy interaction through video conferencing.

Not only will this engaging activity help your senior save money, but they will also feel more connected to family members.

Adaptive Technology

Many apps are designed primarily for seniors that offer easy to use and intuitive displays and interfaces. One app called Silver Surf was listed by the AARP is one of the most innovative apps for seniors in 2017.

Silver Surf creates a smooth browsing experience for seniors by amplifying the sound and screen size, intuitively. Also, most tablets and laptops come equipped with various accessibility settings designed to make the device easier to use for senior activities.

Some seniors have even turned technology into a hobby. This video from the “world’s oldest blogger” is inspiring. At 103 years old, Dagny Carlsson is an inspiration to us all.

Check out this video for a few “life hacks” from a tech-savvy senior:

Health Technology for Seniors

If your senior is living in a full-care facility, you won’t need to worry about their medication. However, at many assisted living and retirement communities, seniors are responsible for their own medication regimen. This is one area where having a tech-savvy senior is a huge blessing. Apps like PillBoxie are designed to help seniors remember to take their medication.

Helping your senior have a better quality of life is a primary concern when you are evaluating senior care facilities. These are just a few of the senior activities that may help improve their health and well-being.

If you or your loved one routinely enjoy senior activities that we missed, feel free to share with us in the comments section below!