Solutions for Seniors Struggling in Today’s Economy

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Turmoil in the economy. Skyrocketing jobless numbers. Budget cuts putting families at risk. And senior services being cut. And cut. And cut.
Whether it is nutrition, housing, or medical needs, seniors and their caregivers are now looking for new ways to keep themselves clothed, fed and housed. In fact, President Obama’s full-year Continuing Resolution for 2011 included a 45 percent national cutback of Senior Community Service Employment Program funding from the fiscal year 2010 budget.
With federal funding at the top of the chopping block, many of our elderly don’t have access to even one hot meal a day. Meals on Wheels, a non-profit agency, had to establish a waiting list at many of its sites across the U.S. this year.
While the world of senior nutrition programs faces trying fiscal times, there are services out there to help. Mom’s Meals (www.MomsMeals.com), created by a family to care for their aging grandmothers, delivers fresh-prepared, nutritionally balanced meals right to the doors of those who need them most. At only $5.99 per meal, far less than the cost of a restaurant meal, Mom’s Meals are designed by a dietician and chef and contain the proper nourishment for seniors.
While transportation options are also being cut, a little digging will show that certain agencies are working for the benefit of seniors. At the 2005 White House Conference on Aging, transportation was identified as the third most important priority of seniors, right under reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (No. 1) and matters pertaining to long-term care, according to the National Center on Senior Transportation. The NCST has made it their mission to increase transportation options for older adults and enhance their ability to live more independently within their communities throughout the U.S. More about the NCST can be found at www.seniortransportation.net.
With these federal cuts also comes added financial burden on seniors and their families. To help, AARP offers their Money Management Program, a daily service to help low-income older or disabled people who have difficulty budgeting, paying routine bills and keeping track of financial matters. More information about it can be found at www.aarpmmp.org.

Stress-Busting Tips for Caregivers

Few things prove more stressful than caring for a loved one with cancer. While doctors handle the cancer treatment, caregivers often manage their patients’ everyday needs — transportation, food, recreation, medications and visits with friends. At the same time, caregivers must deal with feelings of helplessness and frustration as they watch their loved ones fight battles in which they cannot help. Many feel guilty if they focus any attention on themselves.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, studies have consistently reported higher levels of depressive symptoms and mental health problems among caregivers than among their non-caregiving peers.

Stress-Busting Tips For Caregivers

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Few things prove more stressful than caring for a loved one with cancer. While doctors handle the cancer treatment, caregivers often manage their patients’ everyday needs — transportation, food, recreation, medications and visits with friends. At the same time, caregivers must deal with feelings of helplessness and frustration as they watch their loved ones fight battles in which they cannot help. Many feel guilty if they focus any attention on themselves.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, studies have consistently reported higher levels of depressive symptoms and mental health problems among caregivers than among their noncaregiving peers.

But caregivers can learn to manage their stress.”Talking with a trusted friend or counselor can help caregivers reduce stress, feel less helpless and understand how to respond to their loved ones,” says Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) Mind-Body Medicine national director Dr. Katherine Puckett.

Many of the same methods that help caregivers can apply to anyone facing a stressful situation. Puckett offers the following tips:

* Find a treatment center that will help. Puckett and her mind-body medicine team work closely with both patients and caregivers to listen and provide support. CTCA also helps ease stress by coordinating appointments, providing transportation and scheduling travel arrangements and hotel accommodations.

* Ask for and accept help. If another family member is willing to help out, let them ease your burden. Depending on the source of your stress, you should also seek out additional community resources. For example, cancer caregivers can find support groups for both themselves and patients.

* Know your limits. Determine what you can and can’t handle, based on your responsibilities to your family and professional life. If adding another obligation is too much, either say, “No” or find someone with whom to split duties.

* Take care of yourself. Sufficient sleep will help you manage challenges more easily. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Start exercising — regular activity can help reduce irritability, fatigue and overall stress levels.

* Make time for yourself. Relaxing or doing something that you enjoy — even for a few minutes — can go a long way towards lifting your mood. Puckett recommends that caregivers set aside at least five minutes a day to meditate or simply be still and relax.

For more information, visit www.cancercenter.com.

Plan Ahead for Safe Senior Driving

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – No one wants to admit that aging affects their ability to drive safely. But experts agree that, although not all drivers are the same, driving ability generally begins to deteriorate around age 55.

Kathleen Marvaso, AAA’s vice president of Public Affairs, said that as the population ages, senior-driver safety is becoming an increasingly relevant and challenging issue for many families. “Many adult children of senior drivers are looking for help navigating this new and sometimes challenging road,” she said. “Our research shows that one of the biggest questions is how to begin the conversation.”

AAASeniors.com, AAA’s senior safety and mobility Web site, offers the following advice:

* Plan ahead. It’s never too early to begin the conversation. Planning ahead means you can discuss gradual adjustments that may be needed over time as a senior gets older. Sometimes, just a few simple adjustments, such as avoiding night or highway driving, can help prolong a senior’s safe driving years.

* Approach the conversation with safety as the main objective. Because driving is such a big part of independence, AAA advises to be prepared to face some resistance from the senior driver. Having facts and concrete examples available will help; and a caring tone may make all the difference.

* Talk about the issue during discussions about retirement. Take the same careful approach to transportation that you would with finances and other retirement-related decisions. Future transportation needs may affect other retirement decisions, such as selecting a retirement home. For example, convenience to public transportation or the availability of onsite transportation become important criteria.

“At AAA, we want to foster a society where older adults can remain confident and independent and live to their full potential,” Marvaso said. “AAASeniors.com gives seniors and their families the tools necessary to create an action plan to help manage the inevitable consequences of aging, and to help seniors drive for as long as safely possible — and remain mobile thereafter.”

In addition to information about how aging affects driving, and tips for talking to seniors about safe driving, AAASeniors.com also provides an expert advice section, driving skills assessment tools, tips for choosing a safer car, fact sheets, brochures, and referrals to driver-improvement courses and free community-based programs.