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The CDC warns that older adults are at higher risk for dying if they catch COVID-19. To reduce risk of catching COVID-19, the CDC encourages older adults to limit their interactions with other people as much as possible, which means, we are mostly at home for the duration.

Instead of social distancing, think physical distancing + social connection. Isn’t that a contradiction, you ask? During World War II the planting of victory gardens, and the rationing of gas, food, and clothing connected Americans of all ages, classes, and cultures in a shared effort to save these precious resources for soldiers. Now, mask wearing, sheltering in place, and washing our hands frequently, and limiting the spread of the virus connects us to neighbors, friends and family no matter where they are.

Try practicing these 10 actions everyday to keep your spirits up:

  1. Call someone* (keep a list of family, friends, neighbors by your phone)
  2. Move your body (CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly)
  3. Straighten up one area in your home
  4. Eat something healthy and stay hydrated
  5. Get outside
  6. Get a good night’s sleep
  7. Limit how much news you listen to (15 minutes 2x/day is more than enough!)
  8. Name one thing you are grateful for
  9. Learn something new
  10. Do something creative (listen to music, bake, make something, etc.)

*At Call2Talk 508-532-2255 someone is available to listen 24 hours/day/7 days/week.

For more ideas about taking care of yourself during the pandemic —

Please contact Malka Young, LICSW, CCM at JFS Allies in Aging at (508) 655-9553

 

 

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Ask YOUR Ally in Aging: A Series

Question:

“Dear Ally, I have been all by myself for several months now. Since I retired and my partner died, I live alone. Before COVID, I would go out, see friends, go to movies, my book club, volunteer — I was always busy. Now it’s just me, myself and I. Am I crazy to be thinking of moving to a senior community? What do you think?”

— Lonely Threesome

 
 

Ally Answer:

Dear Lonely 3,

No, it is not crazy to rethink your choices considering how the world has changed. It will be a long time before activities happen in the ways they did before. The new normal for many older adults will continue to participate in virtual activities, remote meetings, and at the most limited contact with others for short periods of time during senior shopping hours, essential errands, and social distance walks. Many retirement communities and assisted living residences have found new ways to provide creative programs. They have had to develop approaches to health and safety that were not relevant before. There is more availability and more incentives for moving in.

The questions you need to ask yourself, are the same ones you need to be thinking about whether you stay where you are or choose to move to a senior community:

1) If I became sick, how would I get the care I need?

2) How can I be assured of safe access to healthy food, prescriptions, and medical care?

3) What resources are available to prevent me from becoming socially isolated?

4) How can the “safer-at-home” life be made interesting and meaningful?

Setting up a virtual consultation with a skilled care manager can help you imagine your future in different settings and understand your choices.

 

There is not one right decision.

Contact your Allies in Aging Care Manager today, and you can make a plan together.

 

Ask Ally is written by Malka Young, LICSW, Director of Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions

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Caring for our parents as they age can come with many challenges. It’s important to be able to read the signs and spot the differences between normal symptoms of getting older, indicators of a more serious illness, and knowing when to ask for help.
Here are seven warning signs that your parent may need help:
  1. Becoming lost while driving or walking.
  2. Dents and scratches on your parent’s car as a sign of minor accidents
  3. Declining or poor personal hygiene
  4. Mail and overdue bills piling up
  5. Forgetting how to use their telephone, TV, or other devices
  6. Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  7. History of falls, difficulty walking, or unsteadiness

Certain things you notice may be signs of normal aging — like occasional forgetfulness, forgetting names or a particular word — but if your once-open parents are now secretive, or not forthcoming about their lives, pay attention. If your parents were very proud of their home and their yard and are now neglecting it, pay attention. Any change in weight, personality, or confusion may be a sign of serious illness.

When you need expert guidance navigating the challenges that come with aging, the elder experts of JFS Allies in Aging can help.

Contact us today to learn how we can help your loved one live better, longer.

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Caring for a loved one with dementia comes with many challenges. Often, as dementia progresses, unexpected aggression or agitation may occur which can be frightening or create risk of injury. Your approach with this can potentially deescalate an unsafe situation.
 
Here are 9 helpful steps to handle and deescalate agitation caused by dementia:
 
  1. Speak low and slow with a gentle and reassuring tone
  2. Scan environment to identify the immediate cause
  3. Validate their feelings
  4. Rule out pain/discomfort as the cause of the behavior
  5. Calm the environment
  6. Shift focus to a different activity
  7. Put on music
  8. Remove yourself from the room
  9. Safety first. Call 911 if you or your loved one is at risk
It’s important to speak slowly and softly in a gentle and reassuring tone. Listen to what the person is saying and see if you can identify what is bothering them. Acknowledge their feelings. Call upon extreme empathy. Take their hand, and look into their eyes. Ask if anything bothering them or if they are in pain.
 
If there are people around, go to a quieter place. Turn off the TV or radio. Changing the environment may alter the person’s mood and calm them. Try putting on music, a waltz to start dancing with them, tunes you know they like or their favorite jazz.
 
If nothing you do is improving the situation, it is better to leave the person alone than to agitate them. If the person’s behavior makes them unsafe or threatens you, get help, either from a care attendant if available or call 911, describe the behavior and tell them the person has dementia. Your safety takes priority. Get help. You are not alone.
 

When you need expert guidance navigating the challenges that come with aging, the elder experts of JFS Allies in Aging can help.

Contact us today to learn how we can help your loved one live better, longer.

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In case you missed it…
Check out Jen Maseda’s 30-Minute Lunchtime Boost with two local experts, Michelle Woodbrey, CEO of 2Sisters Senior Living Advisors and Malka Young, Director of Allies in Aging: JFS Eldercare Solutions.
Learn about how aging care systems have changed during COVID-19, as well as share resources for home care or placement for frail loved ones.
If you need support caring for your aging loved one during this time of quarantine and crisis, we can help you navigate health care systems, arrange services and understand your options. Contact us today!
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Ask YOUR Ally in Aging: A Series

Question:

“My mother is in an assisted living facility and I can’t visit her. I want to bring her into my house and care for her. Now that the state is reopening, I am thinking that maybe I need to be more patient and wait and see what happens.

— Torn

Ally Answer:

Dear Torn,

Your heart is saying “yes” and your head is saying “maybe not.” There are some practical things to think about. When your mother moved to her assisted living residence, she signed a lease.

How much notice does she have to give when leaving? It varies between 30, 60 and even 90 days. Is she prepared to pay rent to the assisted living residence while she is living with you?

There are many questions you need to ask yourself: How much care does she need? Every 6 months, according to state regulations, the facility needs to update a resident’s care plan. Do you know how much care your mother needs? Are you willing and able to provide the care? Are there any other family members who can help you? Do you have a plan how you would go about hiring a private aide to help your mother in your house?

If your mother is unhappy, will she be able to go back to her assisted living community? Would she need to quarantine? Would she need to pay the community fee again?

It is a big commitment to provide care for a parent. Even if a person does not need hands on care, it is difficult to predict how your mom will react to living in a new place, not seeing her friends regularly, or receiving care from you. Some adult children do better keeping the two roles separate, i.e., loving daughter and hands on caregiver.

There is not one right decision for all families.

Contact your Allies in Aging Care Manager today, and you can make a plan together.

 

Ask Ally is written by Malka Young, LICSW, Director of Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions

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A few months ago, I was having dinner with a friend, and she had just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding JoyWe shared with each other what our “Option B” would be, that is, if “something happened”, never anticipating that “something happening” were these sudden and unexpected changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you are 65 or older, you are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, even if you have no underlying conditions or exercise every day or are otherwise healthy. We are learning more every day, but COVID-19 is a new disease and we have limited information trying to understand what is happening as we learn new things.  

What does that mean for older adults now living in Massachusetts? Governor Baker’s four-phase reopening plan to slowly allow businesses, services, and activities to resume also advises older adults to continue to stay at home except for essential trips out to the grocery store, medical appointments or to get prescriptions. If you are still working, the governor is recommending that you continue to work from home if at all possible. This advisory continues through phase three which at the earliest is still nine weeks away.  What about Phase four, “the new normal”, how long is that going to last? 

Leslie and her husband Dave loved living in their condo overlooking the Mall, but 10+ weeks of togetherness are making them rethink their plan. They love only having one car, but they are not looking forward to returning to the T. What good are local parks if they are all closed? Maybe this urban retirement is not for them. 

Sally never realized how much of her social life revolved around doctors’ visits. She hasn’t seen a doctor in more than three months and she is fine, thank you. She loved not having to wait to see her doctor the one time she had a Telehealth visit. She had his total attention. He wasn’t late, her visit wasn’t interrupted by phone calls, and the doctor took the time to answer all of her questions.  

 Will you be ready for your new normal come August? What will that look like for you 

Did you think your future was all planned? Age in place? Move to a retirement community? Move to a warmer climate? Are you rethinking now? Now is a good time to revisit your life plan and see how it stacks up against COVID-19 and any other unanticipated changes.

What is your option B? And how about life’s “What ifs”?

You can make a plan. 

If you would like to sit down with an experienced care manager at Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions and make your plan B, please contact us to make a virtual appointment.

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“Malka was the best. I can’t say enough about her professionalism, knowledge and the compassion she had for my client. My client had no family in the States, so even though I have known him for over 40 years, I’m not family. At times I was uncertain what to do. Malka did and that I will always appreciate.”

— Rod St. Pierre, Shrewsbury (MA)

When you need expert guidance navigating the challenges that come with aging, the elder experts of JFS Allies in Aging can help.

Contact us today to learn how we can help your loved one live better, longer.

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According to the CDC, individuals who are 65 years of age and older are at higher risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19.

One of the steps you can take to protect yourself is to stay at home as much as possible. Of course, if you’re staying at home, how can you get the things you need like food, prescriptions, soap to wash your hands and cleaning supplies to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces?

Shopping During Senior Hours

It’s important to know that many local stores have “senior hours” first thing in the morning, when shelves are freshly stocked, and the store has been cleaned and sanitized overnight. If you choose to do your own shopping, please wear a mask and either bring sanitizing wipes or use wipes (if offered by the store) to disinfect your shopping cart. Be prepared to likely stand in line before going in as stores are now limited to 40% occupancy, including both staff and shoppers.

Some stores have created one-way aisles to maintain a safer distance, at least 6 ft., between shoppers. Please pay attention to social distancing while shopping and while waiting in line to check out. There may be lines marked on the floor by the registers to maintain distance between and protect other shoppers who are waiting, as well as the cashier. When unloading your groceries, stay at the end of the conveyer belt and wait for the cashier to call you forward to the register to pay. If you can, bring hand sanitizer or wipes with you in case you need to touch the keypad to complete your transaction (using a debit or a credit card) and for wiping the handles of your cart. Lastly, make sure to wash your hands when you get home!

Senior Hours of Local Grocery Stores:

Having Food and Supplies Delivered to your Door

There are home care services that will shop for you. You give them a list and they will go shopping for you. You can also order online, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a delivery slot. Store’s where you can shop online are Wegmans (Instacart), Whole Foods (Amazon Prime) Stop&Shop (Peapod) Market Basket (Instacart) Specialty Stores (Mercato) and Sudbury Farms.

 

If you are having difficulty accessing food or supplies, please call us and we will help you.

Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions are your partners in safety during this time of COVID 19. 

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Malka Young, LICSW Leads a Discussion on Issues related to Aging

JFS of Metrowest, in partnership with the Massachusetts Alzheimers Association is pleased to offer a virtual support group for all family members and friends caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

The support group is intended to be a supportive and educational gathering and is facilitated by both Malka Young, LICSW, Director of Allies in Aging JFS Eldercare Solutions and Dr. Jane Joiner, MD (retired), a JFS volunteer.

This group will meet one hour each week, please note that this support group is not meant for professional caregivers, but for family members and friends of those living with these diseases.

To register and receive information on how to join this group, please (800) 655-9553 or visit the JFS Elder Care Contact Page.

 

 

Worried about an aging loved one? Read “Supporting a Loved One during the Coronavirus Crisis” by Malka Young
to learn ways you can ensure the safety and well being of your loved ones during the Coronavirus crisis.

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