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Aging Wisely January 2016 - Aging Wisely

I hate going to see the doctor!


health care and doctor's visit

The last few years (maybe more than five) I have not been diligent about watching my health.  I have not made the doctors’ appointments that are recommended and I have not gotten all of my healthcare screenings completed.  I think about it, and never make the next step.  I have been in plenty of health care locations with my parents, with friends and even with clients. I’ve been in local hospitals, national medical centers, doctors’ offices, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.

What I do know is there have been lots of changes in the health care world and more than ever you must be able to recite everything about yourself, over and over again.  And what you can’t or don’t communicate may effect the medical treatment provided.

So along with getting organized, I need to focus on getting my health care back on track.

I am trying hard to not be overwhelmed with organizing all of my health care records.  The good ole days of your Primary Care Physician (in my day called a GP) maintaining all of your health care records only works until you get sent to a specialist or the hospital.  The entire system has changed, where do you start?

Review your Health Insurance Coverage.  For the most accurate and update information about your insurance coverage you will need to establish an online account.  The online account will confirm and explain your coverage.  You can track your claims and see any payments made on your behalf.  Depending upon your insurance they may have relationships/contracts with particular health care providers that are in your network and only pay for those providers or offer a financial incentive to see those providers.

Maintain your Health Care Records.  Where is the best place to maintain your medical records?  I recommend maintaining the information online as well as paper.  Tack the paper down in a file folder or in a notebook.  Most online records are maintained on a cloud based system but unfortunately not all health care providers will agree to access your cloud based system.  However, for family members and travel l prefer the convenience of the online records.

Family members could find it difficult to help in a time of emergency if asked to report on your medication list and medical history.  It is difficult to remember my own list when visiting the doctor’s office.  I take a large number of vitamins and supplements – the healthcare provider needs to know the complete list and strength of the vitamins and supplements.  There would be no way for my family to disclose this information without a documented list.

Making the most of your Doctor’s visit – what should the doctor be telling you and what should you be asking?  Please join us for a free workshop focused on your health, what records you need to maintain, online tools to make it easier, and a heads up on Medicare changes coming your way.  A FREE tool to “Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment” will be provided to all attendees. You will not want to miss.  Limited to first 20 attendees.

Focus on Your Health Care, February 9th, 1:00-2:30 PM, location: Aging Wisely office

RSVP to 727.447.5845 or lashford(at)

Please share your best suggestions and tips on how to stay healthy and send them to Linda(at)   I look forward to hearing from you!

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Longevity Secrets from Japan’s Longest-Living Prefecture


The surprising story of Japan’s Nagano Prefecture, once plagued by high blood pressure and strokes, now known for longevity among both women and menlongevity Japan

The Japan Times recently published an article on “How Japan’s saltiest residents came to live the longest“, an interesting twist for those who credit Japan’s longevity to a diet filled with fish. Nagano Prefecture is a land-locked area, once known for digesting high levels of salt (used to preserve foods during long winters). Some of its most famous foods are preserved and pickled foods and a salty miso. So, how did this region go from being plagued by high blood pressure and strokes as recently as the 1960s to the highest levels of longevity in the world?

The solutions might surprise you! This story proves that people can make small changes that can make a dramatic difference in longevity (and quality of life). The area began tackling the issue by first focusing on the high salt diet, encouraging residents to make realistic changes. For example, instead of eating the salty miso soup with each meal, residents could cut back to once/day.

By adding more fresh vegetables (which refrigeration had made possible), people could still eat favorite foods but reduce the salt in their overall diets. The average Nagano resident consumes more vegetables each day than other Japanese people. This advice was echoed many times over at a recent Johns Hopkins women’s conference I attended, with a constant refrain from gerontologists, aging specialists and other researchers that a plant-based, nutrient-dense diet is essential to health and longevity.

The life expectancy for Nagano residents (from a 2013 study) is 80.88 years for men and 87.18 years for women. Japan’s national averages (2013) are 79.59 and 86.35, and the U.S. stands at about 76 and 81.

More than just living a long time, this area originated the concept (and slogan) of being “spry and energetic” in life and dying “a quick and painless death”. This concept of healthy life expectancy is increasingly popular, as most people worry that with longevity can come decreased quality of life. The question really becomes how can we not only live longer, but live better (i.e. aging wisely!). To read more about some of the ways Japan is tackling this question check out EasyLiving’s recent article on “Rethinking Aging: Lessons from Japan“.

So, what can you learn from Nagano’s residents to increase healthy longevity and age wisely? The surprising news is how easy it can be to make small changes (residents weren’t told to turn to the latest diet trend or completely eliminate anything).

  • Consider implementing one small change in diet (e.g. eating meat-free one or two days/week, reducing sugary drinks to once/day, adding one serving of vegetables to each meal, using more herbs and less salt) immediately. Try the great recipe in the Japan Times article and use online resources for new ways to make veggies delicious. See how you feel and determine ways you can make additional small changes this year.
  • For healthy, happy aging make small changes in lifestyle, one geared toward physical activity (parking further away to add more steps, taking a short walk each morning, trying a stretching or balance exercise video for a few minutes each day) and one geared to social/intellectual stimulation (taking a course or joining a new activity, setting time aside for lunch with a friend once/week or to Skype with family members). Think back to a hobby or interest you once enjoyed that perhaps you have given up, and find new ways to bring it back into your life!

For more longevity secrets, aging wisely advice, health research and more:

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Do You Need Assisted Living?


assisted living

Unfortunately many folks wait way too long to consider assisted living.  They miss the opportunity to enjoy making new friends, maintain their nutrition and health, and prevent injuries from occurring to them by having others take care of the heavy housekeeping and chores.  It’s tough to realize you are unable to prepare a nutritious meal and properly bathe yourself.  You think you are getting by okay, and then you accidently see yourself in the mirror and realize your physical health is taking its toll.

Your caregivers, your family, your neighbors are all trying to help you.  They want to do whatever they can to keep you safe and it’s often more than they can do on a daily basis. (They are just afraid to tell you or feel shame because they can’t do it.)  It’s a terrible quandary to be on either side of this equation.  Recognizing the problem is the first step, and asking for help is the second.

If you are fortunate enough to still have your spouse, moving together is so much easier than moving alone.  Sorting out a life time amount of “stuff” is not easy.  For those that are single, one tip that a client shared with me a long time ago was that her son spent the first night with her in the assisted living apartment and the first day together.  He attended each meal in the dining room with her, and helped break the ice.  From that point forward, she became the assisted living “Welcome Wagon Gal” visiting and scheduling lunch with each new person moving in.  She felt so good making a difference!

We have had many clients whose family is unable to spend that first night or so at the assisted living.  In those cases, many clients have elected to have their caregiver (an EasyLiving caregiver that has been helping around the house) spend the night, help them get to know the new place, and help with the introductions and the conversations flow easier.  There are many creative ways to make the transition a little less intimidating.

Our care managers can help you figure out whether it makes sense for you to stay at home with home care or if the time is right to move to assisted living.  How do they do this?  The care manager will speak with you, your caregiver(s), your health care providers, and put together a care plan that provides guidance as well as realistic expectations of what type of help you need.  A written report is provided reviewing your current health status and specific step by step recommendations.

There are many checklists and tools available online as to whether now is the right time, what type of care is available in the home and at assisted living.  While all of those are very helpful, we have found a conversation with a knowledgeable certified care manager helps you make the right decision and maintain family relationships.

Care Plan/Assessment Package:  The Care Manager will meet with you and your caregiver(s), evaluate your current situation, review healthcare records, and prepare a written care plan with specific recommendations.  Recommendations may include specific assistance needed in the home or recommendations for specific assisted living facilities, Medicare covered services and equipment, Medicaid benefits, and guidance as to when a move may make sense.  No matter who you are, these are tough conversations and working with someone who knows the system and understands the costs is critical.  Our fee is $499 for a step-by-step Care Plan/Assessment.  If you live in Pinellas County or Hillsborough County we can meet with you in person, otherwise, you may schedule a telephone conference with one of our care managers.

Please call today at 727.447.5845 to schedule an appointment with a care manager or contact us online.  We look forward to helping you with Aging Wisely!


Related posts:

Hedging Your Bets: Taking Risks in Hopes of Remaining “Independent”

When Is It Time for Assisted Living?

Evaluating Assisted Living Facilities

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Aging Well: Take the Aging Wisely Quiz


aging well and wisely quiz

Are you on the path to aging well? What factors lead to healthy, happy aging? What do great examples of aging well have to teach us?

Take the Aging Wisely quiz to gauge how you’re doing on aging well.


Aging Well and Wisely Quiz

Do you regularly get recommended health screenings?          ◊ YES     ◊NO

Do you have a primary care physician?                                       ◊YES      ◊NO

Do you get some form of exercise, at least 3 times/week for 30 minutes or more?

◊YES      ◊NO

Are you a non-smoker and do you drink fewer than 2 alcoholic beverages/day?  ◊YES     ◊NO

Do you eat vegetables and fruit every day/have a primarily plant-based diet? ◊YES      ◊NO

Do you limit intake of processed foods (no more than a few servings/week)?  ◊YES      ◊NO

Do you have a technique/activity that helps you reduce stress? ◊YES      ◊NO

Have you read a book or watched a film in the last month?    ◊ YES     ◊NO

Do you volunteer in the community or participate in church/civic activities? ◊ YES     ◊NO

Do you smile or laugh at least 3 times/day? ◊ YES     ◊NO

Do you have a close companion to share your life with or do you see friends or family daily?

◊ YES     ◊NO

Have you completed the following documents?

Healthcare Surrogate ◊ YES     ◊NO

Durable Power of Attorney ◊ YES     ◊NO

Living Will ◊ YES     ◊NO

Trust/Will ◊ YES     ◊NO

If you get sick and are unable to care for yourself, do you know how you would like to have care provided?*                   ◊ YES     ◊NO

If you need long-term care, do you know how you will pay for it?* ◊ YES     ◊NO

Score your quiz. Are you aging well?

Tally the # of questions for which you answered “yes”.

13 or more: You are a master of aging wisely! You have done some preparation and you live out your day-to-day life in a way that supports longevity and quality of life.

9-12: You are aging well, but could take a few extra steps to ensure the best quality of life as you get older.

Less than 9: There’s always time to implement changes to age well! Commit to make some small changes or do some prep work this year.


We will be expanding and updating our Aging Wisely quiz in 2016 so make sure to check back for more! Throughout this year, we’ll be sharing our experts’ advice on aging well along with the latest research, technological advances and interviews with expert specialists. Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates.

*For more information about paying for long-term care, check out The Costs of Long Term Care and Paying for Home Care. We will be providing the updated figures on long-term care costs in an upcoming post. For help with care options, we recommend a care consultation with one of our aging life care professionals.

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Preventative Medicine: Staying Healthy in 2016


preventative medicine

Want to stay healthy in 2016? Of course you do! But, those healthy new year’s resolutions go by the wayside very quickly. Preventative medicine is one of the easiest ways to stay healthy and know where to focus your efforts. Fortunately for older adults, Medicare pays for a great deal of preventative medicine.

Let’s start the new year with two simple actions you can take to make being healthier in 2016 easier!

Preventative Medicine Covered by Medicare

Check out Medicare’s full listing of preventative medicine and screenings covered in 2016. Your Medicare Part B will pay for these services with no cost to you!

When you first join Medicare, you are covered for a Welcome to Medicare visit (eligible for the first 12 months you’re covered). The preventative care visit includes a review of your medical and social history, basic screenings (BMI; height, weight and blood pressure; simple vision test; safety and depression screening), an opportunity to talk about advance directives; education about preventative services; and a written plan for screenings, shots and preventative medicine (as well as referrals to other medical care, if needed).

Thereafter, you are eligible for an annual wellness visit. You will fill out a health questionnaire to help your doctor create a personal prevention plan for you. The annual visit includes: a review of your medical history; pulling together (or updating) a list of current providers and medications; height, weight, blood pressure, and other key measurements; cognitive impairment screening; personalized health advice (risk factors and treatment options, along with a screening schedule of the preventative medicine you need).

We advise you to take advantage of this vital preventative care and put together a plan with your primary care physician. Action for good health in 2016: Take a look at when you last did a wellness visit, and contact your doctor’s office to schedule for this year (it’s covered as long as 11+ months have passed).

Care Coordination in Preventative Medicine

Speaking of which, do you have a primary care physician who serves as a good partner for your health? This is essential in managing your health. If you do not currently have a primary physician looking after your health (or are not happy with your current provider), contact our team for recommendations. Older adults may want to consider a gerontologist, specially trained to meet your needs (though they are in short supply in many areas).

Action for good health in 2016: We recommend a patient advocate consultation to ensure your records are organized (and available) and to identify any gaps in care coordination. Our patient advocates can make the task of getting organized super easy and can reduce the stress of navigating your healthcare. We have simple tips and resources to improve coordination of care and get you better results.

Throughout the year, our patient advocates will continue to share actionable advice and excellent resources so that you can age wisely and well. Linda Chamberlain also shares insight, personal stories and a wealth of knowledge (over 25 years in elder law, social services and healthcare) in Linda’s Journal. Don’t miss anything…sign up for our newsletter!

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Payment Concerns
Not sure how you are going to pay for elder care?

Is the Time Right?
Find out if its time to seek help for your loved one.

Aging in Place
How to keep a loved one safe at home, and when it may be time to consider assisted living.

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Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.