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Gifts for Your Parents


Great gifts for aging parents

Struggling to buy gifts can be stressful as time draws short and your imagination leaves you wondering what in the world to buy.  This list will help you find something for everyone on your list, whether they were naughty or nice!

The recommended gifts below are all gifts I have personally used or have given to someone who has loved it!  I have organized the gifts under headings to help you sort through easily and perhaps find just the perfect gift! Click on each gift name to be linked directly to the product page for purchase and more info. The slide show above shows all the gifts with links and can be shared with your friends easily.

Tech and Gadgets

Trak Dot

If you travel or you need a gift for someone who does, this is a great gift and less than $100.  We have never lost our luggage throughout our travels, however, my husband loves having a Trak Dot in his suitcase and tracking exactly where his suit case is located.  Earlier this year I was driving from Lubbock, TX to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  I had a Trak Dot in my suitcase and my husband was able to track my car online and see exactly where I was throughout the drive – providing some security of being located if I had any car issues.  You purchase the Trak Dot and the pay an annual fee to activate the Trak Dot.

Activity Trackers

There are a variety of trackers available that measure, keep track of exercise/steps, your heart beats per minute, you resting/standing pulse, your running/walking route, etc. I use an Apple iWatch, however Fitbit/Garmin has a variety of choices that start around $25, with a variety of bells and whistles.  What I love is the accountability – it is totally what helps me keep moving.  I do much better being reminded to do my exercise, I love tracking my achievements, and I can share my results with my family and friends if I want to.  If you have someone in your life who may need that little push or motivation, this is the perfect gift.

Cell Phone with Larger Screen 

I upgraded to an iPhone 6s this year, with the 5.5 inch screen.  Wow, has that been a game changer for me – I can actually see everything so much better.  I never thought I would be using my cell phone as much or more than my laptop but I am.  The ease of use of a larger phone as my fingers become less nimble has helped considerably and enabled me to complete work, shopping, tasks, notes, on the go and anywhere I may be.

Cordless Blu-tooth Headphones (here’s another option from SkullCandy

These are great for the active folks on your list.  No need to strap you phone around your arm and no worries about cords getting mixed up and ripped out of your ear while you are on your weight machine.  These headphones work wirelessly through blu-tooth to listen to your favorite music or podcast.  There are a variety of price options available.  I’m not convinced that the most expensive options last any longer than the cheaper options.  I have gone with the cheaper option and when they break I can easily replace.

Amazon Echo 

Alexa is my new best friend. I love coming home and asking Alexa to play whatever music I am in the mood to listen to.  I have Alexa track my grocery list and constantly ask for reminders and ask to put items on my calendar.  It takes a little bit of time to set up your phone with the Alexa, but once you take the time to do so, you will love the options available.

In-Home Entertainment and Memberships That Improve Your Life

Audible Membership

This is a great gift that gives all year long.  You can download Audible, it’s an App, to your phone, laptop, iPad, or tablet – whatever your preference.  For only $14,95 per month you can download a book to listen to, often saving up to 50%.  The inability to get out of the house, or hold a book or Kindle for a long period of time makes Audible a great option to listen to the books you love.  I use my Bose noise-cancelling headphones to listen to Audible, which helps cut out all interference and I don’t miss a word.

Netflix Membership

Who can live without viewing “The Crown?”  I have loved this series and look forward to the next episode.  Grace and Frankie, House of Cards, movies, documentaries, travel show, foreign films, classic films, oh so many options!  Basic membership is $7.99/month to Premium membership of $11.99.  An internet and/or Wi-Fi connection is required.

Amazon Prime

This membership provide free shipping from Amazon, provides free storage for your photos, provides you access to Amazon Prime Music, Video and Reading.  There is a $99/year membership fee.  This has been well worth it for me as I learn to order more items through Amazon and have them directly delivered to my home.  The savings and convenience are amazing.

Shipt Grocery Delivery

This service allows you to submit your grocery list and have the groceries delivered right to your home.  You need to download the Shipt app to your phone/iPad and you can make your grocery list.  Your list is given to a local shopper who will go do your shopping and delivery it to your home and the time you have schedule.  I love this app and service.  It remembers my grocery list and helps me not forget items, it helps with my discipline to not buy impulse items, and I truly feel the shopper has done a better job picking produce than I have. This service is invaluable for you to use to deliver food and other items to your family members who have difficulty getting out or perhaps are asking their neighbors to pick up a few things.  This allows you complete control over what is purchased and the amount spent.  It is a monthly or annual membership (sometimes they offer a special).  A six-month membership is $49 and the one year membership is $99.

The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy 

There are many things I like about The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy.  We have three in our local area and I love the fact that they provide free delivery of medications. They will meet you prior to hospital discharge to ensure your medications are at your home upon discharge, and they will bubble-wrap your medications for no additional cost.  Using one pharmacy provides you protection from medication mismanagement and duplicate medications.  Pharmacists who know their patients and have their medication profiles on file will be aware of possible harmful drug interactions or allergies to certain drugs. The pharmacist also will be able to discuss possible side effects; what foods, drinks, or activities that should be avoided while on a medication; what to do if you miss a dose; and a wide range of other helpful information. The Medicine Shoppe will also deliver non-pharmaceutical items you may need.  Upon request The Medicine Shoppe is happy to bill you on a monthly basis, allowing you to maintain documentation of items purchased.

Personal Products: Pampering Gifts for Your Parents

Charlotte Tilbury WonderGlow Face Primer

I love how this lotion has brightened my complexion.  Unfortunately, as we age our skin tone seems to dull a little and perhaps look a little gray and/or green color.  It depended upon the day which color I was but overall I had a dull look, not looking as alert and as good as I would like.  I was in Chicago for a Continuing Legal Education and had to run over to Nordstrom’s.  While shopping I discovered the Charlotte Tilbury makeup line and sat down and got my makeup done.  The difference the WonderGlow Face Primer has made to my appearance is amazing – I absolutely love it!  It helps perk my look and brings some brightening and healthy shine to my face.  Your wife or Mom will love this product.


This is a very fancy name for lip gloss and happens to be the best lip gloss I have ever used.  I’m not a huge lipstick lover and have found this to be a great compromise for color with a little shine.  No need for lip liner, which is harder to apply when your fingers can’t get it on straight.  This solves the problem, keeps your lips moist and brings a shine to them immediately.  I have purchased several colors and my outfit determines which is the best color of the day!

Avon Skin So Soft 

For the person worried about the Zika virus.  This is an old but great product.  I use the Avon Skin So Soft Bug Repellant with 30UV Sun Protection.  It also acts as a great lotion and moisturizer for your skin.

Gift Card for a Pedicure (search your local area)

Taking care of your feet as you get older is essential.  How does a pedicure help?  It helps with early detection of signs of corns, bunions and fungal infections; helps keep your feet moist, avoiding blisters and prevents your skin from cracking; it encourages new skin growth, keeps your feet smoother;  and the foot massage promotes circulation.  You generally relax while getting a pedicure giving you the opportunity to reduce your stress levels.

R+Co One Prep Spray

This product was introduced to me while traveling this year and constantly running out of time to wash and blow dry my hair.  This spray enables you to blow dry your hair without having to wash your hair.  It restores volume and body, allowing you to look totally refreshed and ready for your next occasion.

Household Items and Décor

Paper Wine Glass Shades 

These paper shades come in a variety of sizes and colors.  Imagine setting your dining room table and having these paper shades on your wineglasses.  They are beautiful and help create the mood you are looking for.  Using a flameless tea light inside of the wine glass adds even more atmosphere to your occasion.

Zibra Open It 

This is a repeat from last year – but I can’t help it.  I use this gadget almost every day so I need a new one each year!  I can’t remember when I first found the “Open It”, but I sure am glad I did. It seems like so many packages today are so hard to open. One of things I’ve noticed is that my hand strength is not what it used to be, or should I say the using the strength in my hands sometimes hurts. The Open It tool prevents any pain from happening. It includes a very stiff scissor function that cuts through fairly thick plastic, cardboard, all sorts of things. The Open It also includes a Utility Knife, which is great for opening packages and a screwdriver when you need it.

Canary All-In-One Security System 

Internet/Wi-Fi connection is required.  This device allows you to view real-time video of what is happening in your home.  There are a variety of options available regarding alarms, communication to authorities, and storage of video.  It even allows me to see what my dog is up to when I leave the house.  You can also hear what anyone is saying within the range of your Canary.


Internet/Wi-Fi connection is required.  This device differs from the Canary in that it allows you communicate from a location outside of your home via the Nest app with whoever is in the home.  This is an invaluable tool when perhaps your loved one is physically limited and does not ambulate well.  You not only can see them in case they fall you can also ask them if they are okay.  You will need to have the App open on your phone/iPad for this communication to be accessible.  Nest also sells thermostats and smoke and CO2 detectors.

Breville Juicer 

This gift is going to put a dent in your wallet.  If you want to improve your diet and drink fresh and healthy juice, this tool is amazing.  I’m actually able to drink vegetables in my juice I typically would not like.  The flavors I enjoy mask the flavors I do not like.  This juicer is easy to maintain and clean.

For the Foodies

Sanders Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Caramels 

Yum! These caramels are delicious and the folks in my life (except me) prefer milk chocolate.  I order these through Amazon, the delivery fee is free and one pound is going to set you back about $40.00 so you may want to ration these, one by one.

Boone’s Bakery Angel Food Cake

My Mom used to make the best homemade angel food cakes.  Unfortunately, I did get her gift of baking so mine have never been quite as tasty.  This past summer while visiting my husband’s parents in Ohio we visited Dorothy Lane Market and I purchased a Boone’s Bakery Angel Food Cake, and it is by far the best angel food cake I have ever had in my life.  To purchase, you will need to call Dorothy Lane Market and ask them to ship them to you.  Each cake is going to cost you over $10 + shipping, but is totally worth it!  You may want to order one for yourself and one for a gift.

Giordanos Pizza

This is my favorite deep dish pizza.  If you order in advance, you can order with free delivery.  When you heat them up in your oven the pizza truly taste like it was just made for you.  The flavors are amazing and the crust tastes just as fresh as ordering in person.  Four pizzas are delivered for $94.  One pizza will serve 3-4 people if you happen to have salad with your meal.  Or if you are a pizza lover, you may be able to eat the entire pizza all by yourself.

The Vermont Candy Store French Candy Creams 

French Candy Creams remind me of the old fashioned mints my aunts used to make for bridal showers and baby showers.  I probably like these so much because of many fond memories of my mom and aunts making these for special events.  They come in a variety of flavors, my favorite has always been the wintergreen.

Pretzel Crisps and Palmetto Pimento Cheese 

You can buy either of these at most grocery stores and almost convince yourself that you are eating a healthy snack when you put the pimento cheese on top of the flat pretzel.  I like the bacon pimento cheese the best and we usually devour a container very quickly – so don’t buy just one.  If you need to take an appetizer, just dip this into your own bowl and say “Thank You” when you start getting all of the amazing comments.

Bonus Gift Ideas

RFID Wallets, Sleeves and Document Holders 

A good friend gave me a travel RFID wallet that included enough space for my driver’s license, credit card and passport.  I had not even thought of protecting my items from being scanned from someone in line by me or across the room.  The RFID wallet I have can be wiped down with bleach, which I like since so many folks are touching my ID’s when traveling.  Prices vary based on size, shape, and materials used.

Peek-A-Boo Toy Elephant

This is an awesome gift for the young and old children in your life.  It makes you smile just to watch and listen to it.  This elephant sings and plays peek-a-boo and is fun for all ages.  This is a fun gift to give the grandparents to have available for the grandchildren when they come over to visit.

I hope you find this list useful and your recipients enjoy these items as much as I have.  Please check out last year’s list for more great gifts for your parents.

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Holiday Wisdom from Aging Wisely


holiday wisdom from aging wisely

Over the years our Aging Wisely team has shared a lot of holiday wisdom. Today we’ll round up some of our best advice and resources for you! This is your “one stop shop” for holiday wisdom that will help you ensure you have less stress this holiday season, especially with aging loved ones.

Holiday Wisdom to Make You The Ultimate Gift-Giver

happy holidays for seniorsDo you wonder how some people always find the perfect gift? Are you struggling with what to get aging parents or family members who have downsized? What about that loved one who lives in a tiny ALF apartment or the caregiver who never feels she has time to enjoy anything? Don’t be like us and find your grandmother recycling your last few “perfect gifts” in a charity sale pile!

We’ve curated several gift lists to make it easy to find just the right thing (or experience). Now everyone will wonder how you always know just the right thing to give!

Gifts for Caregivers or People Facing Illness: give a gift that will comfort and help

Gifts for Seniors: a general list of some of our team’s top picks for all interests and needs plus a few resources for specialty items

Linda’s Ultimate Gift Guide: like Oprah’s “Favorite Things”, only better!

Gifts for Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia

How to Ruin the Holidays (So You Know What to Avoid!)

holiday wisdom having a happy holidaysOur team shares three surefire ways to ruin the holidays with your aging parents when you’re a long-distance caregiver. Unfortunately, these are things many long-distance caregivers repeatedly do (and may even be advised to do by professionals) but we promise you that they are best avoided. We also offer you alternative advice. So, take a few moments to read this article and prepare yourself mentally for what can be a stressful time.

Are you planning to have a big talk with your aging parents this holiday? Want to sit down and tackle the “elephant in the room”? We advise you that now might not be the time for “the talk”. We are not advising against talking about what’s on your mind and expressing your concerns, but timing is important.

For a great guide to preparing for the holidays with elderly parents, check out our experts’ advice and find out how to make the most of your holiday visit.

The holidays can be a stressful time, especially for those dealing with loss. Seasonal depression is also a serious issue for some people. This is a wonderfully comprehensive guide to holiday depression for the elderly and caregivers.

If you notice things that concern you during the holidays with aging parents, contact us for help and ideas (or call 727-447-5845). We’ve also been sharing activities to make the holidays festive for all ages and Tampa Bay holiday events. So make sure to join us on the EasyLiving Facebook page for great ideas!

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How Do You Choose the Best Medicare Plan?


confused choosing a Medicare plan

If you are on regular Medicare Part A and Part B, you will want to review your supplemental policy (if you have one). While the monthly premium you have to pay for a Supplemental Health Plan is typically more expensive than you would pay for a Medicare Advantage Plan it often provides you more choices in healthcare providers and greater coverage towards payments, and covers co-pays, etc. You usually get to select your healthcare providers and change healthcare providers whenever you want. You can choose whether to use community physicians or the specialized university medical system. You can choose the rehabilitation center you want or the mental health treatment center you want. The gamble is whether you get sick or not. If you get sick your premium will feel reasonable when you see what your care would have cost if you did not have the insurance coverage. If you do not get sick, it feels like you wasted a year’s worth of premium payments that could have been used for something fun.

This is where the personal part comes in. We all have to decide what our priorities are and how we want to spend our money. The Medicare Advantage Plans often are less expensive on a monthly basis and include expanded coverage for items Medicare A and B do not cover. Many Medicare Advantage plans have contracts with healthcare providers, limiting their plan coverage to those providers. The contract may limit which hospital, rehabilitation center, mental health provider, physician, just about any type of healthcare provider you may use. It is up to you to decide if you are going to be content with the limitations. You will be “stuck” with the plan you have chosen until the next open enrollment period.

Confused? Call an Aging Wisely Expert for help!

The Medicare Advantage plans may change their healthcare provider contracts at any time. It is your responsibility to review their website and keep up to date on any changes. Sometimes your healthcare provider will contact you and state “After next month I am no longer part of your insurance plan.” When this happens you have to decide whether to pay for out of network coverage or change to a healthcare provider covered by the plan.

Some people can live with the changes, go with the flow, and are able to change healthcare providers without being upset. They do not feel limited by only having certain healthcare providers to select from.

Most healthcare providers in Florida accept Medicare assignment. This means the healthcare provider agrees to accept the payment determined by Medicare. This does not eliminate your need to meet a deductible or pay a co-pay. We are fortunate in Florida. In many states there are plenty of private insurers and patients covered by insurance provided by employers. The reimbursement to healthcare providers is more significant than the reimbursement Medicare pays. So, many healthcare providers in other states choose to not accept Medicare.

If your healthcare provider only participates with certain insurance plans it is not an indicator that they are good or bad. You should not feel like you have poor choices if you are limited to certain healthcare providers by your Medicare Advantage Plan. Each insurance company is allowed to negotiate contracts with whatever healthcare provider they choose. It is often determined by costs and reimbursement rates, truly nothing to do with the patient. In recent years we have seen many small healthcare providers join together to become much larger offices. This allows for economies, with technology being one of the primary expenses. The more cost effective the healthcare provider is, the better contract they can negotiate with the insurance company.

Good luck with reviewing your options and determining what plan works for you. At the end of the day, remember you are in charge of your own health, responsible for how you take care of your body, and need to determine what works best for you.

Bonus Tip: Ask yourself these questions before choosing a plan.

  • Do I want to be on a Medicare Advantage Plan and/or pay for a supplemental policy?
  • Are my physicians, hospital, rehabilitation center, etc. contracted to take my Medicare Plan?
  • Will my physician, hospital stay, rehab visit, etc be 100% covered by my Medicare Plan?

Need help navigating this complex system? Please call 727-447-5845 to speak with one of our Aging Wisely experts. They can assist you with determining your Medicare options through the Medicare website, help you understand what you need to consider when making your selection, and helping you look ahead to plan for your future.

You might also want to check out our Medicare Fact Sheet 2017, which explains the parts of Medicare and their associated costs for 2017 as well as key dates and FAQs.

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Medicare Costs 2017


Medicare 2017 Costs

Medicare just announced the Medicare 2017 costs and we’ve provided a simple overview and comparison to what you paid in 2016. Be sure to check out our Medicare Fact Sheet 2017 for all of the Medicare 2017 costs and a concise overview of the various parts of Medicare. You’ll also find a more detailed breakdown of key Medicare information on page 2.

Medicare 2017 Costs

Medicare A Premium: 

$0 if you or spouse has 40+ quarters of Medicare-covered employment

If you do not have enough eligible quarters of employment, you’ll pay up to $413 (was $411 in 2016).

Medicare B Premium:    

Standard premium $134 (higher for individuals with incomes above $85,000 or $170,000 if filing jointly)

Average premium for those receiving Social Security benefits $109 (was $104.90 in 2016)

Medicare B Deductible: 

$183/year (was $166 in 2016)

Medicare D premium:    

Varies by plan (higher income individuals will pay additional adjustment)

Medicare A Hospital Coinsurance:   

$1316 deductible for each benefit period ($1288 in 2016)

$0 coinsurance for days 1-60

$329/day for days 61-90 ($322 in 2016)

$658/day for up to 60 additional “lifetime reserve” days after 90 days ($644 in 2016)

All costs beyond lifetime reserve days

Medicare A Skilled Nursing Care: 

Pays 100% up to 20 days

$164.50/day co-pay for days 21-100 ($161 for 2016)

Medicare A Mental Health Inpatient Care:

$1,316 deductible for each benefit period ($1,288 in 2016)

$0 coinsurance for days 1-60Days 61–90: $329 coinsurance per day of each benefit period ($322 in 2016)

$329 coinsurance per day of each benefit period ($322 in 2016) days 61-90$644 coinsurance per each “lifetime reserve day” after day 90 for each benefit period (up to 60 days over your lifetime) ($658 in 2017)

$658 coinsurance per “lifetime reserve day” after day 90 for each benefit period (up to 60 days over your lifetime) ($644 in 2016)Beyond lifetime reserve days: all costs.

Beyond lifetime reserve days: all costs20% of the Medicare-approved amount for mental health services you get from doctors and other providers while you’re a hospital inpatient.

20% of the Medicare-approved amount for mental health services you get from doctors/providers while you’re a hospital inpatient

Contact us today for a personalized Medicare analysis and help with all types of benefits. Save money and get the best options for your situation!


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National Family Caregivers Month


national family caregivers month

Each November, we celebrate National Family Caregivers Month along with Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. This is an important reminder of the invaluable contributions of family caregivers. There are some 34 million family caregivers in the U.S., providing $470 million worth of unpaid care (2013 data) for adults aged 50+. Over 15 million adult family caregivers care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease/dementia. (National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 2015)

National Family Caregivers Month Theme

This year’s National Family Caregivers Month theme is “take care to give care”. Only by taking care of themselves first can caregivers be strong enough for the duties of caregiving. As organizations and as a society, we must also focus on how we can take care of caregivers so they are able to provide care to the best of their abilities. Here are a few tips on this theme to help you “take care to give care”. Dedicate this National Family Caregivers Month to making one small change, doing one important thing for your health, seeking a new resource, or taking some respite time. Then, try to slowly incorporate more changes throughout the next several months.

National Family Caregivers Month Action Tips

Caregiving is stressful. It is important to have some release from that stress. Find out what works for you. Perhaps you need to plan time to chat with friends each week (or even a professional, who can help you work through your emotions). Or, take one afternoon/week for rest or an outing. Make sure you have easy activities you can do at home that help you reduce stress. Maybe it is short meditation (there are great apps for that!) or a hobby like knitting. How about listening to favorite music or watching some comedy on YouTube? For a quick laugh, we recommend this Seinfeld episode where he volunteers to help an older man…you just might relate!

It is vital to guard your own health. Caregiving can take a toll on your health. The stress and physical strain of caregiving can weaken your immune system. And, you may be exposed to germs if you are in and out of doctor’s offices, hospitals, etc. Take a moment this month to schedule any exams, immunizations or follow-up appointments you’ve been putting off (you don’t have to do them all immediately, but get them scheduled!).

One important thing you can do to boost your health is to improve your nutrition. This is a simple (but not always easy!) way to strengthen your body. Start with small changes. Add more variety to your diet with a couple extra servings of fruits and veggies. This is great for you and your care recipient! Try out a new healthy recipe this month. There are lots of quick, simple healthy recipes and meal ideas online. Or, hire a caregiver to come in and prepare some meals in advance or use a meal service like Peach Dish. We have reviewed some meal services such as Mom’s Meals in the past and hope to bring you more first-hand reviews in the future. Sign up for our newsletter for updates!

Another vital step is to get some exercise. Strengthening and balance exercises are particularly important to help you stay safe as you assist with physical needs or household tasks. If you can’t find much time, there are many programs you can do at home. Check out YouTube for videos like these or consider hiring our recommended in-home personal trainers (who can also work with your aging loved one!).

Remember this mantra shared by the Caregivers Action Network: rest, recharge, respite! To learn more about respite care, see Respite Care 101 from EasyLiving.

Want to take the first step for your own health and well-being as a caregiver? Call us at 727-447-5845!

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Talking to Aging Parents About Assisted Living and Care Concerns


talking to aging parents about assisted living

Our experts are often called upon to help families discuss difficult topics. We work with many adult children on how to approach these subjects, how to be prepared for the discussions, and what not to do. Many times our care managers even help to mediate such discussions.

Today, we’ll delve into talking to aging parents about assisted living, getting help at home, and your worries about their health or memory problems.

How to Talk to Aging Parents about Health or Care Concerns

Many families we talk to tell us that their loved one denies any concerns about their health or care needs. Adult children sometimes find it hard to get any information out of Mom or Dad about their health or doctor’s appointments. Others have long conversations filled with health complaints but may become frustrated when their solutions are repeatedly rebuffed.

The first step in talking to aging parents about such concerns is early involvement and regular communication. Be prepared with proper advance care/legal documents. Make sure your parent has completed paperwork with their medical providers permitting access to their health information (and/or has an updated Florida Healthcare Surrogate Designation permitting the designee to receive protected health information and help with decisions at any time). Discuss who will help and how this might work. If possible, start attending some doctor’s appointments with your loved one (or hire a care manager to attend and coordinate). This helps you to better understand their health picture and spot changes early.

As things change or specific concerns arise, don’t wait to have the conversations. Discussing options early and planning ahead gives you some peace of mind and provides your parent with more control. When it’s time to have these conversations, set aside plenty of time to talk. Allow your parent to share their feelings and have input. Come prepared with resources and ideas.

If you are having trouble with health conversations, try to schedule/attend a doctor’s appointment with your parent. If possible, fax or email a letter to the doctor explaining what you’ve observed and your questions. Regarding care needs, an objective care management assessment can help and a care manager can approach the client as an ally.

Talking to Aging Parents about Memory Problems

This is very similar to discussing other health problems or care needs, but with added sensitivity. It can also be more difficult if your loved one has cognitive problems which make it hard to remember or process the discussions.

It is best to approach this with sensitivity and simple, concrete examples. Suggest an evaluation as a way to make sure everything is okay. Don’t create unnecessary fear by pre-diagnosing the problem. A memory clinic or specialist is best for this type of evaluation, and should also be sensitive in dealing with the patient. The evaluation gives you the best starting point for discussions about what needs to be done next.

Talking to Aging Parents about Assisted Living or Home Care

Closely tied in with the above issues is the need to discuss getting some help. You’ve likely already spotted some concerns if you’re reading this, but here are some important signs your aging parent needs help.

Make note of these concerns and the areas where you think your aging parent could use some help. They may see things differently, so listen to them for clues as to what worries/bothers them. Maybe you worry about Dad’s safety, but he worries about shopping and cooking meals. Mom’s personal care may be in decline but perhaps she fears keeping up with the household tasks or wants help driving to her church group at night. When talking to aging parents about assisted living, focus on the positives that can make life better based on what matters to them.

To be prepared for talking to your parents about getting help, we highly recommend Ten Ways to Convince Parents to Accept Home Care Assistance. Personalize the approach to your situation and your parents’ personality and motivations.

Talking to aging parents about assisted living brings up a whole host of emotional and practical issues. The home itself has a lot of meaning and history. Your parents may feel overwhelmed with the process of moving…and rightly so. Tackle one aspect of the conversation at a time and come prepared to help with the logistics.

You’d be amazed how often a small logistical issue or practicality is the biggest sticking point in moving. So, be sure to listen carefully and don’t dismiss anything your parent says. Don’t try to handle selecting and moving to assisted living by yourselves. Bring in some help for the myriad tasks, from selling the home and belongings to picking the right place and reviewing the contract, to the specific tasks of moving day and ensuring a smooth transition.

Contact us for help with talking to your aging parents about assisted living and other concerns. Our care managers can also guide you through transitions, offer resources, and coordinate the process of moving to assisted living or hiring home care.

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How to Talk to Aging Parents About Sensitive Subjects


how to talk to aging parents

Our experts offer you advice on how to talk to aging parents about anything, with specific tips and resources for discussing various issues with Mom and Dad. Check out our previous articles about timing the conversations and how to talk to aging parents who don’t want to listen or admit anything is wrong. Today, we tackle some of the toughest subjects you need to bring up with your parents.

How to Talk to Aging Parents about Driving

Many seniors see driving as a source of independence. Giving up driving means giving up freedom and symbolizes loss and decline. All of these things can be very true without proper planning.

It is vital to have resources and plans for what will happen “post driving” before you even approach this subject. Be realistic about options and think of the person’s perspective. Don’t make your Mom or Dad solely dependent on you or neighbors/friends for rides. Remember the freedom aspect of driving. Depending on where you live, there are many transportation options. These include public transit (often with elder/disabled programs and discounts), Uber and similar “on demand” services, private drivers and home care companions.

The first step in the driving conversation is observing your parent driving (perhaps with the help of others who drive with them). Note the specific concerns and explain objectively. You may want to engage a trusted professional. Your parent’s doctor may be helpful (or not). You can hire a care manager to arrange an assessment. The care manager can help with post-driving resources and guide the discussion.


Taking Away The Car Keys: what to do when your loved one may not be able to drive anymore (discussion tips and pointers, and how to report an elderly driver if conversations are not working)

Keeping Us Safe offers a Beyond Driving with Dignity Workbook and self-assessment tools

How to Talk to Aging Parents about Finances

Money might be a taboo subject in your family, but it’s a central reality to aging and care needs. If you need to step in to help your aging parents, would you even know where to begin? Many families feel it’s not appropriate to discuss what they have. Some parents fear relatives taking advantage of the situation. Obviously, these conversations need to start with a relationship of trust. Otherwise, it may be necessary to put other plans into place.

At a minimum, the person(s) who will be designated to help needs to know how to access information. Your parents need to execute the necessary legal documents, particularly a durable power of attorney. Ideally, you should have an idea of the financial picture. Money has a big effect on any other care conversations. It determines what options are available and what benefits you need to seek.

Broach this subject with sensitivity and don’t rush things. Perhaps you can start by offering to help your parent get organized, explain you need to know who to contact and what’s been set up. Ask if your parent would consider setting up online access to accounts. It may be easiest to discuss specific issues (executing or reviewing the durable power of attorney, estate planning, long-term care insurance, VA benefits, etc.).

Take an approach based on your parent’s style. If your parent tends to be very practical about money, simply explaining the need may work. Some parents have great respect for experts, so their financial advisor or attorney could be an ally. Your parent might listen to a particular sibling about money matters. An article from a respected publication or bringing up your own planning can spur the discussion.

Stay tuned for more tips next week! We’ll offer advice on discussing care needs, memory problems, and health issues. Join us on Facebook for our latest articles, plus bonus tips and aging wisely advice.

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The Difficult Conversations: Talking to Elderly Parents in Denial


We previously shared our advice on timing for talking to elderly parents about difficult topics. But, no matter when you talk about things, some elderly parents just don’t want to hear what you have to say. What do you do when talking to elderly parents leads nowhere? What can you do if Dad simply says, “I’m fine. Leave me alone.”?

talking to elderly parents who don't want to listen

Talking to Elderly Parents Who Say There’s Nothing to Talk About

  • You may not get anywhere today, but don’t give up. Sometimes it is best to leave the subject alone if it’s not a crisis and return to it later. We always advise that talking to elderly parents is a process, not a one-time chat. This is especially true for parents who don’t think anything is wrong.
  • Come prepared. Speak about what you’ve observed and be honest about your worries. Do some homework so you know some options.
  • Explain that the idea is to prevent consequences your parent does not want. Doing nothing is a choice, with repercussions. A person who gets a little help at home may avoid an early move to the nursing home. A regular checkup could catch something before it becomes debilitating.
  • Gather allies. Talk to siblings ahead of time, and try to get on the same page. If the concerns primarily revolve around one parent, does your other parent/the spouse agree? Don’t go into the conversation ignoring key influencers. They can quickly undermine the situation (or be your ally). A third party can be useful especially if you aren’t getting anywhere. A pastor, your parent’s trusted doctor, or a geriatric care manager can help lead or mediate the conversations.
  • Use stories or examples with positive outcomes. Take the chance to talk about your own planning or what’s been happening with a neighbor or friend.
  • Try to figure out what your parent fears or what motivates them.
  • Don’t let “windows of opportunity” pass by. Temporary help after a hospitalization or illness can give your parent a chance to get used to the situation. Denial can be a useful defense mechanism as we face loss, so the way we word or approach things can help ease the pain of loss.
  • Get our free download, “Help, Mom Won’t Listen to Me!” for more tips.

But, what happens when I’ve tried everything and they just won’t listen?

You can gently, but firmly set your own boundaries. If your parent refuses to do anything, it can be you facing the consequences and dealing with the crisis. Explain what you can and cannot (and will not) do. Offer them options, but try to avoid swooping in to save the day if they refuse help.

We know this is VERY difficult advice to practice. It can be very useful in such situations to talk to a geriatric care manager or counselor. We’ve worked with caregivers who later told us this was the biggest lifesaver for them. You may need emotional support in order to do this and deal with all your feelings about it. Siblings and other parties involved may also make you feel extremely guilty.

You may need to have your parent evaluated if memory or cognitive issues are at play. Adults do have the right to make poor decisions, but there may be a question of competency, undue influence or self-neglect. If the person is endangered, the situation may result in a call to DCF and/or guardianship proceedings.

We truly understand how tough it can be talking to elderly parents. Especially when they don’t want to hear it! Fortunately, we’ve had experience working with thousands of families dealing with many issues and personalities. Contact us anytime to discuss your concerns and find out how we can help.

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Talking to Aging Parents: Your Timing, Approach, and More


talking to aging parents at the holidays

Talking to aging parents about sensitive subjects puts fear in the hearts of many adult children. You may realize it’s time to discuss your concerns for their wellbeing, the need for care, money issues, or worries about Dad’s driving or Mom’s failing memory. But, how do you begin the conversation? When should you bring up these issues (and when shouldn’t you)? Talking to aging parents can be a bit easier with these tips from our experts about the timing, approach, and resources to assist.

Best (and Worst) Timing for Talking to Aging Parents

First, let’s get the worst timing for talking to aging parents out of the way so you can avoid the mistakes. The holidays are one of the worst possible times to start difficult conversations. However, many adult children choose holidays for talking to aging parents because it is when they happen to be together or have some time away from work. Holidays are sensitive times and people tend to be stressed. You can use this time with your elderly parents/relatives wisely…here’s what our experts suggest instead of using this time for talking to aging parents about your concerns.

And, don’t wait for a crisis to begin talking to aging parents about these issues! In a crisis, there’s no time to allow for a natural conversation and airing of thoughts and feelings. There’s also no time to plan so options become limited.

The best time is now…sooner, than later and on an ongoing basis. Don’t try to cram the whole conversation into one half-hour visit. Take your time, and allow conversations to unfold naturally and in relation to situations they may see their friends or others facing. If you have come to a crisis point or have a pressing issue, don’t try to suddenly tackle every possible concern. Prioritize what needs to be dealt with today.

How to Approach Talking with Aging Parents About Sensitive Subjects

  • Think about your parent’s personality, priorities, and style. What things matter to him/her? Think about past conversations (or lack thereof). How did your parent approach you when they needed to give you advice or talk about something sensitive with you? Does Dad have a practical outlook and prefer to know the points (and costs) of all options? Or, does Dad like to use analogies or anecdotes?
  • Plan sufficient time to talk so you can listen patiently to your loved one’s feelings and concerns. Consider this an ongoing conversation.
  • Share your feelings and concerns. Don’t dredge up the past or try to approach a wide variety of subjects. Stick to specific concerns and things you’ve observed. Don’t try to tell your parents what they “need to do”. As shared in a great NPR story on this topic, “Mothers can never resist their children when their children simply bare their hearts…tell her you need her help, in order for you to help her.”
  • Offer possible solutions. Do your homework, come prepared with information. Offer choices so that your parents have the opportunity to exercise control over the situation.
  • Have an aging parent who simply says “there’s no problem” or “everything’s fine”? We’ll share more about how to talk with an aging parent who is in denial in our next post. We’ll also share more about talking to aging parents about specific topics (and resources for each).

Resources for Talking to Aging Parents


Seven Ways to Talk to Your Parents About Getting Help

Aging Wisely’s fact sheets and checklists covering many specific eldercare topics

Talk Early, Talk Often: Step-by-step guides: Set the TEMPO; Be a Partner, Not Their Parent


Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders and How to Say it To Seniors are two of the best books on talking to aging parents. They will really help you see your parents’ perspective better so you can approach the conversations with more understanding.

Get Personalized Help Today:

Consider a consultation with an Aging Life Care Manager. You can discuss your concerns to get advice on how to approach the situation and what options are available. Contact us to make an appointment or find out more.

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Five Ways a Care Manager Helps You Find the Best Nursing Home or ALF


nursing home choices with care manager

Making sure you choose the best nursing home or assisted living facility for yourself or a loved one can be a daunting task. It is not as simple as choosing a restaurant…asking your friends for their recommendations or looking at reviews online won’t give you the full picture and often won’t result in any options to fit your needs. It is already a stressful time and the paperwork, terminology and process can make it more so. Here are the top five ways an Aging Life Care Manager can help you find the best nursing home or assisted living (and make the best transition):

1. An Aging Life Care Manager will help you determine WHAT it is you even need (also known as your “level of care“).

Does Mom need a retirement community (what does “independent living” really mean?), an assisted living (and what type/level) or a nursing facility? Does she need a special memory care unit or can a standard assisted living handle her needs as a person with Alzheimer’s? Many of her friends may have moved to XYZ place but what it they don’t offer the care Mom needs? What happens when she needs more help? One of the worst mistakes is moving somewhere that can’t really accommodate your needs and having to quickly make another move (and yes, it does happen, even though the facility may “evaluate” you for admission).

2. We know the “inside scoop” on facilities (and programs to help and more).

We do much more than just help people find nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Our expertise is care management and patient advocacy, so we are in and out of facilities all the time working with our clients and the staff. Also, because of our expertise we offer comprehensive advice. We can help you understand the costs and how Medicare, Medicare, VA benefits and other programs can help. We can offer different alternatives and scenarios and even help when your family is in conflict over whether the move is the right choice. This is where an aging life care manager presents a much better value than a “placement service” (even if they’re “free” to you because they’re paid referral fees from facilities, your costs may be greater in the long run).

3. We focus on what’s important to you.

There is no ONE best nursing home or assisted living. Florida Healthfinder shows approximately 200 active licenses for assisted living facilities in Pinellas County and about 70 nursing homes. We have seen families come to town to visit armed with this huge list. You will exhaust yourself visiting all of them and many can be eliminated quickly based on your needs and preferences.

We help you narrow down (or expand) the options, taking into account the things that might be most important in your situation. For example, there may be a nursing home with a slightly better reputation that is an extra 30-minute drive for a client’s elderly spouse. He would visit every day, but a long drive may make this difficult. Having a regular visitor/advocate would likely make this the better choice for all involved. There are so many factors like this, such as specialized programs, activities, which doctors visit, and which hospitals are nearby. We can help you understand these factors and analyze their importance.

4. We organize the search and transition process.

We simplify things for you and anticipate what you will need (and key mistakes to avoid). For example, we advise people on timing the move and the various tasks that will need to be done for the move. We take you/your family on visits so that we can discuss your thoughts in real time and make sure you get your questions answered. We have resources for just about everything you need for moving, from estate sales and appraisers to real estate agents and movers.

5. A care manager’s service doesn’t end with “placement”.

Finding the right place is only half the battle. We can help your family on the days leading up to and the day of the move, key times to make sure everything goes smoothly. Follow up visits smooth out the small bumps that inevitably happen at even the best facilities (and since we’ve done this many times before we know what to ask/plan for to avoid most problems). We can offer continued advocacy and oversight services, or simply be hired to be “on call” for you for emergencies.

To get help with nursing home or assisted living needs, plus an array of care management and patient advocacy services:

contact us

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Timing an Assisted Living Move


assisted living moving day

Do you think it might be time for your parents to move to assisted living? The decision and process can be quite daunting. Whatever stage you are at in the process, a consultation with a care manager can be invaluable in getting some personal guidance and organizing your approach. We have a lot of resources to get you started on understanding when it’s time for assisted living (or other care options) and selecting the right assisted living or senior care community.

The moving process itself is often overlooked and this can be vital to helping your loved one make a good transition. This is one reason we recommend families not wait until a crisis. In a crisis, you will be rushed and not have as many options. Additionally, your loved one may end up needing a higher level of care after an accident or illness which could have been prevented. This often results in a more difficult adjustment, as well as higher costs. If you are noticing concerns, it is time to address the situation and look at some options.

Another benefit to preparing ahead is that you can consider the best timing for the move. It is best to avoid times when you have big events going on or have difficulty getting away from work. Having sufficient time allows family members more time to visit facilities, spend time getting to know the staff, assist with the move, and sort through belongings in a less hurried manner. You may also want to avoid key dates such as the anniversary of a loved one’s death and birthdays. Look at your personal schedule and talk with family members about how best to coordinate the move.

There are also many services that can help with different practical aspects of the move, so you can focus on providing emotional support to your loved one. For example, we often help families with hiring estate sales/packing/moving services as well as coordinating details like address changes.

In addition to personal schedules, you should consider the holiday calendar. Avoid moving during major holidays. Moving is likely to be a stressful event for you and your loved one. The move to assisted living, while it will hopefully end up being a very positive decision, often feels like a major loss, especially for someone leaving a long-time home. The holidays can be stressful and filled with expectations. For those who have experienced loss, this can be an especially tough time of year. This is also the reason we advise that families don’t have the “big conversations” at holiday get-togethers (here’s what we recommend instead).

And, the reality is that the holidays are not the optimal time at an assisted living or nursing facility. Staffing levels tend to be lower as people take time off. Though facilities try to plan around this, we can tell you firsthand that no shows and “calling out” are common challenges in healthcare and senior care (I once spent Thanksgiving driving all around Atlanta to pick up staff who said were willing to come in but didn’t have transportation, when I worked in a nursing home.)

For similar reasons, moving on a Friday evening or weekend is not ideal. At an assisted living facility, the activity schedule will usually be light during the weekend and key staff will not be there to help. At nursing homes, activities such as physical and occupational therapy are often weekday-only (unfortunately, hospitals also wish to discharge patients before the weekend so it’s a common situation for rehabilitation patients to find themselves in).

We hope by sharing some of our “insider’s tips” we can help make the situation easier for you. We know you don’t always have complete control of timing, especially when the unexpected happens. If you’re feeling pressured to make a decision or unsure about options, give us a call anytime. No matter what the situation, we can offer suggestions that will improve the transition (read a client story about the difference this makes).

Contact us today to set up a consultation about assisted living and senior care options and help with coordinating a move. Now’s a great time to help your loved one make a transition before the holidays.

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Caregiving: Where to Turn in a Crisis


caregiving crisis

Unfortunately, somewhere in the process of caring for aging parents or other loved ones, a caregiving crisis will probably occur. It may be that late night phone call that your parent has fallen or been taken to the emergency room. Sometimes it is the point where the doctor says Dad can no longer live at home alone. Many times, the stress of the caregiving crisis is at its worst when you find yourself sitting at the hospital trying figure out what is going on and anticipating what will happen next.

These are times when our EasyLiving Aging Life Care Managers commonly get a phone call from the caregiver looking for help. When a caregiving crisis occurs, families often get referred to us or find us online when searching for answers. Today we’ll share a little bit about getting help in a caregiving crisis, as well as some ways to reduce the possibility of a crisis occurring and how to be prepared when they hit.

What makes Aging Life Care Managers a unique resource in times of crisis?

There are many services out there to help elderly clients and caregivers. Most, however, are focused on a specific area or system. Aging Life Care Managers navigate between various systems, locations, and providers with a focus on the multidimensional needs of the client and family. This means we can work with you in any setting and help navigate the transitions. Fortunately, there is now a greater emphasis on care coordination within the medical system, but there are still restrictions on the type of help that can be offered through a doctor’s office, insurance company, hospital, etc.

Aging Life Care Managers are uniquely positioned to help in a crisis because of their knowledge of resources and how to navigate more than just one silo of healthcare and eldercare. Additionally, most Aging Life Care Managers offer specific crisis/”on call” services in which they can provide support no matter when you need them. For example, our EasyLiving care management team offers an on-call program for clients who wish to have access to 24/7 crisis response. If you’ve ever been in an E.R., you know the value of ensuring someone is there with your elderly parent (and able to communicate to you about what’s happening). Even for families who live nearby, it is worthwhile to have an expert who understands how to get answers and knows the ins and outs of the system.

Being Prepared for a Caregiving Crisis

Though you can’t avoid a crisis, taking steps now can help prevent unnecessary problems. Consider starting with a care management consultation to get some advice on your situation and steps you should take. If your loved one lives at home, a home safety evaluation can reduce the likelihood of falls and other accidents. Engaging support services can be an affordable way to help your loved one stay safe and healthy (examples include transportation, medication management, household help, meal preparation, and care coordination of doctor’s visits).

Because not all crises will be avoidable, take a few steps to be prepared. Check out our aging wisely tips for being prepared as well as our thorough tips for long-distance caregivers (and additional long-distance caregiver hacks). Having easy access to the information you’ll need at the time of crisis is vital, so organizing documents and key contacts is one of the most important tasks. In addition to knowing the doctors’ and other professionals’ phone numbers, it is good to know a few local resources. This is why a care management consultation right now can be so useful.

Contact Aging Wisely for help with crisis management or to set up a consultation. You can also reach us via phone any time at 727-447-5845.

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Preventing Hospital Infections


hospital infections prevention steps

Prevalence of Hospital Infections

CDC data on hospital infections shows that:

  • On any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection (HAI).
  • Every year there are more than 700,000 HAIs in U.S. acute-care hospitals and about 75,000 patients with HAIs die during their hospitalizations.

Progress in Decreasing Hospital Infections

Research indicates that when healthcare facilities, care teams, and individual practitioners (and we’d argue to add patients, families, and advocates) are aware of infection problems and take specific steps to prevent them, rates of HAIs can decrease by more than 70 percent. A CDC report which compared rates of infections between 2011 and 2014 showed a decrease in many types of infections following new regulations and programs.

Fortunately, hospitals are now required to report infection rates and are penalized with reduced Medicare payments for high rates. You can view Medicare’s Hospital Compare for hospital data, including infection rates.

Patient Safety Tips for Preventing Hospital Infections

What can you do to stay safe? The CDC recommends six important steps for patient safety, which we further elaborate on below:

speak up

Speak up. This is where having an advocate at the hospital is so important. Someone else often has to keep an eye on these issues for patients who are too ill to do so. Family members should ask the doctors and nurses about what to watch for. Our care managers visit their clients regularly at the hospital to troubleshoot potential issues like this. We may notice some changes in you that indicate a possible infection (knowing our clients and focusing solely on you, we can often spot things first) and we sometimes observe some gaps in infection-control measures which need to be corrected. Speaking up includes asking about procedures and care plans, to make informed medical decisions. Some procedures come with infection risks (and some people are at higher risk such as those with multiple medical conditions, diabetics, obese patients and smokers); it’s important to understand all risks and benefits.

keep hands clean

Clean hands and infection-control for supplies. Hospital staff are generally well-trained about this issue (but occasionally slip up) but visitors also need to be educated. No one should visit you when they have even a minor illness and everyone should wash their hands before entering and leaving your room (watch this video on the proper technique). Staff should always use gloves when drawing blood or doing any procedure on you–and often should change gloves when working on different areas of your body, especially if there’s an infection present. Here’s a video on the proper way to take off gloves to avoid contamination. Infection control is also very important for the equipment and supplies being used on you, to avoid cross-contamination. Hospitals also do many things within the environment to help control infections, such as isolation procedures, specialized cleaning and air ventilation. Be informed about how well they are following protocols by checking out their rates online, especially when factoring which facility might be best for your needs.


Wise use of antibiotics. Check with your doctor about any antibiotics being prescribed to make sure they are necessary and best suited to your condition. Overuse of antibiotics has led to powerful, antibiotic-resistant bacteria (“super bugs”). Of course, when used properly antibiotics can be a life saver.


Infection awareness. Your advocates play a vital role in awareness and monitoring. If you or your loved one notices something unusual, bring it to the providers’ attention. Make sure staff is monitoring your surgical sites, dressings, drainage tubes, ports, catheters, etc. Confusion and sudden changes in mental status often indicate some underlying medical problem, such as an infection. Staff may be less aware of these changes if they do not know the patient well, so family and/or the care manager may be the ones to bring these to their attention.


Watch for gastrointestinal symptoms. C. difficile (Clostridium difficile or C.diff) can be deadly; it tends to affect patients in hospitals and long-term care facilities who have conditions requiring frequent or high dose antibiotics (which kill off the good bacteria that normally help keep your system’s microorganisms in balance). Your medical professionals can best help you when they’re thoroughly informed. Let them know of any changes and ask questions if something doesn’t feel right.


Get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re updated on vaccinations, especially before entering the hospital or a skilled nursing facility.

This information also applies to other healthcare settings such as dialysis centers, long-term care/skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics and surgery centers. When deciding on a skilled nursing facility, you can view their state inspection report as well as check out Medicare’s comparison to see their measures on a variety of factors including infection control.

Get help from our Aging Life Care Managers with patient advocacy, ER and hospital care management, and coordination of medical services from choosing the right provider through ensuring the best outcomes.

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Hospital Patient Advocacy: What an Aging Life Care Manager Does for You


hospital patient advocacy visit

A hospitalization is stressful for patients and their families; navigating the different tests, providers, payment concerns and more can be overwhelming. Hospital patient advocacy has therefore played a large role in what Aging Life Care Managers do for their clients. This process often starts from the moment of an emergency room visit through admission, various tests and procedures and ensuring a safe transition post-discharge.

Hospital Patient Advocacy: Crisis Response at the ER

Aging Wisely offers a service in which our Aging Life Care Managers are on-call for you in case of emergencies any time. This provides peace of mind for elders and their families knowing an experienced professional who knows their situation will be there during the emergency. If you’ve ever visited an ER, you can understand why a family doesn’t want their sick, elderly (and possibly confused) loved one to be there alone. In our years responding to such situations, patients and their families have been extremely grateful for the support but ER staff have also expressed the value of having more information about the patient and someone coordinating.

Understanding Tests, Care, Treatment Plans and Costs

Another area where our care managers have consistently helped in the ER and beyond is asking clarification questions about tests, treatments, and understanding the care plan and vital issues like observation status. Many patients (and their families) find themselves surprised when they learn that even though they’ve been spending the night at the hospital they have been classified as “outpatient” while under “observation”. This can have significant implications for hospital and after-care bills. Read more.

Fortunately, a law called Notice was passed August 6, 2015 to ensure patients receive written and verbal notification of this status with an implementation deadline of one year later (8/6/16). As of this date, hospitals will be required to provide a MOON (Medicare Outpatient Observation Notification) in writing within 36 hours to anyone undergoing observation or being treated as an outpatient for more than 24 hours. Aging Life Care Managers will ensure that you receive these notifications as required and help you and your family understand all the implications and options.

Aging Life Care Managers coordinate between your providers, help make sure they have the information they need (your medical history, preferences, etc.), and make sure everything is clear so that you (and/or your decision makers) are part of the process. Sometimes this helps avoid an unnecessary/repeat testing procedure. At other times, it means your medical team can recommend a more appropriate course of treatment for you with a full understanding of your past history and your current situation and wishes. It means you and your family can make more informed choices and not feel as overwhelmed.

Eyes and Ears: Observing, Asking Questions, Focus on the Individual

An Aging Life Care Manager is hired by you and your family as your personal advocate. This means the focus is on you as an individual…and your goals and wishes, not institutional goals or requirements. We understand the institutions and systems we are helping you to navigate, but we approach the situation to find solutions that work, within the realities, for YOU.

A care manager will typically do various things on any hospital visit, including observing and talking with you and hospital staff, reviewing your chart and asking follow-up questions. With our experience and the time and attention to focus on you, we often spot little things that can turn into big issues. This could be a change in your typical cognition or mood, which might indicate an infection or some underlying medical change. The care manager’s chart review or discussions might turn up an order for a new medication which has had poor results for you before. Sometimes, the care manager notices a fall or infection prevention protocol is seemingly not being followed. The care manager’s role is to observe and raise this information with the medical professionals, who can then use this information to provide even better treatment.

Discharge planning and ensuring a smooth transition is a whole other aspect of hospital patient advocacy. We’ll cover more on that later, but you can read a few of our past articles on hospital discharge in the meantime. Make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter so you always get the latest news and information!

For help with hospital patient advocacy:

contact us

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Aging Wisely Lessons from My Time in China


Shannon on the Bund

I’ve been fortunate to live abroad much of the past seven years, first in Spain and now having spent the past four years in Shanghai, China. Mark Twain famously said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” I don’t necessarily think you have to live overseas to acquire wisdom, but I do know that my experiences have helped broaden my mind, broken down assumptions and even changed the way I deal with and approach things. Here are just a few of the life lessons (or aging wisely lessons) I’ve learned from living in other cultures and especially from my time in China.

No one (or one culture) has it all figured out.

I learn or observe something new every day, sometimes just going to the grocery store or walking around my neighborhood. I remember being so impressed with the sink setup at the local hairdresser…they have a little headrest in the sink so it’s a lot more comfortable on your neck (it may seem minor but this was a revelation to me!). Here in Shanghai, I love the amazing entrepreneurial spirit and inventiveness to create solutions with a huge population and urban environment. You can get almost anything delivered to your home…the streets are filled with scooters bearing lunch, groceries, and online shopping deliveries (and even a cart full of chairs).

Amazon delivery guy

cart with chairs

Interesting new services pop up every day and the lightning speed of technology adoption is stunning (most of us now pay for the majority of things, including splitting the bill with friends, with our phones in just a couple clicks).


I love picking up new ideas, as well as gaining an appreciation of the many things the U.S. does so well. Even if you don’t live or travel abroad, just observing and being open to new things (just look at the pace of new technology) can make life easier and better.

You can always make new friends and find new things to do/learn.

When you’re an expat, you have no choice in this (unless you want to be miserable). You have to seek groups and events for your interests and get to know new people. I usually do at least a few new things each month, even though I’ve now been living in Shanghai for four years and have established favorite places and good friends. I’ve been to author talks, elder storytelling, language exchanges, cooking classes, calligraphy workshops, Chinese wine tastings, lectures on Chinese weddings and other aspects of culture, bike and walking tours, film screenings, special interest group discussions and so much more.

A holiday party at our Mandarin school

A holiday party at our Mandarin school

I use Meetup to find activities of interest and read the local publications for art openings, concerts, new restaurants, markets and events.

Vegetarian cooking class in a local home with new friends

Vegetarian cooking class in a local home with new friends

If I’m looking for a group or activity I can’t find, I’ll consider starting one myself. You can do this even if you’ve lived the same place your whole life! It keeps life interesting and expands your mind.

Learning the Chinese yoyo with local elders (plus storytelling)

Learning the Chinese yoyo with local elders (plus storytelling)

There’s interesting stuff all around you.

No matter where you live, take time to “smell the roses” as the saying goes. I find one of the best ways to do this is by taking walks. It’s a good way to stay healthy but it’s also fun because you get to take in your environment. When I lived in Spain, I spent an average of two hours/day walking along the Mediterranean coastline, observing the families out for a stroll, soaking in the sunlight and getting a kick out of the way the seaside restaurants hung their octopi out to dry.

octopus in denia

In Shanghai, I love walking in the many local parks where I watch families enjoy themselves and older people dance and practice tai chi. Even just strolling through the neighborhood is fascinating, with the mix or urban life and skyscrapers with old markets (live fish and chickens for sale and more of those interesting drying methods) and colorful laundry dotting the windows and trees.

laundry and some chickens

Laundry with a side of chicken



One of my favorite locals


nap time2

Any time (and place) is good for a nap!


Family is precious and living apart doesn’t mean you can’t be close.

Many multigenerational families live together in China, which is pretty different from how I grew up but doesn’t necessarily make me any less close to my family (even now that we’re several continents away). Here too nowadays, more families are separated for economic opportunities, whether it’s studying or working overseas or more commonly migrating to the larger cities. Since living abroad, I make a point to plan longer visits home and since I’m usually staying with my family, I have actually spent more time with them since living overseas.

A recent visit home with my Mom, aunt and cousin

A recent visit home with my Mom, aunt and cousin

While everyone’s situation is different we can all stay close to family members in various ways…planning longer visits when possible (and trying not to always go just during hectic holidays), meeting up somewhere (and hopefully welcoming them to visit you) and regularly Skyping, emailing, calling and texting. We also keep in touch and share our adventures with family and friends by sending postcards from all our trips.

Staying active and engaged will keep you “young at heart” (and in body).

When I talk to people about getting older in China a lot of them look to their retirement years longingly. They see it as a time when the restraints of work are gone and they can enjoy favorite activities and spend time with friends and grandchildren. Elders are often integral in child-rearing, taking on active roles in the mutligenerational household in caring for grandhildren and supporting the working parents.

The best place to see the life of older adults in China is in the local parks and street corners. On any given day, there will be a range of activities from dancing to tai chi and exercising on the outdoor gyms. This activity and engagement may very well be a big part of the high life expectancy and low disability rates among elders here (there are now over 1,000 centenarians living in Shanghai).

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Elders will gather to socialize, drink tea, and play games. Others will simply enjoy the outdoors with solitary activities like reading, playing a musical instrument or practicing calligraphy (often done with large brushes and water on the pavement, symbolizing that everything in life is fleeting).

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dancing AM

I can hardly summarize all the gifts I’ve been given being exposed to different cultures and meeting wonderful people from all over the world. I hope you enjoy these few insights and pictures. As China’s population is aging and less young people are available for caregiving, they’re facing the challenges of eldercare and developing new ways to manage the needs. I will continue to learn and share more on that topic as well. I always love to chat about travels, culture, China and more so I welcome your emails/feedback: shannonmartin(at)

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