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EP – 5 This episode of the Seniors We Love podcast is a continuation of episode 4, C is For Cautious. We offer questions and ideas for dealing with some of the sensitive topics discussed. If you haven’t listened to that episode, we would encourage you to do so. It will help put some of the conversation into perspective.
The Seniors We Love podcast is where we share stories of people who have made a difference. Mixed in we talk about some of the difficulties they’ve experienced and some of the joys of their adventures and lessons learned and questions to consider.
This episode takes a deeper dive into a few of the concepts introduced in episode # 4, where we talked about Merrill DeChambeau. A conversation about some of the important lessons learned from his life, particularly his senior days.
Thank you to our sponsor, Lynn Michel Insurance
Lynn Michel Insurance focuses on health insurance for seniors. This includes Medicare Advantage, prescription drug plans or Medicare Supplements also known as Medigap.
- If you are listening to this episode between October 15 and December 7, it’s known as annual enrollment in the US for medicare. It’s the time to review your prescription drug plan and your medicare advantage plan. In 2019 there are a lot of changes to the plans If you or someone you know has medicare and you want someone to review your plan, call Lynn Michel Insurance at 301-996-2328. You can also go to their website at lynnmichel.com and schedule a meeting with them.
- Lynn Michel is licensed in MD, VA and DC. If you live in another state, they will connect you with an agent that you can trust. It doesn’t cost you any more to work with an independent agent. It might even save you money.
Having a senior living in your home teaches you a lot about life. You begin to see what is in front of you. What you might want to do differently.
So let’s start with the most obvious one, depression / suicide. Medical professionals are much better at picking up signs of depression, but just by asking a few simple questions can be an indicator. Here are a few that I took from the National Institute of Mental Health website.
- Do you feel very tired, helpless, and hopeless?
- Have you lost interest in many of the activities and interests you previously enjoyed?
- Are you having trouble working, sleeping, eating, and functioning?
If you get a yes to any of these questions, I would recommend you talk with your seniors doctor.
Doctors are trained to know what to do but they don’t often spend enough time with the senior to know if there is an issue before it’s too late. Your observation and involvement in caring for your senior can be a big asset in helping keep the doctor informed about your seniors mental health.
In my uncle’s case, three things happened in a short amount of time. He lost his brother, he lost his car and his rent was going up. While the rent was the tipping point for him, the other two were certainly big factors.
It seems like the more time seniors spend alone, the more things that they can conjure up in their minds that might not be accurate. Be aware of this. If you look at our FB page, Seniors We Love, you’ll see several articles on the topic of loneliness and depression in seniors.
If your senior spends a lot of time alone, it’s something you need to talk to the doctor about. Medications can make a difference, but in many situations they will need to be closely monitored.
If you are listening to this podcast and you have experience dealing with seniors and depression, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It might take me awhile to get back to you, but I will.
Finances were a challenge for Merrill. He was never able to balance a checkbook. His brother visited every month and balanced it for him. Merrill knew how to pay bills and do basic math, but he didn’t have a good grasp of basic accounting principles. He was old school and put money in envelopes for Christmas and vacation and never invested anything.
Many professionals say that some seniors have a difficult time with money as they age. Don’t assume that because they could manage it all of their lives that they are doing it right in their golden years. It’s a delicate subject and no one wants to admit that they can’t handle this task anymore, but at some point, you’ll need to have a heart to heart conversation. The earlier you can begin having these discussions, the easier the transition will be. In time, someone will need to get involved. If you can talk about it while things are good, it will help when the time comes.
Many people are very private about their financial affairs. We need to keep having conversations about realities instead of walking around with our head stuck in the sand.
Many women have not been taught how to manage the finances. Their husbands pay all the bills and make all the financial decisions. So if something happens to their husband, they are left to manage their finances and that’s where a lot of problems can evolve.
This is happening today, even with younger women. It is very common in households where the husband works and manages everything financial. Some women will say that they don’t want to know this aspect of running the household. It can be a costly steep learning curve if they have to take over unexpectedly one day.
Discussing money is a sensitive topic
If you care about your senior, you’ll want to find a way to oversee what they are doing before things get too out of control. Watch for unpaid bills, overdrawn accounts and unpaid taxes.
So what can you do? How can you help? Here’s a few ideas to consider:
Outsource bill paying, balancing the checkbook and overall money management, if needed. One company called Everyday Money Management focuses on seniors. There are many others that you can choose from.
Another option, try get access to their online banking. This is super sensitive and it might not be a good idea for everyone to have access, but if you are trustworthy, it’s an option. That way you can oversee things without having to be in their face.You can set up alerts if too much money is going out of the account!
Seniors are constantly bombarded by telemarketers, often times selling bad products. How do you keep them from investing in something they shouldn’t? There are many horror stories. Don’t think it won’t happen to your senior.
Talk to your seniors about scams. You might need to remind them periodically of the bad people. Don’t assume that your senior(s) will know this or more importantly, remember this.
Doctor and Provider Visits
At some point, you will need to start going to the doctor visits with your senior. This can be very sensitive and tough for them to agree to. For the past 50+ years, your senior has been going to the doctors on their own. Why do they need you to go with them.
Another set of ears can help to keep the information straight. While you are there, you can:
- Take notes while the doctor is talking to your senior.
- Discuss different symptoms you see or your senior has told you about that they aren’t telling the doctor.
- Ask questions that they might not be asking.
- Do research to learn more and help your senior understand certain diagnoses.
Most people don’t have someone in their family with a medical background to help guide them. When things get serious, it doesn’t hurt to have someone provide you with a second opinion so that you know you are moving forward properly.
Managing your own health is one thing, managing someone else’s is a whole different ballgame. One question that you could always ask is ‘what else do I need to know’ and ‘does this medicine react to any of the other medicines your senior is taking?”
You also want to monitor the medicines. Some of your seniors will be diligent about taking their meds and getting them right, some of them will be all over the place. Get one of those pill boxes. Sort the pills for them and make sure they are taking them.
Depression, finances and medication aren’t the only topics we could discuss from Merril’s life but as a caregiver, they were pertinent in his life. Pay attention to these areas with your senior to help them have a more enjoyable time in their golden years.
If you have a senior in your life that you would like featured on this podcast, please reach out to us a email@example.com. Let’s discuss their story and see if it’s a good fit for the podcast.
Last thing, If you like what you hear, please share this episode with a friend or family member. Don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast on your favorite podcast player. We are on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and all of the major podcast platforms. We’d also love a review.
Until next time, give your senior a big hug.