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It takes a hugely generous spirit to undertake caring for a loved one who is declining due to Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, or another cognitive condition. For those of us who step into the role of caregiver, a battle can begin within us as we try to navigate the often distressing challenges of the role and the emotions that come with them. If you or someone you know is providing care, please read on. It is so important to realise that any negative feelings we may be grappling with are absolutely normal and that we can cultivate some healthy practices to lighten this emotional load.   What You May Be Feeling Caregiving can be a thankless task that often leaves us feeling isolated and exhausted. When something…

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Isolation can be a real challenge for older people, who may live alone or have limited opportunities for social interaction. While we might feel a little awkward around elders within our community, we probably have more in common than we imagine. We all feel good when someone takes the time to see us in our day-to-day lives, and the older people around us are often a font of wisdom, experience, and humour. On the other hand, we all feel unhappy when we feel ignored, so don’t avoid your seniors. Take the time to share a friendly good morning and ask how they are. Whether we are interacting with older people within our community or navigating the challenges of later life with a family member or loved…

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There comes a moment for many of us, in which we begin to realise that it is time for us, or a loved one, to retire from driving. While the thought can be a little intimidating, safety on the road is an absolute priority and adapting to life without getting behind the wheel can be much easier than you might imagine.   Warning Signs Perhaps friends or family have expressed concern, or perhaps you yourself have the sense that your driving is changing. Consider if you are feeling more anxious behind the wheel than you used to, are losing focus or getting lost more easily. Have you had any near misses in the car? Your eyesight may not be what it was, or you may be…

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Have you ever picked up a book with the goal of self development? Perhaps it’s something you’ve never done or maybe it’s a resource you’ve used many times over the years. The autumn years of our lives are not always easy, but whilst we are certain to face our own personal physical or mental challenges at times; these needn’t define or dominate our lives. With a little inspiration we can opt to actively draw on our wealth of experiences, finding satisfaction in our ability to adapt and recognising the light and comedy in life’s evolution! There is great confidence to be found in the way we know ourselves in later life and this spark can be drawn upon to make every moment count. With this in…

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“A legacy project can be a meaningful tool to bolster your own strength following a frightening diagnosis. It can be a means to support someone you love who is ill, or a way to reclaim a feeling of control after bereavement by turning emotions outward in a positive way towards others we love.” For each of us the thought of losing a loved one, or of leaving loved ones behind, is a difficult thing to bear. When faced with a potentially terminal diagnosis we all want to save those we care about from grief, but in such times our normal vocabulary of support becomes redundant and we can find ourselves feeling powerless. In these moments the value of our connection to others can be a source…

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Culturally speaking, we are just terrible at dealing with death. In a society that celebrates youth, vivacity and accomplishment but quietly averts its eye from elderly decline, it can be incredibly isolating to go through the loss of a loved one. We lack the public vocabulary to discuss it and the rituals of grief to carry us through it. Just as the cycle of life dictates, everyday life will begin and end. Babies will be born, and people will die, but as human beings that feel and connect there is nothing that we fear more than the loss of our loved ones. Many experiencing bereavement may have cared for a spouse or parent for some time and their loss may bring such a tangle of difficult…

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As we get older there comes a point where retaining our independence becomes increasingly difficult. As we, or our loved ones, face these challenges it can be tricky to broach the subject with the important people in our lives, but needing to adapt to a change of circumstances needn’t be something to feel embarrassed about. In fact, taking a few practical steps as we age can make life much more enjoyable and allow us to maintain our autonomy for far longer. A huge aspect of self-determination can be the wish to stay in our own home. We feel comfortable in our own space, can maintain familiar routines and may have a beloved pet that we wish to stay with, or memories that we wish to stay…

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At this time of year, I often think of all the resources we burn through as we jet through our busy modern lives. Consumption of just about everything ramps up during the holiday season, and more so with each generation, but as we learn increasingly about our impact on the planet and how precious these resources truly are, perhaps it’s time to hark back to the era of our elders. Previous generations had a much more balanced and careful approach to what they had; they were green out of necessity! Evidence suggests that while they used far less they were actually happier than we are today within our have-it-now lifestyle bubbles. When did we lose the plot? Let’s look at some of the ways our senior…

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In the run-up to the holidays, I always seem to be inclined to have a good clear out and de-clutter. I suppose it’s mostly in anticipation of the visitors that come with the season and wanting to make the house presentable, but I think it’s also in part a gesture of preparation for the inevitable influx of stuff that comes at this time of year. The act of giving and receiving is always a heartwarming experience, but it comes with a certain level of anxiety at times, especially when buying for older relatives. Will we choose something to their tastes? The last thing anyone wants is to give a loved one a gift they won’t enjoy. My parents have always been tricky to buy for; they…

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We can all feel a bit listless as the winter draws in. Cold rainy weather and short days can leave us feeling a little glum, and when looking for sources of comfort it can be easy to overlook how incredibly rewarding the act of supporting older people around us can be. In fact, practising kindness, from small gestures within your community to giving in a big way by volunteering or sharing your space with those in need, can deliver huge benefits not only for those you help but for your own mental well-being too. The act of giving can be connected to reducing stress, boosting immunity, combating depression and increasing self esteem, not to mention that actively engaging with helping others can be fantastically stimulating –…

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Are you tired of colouring your hair to cover greys? The habit is an expensive one and, while I’m all for investing in our appearances in the name of self expression, I have a bone to pick with feeling under pressure to look like something that doesn’t express our true essence. We should feel free to be our beautiful selves, representing how we feel on the inside in whatever form that might take! A few years ago I began noticing a local woman with the most extraordinary silver hair. I would see her in the grocery store, queuing at the bank and in the park on Sunday. She was an older woman with extraordinary beauty and grace and it was impossible to guess her age. The…

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“To be a person is to have a story to tell.” – Isak Dinesen   Most of us have at some point experienced the loss of a loved one and wished that in the time we had we’d asked more questions, been more inquisitive about their youth, their passions, the lessons they learned and the things they saw. Why then, do we hesitate to see the value in our own stories? It’s easy to imagine that in this big world our experiences are insignificant, but in reality human beings thrive on stories. It is those intimate, personal tales that inspire and mould us, especially if they help us build a sense of our origins and heritage. For these reasons, writing your memoirs is one of the greatest…

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Ancient philosophers knew that human beings are social by nature millennia ago, so why is it so common that we allow ourselves to become more solitary and let loneliness creep in as we age? “Man is by nature a social animal” – Aristotle Interacting with a diverse community of people brings interest, stimulation and excitement, but with terms like “past their prime” and “over the hill” bouncing around in common vernacular, it’s not surprising that we might begin to drop our personal needs down the priority list in later life. I’m here to call “stop!” if you are experiencing loneliness. There is absolutely no reason why getting older should mean getting less out of life. You have so much to offer and so much to enjoy….

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Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a wonder-drug that could alleviate many of the aspects of ageing that brings us down? There is in fact such a thing, but it doesn’t come in a medication box. The answer lies instead in a furry form!  You might be surprised to learn that there aren’t many things about getting older that an animal can’t help with. If you haven’t considered what a great addition a pet might be, take a look at the strong advantages a new four-legged member of the household could bring, and what to consider before taking the plunge.   Boosted Psychological Health Through Animal Affection As much as we look after our pet, they look after us too. There are few things more…

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There is a tipping point with elderly loved ones at which roles reverse. Rather than being the strong, independent person we’ve known throughout our lives they become someone who needs our support. If this person does not live close by you might feel powerless to help, but the good news is that there is in fact a great deal that you can offer as a long-distance care giver. Try to dispel any feelings of worry and follow this useful guide to take control of care for your long-distance loved one…   Get An Overview Of What Is Needed Get as much information as you can together about the condition of your loved one. What medications do they need to take? What day-to-day assistance do they require?…

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When visiting older friends or relatives we tend to see them as we always have – the independent, experienced and wise person who has advised us on so many occasions – but as those we care about get older it is important to tune in to warning signs that they may be becoming less able to manage alone. It might be our turn to help, or to take steps to ensure that those we value get access to the support they need.   Signs Of Confusion Early signs of dementia can be difficult to spot because they set in so slowly, but indicators of cognitive decline to watch out for are things like persistent memory lapses and having difficulty problem solving or in grasping basic concepts….

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It can be difficult to witness the signs of ageing in our parents and it can seem very intimidating to talk about it. Those who took care of us when we were young now begin to need support and we wonder how this transition will progress. With a little forethought and preparation we can make this transition much easier to manage.   Prepare for the Conversation Your first port of call in your supporting role is to research what options are available. The better informed you are, the more easily you can present options as your discussion about care evolves. Consider what services are available in your area, from simple help with chores via daily visits, through to full time at-home care options and residential care…

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Most of us can recall a night of disturbed sleep. You’ve been tossing and turning for hours. It’s 4am and you find yourself staring at the alarm clock while your mind spins over all sorts of things that should be left in place until morning! Sleep disturbances can be so very frustrating. In our senior years this can become a reoccurring problem and while your instinct might be to chalk it up to ageing, don’t be too hasty. Healthy sleep is deeply important for our well-being and sleep deprivation will likely have a cause and can certainly be addressed. When we sleep we are in fact entering into a cycle of different sleep stages. We will move between stages of lighter sleep, very deep sleep and…

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As you or your loved ones grow older, it important to keep in mind that the elderly are a demographic that is highly targeted by scams. Often in our later years we have savings, property and other assets which make us tempting targets for those with bad intentions. It is sad to think that we cannot always trust those around us, especially those who present themselves in a trustworthy way, but some cautious savvy can protect us from what can be a traumatic and costly experience. A scam refers to a type of fraud that can come in many forms, but ultimately describes a scheme in which a scammer or scammers will attempt to dupe or coerce their victim into volunteering money or personal information for…

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Early Onset Alzheimer’s is classified as the onset of Alzheimer’s disease before the age of 65 and accounts for only 5-10% of cases diagnosed. Both Alzheimer’s and Early Onset Alzheimer’s are still very little understood. While a genetic predisposition can be passed through family in many cases the cause of the onset of this condition is unknown. If you have concern for yourself or a loved one you can consider the following symptoms as alert signals but be aware that many of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s overlap with the symptoms of stress. If your instinct of concern persists, pursuing medical advice and assessment is always the best choice, allowing you to eliminate concerns or, in the unlikely case of a diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer’s,…

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