Going To and Fro – Transportation Options for Seniors

What is the best way to get where you’re going? For seniors who no longer wish to get behind the wheel, affordable transportation is a must. The freedom to get from here to there has a huge impact on quality of life and your ability to remain independent. When depending on a family member or friend isn’t an option, it’s important to know how to get mobile.


County Senior Services

Your local Area Agency on Aging is a great place to seek out community resources, including transportation. The agency’s mission is to help seniors live as independently as possible by providing support and access to community programs. With their help, you can get connected to transportation services provided by private companies, senior centers, faith-based and non-profit organizations.

Public Transit

While it may not be the speediest mode of transportation, public transit is a very affordable option. Most public transit authorities provide seniors with discounted fares. In addition, riding the bus is better for the environment and safer than car travel.

Transportation Apps

For seniors comfortable with their smartphone, ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft make ordering a ride easy and convenient. Drivers are assigned to riders based on their distance from the pickup location, so response times are better than traditional taxi service. The built-in review system rewards courteous drivers and encourages excellent service. Rates depend on demand, so if you are able to schedule your trips at low-traffic times, you can save some cash.

GoGoGrandparent

If you aren’t quite ready for a smartphone app, you can use the GoGoGrandparent service. This service offers users a more traditional experience with the speed of a rideshare company, without the need to navigate an app. The GoGoGrandparent dispatch will order your ride and send message updates, including pickup notifications and driver contact information, to a trusted loved one. There is a per mile surcharge for the service, but even so, your ride will still be more affordable than a taxi.

Long-Distance Travel

For seniors looking for long-distance travel, always call to ask about accommodations for seniors. Currently, Amtrak Trains, Greyhound Bus Lines American Airlines, Delta, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines offer discounts to seniors.

Yoga for Seniors

Stretch your boundaries and improve your life by adding yoga to your regular exercise routine. With consistent practice, you’ll look and feel great and enjoy a variety of benefits.

History of Yoga

You may think of yoga as new and trendy, however, the ancient practice began in India more than 2000 years ago. While yoga has evolved over many years, the primary focus remains on mindfulness, unity, and discipline. Each precise movement of the body is designed to facilitate meditation.

Benefits for Seniors

When you picture a yoga class, you may not see seniors as the primary participants, but the low-impact exercise and benefits certainly make it an appealing practice for older adults.

  • Reduce joint swelling
  • Improve core strength and mobility
  • Build balance and help prevent falls
  • Create higher muscular endurance and stamina
  • Build greater bone density
  • Reduce stress and improve sleep

Tips for Beginners

  • Poses should never hurt. If you feel pain or discomfort, move out of the pose slowly, but immediately.
  • Focus on your breathing. Steady, deep breaths will help relax your body.
  • Be patient. Like any athletic pursuit, yoga takes time and practice to master. Remember that focusing on form will help you get the most out of your time.
  • Practice a few minutes each day. Studies suggest that just 12 minutes of yoga a day can deliver results.
  • If you are able and feeling adventurous, consider a class. Join a beginners group and receive the benefit of instruction regarding your form.

Three Short Yoga Classes to Get You Started

Release the Neck with David Procyshyn

This neck-focused yoga class is a good start for seniors looking to improve balance. Flexibility in the neck allows greater mobility which will, in turn, increase balance.

Yoga for Arthritis: The Hands and Wrists by Kim McNeil 

Focusing on the hands and fingers, this yoga class is a must-watch for anyone experiencing arthritis pain. Stretching and moving the fingers will help increase circulation and reduce inflammation.

Chair Yoga – Yoga For Seniors | Yoga With Adriene

Low impact, chair yoga is a great way to build strength while focusing on the line of the spine. This 20-minute class will walk you through each exercise and movement focusing on your whole body.

Midwest Health Show and Tell

Beloved collections and treasured objects can hold stories all their own. All you have to do is listen. And there’s no better way to start getting to know someone than a classic round of Show & Tell. We’d like to introduce you to a few of our favorite people as they share stories and mementos from their lives.

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It’s So Nice To Meet You! 20 Questions To Really Get To Know Your Parents

After years together, it’s easy to assume that you know your parent’s story from front to back. But not so fast! There may be a lot you don’t know. Do you know what your mom’s favorite class in college was? Who taught her to drive? Where did your dad reel in the biggest catch of his life? Who did he take to prom?

So many times our visits with loved ones get bogged down by catching up on current events that we miss out on knowing the full story of how we got here. We each hold experiences that even those closest to us might not know about because we’ve never thought to ask. Use these questions to dive beyond small talk and really get to know your parents. When you’re done, you’ll feel like you’ve met a whole new person!


Growing Up

  • Where did you grow up? What was it like growing up there? How has it changed?
  • Did you get into trouble growing up?
  • Did you have a favorite toy or prized possession? What happened to it and where do you think it is now?
  • When did you first feel like a “real” adult?
  • Were you raised in a church? What do you find most meaningful about your religion?
  • If you could go back in time and pursue a new career, what would it be?
  • What was your first job like? Are there any life-long lessons you learned from work?

What was the world like?

  • Which world events do you remember most vividly? How did they impact your day-to-day life?
  • When did you vote for the first time? Who did you vote for and why?
  • How did you get around? What transportation was available to you? When did you get your first car?
  • What public figures did you most admire and why?
  • How did you and your peers spend your free time when you were a young adult?
  • What has changed most in your lifetime?

Relationships

  • How did you meet your partner?
  • What was your favorite thing about your partner? What attracted you to them?
  • Tell me about your favorite date or memory together. How did you feel?
  • Who was your best friend? Tell me some of your favorite memories with them.
  • What were your parents and grandparents like?
  • What traits did they pass down to you? Which are you thankful for and which do you wish they’d kept to themselves?
  • Tell me about the day I was born. What was going on in the world?

At first, asking these questions may feel strange, but stick with it and the conversation will begin to get easier. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information and follow up with questions like, “How did that make you feel?” or “What was that like?” The more you discover, the better you’ll understand this person that you’ve known all your life. You’ll find answers to questions you never knew to ask and enjoy a deeper connection to your parents and your own history.

The Value of Volunteering

We need each other. It’s a basic human truth that can easily be forgotten in the midst of busy work schedules, family obligations, and attachment to technology. Making time to give back is a challenge. Nevertheless, we urge you to find a way to make it happen!

Volunteers who serve seniors bring color and excitement to our communities. They share their knowledge, skills, and life experiences. They give their time to us and we, in turn, adore them. Volunteers are the heart of our communities.

The benefits of volunteering flow both ways. So don’t delay. Carve out an hour every other week to spend at a senior living community near you and begin reaping the rewards!


Hone Your Skills

Want to perfect your social skills or learn to be a little handier around the house? Volunteering at a senior community will give you lots of low-pressure opportunities to practice your skills. You will find endless opportunities to relate to new and diverse people who will be thrilled to chat with you. If you like to work with your hands you can help in the garden, assist with minor repairs, or lend a hand with community projects. You can even ease into public speaking by volunteering to call BINGO. You’ll get to practice talking in front of a crowd full of eager listeners!

Stay Active

Getting out of the house and into the community is a great way to stay active. Senior living communities depend on volunteers to help entertain, lead exercise programs and guide crafting groups. Volunteer visits are always a highlight of the week at senior living communities. So if you need an extra push to get going and get off the couch, there’s no better way to spend your free time.

Find a New Friend

Do you love to travel? Read? Play games? Create art? Watch sports? Garden? That’s wonderful, we love those things too! Friendship is never in short supply at our senior living communities and we have a pal for every personality. As the saying goes, it’s all about who you know.

Bask in the Benefits

Studies show there are some unexpected physical and emotional benefits of volunteerism. Volunteers enjoy a sense of purpose, a deeper sense of empathy and connection to the community, increased life satisfaction, lower blood pressure, reduced stress and decreased risk of depression.


Make the most of your time and volunteer! To get involved with a senior living community near you, just call. The community will be so glad to hear from you and the residents will soon be your new best friends.

Summer Reading Recommendations

The long days of summer are great for getting lost in a new book. A good book can immerse you in history, carry you away to distant lands, and ignite your imagination – all without leaving the comfort of your air conditioning. We know it can be easy to get lost in a library, so we’re here to help you find your next page turner!

A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.

–Neil Gaiman

Midwest Health Summer Book Recommendations

 

Doris from Homestead of Oskaloosa

Tara Road by Maeve Binchy

At Homestead of Oskaloosa, resident volunteer, Doris Bates, leads the reading group three times a week and recommends Tara Road by Maeve Binchy. She says “It’s a good read! It’s different from what we’re used to, cause the author is not American, but an Irish woman. The book has a slower start, but we predict that things will become more exciting as things are starting to build up. We think things are soon going to get very interesting.” The group at Homestead of Oskaloosa can’t wait to turn the next page to find out!

Where the Wild Rose Blooms by Lori Wick

Doris, Judy, and Mary Ann from Homestead of Knoxville

Doris Krpan of Homestead of Knoxville recommends Where the Wild Rose Blooms by Lori Wick. Set in the Colorado around the 1860’s, the author transports readers to the wild frontier. This novel is full of romance to make you swoon, secrets to intrigue you, and characters that will draw you in.

Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill

A vivid memoir by Jackie Kennedy’s personal secret service agent tops Judy Herwehe of Homestead of Knoxville’s list of summer reading recommendations. The book details Mr. Hill’s service to the first family leading up to and following the tragic assassination of our 35th President. Told with affection, respect, and wit, this account of the Camelot Era will keep you enthralled.

The Rainmaker by John Grisham

John Grisham is a literary legend for a reason. Mary Ann, also from Homestead of Knoxville, recommends Grisham’s early legal thrillers. Her favorite, The Rainmaker, is set in the sweltering heat of Memphis and follows a down-on-his-luck lawyer, Rudy Baylor, as he fights a corrupt insurance company for a major payout.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Mary Ann offers a second recommendation that is a perfect group read. So grab a friend or two and pick up Orphan Train. The story follows two women from different eras as they become unlikely friends, bonded by their experiences of growing up on their own. Book groups will enjoy discussing the relationship between the two protagonists and their experiences. The author’s website offers discussion questions to get you started!

Make Hearing A Priority Today

Having a little trouble hearing? It can be difficult to admit that hearing loss is affecting your day, but you’re not alone. In adults, aged 65 and older, one in three lives with hearing loss. Unfortunately, there is no cure for age-related hearing loss but there are ways to minimize its impact on your day-to-day life. Putting the issue off another day, another week, or another year can be tempting, but don’t! Your health and happiness may depend on it.

Risks of Untreated Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can impact your life in ways you might not expect. In addition to safety concerns that arise when not being able to hear your surroundings, loss of hearing can strain relationships and impact your health.

Family members may find themselves frustrated when communicating with a loved one experiencing untreated hearing loss. Seniors who live with hearing loss often report feelings of isolation and depression. Further, some studies suggest there is a correlation between dementia and hearing loss.

How to Spot Hearing Loss

In seniors, hearing loss is typically gradual so you may not notice hearing loss right away. Being aware of the first signs can help you recognize and address issues as they arise.

Seniors experiencing mild hearing loss may:

  • Feel like the people around them are mumbling more often or not speaking clearly enough
  • Have trouble understanding speech in group settings where two or more people may cross-talk
  • Miss subtle sounds like microwave beeps, birds chirping, or the click of a turn signal
  • Strain to follow conversation in crowded areas like restaurants, planes, and family gatherings

Find Help with Hearing

Remember you’re not alone. Be as open as you can with friends and family. Asking loved ones to help out by speaking clearly and facing you as they speak will make a world of difference.

But don’t stop there, take action today! Schedule a visit with your doctor, an otolaryngologist, or an audiologist to discuss your options. You may also test your hearing at home by taking the National Hearing Test. The test uses an online form and your landline phone to check your hearing and is free once per year to AARP members. Most hearing issues can be greatly improved by non-intrusive, discrete assistive devices.

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Ready? Set. Summer! 5 Ways to Stay Busy this Season

Do you hear, in the distance, an ice cream truck playing a catchy tune? Can you see the brilliant colors in the evening sky as long days fade? Can you hear the birds and squirrels playing in the sun? Summer is here and it’s ripe for making new memories. It would be a shame to spend the season indoors when there is so much to do around you. The hardest part will be picking what to do first!


Hook, Line, and Sinker

The warm weather means it’s fishing season! There’s no better season to enjoy some time by the water with your rod and reel. Some states like Nebraska and Oklahoma offer discounted fishing licensing for seniors and others, including Iowa and Kansas, offer deeply discounted lifetime licenses. Check with your local senior center, parks and recreation department, or retirement community to see if you can join their next fishing expedition.

State Fairs

A fair is an unforgettable experience for all ages. From the funnel cake to the 4H programs, there’s so much you can see and experience. Enjoy the nostalgia as you stroll the midway, take in the music and entertainment, and visit the various vendors. Check your state fair to see if they offer discounted tickets for seniors or special “older citizen” days. No matter when you go, you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of your nearest and dearest neighbors.

Let’s Play Ball

Catch a baseball game and maybe a foul ball! Enjoy a hot dog and beer while you relax in the camaraderie of cheering for the home team. Major league, minor league, and little league teams offer a variety of skill levels and price points for all fans. Check team websites to find value dates or games with special pricing.

Flea Markets, Craft Fairs, and Farmer’s Markets

Find your next treasure, trinket, or tasty treat at a summer flea market, craft fair or farmer’s market. Fresh air and friendly faces are always in good supply at these quaint events. Hone your haggling skills at a flea market, find a one of a kind creation at a craft fair, or find out where your food comes from at a farmer’s market. Your senses will be delighted by all there is to enjoy.

Marvel in a Museum

Play a tourist for a day and see what you discover. Determine to look at your surroundings with fresh eyes and you’ll wonder at what you find. Check out your city or county museums, historical landmarks, and legendary locations. Take your time! Read plaques, talk to a friendly museum volunteer, or just ask someone you don’t know what they recommend you check out. Pretend to be new to town and your town will become new to you!

Helpful Gadgets That Don’t Break the Bank

Necessity is the mother of invention. With life expectancies soaring, the demand for tools that make life easier, healthier, and safer for seniors is booming. Over the years, clever inventors have answered the call. Even as technology advances, becoming more affordable each year, some solutions remain simple. And each new tool for seniors presents an opportunity to improve health and happiness.

For seniors on fixed incomes, the newest shiniest tech may not be the most prudent investment. However, a few well-researched purchases can help you make the most out of every day.


PulseOx Reader

Pulse Oximeter

This little gadget is one you may already be familiar with. Used at many hospitals and doctors’ offices to record vitals, it can also support your continued health at home! Track your pulse and oxygen level to establish a baseline and spot any inconsistencies. The tool may be especially helpful for those with heart conditions or low oxygen levels, allowing you to identify activities that contribute to low oxygen levels or an increase in heart rate.

Available for less than $20, better health is at your fingertips.

Pedometer

Programmable Pedometer

Step up your fitness game with a pedometer! Say no to the sofa and walk this way for better health. Walking is one of the best and easiest ways to build muscle, improve balance, and maintain stability. Being mindful of your movement is half the battle and a pedometer will remind you to shake a leg.

Pedometers range from very simple versions that count and record steps to deluxe watches that will monitor your heart rate, remind you to move if you sit still for too long, and track your progress. For around $15, a pedometer can help keep you on your toes.

Medication Reminder

Staying healthy is a morning, noon, and night affair. Don’t play a guessing game with your medications. There are countless gadgets out there to help keep you on track, it’s important to find the right one for you. Medication reminders can get a little pricey, but trust us, you’re worth it! Below you’ll find three affordable options.

Bottle-Top Timer:

Bottle-Top Timer

If you have just a few medications, these simple caps may work well for you. They track the last time you opened the medication. Not sure if you took it? A quick glance will let you know. Child safety options are included and no programming is required.

Two Bottle Top Timers for $20

Medication Organizer with Four Digital Alarms:

Digital Medication Reminder

This compact pill organizer with alarm is great for at home or on-the-go use. Program up to four dose reminder alarms and fill the week’s worth of compartments with your meds. Headed out for the day? Grab your day’s meds and the alarm portion and hit the road without missing a beat.

7-Day Organizer: $9

Medisafe:

Medisafe App

For tech-savvy seniors who can navigate a smartphone with ease, try Medisafe. The app schedules an alarm for each dose and sends an illustration of the medication’s appearance to avoid confusion. Family caregivers will love the app’s text message, phone or email alerts in the event that a dose has been missed by your loved one. Another useful feature tracks remaining pills and sends a reminder when it’s time to call in a refill, resulting in fewer missed doses.

The app is a free download for Android and Apple OS.

Swivel Seat

Swivel Seat

A simple solution for a common problem. Stepping in and out of a car is treacherous for seniors who may not enjoy the flexibility and balance of youth. This cushioned swivel seat eliminates the acrobatics of swinging your legs out of the car and allows you to stick your landing. With your legs and shoulders square you have a solid base to help you stand steady as you exit your vehicle.

The seat is available in several colors to match your interior and will set you back about $20.

Card Holder

Curved Card Holders

Arthritis can make holding your cards painful, but this hands-free approach keeps you in the game. The curved shape of the card holder means your hand stays hidden and you keep your edge.

For $10 you can play on, pain-free and be the envy of your bridge group.

Grabber

Don’t teeter on tip toes. Grab your grabber! The grabber tool is an old favorite. In fact, a very old favorite. The design we recognize now was fashioned by Benjamin Franklin to reach books on high shelves. While the specific features have been refined since its invention, the function of the grabber remains essentially unchanged. The tool allows you to safely and easily maneuver and acquire items on the upper shelves while keeping your feet firmly on the floor.

For less than $15 you can pull the trigger on a grabber of your own and become the king or queen of your cabinets.

Classic Grabber

Never Too Old – Senior Stories to Inspire

Today is the day to stop saying “I’m too old for _.” While some seniors may want to slow down in retirement, others are proving that you’re never too old to do the things you love.  This week we were inspired by seniors who are defying expectation and pursuing their dreams with incredible results.


You’re never too old to…

Learn

In November of 2016, Amy Craton earned her Bachelor of Arts from Southern New Hampshire University. At 94 years-old, Craton completed her degree with a 4.0 GPA. In doing so she became one of the oldest college graduates in the country. With her bachelor’s degree complete, Craton has already started taking courses to complete her Master’s degree. She encourages others to never stop learning saying, “If you’re thinking about going back to school, do it. You’ll open up a whole new life.”

Amy Craton’s quest for education has been featured on TODAY and SNHU’s website.

Amy Craton, 94, featured with her degree on TODAY

Find Your Passion

After 30 years as a lawyer, followed by a handful of years as a primary school teacher, David Evans found his passion as an unlikely fashion blogger. After retiring from his previous professions, Evans set out to write a book. His first step: start a blog to hone his writing skills. In his search for a topic, Evans stumbled upon a fashion blog for senior women. He browsed the internet for an equivalent resource for mature men and found none. Inspired by the artful photography and a desire to improve his own style, he began writing about fashion. In a short time, The Grey Fox blog was born and Evans found his style.

Five years on and Evans has proved to be a skilled writer and savvy style icon. He is a frequent contributor to UK men’s fashion magazines, photographer, and occasional model. His blog continues to thrive proving it’s never too late to find your passion.

Visit David at Grey Fox Blog to find your new favorite look.

David Evans for Grey Fox Blog

Get Active

Senior cyclist Jim McClain, age 81, loves riding near his home in Colorado. For 15 years McClain and the members of the Sticky Bun Riders club have gotten together on Sundays to enjoy the health benefits of both cycling and good company. The senior members credit the club and cycling for keeping them fit and healthy well into their golden years. There are lots of laughs on their rides, but the club has remained strong due to a belief that the time they invest in exercising will continue to improve their overall quality of life.

The Sticky Bun Riders were recently featured in the Denver Post.

Members of the Sticky Bun Riders Club featured in the Denver Post

Explore the World

More than a decade ago, Donna L. Hull and Alan Hull started a travel blog. My Itchy Travel Feet began as a way to keep in touch with family friends during a 42-day cruise. The Montana-based baby boomer couple found they made the perfect team. Donna took to writing the blog and Alan manned the camera to document their travels. What started as a personal account of their adventures quickly turned into a comprehensive guide to travel from a baby-boomer perspective. Their website now features themed trips, travel resources, and travel gear recommendations specifically for the senior adventurer.

To get to know the Hulls and find your travel inspiration check out My Itchy Travel Feet: The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel.

Alan and Donna Hull in Antarctica for My Itchy Travel Feet Blog