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Winter Safety for Older Adults

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Older adults are at a higher risk for health problems and injuries as the temperatures drop. In Maryland, the colder temperatures can be hazardous, potentially leading to frostbite, slips on ice or hypothermia. For older adults, any of these incidents can quickly become serious. You can take a few precautions to ensure a loved one’s safety and happiness. Continue reading for wellness tips, exercises and ways older adults can combat loneliness in the winter. 

How Health Conditions Interact With Cold Weather

Everyone deserves to have security throughout the winter. Still, some health conditions can make it dangerous for older adults to be in cold weather, causing their bodies to work harder to stay warm. Be mindful of how the following health conditions interact with the cold. 

  • Diabetes: Colder temperatures make managing blood glucose levels challenging. The weather can keep blood from flowing normally to provide warmth. 
  • Asthma: People with asthma experience shortness of breath or wheezing that can intensify in cold weather as their airways become constricted
  • Parkinson’s disease and arthritis: Parkinson’s disease and arthritis can come with mobility challenges, making it more difficult for older adults to dress warmly, use blankets or go indoors. 
  • Thyroid problems: Thyroid problems can slow metabolism and cause the core body temperature to drop. As a result, people with thyroid problems may have a low tolerance for the cold and have difficulties maintaining normal body temperature. 
  • Memory loss: Memory challenges can cause a person to go outside without suitable clothing or emergency supplies, such as a cellphone or cane. 

Consult with a health care provider to prevent any health-related challenges in the winter months. Physicians can ensure older adults take their medications regularly and note expired drugs. They can also recommend ways to avoid hypothermia and keep warm in the winter.

Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults in Bethesda, Md.

Ice, snow and cold temperatures can lead to slippery sidewalks, and cold weather can increase the risk of illnesses and injuries, especially among the aging population. 

Here are a few winter safety risks and precautions you can take to keep an older friend or family member safe.

Fall Hazards

Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal and fatal injuries among older adults. With snow and ice building up in the winter, simple activities like walking to the car or mailbox can become treacherous. Fortunately, they can take several precautions to avoid slipping and falling on ice:

  • Ensure steps and walkways are clear before walking.
  • Wear boots with non-skid soles.
  • Use canes with attachments that can provide traction in the snow.
  • Hire someone to clear away snow and salt walkways around the home.
  • Schedule home deliveries for groceries or prescriptions to avoid going outside in icy conditions.

Fire and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

During the winter, many people rely on fireplaces or other heating sources like natural gas and kerosene. However, fireplaces and gas appliances can leak dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide — a deadly gas you cannot see or smell. These appliances can also be fire hazards. Warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea or vomiting, weakness, confusion or blurred vision.

To keep friends and family members safe, take the following precautions:

  • Call an inspector to ensure all appliances are safe, including chimneys and flues.
  • Open a window when using a kerosene stove.
  • Be sure smoke detectors are in good working condition.
  • Exercise caution with space heaters — do not leave them running unattended.
  • Make sure space heaters are at least three feet away from anything flammable.
  • Keep a functioning fire extinguisher in the house.
  • Never use appliances like gas stoves or charcoal grills for home heating.

If you believe someone you know has carbon monoxide poisoning, get them into fresh air and call for medical care immediately. 

Accidents While Driving

Older adults get in more vehicle accidents per mile than any other demographic. Unpredictable weather conditions and sometimes hidden road barriers can increase the chances of an accident. Ensure your friend or family member prepares their car for winter with antifreeze and a heating and cooling inspection. 

If they must travel in winter conditions, ensure they have the following supplies in their car:  

  • First-aid kit
  • Cellphone
  • Windshield scraper
  • Booster cables
  • Blankets
  • Shovel
  • Flashlight
  • Extra clothes
  • Rock salt
  • Water
  • Canned or dried foods

Having the above supplies can keep them prepared to handle an emergency. 


As we grow older, we lose body heat much faster than when we were young. Older adults often produce less body heat and experience changes that make it more challenging to be aware of getting cold. As a result, winter temperatures can become dangerous before an older person even knows what is happening. 

If body temperatures drop too low, hypothermia can set in. Older adults have an increased risk of hypothermia, which can occur when exposed to freezing temperatures for an extended time. Warning signs of hypothermia include:

  • Cold, pale and ashy skin
  • Feeling weak, tired and confused
  • Problems walking
  • Anger or confusion
  • Puffy or swollen face
  • Slowed breathing or heart rate
  • Slower-than-usual speech
  • Losing consciousness

To stay warm as an older adult in Bethesda, Md., take the following precautions: 

  • Stay indoors in frigid temperatures.
  • If you must venture outdoors, dress warmly and don’t stay out for too long.
  • Keep indoor temperatures at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.
  • Stay dry, since wet clothing can cause the body to lose heat faster.
  • Wear a waterproof jacket or coat.
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting clothing.
  • Wear hats, gloves, a winter coat, boots and a scarf to cover your mouth and nose outdoors. 

Living in a cold house, apartment or an assisted living center can also cause hypothermia. Pay close attention to the inside temperature and ensure your friend or family member wears plenty of warm clothes if they live alone. 


Frostbite is a condition caused by freezing temperature damage to the skin. Common areas for frostbite include the nose, ears, chin, cheeks, fingers and toes. Severe frostbite can result in a loss of limbs. Older adults with heart disease or circulation problems are at an increased risk

Cover all body parts when venturing outdoors to prevent frostbite in the winter. If you notice red or dark skin that hurts, ensure your friend or family member goes back inside right away. Other signs of frostbite include:

  • White, ashy or gray-yellow skin
  • Hard or waxy skin
  • Numbness

If you notice that someone has frostbite, run the affected area under warm water and call for emergency medical help.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Older adults are at risk of depression and can be especially susceptible to it in the colder months. Because it can be challenging and risky to travel, many older adults have less contact with friends or family, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Seasonal affective disorder occurs when a person has a lower mood in the fall and winter as the days get shorter

Watch for signs of seasonal depression, such as:

  • Mood swings and sudden behavioral changes 
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Changes in sleep patterns, weight, appetite or hygiene

If you notice signs of seasonal depression as an older adult in Bethesda, Md., consult with a health care provider or mental health professional. They may help determine whether your symptoms meet the criteria for SAD and provide counseling or medication to treat symptoms. Family members can check in on older adults or hire caregivers to provide companionship throughout the winter. A daily phone call can also improve their mental health by combating loneliness.

Should I Shovel Snow as an Older Adult in Bethesda, Md.? 

As the snow and ice build up, older adults often wonder whether they should shovel their homes or hire a service. The answer to the question will depend on a few factors. In colder temperatures, the heart works overtime to move blood in the body and keep us warm. Activities like shoveling snow can put too much strain on the heart, especially on those who have heart disease. Shoveling can also be dangerous for people with balance problems or osteoporosis.

Older adults should consult a health care provider about whether shoveling and other outdoor winter tasks are safe for them. If they decide to shovel, it’s essential to take the above precautions to prevent falling, hypothermia, frostbite or health complications.

How to Winterproof a Home

To winterproof a home, follow these instructions.

  • Set the heat to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit: To prevent hypothermia, you should set your family member’s indoor temperature at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. You can help save on heating bills by closing doors to unused rooms. You can also place a rolled towel in front of each door to keep out drafts.
  • Keep curtains closed: Ensure the house isn’t losing heat through the windows. Keep curtains and blinds closed and apply weatherstripping or caulk to keep the cold air out in the winter.
  • Dress warmly: Blankets, socks and slippers come in handy in the colder months. Older adults should dress warmly indoors and layer up when leaving the house.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation: Alcoholic drinks can make you lose body heat, so it’s best to avoid or limit alcohol consumption.
  • Check on family members: Remember to check up on older adults in the cold weather. Try to stay with them if a power outage leaves them without heat.
  • Be careful with space heaters: While it can be tempting to warm a room with a space heater, remember that some can be a fire hazard or lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • Stock up on essential items: Older adults should stock up on basic supplies like nonperishable food and water in case severe weather makes it dangerous to leave home for a few days. Keep flashlights and batteries at the ready as well. 
  • Hire in-home assistance: While many older adults care for themselves, others require in-home care services. Arrange these services for someone close to you during weather emergencies and to help them through the winter season. Professional caregivers can help with general tasks that are often more difficult with treacherous roadways or without electricity.

Following the above steps can ensure someone close to you is safe and cozy throughout the winter. 

How to Stay Active in the Winter in Bethesda, Md.

Exercise is vital for people of all ages, especially older adults. Staying active can reduce their risk of chronic health conditions and improve strength, mood and balance to prevent injuries or seasonal depression in the winter. To get moving and stay healthy amid challenges posed by the winter, follow these tips. 

  • Use library resources: An easy way to maintain physical activity is to use resources available at the public library. Many libraries provide access to exercise videos and books that focus on safe, low-impact movements for older adults. 
  • Do virtual workout classes: Older adults can attend a virtual fitness class instead of venturing outdoors in treacherous conditions. Look for local fitness clubs and other resources for older adults that provide virtual classes or one-on-one training. 
  • Follow online videos: Search for exercise programs specifically for older adults that include activities like stretching, strength training and low-impact cardio.
  • Incorporate movement in the day: While weather conditions might be dangerous, that doesn’t mean older adults can’t get up and move indoors. Have your older family member schedule activities into their days, such as marching in place during a favorite show’s commercial break or doing squats while making lunch. 

Talk to a health care provider before participating in the following exercises. Older adults with a history or falls, heart disease or vertigo should find the activities right for them. Here are some examples of exercises they might incorporate into their winter routine. 

  • Endurance: These types of exercises increase breathing and heart rate. Examples include climbing stairs, dancing or brisk walking. 
  • Strength: Strong muscles can help older adults stay independent and complete everyday tasks much more easily. Examples include using resistance bands or lifting weights. 
  • Balance: These activities can reduce an older adult’s risk of falls. Examples include standing on one foot and then the other, marching in place or doing yoga positions like the tree pose. 
  • Flexibility: Any exercises that incorporate stretching and flexibility can increase a person’s range of motion and make daily tasks easier. Chair yoga is an excellent way for older adults to maintain flexibility. 

Schedule Home Care Assistance at Corewood Care

From hypothermia and fall-related injuries to seasonal affective disorder, the winter can come with several challenges for older adults. If you have an older adult in your life who you care about, consider home care assistance services from Corewood Care. We offer services throughout the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, providing companionship and personal care services and ensuring safe transportation during the winter. 

Our compassionate caregivers can also provide light housekeeping to prevent falls in the home, ensure daily nutrition and encourage physical activity. We also offer social and emotional support for your loved one when you can’t be with them. To learn more about our services, contact us today. 

Should I Get a Flu Shot or COVID-19 Booster This Winter?

Getting a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccination or booster are two easy ways for people to protect themselves and their families against illness. Getting vaccinated is especially important for older adults who are at a higher risk for health complications caused by these illnesses. Many people can even receive both vaccines at the same time. 

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between COVID-19 and flu vaccines and their benefits.

Should Older Adults Get a Flu Shot or COVID Booster?

Older adults should get both shots to protect themselves from influenza and COVID-19, which can pose serious health risks for people over 65. These vaccines can help protect you and those around you, and getting both at the same time is both convenient and safe. 

The symptoms of flu and COVID-19 can be similar, and people can be infected with them simultaneously, with symptoms posing a severe risk for adults 65 and over. That’s why experts advise the best thing you can do to protect yourself and prevent hospitals from overflowing is to get immunized against these circulating viruses. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends older adults get a higher dosage or adjuvant flu vaccine since it can be more effective than standard-dose flu vaccines. In fall 2022, they also recommended the bivalent COVID-19 booster for those older than 5 who have already completed the first series if it has been at least two months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Older adults should speak to their health care provider for information about these vaccines to learn what is best for them. 

Differences Between the Flu and COVID Shot

There are several differences between the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. While these illnesses have similar symptoms, they are not caused by the same virus. Therefore, flu and COVID-19 vaccines are designed to protect against the specific viruses that cause their illnesses.

The updated COVID-19 bivalent booster targets the original virus that causes COVID-19 and its variants. It is especially helpful for older adults and people at heightened risk for severe illness and death. In contrast, the flu shot protects against the four influenza viruses that research predicts will be most common during the upcoming season. 

From what researchers know, COVID-19 spreads more easily than the flu and causes more severe illness in some people. People with COVID-19 may take longer to display symptoms and can be contagious for longer. That’s why many efforts have been made to encourage people to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines to reduce the risk of severe symptoms. 

Like the flu shot, the COVID-19 vaccine causes an immune response, developing antibodies to protect you from getting sick.

 Benefits of the Flu and COVID Shot 

Getting the flu and COVID-19 shot presents several benefits. Influenza can cause serious complications, especially for older adults and people with certain medical conditions. By many estimates, the flu causes more than 400,000 hospital stays and 50,000 deaths yearly. 

The CDC finds that the flu vaccination reduces the risk of medically attended illness by more than 60% among people 65 and older. It also reduces the risk of severe complications and even death caused by influenza. The same can be said about the COVID-19 vaccine, which can reduce morbidity and mortality for older adults at increased risk of health complications. 

Protecting from these illnesses also relieves strain on family members and caregivers. By getting the COVID-19 booster and flu shot, you can stay healthy and spend more time with friends and family. 

Flu and COVID Vaccine FAQ

Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the flu and COVID-19 vaccines:

Can the COVID Booster or Flu Shot Make Me Sick?

You can’t get a cold or flu from the flu shot since the vaccine is made from an inactivated virus. However, some people may experience mild symptoms. Additionally, it takes up to two weeks to get protection from the vaccine, so it’s possible to get the flu in that time. 

Side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine can occur as the body builds protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Symptoms vary from person to person — some people experience mild discomfort, while others have side effects that disrupt their daily activities. 

The booster shot can cause mild to moderate symptoms like:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Pain at the injection site

How Often Should I Get a Flu Shot?

The CDC recommends people get vaccinated once a year by the end of October, though getting it after can still provide protection during the peak of flu season. 

Since flu viruses change quickly, last year’s vaccine may not protect you from this year’s virus. New vaccines are released yearly to keep up with these changes. While the vaccine helps your immune system makes antibodies to protect against the virus, they can decline over time, making it beneficial to get the flu shot every year. 

People are best protected from illness when they stay up to date on recommended doses and boosters when eligible. The best advice is to discuss the vaccines with your health provider to learn more about the vaccine and what is best for you. 

Can I Get a Flu Shot and Booster Shot at the Same Time?

Yes, the CDC has determined it is safe to get the flu shot and COVID-19 booster simultaneously. Getting both can ensure that you get all of the necessary vaccines in case you cannot return for additional vaccines at a later time. 

Where to Get Flu Shots and COVID Booster Near Me? 

Many clinics provide free community vaccines throughout the D.C. Metropolitan area. You can get a COVID-19 booster in Bethesda, MD, by going to the Maryland Department of Health website and scheduling an appointment. You can get a flu shot in Bethesda, MD, by scheduling an appointment on the Montgomery county health department website. You can also receive a flu shot and COVID-19 booster from your health care provider or neighborhood pharmacy. 

Additionally, you can search for vaccination clinics on the Vaccinate Virginia website

Corewood Care Can Provide Transportation Services to Receive Your Vaccines and More 

With flu season lasting from October through February, it’s essential for older adults to get their vaccinations to protect themselves. Pairing it with the COVID-19 vaccination adds extra protection from health complications caused by both viruses.

Are you or someone you know interested in transportation services to receive vaccines? Or do they need help around the house as the side effects linger for a short time? Learn more about Corewood Care’s senior home care and personal care services. Our caregivers are some of the best in the industry and can provide care that addresses mental, physical and emotional health. We offer services throughout the D.C. Metropolitan area.

To learn more about our services, contact us today.

Care Manager – December Newsletter

The Holidays are Here!

The holidays are here, and our care managers are often asked about gift suggestions for people living with dementia. It is wonderful to continue the tradition of gift giving, so we have put our heads together to come up with different categories and examples of possible gifts appropriate at different stages of dementia. (Please remember that you know your loved one best, and these are general suggestions).

Stages of Dementia

Early to Mid-Stages of Dementia: Gift suggestions for people living with dementia that are managing in their daily lives but notice a decline in one or more areas of cognition.

Arts and Engagement Art and music activities are great gift ideas. Plus they are good for the brain!

Home – Discovery Paks

Share their stories Creating opportunities for family member to share their memories and commemorating them is a gift for you as well. It can be as simple as asking questions while recording on your phone or use an outside company. Here are suggestions:

Read about others’ journeys with dementia People living with dementia share their experiences and hopefully connect with what your loved one is feeling

Brain Games Keeping the brain engaged is important during the early to mid-stages of dementia. Here is an example.

Keep the Mind Alert and Active with Easy Word Searches in LARGE Print | Activity Books for Dementia, Memory Loss and Alzheimer’s | Alzstore

Middle Stages of Dementia

These suggestions focus on activities that you might have enjoyed previously with your loved one, but these gifts have slight adjustments to accommodate their current abilities.

Arts and Creativity

Painting made simple

Communication and Conversation starters Conversation cards for Adults with Memory Loss


Research shows that we hold on to the music we heard in our youth. Here is one option to consider:

Simplified Music Player For Alzheimer’s and Dementia | Simple MP3 Music Player for Seniors and Elderly with Limited Hand Coordination or Arthritis | Easy to Use and Easy to Play Music | Preloaded w/ music or Upload Your Own | SMPL | Alzstore

Later Stages of Dementia

As your family member is experiencing the changes in the later stages of dementia, sensory items are enjoyable. Tailor them to their interests. Activities that are simpler and larger have the most success. It might take a few tries before they participate with you.

Art and Creativity

Sensory Exploration Items allow your family member to explore safely a smaller world at their fingertips. These sensory items have demonstrated to reduce anxiety for people who are no longer able to express their thoughts and feelings. Here is an example:

Animatronic Animals are wonderful companions if appropriate for your family member. It is best to get this recommendation from a professional. Here is an example of one.

Color match dominoes: Here is one suggestion of an activity for someone that loved dominoes.

Buy Jumbo Color Dominoes at S&S Worldwide (

What to Do When Your Loved One Won’t Accept Care & Assistance

Are you struggling to persuade an aging parent to consider additional support? You aren’t alone. This struggle is more common than you might think. Many adult children don’t know what to do when their parents refuse help at home. 

While many older adults resist care, those who accept and receive care prefer home and community-based care over long term care communities such as assisted living facilities and nursing homes. 

In this guide, you’ll learn why your parent might be refusing care and what to do when they won’t listen to your reasoning. We will also share practical communication tips for having these types of conversations and managing the stresses associated with caring for an elderly parent. 

Common Reasons Older Adults and Elderly Parents Refuse Help

There are many reasons your parent might refuse help, including the loss of independence, anxiety about impending changes or fear of change of what once was. For this reason, it’s best to speak with your parent one-on-one to better understand their concerns.

Common reasons for resistance to care or in-home help include: 

  • Loss of Independence: Change is difficult, especially for those who believe they might lose part of their independence. 
  • Loss of control: The household decision maker is no longer in the driver seat – a parent who was once the head of the household or who made all family decisions may dread this loss of control. 
  • Shame, embarrassment or fear: Your parent might feel ashamed, embarrassed or fearful of recent changes in their cognitive or physical state.
  • Failure to recognize changes: Your parent might not recognize — or wish to ignore — their changing or diminished physical and mental capabilities.

What to Do When Your Elderly Parents Won’t Listen to You

If your parent continues to decline the suggestion of home care services, start with the following strategies.

Have an Open-Minded Discussion With Your Parent

It’s challenging to step back and listen to a parent who refuses care when the writing is on the wall. After all, they’re your parents. You want the best for them. While it’s tempting to believe you hold all the answers, your elderly parent has the right to refuse home care if they’re independent and able to make their own decisions. 

First, take a step back to collect your thoughts and emotions. When you’re ready, sit down and have an open-minded discussion with your parent. During your conversation, ask them what their honest thoughts, concerns and fears are about accepting help, and be sure to listen thoroughly before you respond.

Remember — always speak in an uplifting manner and avoid pressuring them or using condescending tones.

Assess Your Parent’s Current Home Situation

Evaluate your parent’s current living conditions, day-to-day activities and physical and mental health. Identify what tasks your parent can’t complete independently to pinpoint where they need assistance. For example, your parent might need help with the laundry if their laundry room is located up or down a flight of steps. 

Ask your parent to be a part of this process. Being involved is vital for their sense of control. However, they might not wish to be fully honest with you out of shame or embarrassment, so be sure to address this. State frankly but politely what you have seen them struggle with and what services you believe might benefit them. 

Get a Second Opinion From a Trusted Individual

Your parents might struggle to take your concerns seriously. To them, it doesn’t feel like that long ago that you were the one that relied on them. They are used to being the caregiver in your relationship. However, your roles are slowly reversing — so fear or stubbornness might cloud their judgment.

To combat this, ask a trusted third party to sit in on a discussion with you and your parent. This person should be someone your elderly parent trusts and admires, like a spiritual guide, or a professional, like a care manager.  A second opinion about the benefits of home care services aired by a trusted authority or seasoned professional might reach them in ways you — as their child — could not. 

How to Communicate With Your Aging Parents

Here are some practical ways to communicate with your aging parents and present different home care options tactfully: 

  • Practice patience: It’s paramount you are patient with your aging parent. Always consider their perspective. Take deep breaths before responding, and be intentional with your reactions.
  • Share your concerns: Share your concerns with your parent, especially if you or an elderly spouse is their primary caregiver. Explain the potential consequences of relying on an aging spouse or how challenging it is to keep up with their care. Doing so ensures they understand your perspective, too. 
  • Point out needs: The next time you notice your parent’s housework has fallen behind, they are wearing soiled clothes or they’re feeling lonely, bring up the topic of home care. Suggest they consider selecting a few critical tasks they might need help with. 
  • Provide options: Whenever you discuss home care, make sure your parent understands what it is. Discuss the different services available to them. Let them know they can choose the kind of in-home help they receive and how often. 
  • Emphasize benefits: Explain the benefits of home care that your parent might not have considered before. They will preserve energy, meet new people, have more time and energy for activities they enjoy and remain independent longer.

Tips for Dealing With the Stresses of Caring for an Aging Parent

It’s emotionally taxing caring for an aging parent who refuses help. You might even be struggling with guilt or doubting the idea of home care altogether due to their adverse reaction. However, it’s okay to suggest your parent seek help — if only to give you or their primary caregiver some much-needed respite.  

Keep the following tips in mind when dealing with the stresses of caring for an aging parent:

  • Be kind to yourself: You might accidentally say something hurtful or become emotional during a tough conversation. Forgive yourself, ask for forgiveness and try to approach the subject again after the dust has settled. 
  • Accept the situation: Your parent has the right to refuse in-home help. Try to accept the situation for what it is for your peace of mind. Know you’ve done everything possible to get your parent the help they need. Enlist the help of friends or family members to provide care in the interim.  
  • Seek guidance or counseling: If you’re taking on the responsibility of caring for an elderly parent alone, seek support from a trusted individual or professional counselor. Without respite and support, your emotional needs become neglected, making caring for your parent even more challenging.

Contact Corewood Care Today for Senior Home Care Services

When your parent is ready to consider home care services, turn to Corewood Care. Our friendly team of reliable caregivers specializes in round-the-clock senior home care support services

We proactively prevent and mitigate risks at home so your parent can thrive and live independently. We’ll provide you and your parent the guidance, tools and options to make the best, most informed care decisions possible. 

Contact us today to schedule your free assessment and determine whether our caregivers are the right fit for your loved one.

Memory Health Aids for Seniors

As we age, exercising the mind is just as important as physical fitness. While forgetfulness can be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s also a common sign of aging. It may not be preventable, though memory aids and memory-boosting activities can help slow the process. Memory games and aids are also a great way to reduce stress and have fun.

Let’s explore fun ways to help older adults retain the best cognitive health and memory possible.

Top 5 Memory Games for Older Adults 

Memory training for older adults is critical. Here are a few memory-boosting activities and fun memory games for older adults. 

1. Chess 

Chess is a game of strategy that can help build logical reasoning and problem-solving skills among older adults. If you have an older adult family member, they may feel that playing chess will be too complicated. However, when they get the hang of it, they’ll see that it’s fairly accessible and can provide benefits like increased IQ and better focus. 

A 2019 study found that playing chess can also help protect older people from dementia due to the complex mental flexibility it requires. Chess is an excellent activity to help older adults reduce cognitive decline by challenging memory, calculation, critical thinking and visual-spatial skills. 

2. Word Puzzles

Word puzzles are an engaging yet challenging activity to strengthen an older adult’s cognition. Research shows that crossword puzzles in particular can improve older adults’ brain health by strengthening focus, executive function and memory. These skills can help older adults navigate everyday challenges and remain independent longer. Another study reports that people who play word puzzles function 10 years younger than their biological ages. 

Get your family member’s brain buzzing with word puzzles. A few examples of these fun memory games include:

  • Word search
  • Crosswords 
  • Finish the saying
  • Boggle
  • Hangman

3. Bird Watching 

Bird watching is an excellent memory-boosting activity for older adults. While our brains work in a use-it-or-lose-it fashion, bird watching can help keep the brain active and sharp. By watching birds and identifying the types, older adults can activate different brain regions and enhance their memory.

This relaxing hobby can also help older adults feel a sense of calm and have greater peace of mind. While birdwatching, they can immerse themselves in the activity and be more present. There are so many beautiful colors and types of birds to learn about and memorize, making a trip to a nearby park an excellent way for older adults to spend their time.

4. Identify Botanicals

Like bird watching, identifying botanicals is a fantastic way for older adults to immerse themselves in nature and improve memory. Many studies point to the advantages of getting outside, including possibly reducing mortality, contributing to better physical well-being and improving emotional health. 

Exposure to natural environments can also improve cognitive flexibility and attentional control. Learning about and identifying plant species makes excellent memory training for older adults. Visiting a park or simply enjoying time in the garden can help stimulate the brain and positively impact mental health. 

5. Trivia Games

Trivia is a fun and engaging way to stimulate older adults’ minds. With an infinite number of online trivia topics, all you need to do is decide on a theme and whether the activity will be solitary or for a group. Creating teams adds competition, and you could even reward winners with a small prize. Answers can be called out or written down depending on the older adults’ abilities. 

A few trivia topic ideas include: 

  • Musicals
  • Movies
  • Current affairs
  • History
  • General knowledge
  • Literature
  • TV shows from the past

Fun Memory Aids for Older Adults

Memory aids can help older adults function better in their daily lives and promote independence. When searching for aids, look for those that fit the skills they already have. For instance, if they’ve never used a reminder function on their phone, you might consider turning to alternatives for medication reminders, such as companion care services.

Here are a few common memory aids that can facilitate senior brain health.

1. Create a Color-Coded Calendar

A color-coded calendar can help older adults stay organized and remember their daily obligations. With color codes, they don’t have to read the tiny text to figure out what their day will look like. They can easily see blocks for specific tasks, like doctor’s appointments or visits with family members, so they don’t forget.

Color coding is also a great way to label other things, like keys. You can purchase colored rubber key caps or rings to do this. For example, they might code the front door key green and the garage door blue to reduce confusion. 

2. Download Reminder Apps

Several reminder apps can help older adults remember essential tasks. For example, a medication reminder app can prompt them to take their pills and which types of medications to take. Other apps can send alerts to family members when prescriptions are getting low or when to get refills. You may need to pay for some of these apps, though many are free.

3. Keep a Journal

Journaling is a great way to reduce stress while tracking feelings and events. Older adults can appreciate having a journal as a reminder of what they did on certain days and how they felt at that time. They might also stick photos in a daily journal or create a scrapbook to document important memories.

Journals can also give them something to show and talk about with others. Collecting mementos to add to the journal as reminders is an excellent way to use them. For instance, they might collect movie tickets, train tickets or a program from an event. 

4. Make Lists

Most memory issues stem from trying to remember several things at once or complex instructions. Creating lists and checking tasks off can remove that mental load from the mind. Older adults can also use lists for daily routines. If they forget part of their morning routine, such as taking medication, they can write a list in the order in which they need to take them. Lists are an excellent memory aid for various tasks, from shopping lists to weekly plans. 

5. Use Locator Devices

Locator devices make excellent memory aids for older adults. They can use them to find frequently lost items like keys or wallets. All they need to do is attach a small electronic tag to the item. If they lose it, they click a button on the locator device to make the tag beep. By keeping the locator device somewhere obvious, many older adults can find them very helpful. 

Get in Touch With Corewood Care for Companion Care Services 

Memory aids and memory-boosting activities are simple ways to improve memory and problem-solving skills. If you find that your older family member requires additional care, companion care services can help.

At Corewood Care, our aging life care experts help your family member age in place from the comfort of their home. Companion care services can help keep your aging family member busy and mentally stimulated. From fun memory games like chess to medication reminders, our caregivers can provide what you need. 

To schedule a free assessment, contact us today. 

How to Handle Dementia in Loved Ones

Coping with dementia in parents or another relative can be challenging. You may feel sad, worried or shocked after hearing the diagnosis and unsure of your next steps. It can be stressful to know how to address the changes or understand what your family member may need. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to cope with these complex emotions. 

How to Cope With a Dementia Diagnosis 

When a family member receives a dementia diagnosis, you may feel a range of emotions all at once. Many people undergo a period of intense grief and feelings of shock, followed by denial and sadness. You may worry about how you will face these significant life changes and feel demoralized or angry about the future. At the same time, the diagnosis may provide a sense of relief by validating your suspicions and allowing you to seek appropriate support. 

The following are a few tips about how to deal with dementia in a parent or someone close to you: 

1. Allow Time to Adjust 

Hearing that a close relative has dementia can cause shock. Be gentle and allow yourself to feel the emotions as they appear rather than deny them. You’ll have an easier time accepting the news and devising a dementia care plan. 

2. Learn

Understanding dementia and its progression can help you cope with changes. You’ll also know what to expect when you learn how dementia impacts a person’s physical and cognitive functions. Remember that knowledge can be powerful. 

3. Prioritize Rest

You may have trouble resting after a day of caregiving. You might also lose sleep worrying about a dementia diagnosis, which can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. Not having someone to relieve you at the end of the day can lead to stress, resentment and even depression.

It’s essential to rest when you can and prioritize time for yourself. Keep the day structured and predictable and your environment uncluttered. Pacing yourself and giving yourself time to rest will make all the difference for your mental health and allow you to better care for your family member.

4. Make Time for Exercise

A daily walk at the park or around the block can be an effective antidepressant for both of you. It can also help relieve stress and anxiety throughout your relative’s illness. If needed, keep a transport wheelchair to broaden your options for exercise while running errands. You’ll get to spend time together while improving your mental and physical health. 

How to Handle Common Dementia Symptoms and Behaviors 

Remembering things, thinking clearly, communicating and caring for themselves may be a struggle for people with dementia. Dementia can even cause mood swings or changes to a person’s personality or behavior. 

Keep reading to learn some practical strategies for managing behavioral problems and communication difficulties often encountered when caring for someone with dementia: 


People with dementia may wander for several reasons, including boredom, medication side effects or confusion. They might also be trying to fulfill a physical need such as a need to use the toilet, eat or exercise. To help with this behavioral symptom of dementia, you might:

  • Schedule time for regular exercise to minimize restlessness.
  • Consider installing locks that require a key.
  • Add child-safe plastic covers to doorknobs.
  • Install a home security or monitoring system to watch over your family member.
  • Have your relative wear an ID bracelet or sew ID labels to their clothing. 
  • Tell neighbors about your relative’s wandering behavior and ensure they have your phone number.


As the disease progresses, it’s common for people with dementia to experience rapidly changing moods and angry outbursts. In fact, behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) affect up to 97% of patients with dementia who live in a community setting.

Agitation can be triggered by various things, from environmental factors to fear and fatigue. At this time, it can be highly beneficial to give each other space and take time for privacy. In heated moments or times of stress, leaving the room for a few minutes can provide peace and allow both parties to calm down. 

Speak in a reassuring voice, and don’t attempt to restrain a person when they are agitated. Support their independence and allow them to care for themselves as much as possible. You might also try distracting them during stressful moments with a snack or activity. 

Repetitive Speech or Actions 

People with dementia often repeat certain words, questions or activities. While this behavior is usually harmless for the person with dementia, it can be stressful to caregivers. Repetitive speech or actions are often triggered by boredom, fear, anxiety or environmental factors. 

Similar to handling agitation, provide plenty of comfort and reassurance. Try to ignore the behavior and instead play soothing music or distract them with an activity. 


Communication issues typically occur in people with dementia, though you can learn ways to improve them. Working on your communication skills can make caregiving easier and enhance the quality of your relationship with your family member. It can also help you handle any problematic behavior that may occur. Tips for handling communication issues with ease include:

  • Setting a mood for the interaction with positive body language, facial expressions, physical touch and tone of voice.
  • Limiting noise distractions before speaking and maintaining eye contact.
  • Stating your message clearly with simple words and sentences.
  • Asking simple, answerable questions one at a time.
  • Maintaining a positive, reassuring tone. 
  • Being patient in waiting for replies and suggesting words if they struggle for an answer.
  • Changing the subject if they become agitated.
  • Responding with affection.

How to Help With Dementia 

Keep reading for some at-home dementia caregiver tips: 

1. Support Their Independence 

As mentioned, agitation in people with dementia can be triggered by a lack of control, and your family member may feel as if they don’t need help. While many activities likely require your assistance, try to support their independence as much as possible. Give them space to handle their emotions and daily tasks on their own. For example, laying out articles of clothing one a time can facilitate dressing and preparing finger foods can help them eat on their own with less difficulty.

2. Set up Routines and Expectations

Many people with dementia may believe they don’t need help, causing a power struggle over daily tasks. By clearly defining your roles and routines, you can avoid conflicts and help you both feel more settled. Delegate tasks for cleaning and eating to create a peaceful environment when caring for someone with dementia.

 Following a routine can also help you cope with the changes after a diagnosis and ensure a smoother transition into caregiving. 

3. Seek Counseling Services 

When caregivers and people with dementia seek treatment for their depression, they gain better access to care, services and support. It’s essential that you open up about your experiences rather than bottling up your emotions. Having someone to talk to regularly who can provide support, education and coaching through the stages of progression can significantly benefit your and your family member’s mental health. 

4. Hire a Professional Caregiver

It can be challenging to juggle your family and home life, job responsibilities and caregiving. It’s okay to hire a professional caregiver when you’re overwhelmed or don’t have anyone to relieve you of your duties. Professionals can provide enrichment, assistance with daily tasks and companionship for your family member when you need some physical and emotional space. 

When You Need Some Extra Support, Corewood Care Is Ready to Help

Coping with dementia in parents or close relatives can be challenging, especially when you are their sole caregiver. It’s important to know that you are never alone, and it’s perfectly fine to reach out for help when you need it. 

Corewood Care has some of the best caregivers in the industry who are available to deliver in-home dementia care. Being in a familiar setting and maintaining their routine can make all the difference in your family member’s well-being. We also provide supervision and patient wellness monitoring to look after and record their physical, mental and emotional health. 

Learn More About Our Dementia Care

What to Do When You Can No Longer Care for Elderly Parents  

What to Do When You Can No Longer Care for Elderly Parents  

Watching parents grow up (OLD) can spark a sudden awakening for many children. Their needs begin to take precedence as activities of daily living (ADLs) become more challenging to complete. Whether you are contemplating caring for your parents or have already spent time providing for their needs, saying “no” to future caregiving might feel challenging. 

It can be challenging to admit when you can not take care of your parents anymore. You might have a family of your own or a job that takes time and dreams to accomplish. No matter the reason, you can still help decide what to do with your elderly parents to ensure their health and happiness are taken care of by a professional. 

Be Honest With Yourself

Saying “no” to caregiving does not have to spark guilt. Your love for your parents does not weaken after discovering you do not want to be a caregiver anymore. All feelings are valid, considering how much time and patience goes into this dedicated role. What you can do for your parents next is provide them with numerous options to benefit their living conditions for the future. 

You are not alone when you can no longer care for elderly parents. Many children of older adults make this decision for various reasons. Almost half of all children who act as parents’ caregivers feel stressed regularly when carrying out this role. An astonishing 40%-70% of caregivers reported having symptoms of depression when providing caregiving services for their parents. However, most remain in this position due to guilt. Break free from this feeling and embrace a brighter future for yourself and your parents. 

You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone

Although you exceed expectations of caring for your parents regularly, it is essential to remember you do not need to work alone. Other family members or close friends can provide emotional and physical care for them in the same manner. It is up to you to take the first step and reach out to trusted relatives or friends to offer help. 

Receiving help is vital to avoid caregiver burnout. Preventing this feeling is essential for maintaining good mental health and strong relationships with family members. Before reaching out to siblings or other trusted individuals, consider the aspects of caregiving in which you excel. 

Those skilled in scheduling doctor’s appointments, managing medications or providing transportation can maintain these tasks or split them with someone trustworthy. Being honest about struggles when providing care lets you pass on responsibilities to your family members. 

It is essential to review each parent’s needs with all helpers so they can better understand caregiver expectations. Whether seeking help from family members or staff from a trusted home care service, offer your knowledge of your parents’ needs so others can continue prioritizing their daily routine. 

Assess Their Needs

You undoubtedly know your parents better than anyone. Their needs have likely become second nature while providing regular caregiving services. When elderly parents are unable to care for themselves as effectively as before, it may be easier to notice activities they find challenging. 

When considering a transition from a caregiver to a supporter from the sidelines, offer observations to a team of professionals who can assist with these challenging tasks. The more you note now, the sooner your parents can receive quality care in daily activities that increase their quality of life. 

Discuss what kind of daily care they would like to receive. It is essential to keep parents involved with the transition process from one caregiver to another. Take this opportunity to review their preferences in care services and the ADLs they would like help completing. Staying on the same page ensures a positive future for both parties. 

Explore Their Options Moving Forward

When at-home care presents challenges for you and your parents’ everyday needs, consider what the next step is to benefit their health. Some children find that it is time to say goodbye to their parents’ current residence due to too many flights of stairs, the location being too far for a daily drive or they are unhappy living in their home. In this case, moving them into a retirement home might be an option to consider. 

In some cases, older adults highly value the feelings of familiarity and comfort they receive from being in their homes. If you notice these emotions in your parents, home health services or care might benefit them the most compared to other care options. 

At-home care services typically include:

  • Companionship from providers. 
  • Assistance with completing ADLs such as getting dressed, cooking, going to the bathroom and bathing. 
  • Alzheimer’s care for those living with dementia. 
  • Daily scheduled activities to keep older adults active and aware. 
  • Transportation access to doctor’s appointments or around the area if needed.

With this care option, your parents can thrive under the supervision and companionship of a trusted staff member who provides opportunities to make each day exciting. Research how 24/7 in-home care can benefit your parents if they require more medical assistance. Skilled nursing and meal preparation can make older adults with preexisting health conditions or limited mobility more comfortable. 

Seeking Outside Support

If you are concerned about your parent’s actions and behaviors accompanying aging, you can benefit from reaching out to a professional in gerontology. This profession studies the physical, mental and social changes in older adults. Professionals work in various fields such as psychology, healthcare and social work to assess the needs of older individuals. If you are curious about the next best step for your parents as they transition to a new caregiver, a gerontologist can provide several beneficial options for various health conditions. 

Corewood Care's Home Care Management

Corewood Care’s Home Care Management

If your parents could benefit from home care services, Corewood Care can provide the necessary resources to take the next step. We understand the importance of providing comfortable and positive environments for your parents to thrive in as they receive assistance with daily routines. Our friendly staff prides themselves on quality at-home services to keep parents active through companionship and the appropriate help needed to let them maintain independence. 

We also value the caregiving services you provided for your parents. Our top priority is to make the transition from a child caregiver to a team of professionals as easy as possible for all parties. Through our free home care assessment, we can take the time to get to know you and your parents to determine the best care service for their health and happiness. 

Contact us today to schedule a free home care assessment. 

Top Exercises for Older Adults

Physical activity is essential for healthy aging. As we grow, our bodies change and our need for exercise increases. Researchers continually emphasize the importance of regular exercise for older adults, and why many should opt for an active lifestyle rather than a sedentary one. 

By strengthening the body, older adults can prevent or delay age-related diseases and live a longer, healthier life. Keep reading to learn the benefits of exercise, ways to improve strength for older adults and the top activities to increase strength, flexibility and stamina.

Over-the-shoulder view of a young woman with a ponytale leading a group of smiling seniors in a stretching exercise

The Benefits of Exercise in Older Adults

There are so many health benefits of exercise, especially for older adults. Exercise can improve the body, mind and emotional well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all older adults can appreciate these benefits, even those with conditions like heart disease, obesity, arthritis and high blood pressure. 

Some of the benefits associated with exercise in later life include: 

  • More independence: Regular exercise can help older adults maintain their independence. Research shows that older adults who exercise are less likely to depend on others for help with tasks like bathing, walking, cooking, eating or using the restroom. 
  • Better balance: Older adults are often hospitalized for fall-related injuries. By exercising regularly, older adults are 23% less likely to experience falls, preventing emergency room visits and serious injuries. 
  • Disease delay and prevention: Age-related diseases like heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis can shorten one’s life and decrease their quality of living. Fortunately, adopting an active lifestyle can prevent these diseases for those at risk or alleviate symptoms for people already living with them. 
  • Improved brain function: Research shows that physical and mental health are closely related and exercise can improve cognitive function in older adults. Just simple exercises can sharpen the mind to ward off age-related cognitive diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s and depression. 

Best Exercises for Older Adults

The CDC notes those aged 65 and older need at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week, two days of strength exercises and three days of balance training to reap the physical and mental health benefits. 

Try these strength, aerobics and flexibility exercises to achieve the many health benefits:   


Aerobic exercises can improve lung health and prevent heart disease. Moderate-intensity aerobic workouts for older adults include: 

  • Walking: Walking is an excellent form of cardio for older adults. Modify this activity to match the pace, distance or time that feels right to you. 
  • Cycling: Whether using an outdoor bicycle or a stationary bike, cycling can increase blood flow, benefit the heart and lungs and help relieve joint or muscle pain
  • Dancing: Moving the body through continuous dance is a fun and enjoyable form of cardio. Zumba, tango or line dancing are all exciting activities to try alone or with friends. These dances can improve a person’s balance and strengthen several muscle groups simultaneously.

Strength Exercises

Strength training can help improve bone density and prevent osteoporosis in old age. It can also strengthen muscles and help older adults move around without the help of others.

Try these simple strength exercises for older adults:  

  • Bridge: One of the best core workouts for elderly adults is a bridge. To do a bridge, lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Raise your hips and hold the position for three seconds. Repeat this 10 times. 
  • Sit to stand: Start by sitting in a chair. When you’re ready, stand up and then sit back down repeatedly. Repeat this exercise 10 times daily to help prevent the need for assistance in the future, such as sitting on a low couch or the toilet.
  • Side planks: This exercise can strengthen the shoulders and improve core stability. To practice it, individuals should lay on their side, propped by their elbow directly under the shoulder. Next, they should lift their hips off the floor so their body forms a straight line and hold the position as long as possible before repeating it on the other side. 


Flexibility is essential for mobility and stretching the body to reach its full range of motion. Flexibility exercises can decrease our energy costs while standing and walking as we age.

Try the following exercises to improve flexibility: 

  • Knee extension stretch: This exercise can help straighten knees while walking to prevent a crouched gait. Start by sitting and placing your heel on a low stool in front of you. Gently lean forward until you feel resistance in the back of your knee. Hold this pose for one to three minutes, and then repeat on the other side.
  • Yoga: Several yoga poses can improve flexibility and promote balance, such as the downward dog position. To achieve this position, start on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes under, lift your hips and back away from the floor until your body forms a triangle. Stay in this position for five to eight breaths and lower back down. Repeat two more times for the best results. 

Workout Tips for Older Adults

As you now know, physical activity presents several short and long-term health benefits. Older adults should make exercise a priority to keep themselves motivated.

A few tips to increase physical activity include: 

  1. Exercise with friends: Make exercise a social activity to stay motivated. For instance, elderly adults might try dance classes or going on a walk with a friend during lunch. 
  2. Make exercise fun and enjoyable: Older adults should try various exercises to keep their interest alive. Some fun exercise games for elderly adults include croquet, chair soccer, dance and cornhole. 
  3. Take it slow: Workouts don’t need to be strenuous for individuals to achieve health benefits. Try breaking up exercises into 15-minute intervals twice a day. For instance, older adults might try two 15-minute walks a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. 
  4. Find ways to fit exercise into the day: Combine physical activity with a task that’s already part of the person’s day, such as walking the dog, taking the stairs at work or doing household chores. 
  5. Keep track of progress: One of the best ways to stay motivated is to measure a person’s exercise progress and celebrate successes. Use a journal to track daily physical activity, find ways to increase it and monitor improvements over time. 

Improve Your Health and Wellbeing With Corewood Care 

Exercise can improve cognitive function and prevent illnesses for older adults. Older adults can gain independence, increase their energy and improve brain function with physical activities. 

At Corewood Care, our primary goal is to provide exceptional, high-quality care for elderly patients. Our caregivers can help you follow a regular exercise plan and encourage and motivate you to work out. They can provide excellent recommendations for personal trainers, physical therapists and the like who will coordinate these care management services for you. These services are designed to help clients navigate life’s challenges and live a more comfortable, graceful life. 

To learn more about our care management services, we invite you to get in touch with us today. 

Essential End-of-Life Documents

Close-up of a hand using pen to sign essential end-of-life documents

Discussing your end-of-life wishes can be difficult. Death is a taboo subject for many, and it might feel as if you’re burdening family members by bringing up the topic. In actuality, end-of-life planning can soothe your fears about the future and alleviate your family members’ stress. You can clarify what’s important while taking care of your paperwork and preventing the responsibility from being shifted to your family when you die. 

Learn about the crucial end-of-life documents, and follow our planning checklist to ensure your wishes are fulfilled and your family is cared for. 

Jump to a specific end-of-life document:

What Are End-of-Life Documents?

End-of-life document preparation is the process of getting your medical, legal, personal and financial affairs in order for when you pass away. While different for everyone, these documents will typically include decisions on your property, healthcare and finances. By gathering the necessary documents ahead of time, you can relieve your family members of this massive administrative undertaking when you pass. Some examples of these necessary documents or information needed are listed below. 

Medical documents for end-of-life planning may include:

  • List of current physicians and medical specialists
  • Current list of medications you are taking
  • Previous and current medical diagnoses and conditions
  • Previous surgeries 
  • Primary and secondary Medical insurance information
  • MOLST Form (Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment)
  • Hospital preference

Personal information for end-of-life paperwork might include:

  • Full legal name
  • Social Security number
  • Date and place of birth
  • Legal residence
  • Names and addresses of spouse and children
  • Employers and dates of employment
  • Education records
  • Military records
  • Contact information for your close friends, doctors, relatives, lawyers and financial advisors

End-of-life legal documents and records may include:

  • Revocable or Irrevocable Trust(s)
  • Living Will
  • Power of Attorney (Financial or Health)
  • Advanced Directives
  • Contracts 
  • Location of your home’s original deed of trust
  • Location of your living will and other legal paperwork with legal signature
  • Location of your birth, adoption, marriage, citizenship or divorce certificates, as applicable

Financial records are equally essential to include in your end-of-life planning. These documents might consist of: 

  • Sources of income
  • Bank numbers from your checking, savings or credit union accounts and bank names
  • Login details for online accounts
  • Credit and debit card names and numbers
  • Assets such as a pension, IRA(s), 401(k)s or interest
  • Investment income from stocks, bonds and property
  • Financial fiduciary names and contact information (Financial accountant, broker, investment advisor)
  • Mortgages and debts, as well as how and when they’re paid
  • Life, health, long-term care, home or car insurance information with policy numbers, agents’ names and phone numbers
  • Copy of most recent income tax return
  • Car title and registration
  • Location of a safe deposit box and key

No one plans to be terminally ill or disabled. When you take the time to make decisions about your health and finances in advance, you eliminate the stress and need for your family members to do it for you. And if you have a family member nearing the end of their life or struggling with illness, gathering the necessary end-of-life paperwork can lift a lot of stress off their shoulders.

Photograph and text blurb of female senior filling out a last will and testament, an end-of-life document focused on your wishes for what happens after you die, such as funeral preferences, instructions for any outstanding debts and disbursement of your assets.

Top 8 Essential End of Life Documents

At the end of our lives, we often cannot express our needs at a time when that information is the most crucial. If you have a terminal illness or simply want to prepare for emergencies, it’s a good idea to create legal documents with your doctors or lawyer and discuss these wishes with family members. By completing this task as early as possible, you can ensure your wishes are followed and your family is taken care of when you pass away. Learn about the essential documents you might consider while creating an end-of-life plan:

1. Living Will

One of the most well-known documents for end-of-life planning is a living will. People who face terminal illness often create a living will or health care directive to communicate their wishes regarding their end-of-life care if they cannot communicate on their own. A living will can provide your preferences for prolonging your life if you cannot speak without the help of a medical team. These preferences might concern medical treatments such as:

  • Medication
  • Pain management
  • Tube feeding
  • Resuscitation
  • Dialysis
  • Organ and tissue donation

There are other separate legal documents to communicate your preferences, such as a do not resuscitate (DNR) order that specifies that you don’t want life-sustaining treatment after cardiac or respiratory arrest. But whether you have the additional documentation, it’s always best to make your wishes known in a living will.

2. Last Will and Testament

A recent study showed just 46% of adults have a last will and testament. Yet, if you own any assets or have family members depending on you, creating a last will can take away the burden of planning and ensure your family is cared for. A last will and testament shouldn’t be confused with a living will, which outlines your wishes while you’re alive but in a terminal state.

A last will and testament documents your wishes for what happens after you die, such as funeral preferences, instructions for any outstanding debts and disbursement of your assets. This includes the physical assets — your house, car or possessions — and your financial assets from your bank and investment accounts. You might also name a guardian for your minor children and the person who will care for your pets.

Having a will streamlines probate — the legal and court-driven process of distributing assets — by ensuring your property goes to the correct people. Beneficiaries are the people or organizations you name to receive your property. You can also name an executor, who is the person who distributes your estate to your heirs and carries out the instructions in your will after you die.

3. Living Trust

Like a will, a living trust helps you manage and distribute your financial assets after you pass away. However, unlike a will, a living trust owns your assets as a legal entity. You can outline how your assets should be distributed in a living trust. You can also place valuable assets into a living trust, such as real estate, vehicles or bank accounts. When you die, your assets will distribute as outlined in your trust without probate.

Living trusts require more management than wills since you’ll need to transfer new property to them as you acquire it, though they can come with many advantages. For instance, since a trust doesn’t require probate, your family will save time and keep their privacy when you opt for one.

When you set up a living trust, it’s best to name a successor to manage your assets if you become disabled or pass away. You can also choose beneficiaries to receive the trust property after you die, and the living trust will streamline the process of transferring your assets.

4. Financial Power of Attorney

When you set up a financial power of attorney (POA), you make it possible for a person of your choosing to act on your behalf legally and handle your financial affairs. The person you choose to have POA is referred to as an agent, attorney-in-fact or proxy. A financial POA is a highly customizable document you can use to designate agents to help with specific tasks, such as selling property, or to take over all financial responsibilities should you become disabled or incapacitated.

When completing a financial POA, you should be aware of the different levels of power that you can give to your agent. These different levels include:

  • General power of attorney: This document lets your agent pay bills, sign legal documents and act on your behalf. However, these powers end when you can no longer make decisions or pass away.
  • Durable power of attorney: A durable power of attorney allows the agent to make financial decisions on your behalf if you’re in a coma or cannot communicate due to incapacitation.
Close-up of a hand signing a Letter of Intent, an end-of-life document that can clear confusion and aid family members through the estate process.

5. Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is a personal way of expressing your end-of-life decisions to your beneficiaries. Aside from listing the reasoning behind the instructions outlined in your will, it can also include:

  • The location of your legal and financial documents
  • Usernames and passwords for online accounts
  • Care instructions for pets
  • Funeral arrangement preferences

While it’s not legal paperwork, a letter of intent can clear any confusion and aid family members through the estate process.

6. Life Insurance

Taking out a life insurance policy might be worth considering as part of your end-of-life plan. Life insurance can help protect those who rely on you financially and provide a substantial payout when you pass away. The payout might cover your family’s day-to-day or long-term expenses, depending on the amount of coverage you choose. Some people also use life insurance to pay for funeral expenses or probate costs. This way, your family members won’t have to worry about planning while in the grieving process.

To determine the coverage you need, consider your age and household expenses. You can purchase a life insurance policy by researching providers online and sitting down with an agent to determine your needs and options.

7. Pet Trust 

If you have pets, you’ll want to ensure they’re cared for after your passing. While you can choose a caregiver in your will and set aside money for your pet’s care, a pet trust takes this a step further by ensuring your pets are cared for exactly how you prefer after you die. With a pet trust, you fund your trust with assets to pay for your pet’s care and leave instructions for using the funds, such as for your pet’s medical treatments or favorite toys. A pet trust might also be ideal if you:

  • Have a pet with a long life span, such as a tortoise or parrot
  • Have a pet with special needs or a disability that requires costly medical attention
  • Wish to offset the costs of your pet’s regular care after your die

8. Organ Donor Card

If you wish to give back to someone in need after you die, you might consider applying for an organ donor card. It can be tough to think about what happens to your body after you die, let alone donating organs. However, choosing to be an organ donor is a compassionate and meaningful decision. Being an organ donor might also help your family and friends cope with your loss, knowing that you helped to save lives. 

single donor can save eight lives and improve the lives of 75 others by providing organs and tissues. Whether you donate your heart, a kidney or connective tissues, you’ll significantly impact someone’s life. You can become an organ donor in the following ways:

  • Register with your state’s donor registry by signing up online.
  • Designate your choice on your driver’s license when obtaining or renewing it.
  • Tell your family so they know your wishes for donation after your passing.
Steps for getting your affairs and end-of-life paperwork in order to ensure a smooth process

Tips for Getting Your Affairs in Order

As you’re putting your end-of-life paperwork together, ensure a smooth process by following a few steps:

  • Put your end-of-life paperwork in one place: Once you’ve gathered the necessary documents, it can be helpful to set up a file on your computer or place the papers in a desk or dresser drawer. You might also keep copies of the files at home if your documents are in a bank safe deposit box. Check these places each year to determine whether there’s anything new you should add.
  • Tell a trusted friend or family member where to find your paperwork: List your information and the location of your end-of-life planning documents in a notebook so your family members can easily find them in an emergency. Let your executor, power of attorney agent and other essential people know where to go and inform them of any changes. Ask a lawyer for help if you don’t have a friend or relative you can trust.
  • Discuss your end-of-life preferences with your doctor: Talk with your doctor to ensure your healthcare wishes are honored. A doctor can explain the health decisions you might face and available treatment options. You might also permit them to discuss your information with your caregiver.
  • Consider meeting with a lawyer if needed: If you have any questions about your legal documents or need someone you can trust, discuss your end-of-life plan with a lawyer. You might talk to them about setting up a trust, general power of attorney or durable power of attorney. By preparing an outline of your preferences ahead of time, you may save time and money on attorney fees.
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Planning your end-of-life wishes is vital for you and your family if you’re living with a terminal illness or nearing the end of your life. While it may be uncomfortable to discuss, sharing your end-of-life documents with family members ensures you live your last years peacefully and that your family is protected and provided for.

If you’re looking for help for yourself or someone you care for during a life transition, consult with an attorney to organize your documents and trust Corewood Care for support through the process. Our care providers are specially trained to offer solutions and help clients navigate the changes that come from aging and terminal illness. We provide premier guidance and advocate for your needs throughout the process.

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Geriatricians vs. Gerontologists: What’s the Difference?

While the terms gerontology and geriatrics are often used interchangeably, several differences exist between these two fields. Geriatrics is a specialty in medicine involving the study and treatment of illness and diseases within the elderly community, while gerontology is an all-encompassing study of aging.

While they are two different fields, they share the same goal — improving the quality of life for older adults. Learn more similarities and differences between these two elderly care types and the importance of gerontologists in an increasingly aging population.

What Is Gerontology?

Gerontology is the study of old age, the process of aging and the impacts of aging on the population. The multidisciplinary research is ell-encompassing and covers various aspects of aging, from physical and mental changes to the social changes associated with growing old. 

Researchers and practitioners in the field of gerontology are often well-versed in several areas, such as:

  • Sociology and social sciences
  • Physiology
  • Public health and policy
  • Psychology

Further, gerontology looks into the processes of bodily changes associated with aging and the societal changes of an aging population. Gerontologists can apply their knowledge to various programs and public policies from these perspectives. Gerontologists perform a supportive function in educating other about aging while researching and understanding aging. 

Sub-disciplines of gerontology include:

  • Biogerontology: Biological gerontologists study aging at the cellular and molecular levels. Researchers in biogerontology examine changes in cells and tissues as we age. 
  • Social gerontology: Focuses on the social and societal aspects associated with aging. Researchers in the field will look closely at the relationships between older adults and their families, caregivers and society on a larger scale. They’ll also identify ways aging affects social roles and work to develop programs and public policies to improve the lives of older adults. 
  • Biomedical gerontology: Biomedical gerontologists study the origins of aging and age-related diseases. Researchers will also investigate ways to intervene in the aging process and how to slow, prevent and reverse it. 
  • Environmental gerontology: Environmental gerontology is the study of how older adults interact with their physical and social environments. Researchers will seek to identify the external factors that allow healthy aging. They might also work to optimize the relationship between older adults and their environments by making their surroundings more age-friendly.  
  • Jurisprudential gerontology: Jurisprudential gerontology combines law and gerontological concepts. Researchers identify how law plays a part in aging by examining the interactions between society, law, aging and public policies.

What Is Geriatrics?

Geriatrics is a medical specialty focusing on the care of elderly people. As we age, our cells, tissues and organs change and put us at risk of chronic disease. Common diseases and conditions that can occur as a result of age include:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Hypertension
  • Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Stroke
  • Osteoporosis
  • Dementia

Older adults might also experience high blood pressure, diabetes or arthritis, which are conditions that can affect daily tasks. For this reason, geriatricians provide care to address the individual needs of elderly patients. 

What Is a Geriatrician?

A geriatrician is a medical doctor or clinician focused on diagnosing, treating and preventing age-related conditions and diseases. Geriatricians will also tailor care to the unique needs of elderly patients and provide services such as:  

  • Helping patients manage chronic illnesses.
  • Addressing mobility issues and frailty.
  • Offering guidance on medications.
  • Providing support for caregivers and families of elderly patients.
  • Offering hospice care for people with terminal illnesses.

Geriatricians will usually practice in hospitals, outpatient clinics or skilled nursing facilities. They’re often internal medicine doctors who work with other healthcare providers to develop care plans for elderly patients with various health problems. 

Geriatrics vs. Gerontology 

While geriatrics and gerontology are similar when it comes to the population they work with, they have a few key differences. 

Gerontology examines various physical, mental and social changes that occur due to aging. They might work, plan, research and even educate people on the topic while studying all aspects of aging. 

In contrast, geriatricians specialize in elderly care and are often medical doctors. They focus on preventing, diagnosing and treating age-related diseases and conditions. Geriatricians coordinate overall care with other physicians and guide the patient in making treatment choices.

The training that goes into becoming a geriatric doctor 33

v651+5s. a gerontologist is also different. To become a geriatrician, you must complete medical school and a residency in geriatrics. On the other hand, gerontologists don’t face one single path — professionals usually have various backgrounds, from sociology and psychology to anthropology, biology or medicine.

While both fields involve aging and the overlap between the sub-disciplines, they take different approaches to studying the process. Geriatrics focuses on the individual, while gerontology takes a broader approach. Geriatricians seek to understand the aging process to treat diseases and conditions. In contrast, gerontology takes a multidisciplinary approach to understand aging through social, biological and psychological perspectives. 

The Importance of Gerontologists 

The rise of the elderly population only increases the importance of gerontologists today. In 1960, just 9% of the population was made up of those over 65 years old. By 2020, it was at 17% and the elderly population is expected to climb to 22% by 2050. The importance of gerontologists is felt on a social, physical, economic and psychological level: 

  • Medical advancements: By studying the physical aspects of aging, gerontologists have broadened the research in this field and provided powerful insights into the interactions between age and disease. As a result, we can develop preventive measures and rehabilitative treatments to help older adults live a better quality of life. 
  • Positive social shifts: Gerontology has helped drive public policy and put gerontological concepts in the public eye. For these reasons, debates about government funding for social security and Medicare are increasingly highlighted in the mainstream. Further, through the work of gerontologists, the variety of senior living care and communities have significantly grown to help elderly people live comfortable and fulfilling lives.
  • Psychological insights: Gerontologists provide essential insight into age-related mental health conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Therefore, researchers are learning new ways to prevent and treat older patients suffering from various mental issues. 

Learn More About Gerontology Services at Corewood Care

Gerontologists and geriatricians provide crucial care for aging and elderly people. By studying the aging process, healthcare providers can determine helpful methods of treating age-related diseases and conditions. They might also discover ways to prevent common illnesses that occur due to the aging process. 

We’ve seen vast improvements in treating and caring for an increasingly aging population through these critical fields of work. When you have a family member who requires gerontology-based services, trust Corewood Care. We specialize in care management and home care for seniors and provide around-the-clock assistance and rehabilitation for acute medical illnesses. 

We look forward to helping your loved one maintain a healthy and happy quality of life. To learn more or schedule a free assessment, get in touch with us today. 

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