Help with Healthcare is a Great Place to Start

Staying at home has given me a lot of time for Spring Cleaning. I finally went into the last box of my parent’s papers this weekend and found this note from my Mom.

When my parent’s were still coming over for dinners on Friday and we recognized something was amiss, but were unsure what, my Mom asked if I would join her for the annual physical. She had mentioned that they were having trouble keeping up with the medicines and she was worried about my Dad … would I join? This was the note she gave me summarizing all of their medications. I attended and sat quietly and watched as concerns were raised and then mostly dismissed.

Within a year, my mom had a minor stroke and she readily accepted my rides to the doctor. However, this was the beginning of the trouble in some regards. My Mom was in disbelief that she had a stroke, and started to challenge that I was making it up. She began to debate me on the way to the appointments when I would simply report that we were going to see the neurologist. When she asked “why” and I reported it was because of her stroke, she would guffaw in disbelief. At the appointment, she argued with the neurologist. Good times. ; <

I wish I had know about Anosognosia. From the Stroke Connection: “Anosognosia (pronounced an-a-sog-NO-sia) refers to a person’s lack of awareness of their own motor, visual or cognitive deficits. It can happen in people with stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Looking back, I realize that even just stating that she has a stroke created an emotional response in my Mom that left her feeling like I did not have her best interests. She became very protective of her information and in return, insisted that she could manage her own affairs.

I learned over time that my parent’s responded with emotion to information or events. Any information citing they were unable to manage their own health and welfare pushed them into a defensive mode. If I arrived for a visit stressed, they would absorb my anxiety and we would have a terrible visit.

During this time my siblings and I watched as:

  • Their licenses were revoked and they continued to drive their cars;
  • They failed to pay their bills regularly and ran into issues with water and electricity;
  • Ultimately, their retirement community threatened to kick them out if they would not move from independent into the assisted living community.

I was ready in the wings when it was time to act, but it was more than two years before I was allowed back in to help. When I did re-enter I had learned a lot about how best to support and respond to my parent’s needs.

The current state of affairs may be a bridge that opens to invite you in to help. While many families are isolating themselves from their loved ones to protect them, others are including them in the shelter in place orders.

May you and your family find peace, joy, and common ground on which to move forward. Wished.

Use It or Lose It Applies to your Memory Too

I have three clients all with Memory issues that have shown a noticeable uptick in their engagement and activity. Unfortunately, it isn’t all of them so I started to see if there was any patterns that applied to all three.

In the past one to two months, all three of them have had more social engagement. They are all widowed, and live alone. None of them had previously had much social interaction due to giving up car keys, moving into a new community, or even just because for the last year they were giving care to a loved one.

When you visit with them, initially you may not even notice they have any short-term memory issues. However, if you try to have a longer or deeper conversation with them, you quickly recognize they have some memory issues. Due to changing circumstances, all three of them have had a lot more social interaction and I think that has helped them in a variety of ways.

I have noticed it in their activity, spending, and in my direct conversations with them.

Memory loss is not a normal consequence of aging. Our brains still produce new brain cells. However, once we hit 50, there is a slowing down of brain processing which we usually equate to memory loss. Eventually, you should be able to recall information, but it just takes longer.

However, we must remind ourselves that just like muscle-strength, we need to continue using our memory skills and engage in activities that stimulate our brains. It’s why I am afraid of the traditional concept of retirement and am often day-dreaming about how best to age, enjoy life, and stay engaged in meaningful ways that will challenge my brain.

After seeing this anecdotal result, I believe that every person needs to have some form of meaningful social engagement several times a week. For many older adults who want to age in place, managing this if they live alone can be a bigger challenge. In general our friend circle may be smaller and it might be harder to visit if we are no longer driving.

The answer on how to get more social engagement will vary for everyone but most communities have senior and community centers that offer ongoing classes and exercise programs for opportunities to make new friends. However, step one is to help us all recognize that your brain is a use it or lose it muscle we all need to work on continuing to stretch. Witnessed.

If you have a loved one in this situation, can you:
– Find local classes where they might meet a new friend (senior centers, community centers, and community colleges are easy places to start)
– Connect them with a local “village” that works to connect neighbors and offer both social engagement and help around the house
– Encourage them to look at moving to an adult community be it 55+, a condominium or apartment, as well as a Life Care Community
– Look at AARP that often offers a variety of social events in your community — if you are a member you will get mail or you can also download their app that features local events that are usually free
– Have friendly visitors come to the home to take them out or have a lively discussion at home about topics they love.

Ask your friends how they are spending their retirement – Healthy Habit 11

successful aging

I have a neighbor that is spending time in a southern location and loving it. She’s quite content and wonders why the rest of us are still working. I am actually frightened of the idea of having unstructured days without a goal.

In working with older adults, and after watching how “retirement” dulled my parents zeal, I’m wondering what the rest of my life will look like. I believe the brain is a muscle and you either use it or you lose it. I know it’s not that simple, but as my friends are all starting to plan and migrate off into varied paths after full-time careers, they are all going to have to sit through my Q&A.

I also have a variety of adults over 70 and 80 that are community dynamo’s I hope I can emulate as I continue to circle the sun.

What I have witnessed is that most of the individuals I’d like to follow are engaged in their community in meaningful ways. While they also tend to disappear for a few months on some grand excursions, they are also making a difference on a daily basis through volunteer activities, board participation, and even mentoring.

Everyone has a different idea of what the rest of their life should look like, and it seems like we have more choices than ever. I hope you will open your mind and learn what and how those around you area navigating into their 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Not only will you increase your social activity which is a healthy habit, but you will also get the opportunity to expand your vision of what the rest of your life could be. Imagined. 

Learn Something New Every Year – Healthy Habit #7

I am petrified of retiring. I know that I am most comfortable with a schedule and task to tackle. In working as a Daily Money Manager, I also work with a variety of very accomplished and educated individuals in retirement. While some are happy with their lifestyle, a segment are frustrated or losing step with the pace of change going on around them.

We all need purpose and meaning in our daily lives, and I think in some ways we believe retirement is a time to be free of responsibility … which also contributes back to purpose and meaning. The science seems to tell us that our brain also follows the “use it or lose it” philosophy.

A recent story in Science News reported that Learning Multiple Things Simultaneously Increases Cognitive Abilities in Older Adults. After just 1.5 months learning multiple tasks in a new study, participants increased their cognitive abilities to levels similar to those of middle-aged adults, 30 years younger. Control group members, who did not take classes, showed no change in their performance.

For now, my day job challenges me to problem solve and learn new skills to better run my business. When it’s time to transition from a full-time job, I plan to find at least part-time volunteer and educational opportunities to feed my love of learning … which may also help me maintain my cognitive health.

A Forbes article from earlier this year — Can University Retirement Communities Reverse Aging discusses how a new model for retirement called a “University Based Retirement Communities,” or “UBRCs, is reshaping how many are moving into their post-career lifestyle.

I still have a teen at home and admit that I loved the freedom I had living at college. While I spent a bulk of my time learning, I also had easy access to friends and social engagement. I could see really enjoying a URBC environment when it’s time for me to transition out of running a full-time business.

Most places in the United States have community centers that offer a wide range of classes. In our area, we also have both a local university and local college that offer Lifelong Learning classes for older adults.

You could also combine learning with exercise and try out Yoga, a spin class, or even Pickleball (which is my latest hobby).

As we age and our friends move away or make a celestial departure, it’s hard to build new friendships, but taking a class can at least help you meet people who share a common interest and might be a good way to make a new friend.

There are many benefits to learning at every age. I hope this might give you a reason to try something new. Encouraged.

Follow the Science on How Brains Age – Healthy Habit #2


I wanted to understand how I could perhaps better recognize, prepare, and hopefully avoid the fate of my parent’s who both were diagnosed with different forms of dementia. One of the best things I did was to go through the Total Brain Health Certification. I met the founder Dr. Cynthia Green when we both appeared on The Dr. Oz Show.  Her book Total Memory Workout is a great primer on simple ways to maintain brain health and boost your memory.

The reality is that the common belief that “forgetfulness” is a normal sign of aging is false. Our brain processing slows down usually starting in our 50’s but the inability to recall information or short-term memory loss are signs of disease, not a typical reality of aging. But A LOT of people believe it and tell themselves it is normal.

If you understand how your brain ages, as well as how some of the changes in our brains actually make us MORE trusting (and why older adults are easier targets for fraud), you will be better able to plan and put systems in place to safely live well.

If you start to notice changes, you can then talk with your doctor. There are many things you can do if you catch issues early and some of them are entirely reversible.

If you have a loved one who is showing signs of memory loss, I hope you will raise the issue with them. I certainly tried with my parents. My Dad was open to pursue testing and investigate while my Mom shut down the idea that something was amiss. It took several years and many doctors before we found someone who would help us understand what was happening to our parents. Unfortunately, it was too late to do anything … and maybe there was nothing to be done. However, it would have helped if we could have talked through their wishes knowing a diagnosis of memory loss was made.

In the case of your brain health, knowing will afford you a lot more options. Recommended.

Here are a few articles to get you started:

Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability: An Emerging Public Health Issue Annals of Internal Medicine Annals of Internal Medicine – December 1, 2015

Supplements for Brain Health Show No Benefit – a Neurologist Explains a New Study The National Interest – June 28, 2019

Why It’s Easier to Scam the Elderly NPR – December 6, 2012

Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability is an Emerging Public Health & Safety Issue

The Annals of Internal Medicine reported on Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability: An Emerging Public Health Issue back in 2015. They define “AAFV as a pattern of financial behavior that places an older adult at substantial risk for a considerable loss of resources, such that dramatic changes in quality of life would result, and that is inconsistent with previous patterns of financial decision making during younger adult life.” So normal adults are at risk of becoming a victim of one of the latest frauds or scams.

This is not about older-adults with a form of dementia, but is an emerging issue that is impacting the health and safety of a large segment of older adults.

As a Daily Money Manager, I am seeing this play out with adults on a pretty regular basis.  I’ve seen research on how brain changes in older adults can make us more trusting (Scientific America) and more recently have stepped in to work with highly-educated adults in good health that have been victims of a fraud or scam.

You can’t miss the stories in the news, but if you have, take a look at this recent story Age of fraud: Are seniors more vulnerable to financial scams? (Marketplace). You will get a sense of how very smart and reasonable people are getting scammed.


Not only are these matters incredibly embarrassing, but they are finding that in many cases, they are individuals that don’t have a strong socio-emotional network around them.

I’ve walked into client engagements where there has been a recent issue, and the adults are well-educated, successful and are independent. However they usually share that they have lost a spouse, partner, and/or friends recently. It takes time to build up those social networks. Loneliness impacts a huge segment of older adults … and by “older adult” that covers individuals 50 years and older.

If you have someone in your life you can help offer to be a sounding board on big purchases or even on upcoming plans — if even just to listen. Maybe they just want a shopping partner. My hope is that we can squash these crooks by helping our loved ones have a deeper line of defense. Wished.  

Little Proof that Supplements Improve Brain Health


When you have two parents with dementia, you start to worry about your own cognitive outlook. I poured over the research and have been exposed to a host of “supplement plans” proposed to families throughout my work and personal life. I have yet to have anyone emerge from these plans, that typically cost over ten thousand dollars, with a noticeable change. I’m not a doctor, and I don’t really know if there is peer-reviewed research supporting this … I know the claims are made that they are proven. I just haven’t seen them positively impact anyone yet. And I’m very well connected to hundreds of individuals with dementia … so you think a great result would be freely shared.

The Washington Post carried a snippet of the story, but you can read the full summary that Supplements for Brain Health Show No Benefit – a Neurologist Explains a New Study. Everything I have read and seen play out jives with the explanation. However, it feels better to think that a simple pill can be a cure-all.

I believe that the food we eat makes a difference and even more so, the habits we develop now can make a huge difference to how long we can manage if we start to have cognitive issues.

If you use a calendar system and a to-do list, you could find life much easier to manage should you start to have short-term memory issues. In working with a variety of clients I have found those that have a habit of using the calendar and making to-do lists have an easier time of continuing to manage and control their own affairs. They don’t make your brain lazy and are actually recommended in the classes taught by Total Brain Health.  After going through the program, I highly recommend it. If you can’t find a class, maybe consider getting Dr. Cynthia Green’s book Total Memory Workout. You will find a host of ways to rev up your recall and be more educated about what you can do to improve your own brain health. Recommended. 

When our memories fail us.

As I was caring for two parents who had different types of dementia, I started to second guess my own memories. I started to worry that I was already failing cognitively and then I started to notice how often within my own household we would have conflicting memories of an event we had shared. It made me feel better … and worse.

Apparently, many emotional memories we are convinced we remember, turn out to change over time. In a story that ran in The New Yorker titled You Have No Idea What Happened by Maria Konnikova, it’s interesting to learn how our memories fail us … yet how sure we are that our memories are vividly correct.


As I write this on the 25th anniversary of O.J. Simpson’s famous drive in a white Bronco, my husband asks me if I remember where I was eating. I immediately know where I was. It is a major restaurant chain that I haven’t entered since this night … but it had nothing to do with that car chase.  I’m looking forward to finding out how different my memory is from my hubby’s.

The research shows that “the strength of the central memory seems to make us confident of all of the details when we should only be confident of a few.”  In one study, they actually ask the participants how confident they were of their recall of memories they had recorded two years previously. Five was the highest level and they averaged a 4.17. However, “their memories were vivid, clear—and wrong. There was no relationship at all between confidence and accuracy.” Worse was that when they were told they were mistaken — they just didn’t buy it.

Knowing how fragile memory can be has made me much more sensitive to how it feels to have your ability to remember challenged. No one wants to hear their memory is bad, but we all need to recognize that sometimes our recall may fail us.

As a reminder, memory loss is not a normal consequence of aging. And apparently we all have problems remembering “flashbulb” emotional events in our lives. Humbled.