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Aging in Place: A Resource to Begin Your Journey

In my work with older adults, and with the adult children who love them, initial conversations are almost always about Mom or Dad needing more help, and how and where to give them the help and support they need.  Remaining in their own home is, in my experience as an Aging Life Care Specialist and Geriatric Care Manager, the overwhelmingly preferred choice among elders.  The needs can start out gradually, or seemingly overnight, such as in the event of a major health crisis.  But either way, remaining in one’s home is usually preferred.  It just may take some modifications to make the home setting a safe and viable care setting for your loved one.

Ideally, we start the process of making our home livable and “aging in place” ready at an earlier time. Not long ago there was an article in Architectural Digest that was based on a guide written by the New York City Department of Aging, with the goal of helping New York City seniors age in place longer. The article itself is a good resource for current and up to date recommendations when renovating with an aging in place focus, no matter where you live.

 

This article first appeared on February 15, 2011, and was updated on April 8, 2018.

Cancer Screening Recommendations for Seniors – From the American Cancer Society

Healthy behaviors like healthy eating and refraining from smoking and too much alcohol, are likely to lessen one’s chances of developing cancer. Additionally, the American Cancer Society wants everyone to also be screened for some cancers on a regular basis. Identifying a cancer early will give one a better chance of eradicating it. The American Cancer Society provides screening guidelines for persons of all ages. Below are their recommendations for those age 65 and above. To see the recommendations for all ages, see https://www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early/cancer-screening-guidelines/screening-recommendations-by-age.html.

 

MEN

Colon Cancer Testing

The ACS says there are many testing options, so speak to your healthcare professional to understand which options are best for you. Medicare does cover testing.

Prostate Cancer Testing

Age by itself is not the only factor in considering prostate cancer testing. General health and anticipated life span should also be factored into the decision to test. Those considering this test should speak with their physician and the risks and benefits. Medicare does cover prostate cancer testing.

Lung Cancer Testing

For those with a smoking history, it is best to discuss this option with your physician. An annual low dose CT scan is an option for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit a current or former smoker (quit within the last 15 years). There are risks and benefits to testing, so it is recommended you discuss your options for screening with your physician. Lung cancer testing is covered by Medicare.

 

WOMEN

Breast Cancer Testing

For women 65 and older, the American Cancer Society recommends getting a mammogram every two years, but you can certainly choose to do so once a year. Additionally, it is important to know if you are at higher than average risk of developing breast cancer, as well as knowing how your breasts normally feel and look. If you are in the higher than average risk group, be sure to speak with your health practitioner about other tests you may need along with a mammogram.

Cervical Cancer Testing

Women who have a history of serious cervical pre-cancer are advised to continue testing for 20 years following that diagnosis. No testing is recommended for the following:

If you’ve had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results during the previous 10 years;

After a hysterectomy that removed the uterus and cervix – when it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer.

Medicare does cover testing.

Colon Cancer Testing

Testing is recommended. As there are many testing options, speak with your health practitioner about which tests are appropriate for you and how often tests should be conducted. Medicare does cover testing costs.

Lung Cancer Testing

For those with a smoking history, it is recommended you speak with a health care practitioner to see whether you should get an annual low-does CT scan. This tests for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit you if you are an active smoker, quite within the last 15 years, have no signs of lung cancer, and have a 30 pack a year smoking history. Risks, benefits and limitations should be discussed with your practitioner. Medicare does cover testing.

 

This article was last updated on March 13, 2018.

 

Web Resources When Caring for an Older Adult

In our internet age, locating help and information as a caregiver is often just a few clicks away. Below are some useful web resources to research, especially if you are looking for guidance in caring for an older adult.

AARP   Website: www.aarp.org

Or, to go directly to specific caregiving resources.

Eldercare Locator  Website:  www.eldercare.gov

The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, is a national site that can connect you to services for older adults and their families.

Mayo Clinic   Website: www.mayoclinic.com

Use this site to research health issues.  This site has up-to-date information in multiple diseases and categories.

The Aging Life Care Association (formerly the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM)   Website: www.aginglifecare.org

Aging Life Care specialists (formerly known as Geriatric Care Managers (GCMs) are health care professionals, most often social workers or nurses, who assist families in dealing with the problems and challenges associated with caring for the elderly.  In addition to showing the many ways an aging life care specialist can help families facing long-term care decisions, the site also provides a database to search for an aging life care specialist in your location.

Web MD   Website: www.webmd.com

WebMD provides valuable health information, tools for managing your health, and support for those who seek information.

National Council on Seniors Drug & Alcohol Rehab – Website: RehabNet.com

A site dedicated to helping older adults with this “quiet epidemic” of drug and alcohol addiction.

Medicare – Website: www.medicare.gov

Everything you need to know about Medicare.

This article was updated in December 2017.