It is important for both caregiver and family member to stay as healthy and independent as possible. Many of the ways to do that will be the same for both parties.
Keeping healthy and independent will save you and your family members not only heartache, but money. Make use of available community services that are designed to help you do just that.
Senior Centers are a wonderful place to start. They may offer health promotion programs such as blood pressure checks and medicine interaction checks. They may offer legal advice on developing a will and health care power of attorney. They offer classes, education, information, and companionship - all designed to appeal to you, an older adult. Some have computer classes. Some sponsor support groups. Check them out. They are wonderful resources provided in a safe and non-threatening environment. To see what your local centers have to offer, contact your local Information and Assistance professional. Ask if the sponsoring agency has a newsletter and/or brochure.
There are also many agencies and groups using volunteers to assist those in need. Some offer friendly visiting. Some offer help with yard work or maintenance. Some offer grocery shopping. They may be able to offer just enough assistance to keep you functioning, independently and safely, in your own home. Again, your local Information and Assistance professional should be able to help you identify what is available in your community.
Continuing Education is important for individuals wishing to update their skills, learn new ones, and/or to expand their knowledge about the world and how it works. Many universities and community colleges offer continuing education specifically geared to older adults. Some offer university or school amenities as part of what is offered.
Some programs are county specific so be sure to check. Usually, if you are 50+ you can sign up for these opportunities. Often there is a fee, but if you are in need financially, ask if they offer scholarships.
If you decide to take a course at any accredited public or private college, university or vocational school, the lifelong learning credit would be worth checking out. This tax credit provides as much as $1,000 off your tax bill. You can be enrolled full or part-time. And, if you are taking only one course at a community college, you may still be eligible for a partial credit. There is no limit on the number of years you can claim this credit.
Your income can be no more that $50,000 for an individual or $100,000 for a couple filing jointly. The college or university mails a receipt, called a Form 1098-T to you. You then use that information to fill out a Form 8863 to determine the actual amount of the credit. That amount is then entered on your tax return and is subtracted from the amount you owe.
For more information on tax issues, contact your accountant, or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (1-800-829-1040). If you can't afford an accountant and want personalized assistance, call 1-800-829-1040 for the location of a free IRS service called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance/Tax Counseling for the Elderly (VITA/TCE).
Older workers can be a valuable resource. They bring a lifetime of experience and learning to the job and have been shown to be reliable and prompt. Many are motivated to learn and are glad to be working.
There are a number of programs designed to help potential older workers gain job skills and to find suitable employment. Many offer health care and other benefits.
Two of the larger programs are the Older Worker Program or Senior Community Service Employment Program and the Senior Environmental Employment Program.
The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), or Title V of the Older Americans Act, is a work training program for low-income persons (at or below 125% of the poverty level) over the age of 55. The US Department of Labor authorized 18 agencies to sponsor the program nationwide. They fund host agencies who provide the learning job opportunities. Jobs are typically with non-profit groups or governmental agencies and include a variety of duties - all at minimum wage. The program is intended to help participants learn job skills that will transition them into permanent full-time or part-time employment. The subsidized program is not intended to provide long-term employment in the initial job. However, many times the employer will hire the SCSEP worker independent from the program.
The following agencies offer or sponsor the program: AARP, Associacion Nacional Pro Personas Mayores, Easter Seals, Experience Works, Goodwill Industries International, Institute for Indian Development, Mature Services, National Able Network, National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, National Council on the Aging, National Indian Council on Aging, National Urban League, Quality Career Services, Senior Service America, SER-Jobs for Progress National, The Workplace, Vermont Associates for Training and Development. Contact any of these agencies for more information and availability of positions or contact a local host agency 1-877-872-5627..
An Environmental Protection Agency program providing temporary, full-time and part-time job opportunities to help improve the environment. Positions are allocated and administered through cooperative agreements or grants with private, nonprofit organizations. Various types of positions are available. Salary, benefits, vacation and sick leave, and any personnel actions or issues are administered by the grantee organization.
AARP Foundation WorkSearch
a program providing community-level job and career information and services to individuals who are seeking to remain in, or re-enter the workforce. The program helps with skills assessment, interest and abilities listings, and online courses and studies at no cost to the individual.
sponsored by the US Department of Labor, the site offers career resources and workforce information. 1-877-348-0502 (7 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Central Time) Monday - Friday)
helps individuals explore career opportunities to make informed employment and education choices. The site features occupation and industry information, salary data, career videos, education resources, self-assessment tools, career exploration assistance, and other resources.
individuals to employment and training opportunities available at local One-Stop Career Centers. The site provides contact information for a range of local work-related services, including unemployment benefits, career development, and educational opportunities.
Agricultural Conservation Enrollees/Seniors Project (ACES)
The US Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, through an agreement with the National Older Workers Career Center, offers temporary full-time and part-time positions for experienced workers over 40 to support conservation efforts. Assignments include clerical, editing, writing, engineering, and scientific duties. The program operates in over 30 States. Participants receive paid health insurance and other benefits.
National Council on Aging's Work and Volunteering Links Section
linking mature workers with national work and volunteer resources.
National Older Worker Career Center
brings together experienced workers and organizations seeking support, to ensure that older workers can continue to contribute their skills and knowledge.
Department of Labor Employment and Training Resources
offers web links to sites offering employment assistance - especially related to disabilities.
Please note that there are many online self-help and assisted employment websites. Some are designed for mature workers and some for all workers. Some have a focus on specific groups such as the disabled or Hispanic workers or women. A little research will provide a seeker with a wealth of online information.
We provide an entire section on health and health issues (link below). To follow, you will find general information on health and keeping healthy appropriate for both caregivers and care recipients.
One of the best ways to stay healthy is to follow your Mom's advice:
|Check out your local YMCA or YWCA. Ask about Senior Citizen discounts. If you live in an apartment community or neighborhood, you may have access to a swimming pool and exercise room. Get a friend and start to use them. Senior Centers offer a variety of programs and some have exercise equipment. And, then there is the best exercise of all and it's free to everyone - walking. Experts suggest thirty minutes of brisk walking every day. It's good for your heart and your spirit.|
It hasn't changed! Eat fruit, vegetables, and fiber. Eat other things in moderation. A little red wine may be good for your heart. Take a multi-vitamin if your doctor agrees. Drink lots of water. For more information on healthy eating check out the Full Circle of Care on Health and Wellness. There is also a wealth of other healthy eating information on the web that can be found using a search engine.
We all know about this one!
Keep Socially Involved
|Experts will tell you that having friends and people that will support you is critical to good mental health. Good mental health directly affects physical health. So, it is important to continue to connect with friends and family on a regular basis.|
|If you would like to meet new people, Senior Centers are excellent places to start. Get involved in community activities such as Senior Games or volunteer for your favorite charity. Outside North Carolina, contact your local Area Agency on Aging for Senior Center contact information.|
A faith community may provide you with social interaction as well. Use your imagination and find the best match for you to help you keep engaged with others.
|If you are disabled or if your mobility is limited, the computer can offer you a way to stay connected and to keep the ties to friends and family strong. Many Senior Centers have computers available and provide instruction on their use. Public libraries offer free computer access. Don't become isolated. Reach out.|
North Carolina has a statewide health information and resources website. It provides direct links and is connected to a major health information database. Information can also be found in Spanish. This site is a joint project of UNC and the National library of Medicine.
Remaining independent and able to live in your own home is something everyone wants. As you evaluate your situation and that of your family members, keep in mind that as you age, you may not be able to maintain your current home as you would like to.
- Think about upkeep, yard work, age, taxes, stairs to climb, painting, etc.
- Will you be able to afford to keep your home as it is?
- Will it be safe as it is?
- What is needed to ensure that your current home will be suitable should you have mobility problems?
- Are there other types of housing that might be more appropriate at some time?
Planning for the future will make all the difference in the world. It's not just about planning for incapacity. It's about making "what if" decisions.
- What if I could no longer climb up the stairs to my bedroom...
- What if I didn't have the money to pay the taxes on my home...
- What if my husband starts to forget that he had the stove on...
If you plan ahead for these type of questions, you will know where to go for help and how to modify your home to allow you to remain there, safely, for as long as possible.
One additional note... if you decide to remodel your home to add features that will make it more safe and convenient as you age, try to find a remodeler who has a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist designation. The National Association of Home Builders now offers a three day training program that teaches remodelers how to work with older clients and to understand their specific needs.
Information on Aging-in-Place
National Association of Home Builders
It is well known that having a pet can reduce stress, provide companionship, and improve the quality of life for those willing to provide the basic necessities they require.
The Humane Society of the US wants people to know how pets help people and how to make that partnership and commitment work successfully. They say pets help people as:
- and as companions - especially for the elderly.
|Consider whether a pet would be a good option for your older family member. Should you decide to expand your family, read about pet tips from the Humane Society before bringing in the new family member, consider adoption from your local animal shelter, and remember to plan for the pet as the family member ages and can no longer care for the pet.|
Pre-retirement or "pre-longevity" planning can give you peace of mind. You know your affairs are in order and you know that, should something happen to you unexpectedly, your wishes will be handled as you direct.
|Click below to get information on estate planning which includes wills, health concerns, powers of attorney, property, etc. Pre-planning for the future is for everyone, not just those with a wealth of assets and/or property. And, pre-planning doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Check into it and see for yourself. You will be glad you did!|
|Studies have shown that one of the best ways to stay healthy and happy is to have fun!|
Check with your state government website or go to recreation.gov for links to various state specific recreational offerings.
Check the listing in your local paper for opportunities to participate in programs and activities and use it as a wholesome way to meet new friends.
North Carolina offers a "variety vacationland" where there is a wealth of cultural and recreational activities to fit any budget. Each county has a Parks and Recreation Department. They offer classes, leagues, outings, etc. Many have programs specifically designed to appeal to older adults. Check out your local county government website to see what programs are offered in your area.
|North Carolina Senior Games offers
seniors the opportunity to compete with peers in both physical sports
and the arts. The games are held yearly and all seniors are welcome.
They also sponsor Silver Arts where
older adults can showcase their artistic skills in a variety of formats.
*photo courtesy Silver Arts/Senior Games
The North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation offers a website that will help you to find out about the parks in our state. One feature is the "Attend a Park Event" where all the parks are listed and you enter a month and/or topic that interests you and the site finds suitable events. They also offer a "Visit a Park" feature that will give you detailed information on each state park.
Are you or the person you are caring for disabled?
If so, check into special efforts to make recreation "access-able" to you. To find out what may be available in your area, check with the state agency that provides assistance and opportunities for the disabled. Some of the efforts are comprehensive and make the experience of getting out and enjoying recreational and arts offerings easy and stress free.
|Find My Disability Agency (click on your state; scroll to "Disability Resources"; if not available, go to your state's website and search)|
|What's Available in NC?|
|Another excellent way to enjoy life, stay healthy, and meet new friends is to visit a local Senior Center and take advantage of what they have to offer. Senior Centers offer a wide array of classes, volunteer opportunities, social events, and information. There is usually something for everyone.|
|Find A Senior Center Near Me (ask your Area Agency on Aging)|
|Senior Centers in NC|
|Senior Centers by County in NC|
|Senior Centers by Service Area in NC|
Having a connection with a faith community may offer a person a "second family". Typically, church members help each other in times of need, support each other emotionally, and offer the opportunity to get to know a wide range of people with similar thinking. Some faith communities offer additional support such as transportation, adult day care, child care, etc.
|If you belong to a faith community or choose to become involved, be an active participant and use the opportunities offered to give back to your community. People who do this say it gives them much more than they give in terms of self-satisfaction, self-discovery, and connecting to others in a very real and tangible way.|
Volunteering is a wonderful way to renew your spirit and give to the community. There are many opportunities to volunteer. Think about what you like to do and areas in which you have expertise. Then contact local agencies that do work in those areas. Ask them if they have volunteer opportunities or present your own ideas. Another option is to contact your local volunteer clearinghouse(s).
|Volunteers are always needed in a variety of areas. If you want to volunteer, contact your local volunteer center or call an agency that you think you might like to consider.|
provides opportunities for low-income persons aged sixty and over to provide supportive person-to-person services to children having exceptional needs.
and Senior Volunteer Program
provides opportunities, for individuals fifty-five years of age or older, to share their experience, abilities, and skills to respond to community needs through volunteer service.
provides opportunities for low-income persons aged sixty years of age or older to provide assistance and friendship to frail individuals who are homebound and respite care for caregivers. The purpose of this effort is to help these people remain in their homes as long as possible.
Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
a nonprofit organization dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. Both working and retired executives and business owners donate their time and expertise as volunteer business counselors. Confidential counseling and mentoring are free of charge. Low-cost workshops are also available.
a nonprofit, online service that helps interested volunteers get involved with community service organizations throughout the United States. Volunteers enter their ZIP code to find local volunteer opportunities matching individual interests and schedules.