What’s the Life Expectancy for Someone With Dementia?

Dementia is a type of disease that is thoroughly misunderstood. The widely known view of dementia is that it means someone has Alzheimer’s and is going to forget their family and friends. While this is one true part of what happens in many families affected by dementia, there is a whole medical sphere dedicated to understanding and treating it. 

The fact is, dementia is a fatal disease. Whether it slowly progresses over time or seems to consume a person all too soon, all types of dementia impact the end-of-life process and eventual death. It’s important to learn about what a dementia life expectancy can mean.

How Does Dementia Affect Life Expectancy? 

Many types of dementia cause deterioration to the brain, which means a person’s life expectancy becomes significantly shortened. Other types affect the physical body and motor function, which can lead to a lower quality of life and individual autonomy at an earlier age. 

Some people receive a dementia diagnosis and can still live fairly healthy and functionally for decades to come. Others get diagnosed too late and quickly experience major cognitive decline that leads to early death. 

Dementia changes how a person’s brain functions and processes information. People with dementia develop memory problems, personality changes, impairment to their movement abilities, and a decline in their cognitive, emotional, and physical health. All these things can dramatically affect life expectancy, especially because there is no cure for dementia. 

memory loss due to dementia
Dementia goes through various stages depending on the area of the brain that’s affected.

Symptoms of Dementia 

The signs and symptoms of dementia vary greatly based on what type of dementia a person has. Remember, there are many kinds of dementia that come with their unique challenges and prognoses. 

In general, though, there are overarching symptoms that come with most types. The stages can be seen throughout almost all forms of dementia. In the medical realm, these are referred to as Early Stage Dementia, Middle Stage Dementia, and Late Stage Dementia. 

Here are some of the common symptoms that are seen in each dementia stage.

Early Stage Dementia (Mild Dementia)

  • Memory trouble
  • Forgetfulness, brain fog
  • Mild cognitive impairment 
  • Slight changes in mood or personality
  • Increased inability to focus and concentrate
  • Experiencing “senior moments”, like confusing loved ones’ name or events
  • Losing track of time
  • Decrease in spacial awareness 
  • Trouble finding the right words during conversations
  • Delay in performing basic daily activities, like paying bills, organizing the pantry, or showing up to appointments on time

Middle Stage Dementia

  • Forgetting personal information, like your phone number or a close relative’s address
  • Jumbled long-term or short-term memories (timeline of events become hard to recall)
  • Unexplainable mood swings, irritability, or aggression
  • Forgetting the date, year, or month 
  • Confusing what season one is currently in (wearing winter clothes in mid-summer, etc.)
  • Disturbed sleep (insomnia or excessive sleeping)
  • Repetitive or compulsive actions, such as touching the face or cleaning incessantly 
  • Behavioral changes, paranoia, delusions 
  • Physical impairments like difficulty holding one’s bladder 
  • Wandering aimlessly or easily getting lost in one’s community 

Late Stage Dementia

  • Becoming unfamiliar with loved ones; forgetting family and friends
  • Inability to feed oneself or use the bathroom on their own
  • Drastic behavioral changes
  • Difficulty swallowing food or water 
  • Becoming disillusioned or disconnected from reality
  • Loss of bodily control (walking, using the bathroom, moving, self-care)
  • Communication struggles
  • Loss of personal identity 

How is Dementia Caused? 

As of now, there is no distinct known cause of dementia. Science is always working to research what factors contribute to this deadly disease. It is an extremely complex disorder to fully know. Because of this, it’s also incredibly hard to effectively treat. 

While there are no known causes of all the different types of dementia, there are some theories that it has to do with genetics and lifestyle factors. Right now, the only claim at trying to prevent dementia has to do with lifestyle.

Some of the things that can contribute to dementia development include:

  • Severe brain injury
  • Damage to brain cells
  • Preexisting medical conditions that decrease oxygen to the brain
  • Genetics and personal health
  • Unhealthy lifestyle 

Common ways to prevent dementia that are known include leading a healthy life. Eating clean, practicing regular exercise, learning how to effectively manage stress, and engaging in brain-stimulating activities and hobbies might be able to help. All these things are what help keep the brain healthy, active, and capable of repair. 

Types of Dementia: Life Expectancy for Each

Each type of dementia has its own set of symptoms, outcomes, and timeline that affects life expectancy. Additionally, every person who is diagnosed with dementia will have factors that affect their experience with dementia. No two dementia cases are perfectly identical, but they can be similar.

Alzheimer’s Disease 

The most frequent diagnosis and cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease has shown major patterns in dementia life expectancy. This is because it comes with brain damage associated with a disconnect in neurons (brain never cells). 

Some studies have shown that this disease is also associated with a buildup of abnormal fibers and proteins in the brain, which can contribute to memory loss. Eventually, the brain physically deteriorates over time. This is what leads to the eventual cause of death among late-stage dementia. 

Symptoms Specific to Alzheimer’s

  • Decline in cognition 
  • Memory loss
  • A decline in thinking, reasoning, and expression 
  • Impaired judgment when making decisions 
  • Personality and behavior changes 
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Confusion 
  • Progressive decline overall 

The life expectancy of someone with Alzheimer’s disease is typically 10 years or so after they have been diagnosed. Some people with Alzheimer’s live decades after they onset dementia symptoms begin. Others only live 6-8 years past their initial mild symptoms.

Lewy Body Dementia 

Another common type of dementia is Lewy body dementia (LBD), or “dementia with Lewy bodies”. This is another type of dementia that increasingly gets worse and worse over time until inevitable death. 

“Lewy bodies” are types of proteins that grow and build up in the brain. An abnormal amount of lew bodies can begin to grow and interrupt brain nerve cells. When this happens, it can drastically affect thinking and physical motor ability. 

LBD is slightly different than Alzheimer’s because it is generally related to more severe physical symptoms and changes to how the brain processes information. There are two types of Lewy body dementia:

1. Dementia with Lewy bodies

2. Parkinson’s disease dementia 

Symptoms of LBD:

  • Muscle aches or stiffness
  • Tremors or shakes
  • Major changes to behavior 
  • Struggles with balance and movement 
  • Memory issues
  • Disorganized thoughts, speech, and emotions
  • Decline in alertness 
  • Hallucinations 
  • The body struggling to regulate blood pressure, heart rate, and digestion 
  • Damage to the automatic nervous system

Lewy body dementia life expectancies usually range from 4 – 8 years after diagnosis. However, some people have lived roughly 20 years after being diagnosed with LBD. Symptoms usually start mild and slow, then progress over a number of years. 

Vascular Dementia 

Vascular dementia is a type of dementia that is caused by issues with the vascular system (anything related to blood and oxygen transfer). This dementia is a result of changes or blockages in the body’s blood supply to the brain. 

Most often with vascular dementia, it occurs after a stroke or serious injury. When the blood supply is dangerously cut off from the brain, brain cells can die and parts of the brain can become permanently damaged. People can start to show symptoms right after a stroke (or numerous strokes), or signs can appear years later.

Symptoms of Vascular Dementia

  • Stroke-like symptoms 
  • Paralysis, weakness, or numbness either in one part or several parts of the body
  • Difficulty walking or moving
  • Gaps in reasoning or logical thinking
  • Changes in personality and mood
  • More intense emotions and mood swings than usual
  • Unable to focus or pay attention to important tasks

Typically, the life expectancy for someone with vascular dementia is short. On average, people live about 5 years after being diagnosed. They can sometimes live longer, but it’s unlikely that their lifespan will include capabilities before middle-stage dementia symptoms. They will usually require constant care and supervision. 

Frontotemporal Dementia 

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) can appear in people younger than 50, which is a bit different compare to Alzheimer’s or Lewy body dementia. Most of the time, Frontotemporal dementia is diagnosed in people around their 40s. 

This is a more rare type of dementia and its main characteristics affect language and behavior. It can be a scary and confusing disorder when not diagnosed on time, or when improperly diagnosed. 

Symtps of Frontotemporal Dementia 

  • Language and speech problems 
  • Loss of social awareness (acting out or being inappropriate in groups)
  • Major personality changes 
  • Mood changes (depression, panic, aggression)
  • Obsessive or compulsive actions (drug or alcohol use, repetitive actions)
  • Loss of motivation for life 
  • Repetitive communication or incoherent expression 
  • Dangerous risk-taking behavior or outlandish ideas
  • Fragments in empathy or compassion; malicious actions
  • Becoming impulsive 
  • Signs of mental illness

The frontotemporal lobe dementia life expectancy is, on average, 6 – 8 years after being diagnosed. They can sometimes live another decade, but require 24/7 supervision and health care. 

Is There Treatment for Different Types of Dementia?

There is currently no cure or official treatment for any type of dementia. As mentioned before, it is a fatal disease that progresses over time. The only “treatment” for it is to track and manage the symptoms that come with each phase. 

Providing comfort, safety, support, and medical care throughout the three stages is often the only thing that can be done during the person’s new dementia life expectancy. 

How to Know Someone’s Dementia Life Expectancy 

Life and death are constant mysteries that no human will likely ever fully figure out. Of course, there is no way to officially know how long someone will continue to live, even if they have a sure diagnosis of something. 

But by observing scientific patterns of the various types of dementia, you can get a general range of time for how most other people with that disease have lived. 

With modern technology, there is even data prediction software that can account for relevant symptoms and predict average life expectancy. This type of technology uses dementia research and algorithms to give an estimated prediction of how long a person might live. It takes into account their lifestyle, age, history, diagnosis, and level of care available. 

You should never rely on this type of estimate, but it’s simply a guide. If you or a loved one has dementia, focus on getting the right types of care they will need moving forward. Enjoy the time you have left with them. Find the support you need as a family member during this hard diagnosis. 

retired couple holding hands and looking at each other
Dementia can be overwhelming for the families of affected people and support is needed from the healthcare system.

Caring for Someone With a Dementia Diagnosis 

Finding out someone you care about has dementia can be a piece of life-shattering news. So many questions, fears, and sorrows come with the realization that a friend or family member will soon be rapidly declining in their last years of life. 

There are ways to find peace, support, and adequate care for your loved one with dementia. It might take some time at first, but developing a care plan can make everyone’s life easier in the next phase. 

Make a Plan

The first step to caring for someone with dementia is to make a plan. Learn all you can about their type of dementia. 

As time progresses, research hospitals, nursing homes, and dementia care advocates, so you have a set plan of action when your loved one starts to reach late-stage dementia. In the later stages, dementia patients require ongoing, constant supervision and medical aid. 

Health Care Aid

Managing and monitoring someone with dementia can be expensive when it comes to health care. Look into what your insurance provider will cover, seek government aid, and any local resources available to you and your family. 

Remember that you don’t have to do this alone. It takes a community that loves and supports each other to get through the challenges that come with dementia and death.

At Home Caregivers

If your loved one is entering the middle to late stages of their disease, you must look into home caregivers. These professionals can make the patient comfortable, help them with daily life, and be there if any emergencies occur. 

Support from Loved Ones and Community

There are support groups for family and friends of individuals with dementia. It’s a life-harrowing process, and the sad fact is that dementia loses your loved one slowly. Finding a safe mental and emotional outlet to process, share, and grieve the little losses can keep you sane as you continue to care for them in their last years.

What to Do During End of Life Dementia

Once the inevitable end-of-life process begins and your loved one with dementia can no longer function on their own, there are a few steps required on behalf of family and friends. Here are the general steps that occur during the final stages of dementia.

Understanding 

If the person’s dementia has been happening for years or even decades, you’ve likely had time to reach an understanding of what will happen. If not, learn more about dementia while you can, so you can offer the support needed. 

Remember to not take any outrageous or negative behaviors personally, as it’s not the patient’s fault they are acting this way. They might say offensive things, behave aggressively, or completely forget who you are. It’s easy to become angry and hurt by witnessing this tragic loss of their personality. But it’s not the person who is doing these things… it’s an effect of their brain’s decline. 

Family Support 

Bringing the family together and helping each other out is a crucial aspect of late-stage dementia. Although you might not be able to emotionally relate to your loved one anymore as they near death, you can lean on fellow loved ones to say goodbye and find peace in the situation. 

Comfort Your Loved One

The only thing left to do is now make sure your loved one is comfortable, safe, and has the care they need during their last moments. Caregivers can make sure they live in a sanitary environment, have the nourishment they need, and ensure they won’t cause any harm to themselves or others.

Acceptance

Finally, acceptance of the person’s life and death helps bring peace to the loss. It takes a long time to grieve a loved one after slowly losing them to dementia. But starting to accept the loss for what it is can help you move forward with precious memories and time you did share with them, whether during their best or worst.

If you need guidance finding care or support for someone with dementia, reach out to a professional care facility today. Help is available and your family needs all the resources they can get. 

What Are Arthritis Nodules? (Joint Nodules)

Nearly 25% of people living with Rheumatoid arthritis experience something called arthritis nodules. Also called rheumatoid nodules or joint nodules, these fleshy, painless bumps can be seen on areas of the body where joints are most affected by arthritis. 

At first, these growths can appear unsightly, but the good news is that they’re often not as serious as they seem. They can be treated and usually go away on their own. Depending on the level of care received, they can become a persistent issue or occur several times a year.

What Are Rheumatoid Nodules?

Arthritis nodules are associated with the chronic inflammation condition called Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This is a type of autoimmune disease where a person’s immune system wrongfully fights against its healthy joint and tissue cells. 

The main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are:

  • Ongoing joint pain
  • Stiffness in the muscles, joints, and tissues
  • Tenderness or pain in the body
  • Fatigue
  • Fevers 
  • Feeling achy or stiff throughout the day for more than 6 weeks

These main symptoms of RA can be painful and debilitating. However, the rheumatoid nodules themselves don’t typically cause pain. The main cause for concern in people who get joint nodes are unattractiveness and slight discomfort. 

a woman wth rheumatoid arthritis holding a cup of tea
Approximately 5% of people with rheumatoid arthritis develop joint nodules within two years of disease onset.

What Does an Arthritis Nodule Feel Like?

Rheumatoid nodules can feel squishy or firm. They can move around freely unless attached to deeper tissues in the joint, where they can feel stuck or hardened. Many people claim they feel like little balls of dough when touched. 

When it comes to size, arthritis nodules can be as small as a mustard seed or as large as stone fruit, like a plum or peach. They’re almost always round in shape but can sometimes be linear or deformed-looking. 

Are These Nodules Painful?

More often than not, arthritis nodules are not painful. Sometimes they can become sore or tender if they are attached to underlying nerves that are already inflamed, but the nodules themselves generally don’t cause any pain. 

Where Can Arthritis Nodules Develop?

Usually, joint nodules grow in areas of the body where frequently-used joints experience friction or pressure points with everyday movement. Sometimes they can develop where an individual’s body part touches a surface, such as on the tailbone of someone bedridden. 

Most often, Rheumatoid patients notice these nodules on their:

  • Elbows
  • Hands
  • Knuckles
  • Finger joints
  • Back of the heels (Achilles tendon)
  • Tailbone

In more severe cases, they can form in more areas of the body where you might not expect. These include:

What Causes Joint Nodules?

The causes of rheumatoid arthritis nodules aren’t specifically known at the moment. It’s something that causes a bit of scientific mystery, especially because these types of arthritis nodules aren’t often seen in other forms of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other rare forms of joint-related immune system disorders don’t cause nodules. 

One thing that is known to contribute to the forming of arthritis nodules is a type of medication called methotrexate. Many people with RA are prescribed this medication to help their immune system slow down and not worsen the painful symptoms of RA.

If methotrexate is the main risk factor in rheumatoid nodules, the doctor will switch antirheumatic drugs to something like rituximab.

What Are Rheumatoid Arthritis Nodules Made Of?

As these growths affect someone with RA on the dermis level (having to do with the skin), studies have shown that they are made of several different elements. 

Dead skin cells: Old, dead protein cells in and on the body can build up and accumulate in the nodules.

Fibrins: Associated with blood clotting and tissue repair, sometimes fibrins are found in RA nodules.

Inflammatory tissues: As stated, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory joint disease which means excess antibodies can build up and cause RA nodules. 

Who Gets Joint Nodules?

Some rheumatoid arthritis cases are diagnosed because of an observable onset of rheumatoid nodules. They can sometimes be mistaken for cysts, bursitis, tumors, or more serious skin conditions. Taking other symptoms into account can help a doctor properly diagnose the actual disorder. 

People most likely to get arthritis nodes are:

  • Those who have a severe form of Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • People with RA who smoke cigarettes
  • Someone with a family history of RA
  • Women with RA (more likely to develop in females)
  • RA patients who are bedridden
  • A patient with arthritis who takes the prescription medication methotrexate
  • People who work with their hands a lot while having Rheumatoid arthritis
A needle biospy questionnaire.
A skin biopsy may be needed to confirm arthritis nodule diagnosis.

How Are They Diagnosed? 

Most of the time, people who already have a diagnosis of rheumatology can be easily diagnosed with joint nodules once they start to appear. 

Some patients have a higher rheumatoid factor, which means there are higher amounts of proteins in their body that actively attack their healthy joint cells. This means their symptoms are likely more painful and ongoing. People with a lower rheumatoid factor could have few symptoms or be asymptomatic.

If the person doesn’t know they have arthritis, a rheumatologist will be able to diagnose properly. They might do a biopsy of the nodes which can help them give medical advice.

Symptoms of Arthritis Nodules:

  • Small to large masses of growth on the skin near joint areas
  • Numerous nodes forming in one area (AKA Accelerated Nodulosis)
  • Typically round but sometimes oddly shaped or linear
  • Able to be moved around loosely under the skin
  • Rubbery, squishy, or firm lumps
  • Bumps or lesions that lack ulceration (they don’t cause open wounds or drainage)
  • Existing or co-occurring diagnosis of rheumatic diseases
  • Other skin conditions like psoriasis or vasculitis have been ruled out

Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis Nodes

In most instances, RA nodules don’t require treatment. They likely go away on their own over time. They can come and go depending on the flare-up of symptoms in patients whom arthritis affects.

Sometimes, though, these nodules can inhibit movement and comfort. If a nodule is too large, like the size of a lemon, corticosteroids can be injected to shrink the size. Surgical removal is also an option to treat some nodules, if necessary. 

If a person with RA has ongoing joint nodules that debilitate them, they often seek at-home care or assisted living. A caregiver can help improve their health and lifestyle needs while living with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. 

10 Great Hobbies for Seniors & Elderly People

Retirement can be a big shift for many older adults. For most people, it is a positive shift. You will find the opportunity to do things you never had time for before. However, for others, the shift may be more difficult. These retirees may experience more problems with mobility and daily activities, as well as increased illnesses, and decreased mental health. For some people, their job was their identity, and when it is gone, they may start to feel purposeless. However, engaging in new skills or activities can turn this way of thinking around. Elderly people can use this newfound free time to engage in fulfilling hobbies that they enjoy, allowing them to experience more meaning and purpose in life.

Some seniors may be restricted in their ability to participate in some activities. However, there are plenty of hobbies that are perfect for those confined to a sedentary lifestyle. Even though the physical body may be restricted, exercising the mind can have a major positive impact on your long-term health. 

Picking Out Your New Hobby

So let’s explore what sort of hobbies may be right for you. Think about your interests, as well as physical limitations. Let’s take a closer look to figure out what kind of hobbies would suit you best. Ask yourself:

Would you like a group activity or solo activity? Solo activities can include things like photography, bird watching, painting, or candle making. Group activities could include card games, traveling, RVing, or swing dancing. 

Was there an old hobby in the past you didn’t have time for? Think back to the past, maybe even as far back as childhood. Some things we enjoyed in our childhood can give us some of the greatest joys, even later in life. You may be able to reignite an old passion by picking up that forgotten pastime. 

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time? During your working years, did you perhaps see or hear about things that interested you? Perhaps you thought you would enjoy it, but you were too busy at the time. Well now is the time to explore it!

Would you enjoy an Inside hobby or an outside one? If you are a home care patient, you will have to find an indoor activity that caregivers can assist you with. This may include computer games, bird watching, or jewelry-making. Or perhaps you would like to spend more time outside. Think about what you love to do outside and go for what interests you most. 

Would you like to challenge your physical capabilities or mental ones? If you are looking to sharpen your mental skills, perhaps you will be suited for reading, playing games, or learning a new language. If you want to do something more physical, think about taking up pickleball, golf, aerobics, or bowling. 

Would you like to engage in a new activity on the water or land? If you are near a body of water, try swimming, boating, fishing, or snorkeling. If you are on land, try hiking, ax throwing, or horseback riding.

Do you want a hobby that makes a difference around you and gives a sense of purpose? If so, consider volunteering, fundraising, or fostering an animal. You could also consider taking an online class learning something you could implement in your daily life to benefit others around you. For instance, take a cooking class and prepare fine meals for your family and friends. 

Do you want to explore a new hobby online? Get more familiar with online platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook. Try out a new app that may be helpful to you. Consider buying or selling products on eBay, Etsy, or Amazon. You could also subscribe to podcasts that interest you. Or consider joining an online gaming community to make some friends around the world.

Hopefully, these introspective questions have gotten your motivation juices flowing. Perhaps you have already come up with a new hobby you are interested in pursuing. If you are still stumped, here is a list of some of our favorite hobby ideas for elderly people.

Reading is a great way for seniors to relax.

1. Reading

When was the last time you got lost in a good book? Not only are books a fun escape for our imaginations, but reading can also enhance seniors’ cognitive abilities. It may even help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. And having these improvements in cognition can in turn preserve one’s lifespan. Let’s explore some of the cognitive benefits of reading: 

  • Improves memory: Studies have shown that people who stimulate their brain through reading can experience a slower rate of memory decline than those who didn’t. Even if you haven’t read in years, if you start engaging in a frequent cognitive activity like reading now, you may reduce your rate of decline by 32%! When you read, you engage your short-term memory to recall earlier parts of the book. As a result, your short-term memory in everyday life can improve as well. You can also mold your brain in this way to become more receptive to learning, as well as being able to retain more things in your memory. 
  • Improves decision-making skills: Challenging your brain through reading can enhance your ability to analyze and reason to solve problems. This is an ability that declines throughout adulthood. 
  • Delays onset of memory-related diseases: When you engage in activities that challenge your brain, you build a reserve of neural connections. Having more means it will take longer for Alzheimer’s or dementia to destroy these neurons, and thus will take longer for symptoms to emerge. 
  • Reduces stress: Research has shown that getting lost in a book can reduce stress faster than many other relaxing activities. This includes listening to music, going for a walk, or having a cup of tea. For readers, it can take only 6 minutes for heart rate and muscle tension to relax once they have picked up a book. 
  • Better sleep: Turning the pages of a book at bedtime is more likely to help you fall asleep faster than changing the channels on TV. This is because turning reading into a regular bedtime activity will signal your body that it is time to sleep. Not only will TV keep you up longer, but it can also disrupt your rest. Pick up a book instead, and you may even continue the story in your dreams!

Besides the listed cognitive benefits, you may even experience social ones as well. We suggest joining a book club or hanging out at a local library. You can find someone to discuss your favorite books with, or explore new ones together. 

2. Bird Watching

You’ll be surprised by what you notice when you just stop and watch the world around you. Birds can be very fun to watch. You will notice their intelligence, humor, cleverness, craftiness, and social interaction. If you are no longer mobile, bird watching may be a great new activity to try. It can easily be done from the comfort of a home window or around the neighborhood. As you watch over time, you will get familiar with your local birds and their personalities. 

Birdwatching is quickly becoming one of the most popular hobbies around the country, and for a few good reasons. It is simple, inexpensive, and encourages us to get outdoors. Not only that, this hobby can stimulate memory, alertness, and attention to detail. Getting to know the rhythm and pattern of local birds coming and going can be stress-relieving for seniors.

Getting started doesn’t take much. Focus on creating a welcome space for birds, keeping in mind food, water, and shelter. Here are a few things you can use to create a bird-friendly environment: 

Bird feeders: Place feeders throughout the yard, hanging from trees, bushes, or any structure that can hold the weight. Fill the feeders with nutritious seeds like sunflower, safflower, shelled and cracked corn, peanuts, flaxseed, sorghum, etc. 

Birdhouses: Including a birdhouse will set you up for lots of prime bird watching. Some of the most fascinating bird activity happens during the nesting season. With the addition of a house for birds to nest in, you will be able to observe courting, nest building, laying of eggs, and hatching.

Water baths: Birdbaths and water features are not only a source of hydration, the water can help birds clean and care for their feathers. Place the birdbath in a flat part of the yard that doesn’t get too much sun.

Binoculars: If you don’t have the convenience of close-up bird watching, invest in a pair of binoculars. If you are going somewhere, you can bring the binoculars along to observe a new bird environment. 

Bird guide: Find a bird guide that features birds in your local area to help you identify and learn about your neighborhood feathered friends.

Another helpful way to create an ideal environment for birds is to include a variety of bird-friendly plants in your yard. Find out what is local to your region, preferably plants that survive in all seasons. The birds will eat the fruit, nuts, seeds, and berries of these plants, and feed unwelcome insects to their young. 

3. Gardening

Besides attracting wonderful birds to your yard, gardening has an endless amount of other benefits. It provides a hefty amount of physical activity, allowing you to burn calories and strengthen muscles. The sun’s rays will provide you essential vitamin D, and you will feel the stress melt away as you enjoy the relaxing effects of connecting with nature. Consider implementing raised beds or vertical gardening to minimize the strain on your back and joints. Also keep in mind the environment you live in, and which plants will ideally grow. Native species are always a good bet, but here are a few ideas of easy things you can plant: 

Fruits and vegetables:

  • Bell peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cabbage
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic 
  • Cucumbers

Herbs:

  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Thyme 
  • Parsley

Flowers:

  • Sunflowers
  • Nigella
  • Sweet peas
  • Marigolds
  • Nasturtiums
  • Fuschias
  • Pansy

4. Volunteering

Volunteering can enhance the overall well-being of seniors. It provides a sense of purpose and meaning, which can often be diminished after retirement. It can also contribute to improved self-esteem, knowing you are making a positive difference in the world. Seniors tend to withdraw and isolate as they age, often causing them to suffer from depression. However, the new friends that can be made and the sense of community that comes with volunteering is a lifeline for senior’s mental health. Here are some ideas of areas and places where seniors can volunteer:

  • Humane societies or animal shelters
  • Legal advocate i.e. International Seniors Lawyers Project
  • Political campaigns
  • Tour guide
  • Disaster relief i.e. Red Cross
  • Hunger relief i.e. Meals on Wheels
  • Working with children i.e. Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Helping veterans i.e. USO
  • Habitat for Humanity

5. Research Family History 

Tracing one’s genealogy is becoming an increasingly popular trend. And now being able to use the Internet as a helpful resource, older adults can find out more than they ever could have imagined. Seniors can compile family records and heirlooms, record stories, or take DNA tests. They can easily contact relatives around the world, as well as discover the family medical history that may affect them. Elderly people will enjoy sharing their stories through video recordings, scrapbooking of family photos, or write down family history for their loved ones to treasure and pass down. 

Understanding more about where they come from can help seniors feel a sense of identity, which can provide them with peace. They may gain a sense of pride by knowing and understanding everything their ancestors did to ensure the thriving of their family. Additionally, thinking back to their own life experiences will exercise their memory recall, therefore strengthening their cognition.

Learning how to play music is a great way to enjoy your day.

6. Learn to Play a Musical Instrument

Have you ever wanted to play music, but never had the time to learn? In the senior years is one of the best times to take on such a hobby. Not only will it keep the brain active and stimulated, but it will also help with memory retention, hand-eye coordination, and sharpen dexterity. Depending on what level of difficulty you want, here are a variety of instruments you can learn:

Easiest:

  • Ukulele
  • Harmonica
  • Piano

More difficult:

  • Guitar
  • Recorder/Tin Whistle
  • Bongos/Drums

7. Playing Games

Games aren’t just for kids. People of all ages can enjoy them. Seniors can benefit greatly from playing a variety of games. Games can improve memory and other brain functions. Stimulating the brain through play can even help deter the progression of dementia. Not only does playing games provide cognitive benefits, but it also encourages social activity. Playing games with grandkids or a group of friends can prevent isolation and loneliness, a common problem in seniors. Get together, laugh, and try some of these games with your loved ones: 

Puzzle, Tile, and Board Games: 

  • Chess
  • Monopoly
  • Backgammon
  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Checkers
  • Dominos 
  • Mahjong
  • Jenga
  • Cranium
  • Scrabble
  • Jigsaw puzzles

Card games:

  • Rummy
  • Cribbage
  • Canasta
  • Pinochle
  • UNO
  • Bridge
  • Spades
  • Crazy Eights
  • Old Main

Video/Computer/Phone Games:

  • Bejeweled
  • Candy Crush Saga
  • World of Warcraft
  • Words with Friends 2
  • Puyo Puyo Tetris

Word and Number Games:

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Sudoku
  • Boggle 
  • Scattergories
  • Balderdash
  • Word Search

8. Learn a New Language

After retirement, seniors are overwhelmed with free time. Some seniors choose to spend this free time traveling and exploring the world, something they have never had the opportunity to do. A good way to prepare for traveling is to learn the language of the country you will be visiting. Not only will it enhance the enjoyment of your trip by making it less stressful, but you will also benefit from the enhanced cognition that comes along with language learning. 

Learning a new language challenges the brain to recognize words, determine meaning, and enhance overall communication. Bilingual people are said to have better problem-solving and decision-making skills. Committing yourself to the study of a new language may put you out of your comfort zone, but the new world it opens up will be so rewarding.

9. Walking

Living a sedentary lifestyle is one of the quickest ways to experience a cognitive and physical decline. Walking, as well as any other physical activity, should be implemented into our lives for the following benefits:

  • Improves heart health
  • Fresh air exposure
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces pain by strengthening muscles
  • Low participation cost
  • Promotes social interaction

And lastly, this low-impact activity can help improve your general sense of well-being by reducing anxiety and boosting your mood. As you walk, you will find yourself feeling more positive and optimistic about life. Grab a friend and explore the neighborhood, stopping to enjoy nature sights, as well as connecting with your neighbors. 

10. Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts are powerful mediums of self-expression. Get in touch with your inner artist, whether you consider yourself talented or not. The experience of getting lost in creating will help you release stress while improving cognition and motor skills. Plus, whatever you create can be shared as a gift to the world. The ability to inspire others and make them smile through your art creation will spur on further projects. This will make it more and more worthwhile as your ability improves. Here are some fun arts and crafts activities that seniors love:

  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Ornament-making
  • Knitting
  • Pottery
  • Scrapbooking
  • Jewelry-making
  • Quilting
  • Woodworking

Ignite New Passion in Your Golden Years

The best hobbies are the ones that ignite a new passion for you. This newfound motivation will bring you more health benefits, not to mention healthy aging. We here at CareAsOne hope this article has inspired you to pursue an exciting new path in your golden years.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Explained

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal aid program that provides financial assistance and resources to seniors and those with disabilities. SSI is run by the Social Security Administration.

Supplemental Security Income is income-based and delivered as needed depending on the individual and their circumstances. 

How Does SSI Work?

Supplement Security Income requires an application and approval process. If approved, it provides a monthly payment for those with low income and restricted access to healthy resources because of their disability. 

Most U.S. states offer medical and healthcare assistance through SSI as well. This added health insurance assistance can help pay for nursing homes, hospital visits, medical bills, medications, and more. Other added benefits such as state supplemental state income and food assistance apply, depending on the situation.

Elderly couple in wheelchairs, holding hands
SSI requires recipients to have less than $2,000 in assets, for a single person, and $3,000 for a couple.

How Does Someone Get SSI? 

There are several requirements needed to be eligible for receiving SSI. The main requirement is being a child or adult with a disability, being over the age of 65, or being legally blind. You must also have limited income and/or limited access to resources. 

SSI is different from Social Security benefits. Social Security is based on prior work history and income, whereas Supplemental Security Income is mostly based on income (or lack of income).

If you legally worked in the United States for a certain period of time and formerly (or presently) paid Social Security taxes, you qualify.

Where Does SSI Aid Come From?

SSI is provided by the United States Treasury, not by Social Security tax. Funds come from taxes from corporations, income tax, and some state taxes, depending on the state. Employers pay a fixed rate to help fund SSI for the disabled. Federal taxes such as FICA do not fund SSI.

Who Qualifies for SSI?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has all the information you need when looking to apply for SSI. To quality for SSI and benefits, you must be:

  • Blind, disabled, or over 65 years of age 
  • A citizen of the United States, or qualified alien 
  • Have limited access to income and living resources 
  • Not currently under the care of a government institution (such as prisons or mental hospitals)
  • Gives permission for the SSA to inquire about financial records and taxes
  • Fully and honestly complete an application 
  • Not be vacant from the United States for more than 30 days at a time

Only U.S. citizens and qualified aliens are capable of receiving Supplemental Security Income. Being considered a U.S. national, which means you aren’t a U.S. citizen but are still protected by the United States government, still qualifies you to apply for SSI.

A “national” is not a citizen with the same rights as Americans, but can still receive benefits and aid. People from Swain Islands or American Samoa are nationals. 

People who are currently receiving other benefits, such as Social Security, unemployment, or food stamps can still receive SSI, but it might affect the amount you are able to receive monthly.

Qualifications Needed to Receive SSI:

People Over 65 Years Old

“Aged” individuals are adults over 65 years of age. Seniors are often qualifying for receiving Supplemental Security Income for disability resources. Most recipients of SSI are seniors who are no longer able to work fully and therefore have a limited source of income. 

One of the reasons SSI exists is to provide the resources needed for the elderly. Things like housing, caregiver aid, medications, and doctor’s bills are part of SSI benefits. Some states even allow Medicare or Medicaid help for seniors. 

Children and Adults With Disabilities

Disabled children can also qualify for SSI. The parent or legal guardian of the child must apply for them to receive benefits. A child with a disability, which means any ongoing physical or mental condition that severely affects normal functioning or leads to death, can be eligible for SSI.

Applying for child SSI requires state eligibility to review the application as well, in case any added state supplemental aid is available for the child and family. 

The Blind

People with blindness also qualify for SSI. Certain requirements define what “blindness” means for receiving SSI. However, even if you are not legally blind but have a severe visual impairment, you might still be able to apply to receive SSI. 

U.S. Citizenship

A U.S. citizen is an individual who was born in the United States or U.S. territories. A citizen is also eligible to legally work in this country at 18 years of age or older.

Other U.S. citizens include legal immigrants who have been accepted as citizens through naturalization. 

Live in One of 50 States or Legal Territories

To qualify for Supplemental Security Income you must live in one of the 50 states or legal territories. People in the Northern Mariana Islands or the District of Columbia also qualify. Children of an active military parent who is currently serving overseas are also legally eligible.

Haven’t Left the Country for 30 Days or More

A person who leaves the country for a total of 30 days or more won’t be eligible for SSI that following month. This is because SSI is meant to serve people living in the United States and receive benefits while in the U.S. 

Family Member Caregivers of a Disabled Person with SSI

Family and legal caregivers of those with disabilities can even apply to receive Supplemental Security Income. The process of your qualifications is best reviewed at your nearest Social Security office in person or over the phone.

There are many factors that dictate whether or not you’ll be qualified for receiving income and benefits as an SSI care provider. The SSA will need to run a detailed review of you and your patient (or family member)’s medical and financial details.

Since Supplemental Security Income is a form of disability benefits offered on a needs-based scale, the amount of SSI benefits you receive vary greatly on your income situation. 

If you’re the parent of a child with a disability or the adult child of an elder with a disability, it’s possible for you to receive SSI aid if you’re considered the full-time caregiver. You can also apply for a disabled person if they are unable to apply for themselves.

People hand holding eraser for change word "disability" to "ability"
SSI helps disabled people via healthcare aid.

How Does SSI Help People With Disabilities?

The Social Security Administration helps people with disabilities in two main ways. One is through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which provides payroll aid to people with limited employment options due to their personal disability.

The second is through Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as we’ve discussed so far. Aside from supplemental income, SSI provides people with healthcare aid.

Although they will not pay for the cost of caregivers upfront, it can help supplement other aid such as Medicaid, as Medicaid is based on a low income.

How Much Does SSI Pay Those With Eligibility? 

SSI helps the disabled by offering up to $794 per individual per month. For a married couple, SSI offers up to $1,191 per month. However, the amount paid to the individual or couple varies depending on their alternative sources of income or aid, such as Social Security, non-cash earnings, and more.

When reviewing your application and personal information, the Social Security Administration will also conduct a “deeming of resources”. This is when they review certain possessions that are valuable and add to the price of living and income for you or your family.

Things such as your car, life insurance, cash, property, or anything else that can be exchanged for payment all account for deemable resources. The total amount of deemable resources taken out from income status when applying for SSI are equal to $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples.

You can view a detailed list of all the resources that do and do not count when applying for SSI on this Social Security information page.

Do Supplemental Security Income Benefits Pay for Caregivers?

SSI Benefits do not pay directly for the cost of obtaining a caregiver. However, SSI can assist patients in meeting other financial needs while they receive assistance from caregivers elsewhere. 

Since living with disabilities can be difficult, it’s recommended that you seek multiple forms of aid for you or your loved one with a disability. There are many options in the United States to receive assistance, both federally and through the state you and your family live in.

Other programs can help you afford the type of caregivers you need, such as Caregiver Assistance Programs and becoming a paid full-time caregiver to a family member.

Can a Family Member Receive SSI for Taking Care of a Loved One?

Yes, sometimes a family member can apply to receive SSI for providing caregiving services to a  loved one. Caring for a family member with a disability can take up a lot of your time, energy, and financial resources.

That’s why there are options available for those who take personal care of a loved one full-time. Because they are busy caring for their disabled or elderly family member, the caregiver cannot spend normal hours at a regular job that provides consistent income. 

If you’re a spouse of a disabled senior, you might qualify for additional SSI or SSDI benefits. You must be at least 62 years old, formerly dependent on the now disabled person, and eligible to receive government aid. 

Some people even create “care contracts” in which the disabled person allocates a certain amount of income to the family caregiver for their time and service. A stipend or monthly payment may be established within a legal agreement between the caregiver and the patient.

However, this is only advised if you and the disabled person consult a contract from a lawyer to protect each of you from potential legal troubles. When it comes to family and financial matters, things can get messy if left unaddressed or undone. 

Application form with ballpoint pen. Focus on social security number's fields.
You can apply for SSI either online or in-person at the Social Security office.

What You’ll Need to Apply

To apply for Supplemental Security Income, first, you must meet the eligibility requirements:

  • Blind
  • Disabled
  • 65 years or older
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Limited income and resources 
  • Other standards for eligibility

If you meet these basic standards, you will need to apply for SSI through a Social Security office or online. It’s wise to go in person and receive the assistance of a professional SSA worker who knows each step to guide you through. 

They’ll ask for your proof of income, medical records, level of care services required, details of your disability, living situation, and other necessary detailed information. 

Other Things to Know About SSI

Now that you are aware of the basics involved with Supplemental Security Income and SSDI, there are other finer details you need to know when interested in applying for aid. 

States Excluded from Additional SSI

Even though most states have their own additional aid for Supplemental Security Income, some states don’t supplement federal SSI.

The states that do not offer additional assistance are Arizona, Mississippi, North Dakota, and West Virginia. North Mariana Island, a national territory with the U.S., also does not offer state assistance.

Married Couples

Couples can receive benefits from SSI. They can apply as a couple and receive a higher monthly payment combined if their circumstances qualify them. Spousal care is one of the sections to fill out during the application process.

Apply with an employee at the Social Services department, as they’ll be able to help you with other details such as social security retirement benefits and more. 

Payment Frequency

SSI is paid on the first of the month every month. Again, cash benefit amounts and other aid like waivers vary depending on the application process, the person’s income, and the U.S. state in which they reside. 

Non-Citizens of the United States

Some immigrants and non-American citizens can still qualify for SSI benefits. The requirements are: 

  • Meet the list of requirements of being a qualified alien 
  • Be a national who’s part of the legal U.S. territories 
  • Legal to work in the United States over 18 years of age and receive income

Who Is Not Able to Receive SSI?

You will not be able to apply for or receive SSI if you are:

  • In jail
  • Currently under the care of a public institution (such as a hospital) 
  • An illegal immigrant 
  • A qualified alien who gets your legal status revoked or changed 
  • Have left the United States for more than 30 days at a time
  • Are caught selling redeemable resources for less than they’re worth, in attempts to cheat the $2,000 or $3,000 value limit qualification 
  • Are charged with a felony or have a warrant for your arrest 

Supplemental Security Income and Caregivers 

If you are receiving SSI or thinking about applying for SSI, hopefully this article sets you on the right track toward getting the most benefit out of Social Security disability benefits.

If you still need caregiver services for a disability or are a senior living at home who needs help or home health care, don’t hesitate to call the main Social Security Administration helpline at 1-800-772-1213. 

SSI for Family Caregivers 

If you’re a family member or loved one who’s concerned about providing a caregiver for someone you care about, you can also receive help in finding what you need at your income level. 

You can contact the above SSA helpline number or visit online. You can also look into other options for becoming a paid family caregiver to your loved one. Other programs such as the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provide further caregiver support for those already caring for their family.

How Is Dementia Fatal — And Why?

An increasing leading cause of death among the elderly today is dementia. Dementia is a group of brain degenerative diseases that cause memory and thought impairment. There are different types of dementia that can affect people at various stages throughout old age.

Although there is no specific known cause of dementia, many times it results from the gradual deterioration of the brain which causes a severe impact on cognitive function over time. It’s helpful to know what to expect if you care for someone with dementia.

If left unaddressed, the symptoms of dementia and the changes it causes can be overwhelming and sometimes frightening. Why exactly is dementia so fatal? How does dementia eventually kill you?

What is Dementia?

The term “dementia” includes a variety of conditions that affect the brain. People with dementia experience memory loss, behavioral changes, impairment to cognitive function, damage to the brain, and loss of emotional, mental, and physical control. 

Dementia signs and symptoms progress over time. It might begin with barely noticeable memory loss or occasional forgetfulness. Eventually, later stages of dementia can include total loss of control over the physical body, inability to swallow, infections, and abnormal aggressive behavior. 

As one of the most common disabilities seen in healthcare for seniors, it’s likely you know someone with the condition or at least know someone who has a loved one affected by dementia. Here are some of the signs that are likely to show up. 

Senior man losing parts of head as symbol of decreased mind function.
Dementia goes through various stages depending on the area of the brain that’s affected.

Signs and Stages of Dementia 

Early Signs

In the early stages of dementia, subtle signs begin to present themselves. The person might lose their keys more often, forget directions when driving, or show mood swings. It can often be overlooked and unnoticed as simple “ditziness” or having an off day.

It can be hard to diagnose dementia in the earlier stages. According to the Global Deterioration Scale (GDS or “Reisberg Scale”), dementia experts express the need for updated testing as it’s much better for the individual, caregivers, and family members to catch dementia earlier on. It can be confusing to pinpoint the onset of dementia as it often occurs with co-existing conditions, such as a stroke or physical disease. 

Top traits of the early phase of dementia include:

  • Decrease in spatial direction 
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Ability to still work, socialize and communicate 
  • Decline in judgment 
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion when trying to arrange difficult thoughts or tasks

Mid -Stage

As dementia progresses, the middle stage shows more severe signs of the beginning stage. The person will likely begin forgetting people’s names, faces, and their relationship to them. This relationship memory gap can come and go at different times, depending on the day. 

They may also get easily lost in places like their local grocery store, nursing home, or even their own house. Communication can become an issue as they struggle to find the right words to express what they want to say. Major behavioral changes can occur, such as an introvert becoming suddenly extroverted and risk-seeking, or a nurturing friend becoming hostile toward peers. 

It can become harder to learn new things or pick up new information. Short-term memory becomes nearly impossible to hold on to, while long-term memories begin to surface. It’s very common for someone with dementia to experience a surge of childhood memories they had long forgotten about. This happens because the brain is trying to hold onto stored information so it “fills in the gaps” that short-term memory now lacks. 

Characteristics of mid-stage dementia:

  • Forgetting people’s faces, names, and relationships
  • Forgetting important events or self-care tasks
  • Getting lost and losing personal possessions frequently 
  • Noticeable behavioral changes
  • Difficulty communicating 
  • Hard to learn new things
  • A frequent flood of memories from childhood or the distant past

Late-Stage Dementia

When dementia has taken its toll on a person and they are nearing death, the signs and symptoms are a defining part of their everyday being. They are unable to take care of themselves and require constant supervision. The person can’t walk, feed or bathe themselves. Nor can they make decisions or communicate their most basic needs. Their body cannot control simple functions such as bowel movements, speaking, or even swallowing. 

One of the reasons dementia leads to death is because of the characteristics of this stage. There are severe physical needs that if left uncared for, will cause the person to die. Although they are still conscious to some extent, they are no longer able to function on their own.

The later stages of dementia are made up of traits such as:

  • Loss of control over body function 
  • Major behavioral and personality changes
  • Inability to care for self
  • Losing connection with reality
  • No longer able to track time, space, or personal needs

How Does Dementia Kill You?

Because of the nature of advanced dementia, the brain cells increasingly die off which affects every aspect of the individual. Not only does the person go through a major decrease in quality of life, but the reality is their body also begins to slowly decay.

Underlying Conditions

One of the biggest causes of death with dementia is co-existing or underlying conditions. Many people with dementia also have other medical problems that dementia either worsens or contributes to. 

For example, someone with heart disease or previous heart attack might have a harder time with dementia because their body will not be able to sustain them as well as someone with an otherwise normal medical history.

Another person with osteoarthritis might experience more severe physical symptoms during the mid or final stages of dementia as their bone mass is already dwindling. Pre-existing mental health issues can also play a huge role in dementia progression.

Health conditions can result in sooner death in someone with dementia. As symptoms accumulate, a person loses touch with their environment and ability to sustain health. 

Brain Cell Loss 

Dementia is fatal because it eventually results in total deterioration of brain cells and proteins responsible for human functioning. There is no way to keep living an active life if the physical matter in the brain is dying off day by day. That might sound bleak, but with dementia, it is important to know the reality of the condition and prepare to make the most out of the remaining time one does have.

Accidents

Since all stages of dementia cause impairment to thinking and reasoning, accidents are one of the most widely seen causes of death among patients. It is not uncommon for people with dementia to forget things like leaving their stove or oven on, resulting in a gas leak or fire hazard. 

Additionally, accidents might happen during everyday tasks that cause bad falls, slips, or broken bones. Drowning in the bath or dangerous improper use of household appliances can lead to disaster. This is one of the many reasons it’s so important for people with dementia to receive full-time dementia care.

Aspiration Pneumonia and Choking

Those with later stage dementia eventually cannot swallow food and water on their own. This is another major cause of death. People can choke and die. It might sound silly, but it’s a serious and quite common cause of death among dementia patients. 

Something called aspiration pneumonia is rampant in dementia cases. This is a type of pneumonia that develops after someone gets food or liquid stuck inside of their lungs. Without realizing it, patients can inhale food particles when eating. Over time, these particles cause irritation and infection inside of the lungs. When sickness becomes too severe, fluid builds up and the lungs cannot breathe anymore.

Infections

The most common infections among people living with dementia include UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections), bedsores, chest/lung infections, and skin infections. All of these can lead to more serious issues if they don’t have the care they need to properly resolve infections.

Unsanitary Living Conditions

When a person with dementia cannot take care of themselves, their living conditions can become unsanitary. Some patients have been hospitalized for infected wounds left unaddressed, blood infections, skin diseases, or living with harmful mold or pests in the home. Since the person doesn’t have the awareness to clean up after themselves or feel concerned about lack of sanitation, it can sometimes result in death.

alzheimer's disease with MRI
MRI scans can be used to predict which patients with cognitive impairment may eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Different Types of Dementia 

Alzheimer’s Disease 

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia in the United States. It’s also the leading cause of death among dementia patients. The National Institute on Aging claims Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death among Americans as a whole.

Alzheimer’s is characterized by a decline in cognitive function in elderly people. The onset can be between the ages of 30-60 years old, on average. It results from a loss in the connection between neurons (chemical messengers) in the brain. Symptoms include memory loss, strange behavior, and language complications. 

Vascular Dementia

In anatomy, “vascular” has to do with the blood vessels. The term applies to anything that carries blood or oxygen through the body. Therefore, Vascular dementia is one of a blockage or lack of blood or oxygen to the brain. 

If an aging person experiences a lack of blood flow for whatever reason, it can contribute to loss of brain function, resulting in dementia. A person with vascular dementia loses their normal thinking capacity and struggles with memory, disorientation, and physical numbness. 

This type of dementia is the second most common type of dementia, but it is often left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Because it’s so misdiagnosed, it coincides with the other most common among dementia disorders with another type, called Lewy Body dementia.

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD)

“Lewy bodies” is the term for a type of abnormal protein buildup in the brain that is often seen in Parkinson’s disease. These proteins, Alpha-synuclein, have specific roles in a healthy brain to carry out memory tasks. 

However, if these Alpha-synuclein proteins build up too much, it can cause loss of nerve cell connections that the brain needs. If Lewy bodies are present, a type of dementia can form called LBD or “Parkinson’s dementia”. 

Aside from normal dementia symptoms, dementia with Lewy bodies can show other signs. These include hallucinations, stiffness in the body, tremors/shaking, and a flip-flop of attitudes and behaviors.

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Another type of dementia is Frontotemporal dementia. This is mainly characterized by the heavy loss of nerve cells in the brain’s frontal lobes. 

People with Frontotemporal dementia experience one of two major patterns. The first is a loss of language, comprehension, and communication, as the part of the brain that controls this is slowly deteriorating. The second is drastic changes in personality and behavior. Each can affect individuals differently from ages 40-60.

There is a distinct difference between FTD and Alzheimer’s disease. Although some symptoms might seem to be the same, FTD is usually one of the syndromes connected with early-onset dementia. Whereas Alzheimer’s disease is more common among elderly people, both types of Frontotemporal dementia are usually diagnosed among people ages 45-65.

Why Does Dementia Lead To Death?

As sad as it is, all forms of dementia are fatal. Eventually, both the brain and body can no longer keep up with the damage caused by the loss of cognitive function. But the disease does not have a specific life expectancy. 

Someone with dementia can continue to go about their life for years after diagnosis. Alzheimer’s Association states that dementia is a progressive or “slow” disease. This means it takes a long time for dementia to finally take its final toll and end in death. 

Some people with dementia live only several months to a year after receiving a diagnosis. Others might end up living semi-normal lives for up to ten years after being diagnosed. It all depends on the person, their health condition, the type of dementia the person has, and the level of care they can receive throughout the remainder of their lives. 

How Do People Get Dementia? 

The exact cause of dementia is unknown, and there may very well be no particular thing to blame. Many complicated factors come into play when it comes to diagnosing dementia, as well as any cognitive issue in the brain. 

Aside from the different types of dementia and their above-mentioned possible causes, personal health also plays a major role in brain decline. If no known injury or defect is detected, an unhealthy lifestyle can contribute to the development of dementia during older age. 

Are There Any Treatments for Dementia?

At this time there is no treatment for dementia. There is only medical care that can help manage symptoms and support people through their gradual decline. 

The options for proper medical care with the diagnosis often include specialty caregivers, individual and family support groups, healthy diet and exercise, and frequent check-ins with your doctor. 

Depending on which stage of dementia you or your loved one is in, the level of care required will vary. Someone in the earlier stages might need little to no care if symptoms are mild and not affecting daily life.

On the other hand, someone in the final stages of dementia will most certainly require 24/7 caregiving and constant supervision. If they don’t have the proper care they need to avoid a risk factor such as choking or falling, it could lead to death. 

Elderly woman hands putting missing white jigsaw puzzle piece down into the place as a human brain shape
Many risk factors of dementia can be managed through lifestyle changes or appropriate medical treatments.

Is Dementia Preventable? 

For preventing dementia, the CDC’s recommendation is to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy, organic foods and drink plenty of filtered water. Malnutrition has been shown to contribute to dementia risk. 

Exercise regularly and make sure to keep moving your body to stabilize mood, optimal brain function, and keep your muscles & bones strong. Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol if possible. Go outside and enjoy nature as this regulates the brain as well. 

It’s also recommended to engage in mindful activities that promote relaxation and decrease stress. Meditation, spiritual practices, or breathing exercises can help avoid stress in daily life (exercise also helps with stress management). 

Having a hobby that stimulates your brain is also a great prevention method. Reading, taking classes, learning new skills, and fulfilling recreational activities all challenge the brain to keep performing at its best. 

It’s most beneficial to start such healthy habits at an earlier age and continue it in your daily routine for a lifetime. You don’t have to do everything perfectly, but a little bit of health-promoting tasks every day can keep you in ideal shape physically and mentally. Such habits have been shown to help prevent the onset of dementia.

What to Do if Your Loved One Has Dementia 

It can be extremely difficult to watch someone you care about slowly lose themselves over time to dementia. Worldwide, there still tends to be some major misunderstandings about what exactly dementia is and how it affects people. Unfortunately, every type of dementia not only affects the individual diagnosed with it but their family members and loved ones as well. 

If your loved one has dementia, being aware of what to expect is the first step. Coming to terms with the disease is necessary for your loved one and your well-being. 

Seeking the professional care your loved one needs is crucial as it can keep them as comfortable as possible throughout all stages of dementia. Up until death, it’s important to appreciate as many moments as possible while they are still here and functioning.

Although dementia is fatal, there are plenty of healthcare and support resources to ensure you and your family enjoy the remaining lifespan of the dementia patient to the best of your ability. 

10 Best Knee Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

One of the most common ailments during aging has to do with joint and knee pain. Since the knees support everyday physical functioning, it’s important to keep them healthy and mobile.

Basic tasks such as walking, sitting, and supporting smaller physical movements depend on the mobility of the knees and legs. Depending on the lifestyle of each individual, the knees can take more impact than actually necessary.

Knowing the optimal exercises and postures which involve the knees can prevent and sometimes even improve the condition of the knee joint. With age comes more wear and tear on the body. Since the knees are what support the upright body, they can be prone to pain and weakness in seniors.

Knee Problems Among Seniors

Many seniors all over the world experience knee issues. In the medical field, the top recurring knee problems that are seen include:

  • Tendonitis: Inflammation and swelling of the knee joints caused by overuse or improper use of the knee. It can be most often seen among those with an athletic background.
  • Osteoarthritis: Cartilage in the bones and joints breaks down over time. Osteoarthritis causes weakness, pain, stiffness and can lead to further injury. 
  • Sprains: Weakened joints or muscles can lead to sprains more easily. Knee sprains are often seen throughout aging as the body is working harder to support its weight despite the gradual decline. 
  • Falls: Knee pain and deterioration are a leading cause of falls among older people. Because the knees support a lot of weight of the entire upper body, it makes falls and accidents more likely to occur. Even the simplest tasks can become risky when the knee isn’t as strong as it used to be.

Even though we can’t always control what happens to the body, there are preventative actions just about anyone can take to support their knees through old age. 

Two elderly people on mats.
Stretching is a great way to reduce or even avoid knee inuries.

Preventative Tips For Knee Strengthening Exercises

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Every step someone takes puts pressure on their knees. Walking requires the tendons, ligaments, and muscles to carry out specific movements. Cartilage in the knee, called the meniscus, helps to absorb the impact felt during each step, stumble, or shock.

Having excess body weight can add pressure and impact to not only the knees but the entire body. Being overweight is one of the leading causes of physical injury and health decline. The Department of Health at Harvard University suggests losing weight or sustaining a healthy weight as one of the best ways to prevent knee ailments among seniors.

Have a Regular Workout Routine

Exercise is not about how much you can handle. It’s about being consistent and deliberate with your health. Including knee exercises in your regular workout routine will help them age well with you, preventing early deterioration and injury.

Healthy habits are key to overall health! Make it a regular thing, like bathing or brushing your teeth. Aim to exercise 3-5 times per week.

Avoid Injury 

With any physical fitness routine, it’s essential to know what proper form looks and feels like. When performing an exercise, there is a right and wrong way to carry out each movement.

Doing a stretch or a strengthening exercise the wrong way can cause damage to your body. Before doing new or more challenging exercises, make sure you have someone who can guide you in proper form to prevent injury.

Stretching and Mobility

When it comes to knees, strength is important. But it’s just as important to stay flexible, balanced and loosen the tension surrounding the knees. It’s recommended that you include basic stretching and balance exercises with any strength goals you’re trying to achieve.

Even as you focus on strengthening, you don’t want your body to become too tense that it can’t move.

Why Exercise the Knees?

Physical activity is essential at any stage of life to maintain healthy functions of the body and mind. If you need support getting your legs in better shape, here are some of the most practical ways to exercise your knees.

10 Knee Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

1. Calf Raises

Calf exercises help your supporting muscles in your calf and back leg, taking less pressure off your knee when standing and walking. 

These exercises can be done by simply rising on your tippy-toes then slowly lowering your heels to the floor. Or you can do more of a challenge through these steps:

1. Start by standing on a step, workout stool, or curb. Make sure you have something to hold onto to support your balance. Let the back of your heels hang off the edge of the surface slightly.

2. Rise on your toes, allowing your heels to come up. You’ll feel your calf muscles flex.

3. Slowly lower back down, allowing your heels to go a little bit lower than the surface you’re standing on. You’ll feel a subtle calf stretch.

4. Repeat calf raises 10 times for up to 3 sets.

2. Knee Extensions

Extensions are beginner-friendly. Alternatively, you can make them more advanced. They help strengthen the quadriceps muscles which carry out movements attached to the knee.

1. Sit in a chair upright with your feet flat on the floor.

2. Keeping yourself seated, raise your right leg off the floor and extend it out in front of you.

3. You’ll feel your thigh and quad muscles working. Hold for a count then lower back to the floor.

4. Switch and raise your left leg. Hold, and return to the starting position.

5. Repeat for 10 counts on each leg, up to 3 sets.

3. Standing Knee Flexion 

Knee flexions help strengthen the hamstring muscles. These exercises are easy to do and help improve balance, lower body strength, and can improve gate.

1. Begin standing with a bar or chair in front of you to hold on to for support.

2. As if you’re trying to stand on one foot, raise your right foot off the floor, bending it back behind you at the farthest angle you can. 

3. Straighten your leg back down to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

4. Repeat the routine on the left leg 10 times.

5. Do up to 3 sets on each leg.

4. Leg Raises 

If you want a knee exercise that won’t strain your leg muscles, straight leg raises are a great beginner option to try. This simple movement builds strength in the quads and hamstrings which support the knee’s mobility.

1. Lie on your back on the floor with your legs out straight.

2. Point one leg up toward the ceiling, placing the foot flat on the floor toward your butt. This will be your supporting leg.

3. Keeping your other leg straight out, raise it as high as you can to align with your opposing supporting knee. You’ll feel your muscles working to lift it.

4. Lower your straight leg back to the floor. Repeat 10 times.

5. Switch legs and repeat on the other side. Complete up to 3 sets.

5. Wall Squats

If you have confidence in your balance, here’s an intermediate move to try. Wall squats challenge the strength of your upper legs as well as your glutes and knees.

This is a great exercise to build and maintain your overall lower body strength.  If this exercise causes you joint pain, stop and try a different exercise. 

1. Begin standing, arms at your sides, with your back straight against a wall.

2. Keeping your back against the wall, slowly lower yourself down by bending your knees. Keep your feet and knees aligned, feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure your back and pelvis are aligned.

3. Hold the contraction for 3 to 10 seconds. You’ll feel a slight muscle burn. 

4. Still keeping your back against the wall, slide yourself back up to a standing position. 

5. Repeat 10 times, up to 3 sets per day, depending on your fitness level.

6. Step-Ups

Classic step-ups are great for cardio and balance while working out the legs. This exercise is modifiable and exactly how it sounds: you simply step up onto a higher surface.

1. Stand straight with a workout stool, stair, or low curb in front of you. If you need help balancing, use a chair or ask a caregiver to help spot you.

2. Step up onto the step with your right leg, then your left.

3. Step back down with your right leg, then your left.

4. Repeat 10-12 times for up to 3 sets. On every other set, start with the opposite leg.

7. Side Steps 

Side steps are easy and help maintain balance and mobility. You can do these basically anywhere without any special equipment. 

1. Stand in a neutral stance with your feet hip-width apart. 

2. Step to the side with your right leg so your legs are wide apart.

3. Then bring your left leg next to your right. 

4. Reverse the movement: Step to the side with your left foot, then bring your right leg back in.

5. Repeat 10-12 times for up to 3 sets.

For a more aerobic workout, use some ankle weights when performing side steps.

8. Resistance Band Squat Steps 

Working up to more intermediate movements, the resistance band side squat is similar to the side steps mentioned above. Squats will require more balance and lower leg strength, with the resistance band helping gain mobility and knee stability. It’s best to perform this exercise with a fitness trainer or guide.

1. Place a resistance band below your knees. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.

2. Slightly bend your knees as if you’re about to squat. 

3. Step your right leg out, keeping your knees bent. You’ll feel your knees, outer legs, and glutes working.

4. Maintaining the position level, bring your left leg in next to your right. 

5. Repeat these side step quats along the room as far as you can, about 10 steps.

6. Now reverse it. In the semi-squat position, step your left leg out and bring your right leg in to match it. Repeat until you get back to where you started, side-stepping about 10 times.

7. Rest after the full set. Repeat up to 3 times if desired.

9. Clamshell (advanced)

The clamshell is a tougher exercise that works the glutes, hip flexors, inner & outer thighs, and knees. If you have shoulder or neck problems, ask your doctor before trying this exercise, or get a fitness guide to help you through it.

1. Lay on your side with your legs at a 45-degree angle, one leg stacked over the other. Your head should be resting on the arm you are laying on. Feel free to put your arm up along your head laying it on the floor, or bent under your head for added support.

2. Engage your core to support your balance. Keeping your right foot attached to your left, steadily lift your right knee up toward the ceiling as far as you can. You’ll feel your legs working and your hip open slightly. When your leg opens it resembles a “clamshell”.

3. Keeping your hips and feet secure, lower your right knee back down to touch the other. 

4. Repeat the exercise 8-10 times. Then switch to the other side.

5. Repeat each side for up to 3 sets.

10. Leg press (advanced)

If you are already working on a diligent exercise program and you need a new challenge, you can try a leg press*. This boosts leg and knee strength. 

This is recommended only for older adults with a more advanced fitness level, as it can require some extra strain on the knee. Ask your healthcare provider before trying any new strenuous exercise!

* This exercise requires a leg press machine. 

1. Set your preferred weight of the machine. Make sure it’s not too heavy. You don’t want to injure yourself. Start at a lower weight then slowly work up.

2. Sit on the leg press machine with your back against the seat for support. Adjust the machine if you need to and get comfortable with good posture– you don’t want to be tense before performing this exercise, to prevent strain.

3. Place your feet flat against the metal plate before you. Your knees will be bent in this starting position. 

4. Slowly extend your legs straight to push the plate out in front of you. Breathe. Return slowly to the starting position.

5. Repeat 5-10 times, remembering to breathe. If any part of your body feels a sharp pain, stop the exercise immediately, as it’s probably too much.

A group of seniors warming up in a park.
Warming up prior to exercise is essential for protecting the knee joint.

How To Protect Your Knees During Exercise

Ask your doctor: Before you start a new exercise plan to strengthen your knees, get approval from your doctor or fitness trainer. Not all of the exercises mentioned above are suitable for every individual. Having a professional who knows your medical history advise your exercises can help save you any risk of a knee injury. 

Always warm up first: Don’t rush into difficult exercises right away. Make sure you warm up with some walking, light moving around the room, or stretches. You want to loosen your body up to get ready to exercise.

Be consistent: It’s okay to start small and then work your way up to bigger, more skilled exercises. As long as you stick with a plan and move your body regularly, you’ll likely see results and feel the benefits over time.

Start slowly when working out: You have to start somewhere when pursuing exercises for your knees. Don’t expect to automatically need to run or do leg presses that feel too difficult. Begin with side steps, step-ups, leg flexions and calf raises. These will give you a decent workout until you feel ready to move on to more strenuous exercises. Track your progress and be proud of the abilities you already have.

Use proper form: Remember, there is an optimal way to carry out each movement to protect your body from harm. Learn the proper form to get the most out of each exercise. 

Listen to your body: If you notice any pain, popping, extreme tightness, or discomfort, that particular exercise is probably not the best for you right now. Do something gentler on the body until you resolve whatever is affecting your mobility, or get assistance from a professional. 

Seek low-impact movement: Aside from strengthening, your body will thrive off of low-impact movement every day. Walking, swimming, gentle yoga, and stretching are all great ways to stay healthy and agile while aging. Plus, movement helps your brain function and stabilizes your mood, so try to get movement in for your overall well-being.

Benefits of Knee Exercises Over Time

If you do the right knee strengthening exercises with good form and consistency, you can expect to see results over time. Listen to your body, remember to stretch often, and get moving! Keep in mind, healthy habits make a more resilient body.

Make your workouts fun and seek the professional advice that applies to you and any condition you may have. With stronger knees, you’ll be able to withstand all the occasions in life for years to come.

How to Pay for Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, or Home Care

After the arduous decision-making process of picking out a long-term care option, next comes the question, “How will we pay for this?” Each care option has its own set of rules on what payments are accepted or not accepted, and it can be confusing navigating the options. We want to make the process easier for you and your loved one. We will discuss the various payment options that are accepted for elder care, and we will break it down for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care. Here are some common forms of payments that are used to pay for long-term care: 

  • Cash
  • Reverse Mortgage
  • Home Equity
  • Long Term Care Insurance
  • VA
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid

How to Pay for Nursing Homes

Nursing home facilities give a high level of attention and supervision to its residents, even more so than any other long-term care facility including assisted living. Residents can receive personal care, supervision, prescription therapies, rehab, room and board, and skilled nursing care. Due to the high level of care offered, it is no surprise that this type of facility is the most expensive, sometimes costing hundreds of dollars a day.

These long-term care expenses can put a real strain on a family’s finances. About half of nursing home residents use cash, employer health plans, VA benefits, long-term care insurance, and pension to cover the costs. Alternatives include Medicare and Medicaid, government funding programs that have strict limitations on who can qualify, how long payments will continue, and which facilities are eligible for the program. 

Also, the cost of care averages for nursing home care vary wildly from state to state. For example, in a private room in Alaska, the cost of nursing home care is $23,451 a month, while a similar facility in Louisiana costs $5,171. And keep in mind the average stay at this type of facility is about 835 days. Now that we have an idea of how much a nursing home might cost you, let’s explore some payment options. 

Cash: A lot of people use private funds and cash out-of-pocket when they first move into a facility. This may be because Medicaid requires that you have used up all of your assets and personal funds before you can qualify for their federal payment program. 

The more fortunate among us can opt to pay all from their funds. For such an expenditure, it is said that you would need at least a few hundred thousand dollars. This could come from pension plans, Social Security, or investments. One advantage of paying out-of-pocket is that you can negotiate a private pay rate. This is especially likely when a nursing home does not have a waiting list and they want to fill beds. 

Reverse Mortgage: Another payment option is getting a reverse mortgage on your home. This would enable the homeowner to take from the equity accrued on the home while deferring the loan payments until the last homeowner has either moved out or dies. For this option to work, one spouse would have to continue to live in the home while the other is in nursing care. This option is a good way to leverage your home equity, but the amount of money you qualify for will depend on your age and the value of your home. 

Home Equity: This type of loan can be used to borrow money against the value of the home as collateral. Usually, a home equity loan is used to pay for a major expense such as home repairs or medical bills, but can also be used for nursing home expenses. Unlike a reverse mortgage, the equity received is not completely free. The loan must be paid back, with interest.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care (LTC) insurance generally covers care not covered by health insurance. LTC will cover long-term services and support, including personal and custodial care. Having a long-term care insurance policy will give you some peace of mind. This type of policy will pay a specific amount for long-term care for a stated length of time. This allows you to keep your assets, and the specified expenses will be taken care of.   

VA: Run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the U.S. veterans network has many benefits for those who’ve served their country. Like Social Security, veterans’ benefits are dependable and will be paid to you by the Department of Treasury. Some estimates for amounts a veteran may be paid can be up to $1,794 a month, $1,153 a month to the surviving spouse, or $2,127 a month for a couple. A new type of agreement for veterans has been created through the VA Mission Act of 2018, called Veterans Care Agreements. These are agreements in which the VA works together with community providers not in the community care network to provide care to Veterans. This ensures the veterans will get the care they need when the facility is not in the normal network. 

Medicare: Medicare is a federal government program that pays for hospital care and medical insurance to people 65 and over. It can also include specific ill or disabled people. About 40% of Medicare and Medicaid subscribers seek out nursing homes. However, Medicare doesn’t cover the room and board in a nursing home if the stay is long-term. Typically Medicare assistance is utilized when the nursing home stay requires short-term rehab after an inpatient hospital visit. Medicare covers 100 days of care in a skilled nursing facility, if at least 3 days were spent in the hospital. However only during the first 20 days will they pay for 100% of the care. The remaining days will require a co-payment, which could be about $167.50 a day. 

Medicare Part A is insurance for a hospital visit, while Medicare Part B is an optional supplementary medical insurance that costs a small monthly premium. There are also Medicare Part C Plans, known as Medicare Advantage Plans. These plans provide skilled nursing care coverage, though costs and benefits can vary. Additionally, there are Medicare supplement plans, called Medigap policies. They also help pay for skilled nursing care, but the care must be covered under the original Medicare plan. 

Medicaid: Another federal government funding program is Medicaid, the most common way people pay for nursing home costs. This program helps pay for select health services as well as nursing home care for those with low income. Medicaid works with privately-owned nursing home care facilities and then helps eligible residents pay for the costs. The program can pay anywhere from 45 to 65% of nursing home costs. However, Medicaid has strict eligibility requirements that consider the age, place of residence, and marital status among other things. To be eligible, your assets and income will be assessed to see if you fall below the line. As a general rule, a person’s assets have to be nearly gone to qualify. Additionally, they cannot receive more than around $2,250 a month in income. The requirements are different in each state. 

When you are first admitted to the nursing home, you may be required to pay out-of-pocket. Many people liquidate their assets before qualifying for the program. As Medicaid assesses your eligibility, they have complicated guidelines as to what qualifies as an asset. The person’s home is exempt from the assessment, as well as some marital assets. Here are a few things Medicaid will be reviewed to determine your financial eligibility:

  • Social Security
  • Wages
  • Pensions
  • Royalties
  • Rents
  • Gifts
  • Annuities
  • Investment dividends
  • Savings interest
  • Half of working spouse’s income
Medicaid is one of the most common government funded ways to pay for healthcare for the elderly.

How to Pay for Assisted Living

An alternative to nursing home care is assisted living. An assisted living facility provides personal and medical assistance to residents, who can still maintain their independence. Personal care and skilled nursing services are available. Some care centers have a memory care facility for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Often this kind of facility provides a lower level of care than a nursing home. However, living in an assisted living home can still be pricey. The average annual cost is about $48,000. And in recent years, the cost of assisted living residency has increased up to $1,321 annually. 

Cash: Most residents and their families pay for this type of facility out-of-pocket. They use retirement accounts, personal savings, pensions, annuities, veteran’s benefits, and Social Security payments. However, $4,000 a month may be a bit more than most people can afford. 

Reverse Mortgage: A reverse mortgage may not be the best option for a person who is living in an assisted living facility. This is due to the fact if the owner lives out of the home for 12 months, the home may be sold. Of course, if a spouse is still living in the home, it is still a viable option. Otherwise, selling or renting the home would be better for an assisted living facility resident. 

Home Equity: Getting a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to pay for care may not be a good option for single individuals and married couples that are in good health. However, those that have immediate care needs may want to get a HELOC since there is not a requirement that they remain in the home, as in a reverse mortgage. Having a HELOC allows some flexibility when there is a sudden increase in care expenses, as well as the flexibility to come back home if care needs allow. It is helpful to think about the level of care as well as the duration the care will be required. 

Long-Term Care Insurance: LTC policies will pay for most assisted living facilities, as long as they are accredited. Your policy can pay for 100% of your costs, but this will be one of the more expensive insurance plans. A good rule of thumb for picking out a long term care policy is that your premium shouldn’t exceed 5% of your monthly income. 

You can receive anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 on average through your insurance program. You can easily compare this to the average assisted living expenses at $4,000 to see that this type of insurance can be quite helpful. 

Though these facilities do accept these insurance payouts, sometimes the insurance company may not approve of the facility. Reasons the facility doesn’t meet the insurance company’s standards could be anything from small size to not having enough staffing. Therefore, it is wise to make sure your policy will be good for the care home you reside at. 

VA: The VA does some assisted living costs for veterans and their spouses. This is through the Non-Service Connected Improved Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance program. It is required that the veteran had served active duty for at least 90 days and at least one day in wartime. 

Medicare: Though Medicare doesn’t pay for room and board at an assisted living facility, they may pay for medical expenses. This is also true for any medical services received in a hospital, doctor’s office, or home setting. 

Medicaid: Coverage for Medicaid varies from state to state. For instance, some states will only pay for personal care, while on the other hand others will also pay for room and board. Some states do not assist, but here is a list of most of the expenses that usually can be covered by most states: 

  • Personal care services 
  • Housekeeping services
  • Meal preparation
  • Laundry
  • Case management
  • Transportation
  • Personal emergency response systems

Even with Medicaid services, some assisted living residents still have trouble covering the remaining costs. Some states may help these residents by placing limits on the amount the facilities can charge. If the resident still has an issue paying, there are other non-Medicaid programs like Supplemental Security Income that can assist. 

Paying cash, or out of pocket for healthcare expenses for the elderly is very common if you can’t get Medicaid.

How to Pay for Home Care

Home care is becoming a more popular option as other long-term care choices rise in price. This option can be more affordable, plus you will have the ability to stay in the comfort of your own home. One disadvantage is that there are usually substantial out-of-pocket costs that may not be reimbursed. 

Cash: Many home care clients pay by way of their assets, savings, or investments. Family members may also pitch in to cover costs. They may liquidate assets like vacation homes, boats, land, or vehicles. Unfortunately, most of us do not have this option.

Reverse Mortgage: A good option to pay for home care would be a reverse mortgage if the individual does not need immediate care. This will allow them to live independently in their home for years to come until their health needs to take a turn. The proceeds from the reverse mortgage can then be used for long-term care insurance. 

Home Equity: Home equity loans are also an option you could use to pay for long-term care services. However, single individuals and married couples in good health might want to use it as a last option since their care needs are undetermined at that moment. Not knowing the extent of how much future medical care you will need leaves a big question mark for how much equity to take out. In which case, a reverse mortgage might be a better option for healthier elderly individuals receiving their care at home. 

Long-Term Care Insurance: It is important to be aware that some LTC policies will not pay for in-home care. In this case, it might be a good idea to convert the life insurance policy to cash to help pay for care. 

VA: It is possible for veterans and their surviving spouses who require personal care services may qualify for an Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefit, along with their monthly pension. This is available to those veterans who served at least 90 days of active duty or at least one day of active duty during wartime. It also includes those discharged from service under dishonorable conditions. 

Medicare: Some services covered by Medicare for in-home care include intermittent skilled nursing care, therapy, and home health caregiver assistance. Home health care may be covered by Part A or Part B, depending on the circumstances. Here are some instances in which you would be covered: 

  • You are homebound
  • You need skilled nursing services and/or skilled therapy care intermittently
  • You have a doctor’s visit 90 days before you start a home health care
  • You have a doctor’s vision 30 days after the first day you receive care
  • Your doctor presents you with a home health certification stating that you are homebound
  • You receive care from a Medicare-certified home health agency (HHA)

Medicaid: Medicaid and Medicare offer Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) to seniors who need assistance through in-home care. PACE provides medical and social services to eligible individuals who wish to remain in the community rather than reside in a nursing home. Financing for the program is capped, allowing these providers to attend to what the individuals need, instead of limiting them to reimbursements through fee-for-service plans. PACE is offered through Medicare but is only available through Medicaid as a state-by-state option. This program is great for those with a limited income and few assets, and wish to stay at home. 

Preparing for the Future

Your eyes may be crossing with the dizzying array of numbers and options we’ve thrown at you. As you can see, each type of facility has many payment options available to you. Whatever option you end up choosing, knowing ahead of time what your choices are will help you prepare for the future. Establishing a plan ahead of time will give you some peace of mind and could save you money in the long run. Out of all the pay and care options out there, we here at CareAsOne hope you find the one most financially sound for your own needs.