Category Archives: Healthy Mind

Achieving Holiday Happiness

family enjoying the Christmas Holiday

How to keep the merry in Christmas.

While the holiday season is a time of celebration, many seniors are not immune to sadness, especially as they face their first holiday without a spouse. It’s important to understand that happiness is a choice that needs to be cultivated; it is not something that just “happens.”

By engaging in the Christian aspect of Christmas, remaining active, volunteering and being around children, we can capture that elusive feeling of joy. And remember, thoughtfulness and love need not come with a hefty price tag.

Joy to the World

According to a Pew Research Center study, faith is an important harbinger to holiday health. More than 75 percent of 55-plus adults believe in the virgin birth of Jesus and are more likely to attend a Christmas Eve church service than those under 55. The Pew study of a representative sample of 2,001 adults explores Americans’ plans for the holiday season and finds that religious connection and gathering with family and friends is what most Americans look forward to about the holidays.

Despite holiday commercialism that seems overwhelming, the real meaning of Christmas offers timeless value, according to Denise DeMarco, a Pittsburgh-based GriefShare facilitator.  She stresses, “Jesus has brought joy to the world and because of this, the void, possibly downsizing, and broken traditions can be faced one by one. The Hope has been born, and heaven is real.” Continue reading


Support Group 101

Benefits of a support group

Finding the Group to Fit Your Needs.

It doesn’t matter our age, or our stage, in life. There may be times when a support group can prove to be a valuable asset.

Life-altering issues such as illness, death or depression can leave most people in need of an effective way to deal with the emotions that come along with those situations. While individual therapy with a professional counselor can be beneficial, some people may find additional comfort in joining a support group.

For some seniors and boomers, talking with a group of strangers about something that is deeply personal can be difficult. They belong to a generation that was not encouraged to openly share their feelings, so talking with others about their struggles may feel inappropriate and uncomfortable.

But a good support group can serve as a lifeline – providing a safe place to talk about your feelings with others who will most certainly understand, because they have been there themselves. Continue reading


Worrisome Signs from Aging Parents?

Caring for aging parents

Tips for Providing Effective Care from a Distance.

Seniors and boomers face many challenges as they near retirement, chief among them is the ability to secure enough savings to help offset social security income, ensuring financial security. There also is the need to determine if downsizing would be beneficial to your retirement goals.

For some seniors and boomers, these decisions are managed by their adult children, who help to navigate the journey toward a successful retirement. This “sandwich generation” often finds itself raising children while helping aging parents, which can be a daunting task. But what can add extra stress to this kind of caregiving arrangement is having aging parents who are not living close in proximity.

Caregiving from a distance poses unique challenges for both the provider and the receiver of such care. Adult children who observe worrisome signs of their parents’ frailty from afar often can feel helpless in dealing with it. In this article, we will provide some tips and tools for long-distance caregiving that are beneficial to both parties. Continue reading


Age as a State of Mind

Seniors not letting their age slow them down

Why 60 is the new 40

Ever hear the old sayings that “age is just a state of mind” and “you’re only as old as you feel?”

There is some truth to the idea that how we perceive ourselves has a profound effect on how we feel, both physically and emotionally. A study conducted by PhD student Krystal Warmoth of Exeter University bolsters the belief that our thoughts about aging have a definite impact on how we age.

Warmoth’s study – which included 29 people aged 66 to 98 – determined that individuals who considered themselves to be frail and who were in the mindset of thinking they were too old to do certain activities were more likely to abandon the activities and lifestyle choices that would actually help to keep their minds and their bodies looking and feeling younger. Her findings indicated a clear correlation between a negative outlook on one’s physical condition and a disinterest in socializing and being active.

Other studies, such as this one from Barbara Fredrickson, a psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, lend to the notion that there is power in positive thinking. Fredrickson concluded that the ability to think positively has a profound impact on a person’s work, their health and their overall life span. Continue reading


Tired of the Same Old, Same Old?

Shake things up to find enjoyment

Ways to Make Life More Exciting Again.

Retirement is something for which many of us spend years dreaming about and longing. We plot and plan what we are going to do with all our free time once we leave the hustle and bustle of the 9-to-5-life behind.

Then it arrives – and we find ourselves mired in the same old routine all over again. Retirement becomes boring and predictable. Sure, there may be moments of extreme exhilaration. Maybe you have finally planned that trip to Europe; or maybe you signed up for that painting class you’ve always wanted to take.

But what happens during the moments when you’re not taking a big trip, or engaging in a new hobby? Most of us cannot afford to live in the lap of luxury for the entire length of our retirement, regardless of how well we plan. Instead of thinking about the big events, take time to think outside the box, and plan for ways to make every day new and different to maximize your retirement enjoyment. Continue reading


Faded Memories

Seniors dealing with Alzheimer's

How to Downsize with Alzheimer’s in the Mix.

We have said it before, and you will likely hear us say it many more times: downsizing is taxing on the body, mind and spirit. More than just the physical aspects of sorting, donating, discarding and packing, downsizing takes an emotional toll on everyone involved in the process.

The emotional stress of downsizing can be triggered by memories of the items you are sorting, attachment to a home where you may have raised a family and made many memories, and the echoes in the back of your mind whispering that change can be scary, even if you are otherwise looking forward to the next stage in your life.

All the emotions associated with the downsizing process can be complicated further if one of the seniors involved is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Persons with Alzheimer’s disease may already feel anxious or agitated, which can worsen if they are taken from a familiar environment and placed in a new one. So, when downsizing in this kind of situation, there are certain tips and tools that can make the transition smoother for not only the person with Alzheimer’s, but also for others who are involved in the process. Continue reading


Counseling 101

Senior couple receiving counseling

Know who to Call When You’re in Need.

The idea of downsizing can be overwhelming for some seniors and boomers. Just thinking about the process can cause anxiety and sometimes depression. Sorting, categorizing and compartmentalizing a lifetime worth of belongings is a challenging endeavor. While some find it physically draining, others may find it emotionally taxing as well.

It is why at all of our Upside of Downsizing conferences, we provide access to, and information about, the kinds of professionals who can help assist seniors and boomers through every step of the downsizing process. This includes mental health professionals and care managers who can help downsizers cope with the emotional side of things.

Whether support is in the form of therapy, medication or assistance navigating the many senior living options available when downsizing, it’s important to make sure you are seeking assistance from the right professional. Let’s discuss the kinds of professionals available and the specialties for each to help narrow down the right person for the job. Continue reading


Facing the Inevitable Head On

Senior couple dealing with inevitable illness

How to Stay Positive in the Face of Death.

Comedian Joe E. Lewis once quipped that “you only live once – but if you work it right, once is enough.”

As we grow older, we tend to reflect on our lives and question whether we’ve lived them to the fullest. This can be especially true as we begin to lose long-time friends or family members. When those who are closest to us pass away, it is inevitable for us to think about our own mortality in a way we may not have previously done. It also can lead to depression, which in turn can cause other health issues.

Does that mean we shouldn’t think about death, even when we’re confronted with it more frequently? Not at all. In fact, coming to terms with death is a necessary developmental challenge for seniors; however, it doesn’t mean we should dwell on it.

So how do we stay positive during a time when we may be losing beloved friends and family members? Continue reading


Don’t Ruin Relationships With Great Expectations

Mother frustrated with expectations of children

Learning to Manage Your Own Needs in the Senior Years.

We’ve all heard some variation of the idea that you can never be truly disappointed if you don’t expect more than you deserve.

As we get older, that saying can take on an entirely new meaning.

Nearly 90 percent of seniors and boomers who participated in an AARP survey indicated they wanted to “age in place,” remaining in their own homes versus downsizing and moving to a retirement community or other housing designed specifically for seniors. When seniors insist on this particular scenario, it can become easy to expect others to help us manage our day-to-day lives in order to make it happen.

Even seniors who have made the decision to downsize and are enjoying their retirement to the fullest still can have some unhealthy expectations where their friends and family members are concerned that can put a damper on those relationships.

Let’s talk about some of the most common expectations and how to not fall into the trap of becoming one of those seniors who demands more than they deserve. Continue reading


Celebrate the Season the Right Way

Celebrate holidays by giving to others

Four Meaningful Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season.

Bob Hope once espoused that his idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, was very simple: loving others. “Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” he asked.

It is a good question. While there are many people who give of their time and talents year-round, the holiday season always brings with it an increase in generosity. Maybe it has something to do with the spirit of the season or the fact that around the holidays, charities and other nonprofit organizations are more vocal about their needs.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), 72 percent of all charitable contributions received are from individual donors. Only 5 percent of corporations and 15 percent of foundations donate to charitable organizations. The remaining 8 percent comes from bequests.

While monetary donations are a big part of the holiday season, they are not the only way to make a difference this holiday season. Let’s talk about some of the most meaningful ways to give back and bring joy to others as we celebrate the season. Continue reading


How to be Truly Thankful

Thankful Family

Three Ways to Focus on Gratefulness.

Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero once said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.”

Thanksgiving, by its very name, is supposed to be about being thankful for the things we have and reflecting on the simple pleasures of life. However, life – for many of us – has become incredibly hectic. We often feel over-scheduled and unable to take the time to simply relax and enjoy ourselves.

When Thanksgiving was celebrated for the first time in 1621 at Plymouth Rock by the Pilgrims and Native Americans, the event lasted for three days. During that time, thanks were given for the first successful corn harvest. The second such Thanksgiving was held in 1623 to denote the end of a long drought that had threatened the harvest. Soon, the tradition caught on in other New England settlements.

Over the years, several presidents declared official days of thanks, but not for the same reason the Pilgrims and Native Americans originally celebrated it. George Washington declared an official Thanksgiving in 1789 and encouraged Americans to celebrate the successful conclusion of the war of independence. John Adams and James Madison also designated days of Thanksgiving during their presidencies, each being celebrated in a different way for a different reason. Continue reading


Want to Unleash Ultimate Happiness and Fulfillment?

Three seniors showing their happiness

Concentrate on These Six Areas.

British Clergyman Charles Spurgeon once said that “it is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”

Some people spend a lot of time and effort seeking out happiness – a habit that sticks with them well into their senior years. Others follow the philosophy expounded by Rev. Spurgeon and find enjoyment in everything they do.

Regardless of which kind of person you are, it’s a good idea to take stock of six key areas of your life to help unleash ultimate happiness and fulfillment as you head into your senior years.

Area #1 – Social Status

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Aging, research suggests a positive correlation between social interaction and overall health of seniors. Numerous studies have found that seniors with lower levels of interleukin-6 – an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis – can be found in seniors who are socially active. Continue reading


Are the Golden Years Turning a bit Blue?

Senior woman suffering from depression

Recognize the Signs of Depression and Kick it for Good.

When we’re younger, we have this fantasy that retirement and the “golden years” will be full of fun times and free of constraints. We relish the thought of not having to report to work each day, spending time on our favorite hobbies and activities and enjoying life the way we see fit.

But then reality kicks in. Retirement can bring with it a whole host of unexpected issues, which can lead to depression in some seniors and boomers. Some seniors and boomers may believe that becoming depressed as we age is a normal occurrence.

However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression should not be a normal or accepted part of the aging process. While it is true that seniors can be more susceptible to depression, it is not considered a normal part of aging. Continue reading


Downsize Without Family Discord

Avoid family discord while working on a project

How to Stop Conflict Before it Starts.

Downsizing a home can be a very stressful event for seniors and boomers, especially if the process must be undertaken due to an illness or injury. There is the emotional aspect of leaving behind a home where a life had been built. There also are the financial and physical aspects of downsizing, which involve selling an existing home to pay for the move and getting everything packed up and ready to go.

If a home requires any repairs or improvements to ready it for the market, it can be an added step that is likely to cause family discord if not handled properly. It can be expensive to hire contractors to complete work if friends or family members are able to do it. Continue reading


6 Best Ways to Handle Bad News

Woman receiving bad news

Helping Loved Ones to Cope and Conquer.

American actor Tracy Morgan once said “bad news travels at the speed of light; good news travels like molasses.”

Regardless of how quickly you receive unpleasant news, there is little doubt that people would rather it not come. But when it does, do you know how to properly respond? Are you the type to avoid the uncomfortable feelings that often are associated with hearing bad news, or are you the kind of person who immediately launches into fix-it mode?

Say, for instance, a close friend shares with you that she has just been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. No one wants to hear that a friend or loved one is dealing with cancer, let alone cancer that is in such an advanced stage. How would you handle it? Continue reading


Letting go of Regrets Brings Freedom in Golden Years

Problems caused by holding to regrets

Learning to Live Without Regrets During our Senior Years.

There are many things that naturally come with age: wrinkles, forgetfulness and a variety of health conditions. It can be easy to sit around, counting up the negatives involves with getting older and the many regrets you have for things left undone.

But mounting evidence suggests that seniors and boomers who maintain a positive attitude and choose to focus on the good things in life are not only likely to be happier, but also healthier.  Thinking positively can help to reduce stress, which is a contributing factor in many health conditions, including heart disease. Continue reading