How vital is fitness to aging well? Very. A recent study of participants in the 2015 National Senior Games, also known as the Senior Olympics, revealed that the typical participant had a fitness age of more than 20 years younger than his or her chronological age. According to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, fitness age is determined by a measure of cardiovascular endurance and is a better predictor of longevity than chronological age. I asked Robert Drapkin, MD FACP, to help us understand ... Read more →


Birth, graduations, marriage, anniversaries, death - important moments in our lives are often celebrated by some type of ceremony. In our middle to late years, we are often encouraged to plan the type of funeral we'd like, even pre-paying so our loved ones won't have to juggle business and grief. Everyone has different ideas about when a ceremony is appropriate, however, I've learned about a new ceremony that I find very appealing.   It's the "Walking You Home" program and it offers a dignified touch and family support immediately after the death of a loved one. Read more →


My friend and neighbor, Joe, was in his 80s. His wife, who had been his ears since he lost his hearing in his 30s, had died. The natural thing for me was to basically adopt Joe. I became his ears and his helper. My young sons joined me in helping out. Now grown, they've got many "Joe stories" that pop up during our casual conversations. The fact that Joe needed help was obvious. However, he was my first care receiver, other than my grandmother who lived with us when I was a teenager... Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My dad enjoys going to the park and watching kids play. Since I try hard to give him the best life he can have considering that he has Alzheimer’s disease, I find this a positive experience. The problem is that there are times when Dad is glaringly inappropriate and I don’t know how to handle these moments. As an example, last week, he saw a child in the park dipping his toes in a pond. Dad began lecturing the child about not “falling in.”  Read more →


According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), falls are the leading cause of death from injury among older adults. Thom Disch has a passion for this topic and has been compiling statistics and stories related to this healthcare crisis for over a decade. Thom owns HandiProducts, a web-based business that showcases the dozens of products that he has developed specifically for preventing slips and falls. He also wrote “Stop the Slip,” which is packed with practical tips. Read more →


Dear Carol: There’s probably no right answer to what I’m asking but I felt the need to write, just for comfort. My mother died when I was in my teens so Dad has been the only parent that I’ve had for more than 20 years. I have no siblings. Dad’s now in his seventies and has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He’s beaten both melanoma and lung cancer in the past, but he tells me that this cancer should be slow growing and that he’ll probably die before it’s a problem so he doesn’t want to treat it. I want him to go full-on with every treatment possible. I watched both of my parents fight cancer, so I know that it’s horrible to go through treatment, but I don’t want to lose him! How do I accept that fact that he’s taking this route? – LM Read more →


Our culture is steeped in language that makes accepting the terminal diagnosis of ourselves or a loved one more difficult to accept than it needs to be. Doctors say, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can do. You might want to look into hospice care.” Patients tell their doctors that they want “aggressive treatment,” until there is nothing else that can be done, then they will go on hospice care. The crux of these conversations is that medicine will do everything possible and then when you give up you will go on hospice care. Read more →


For many, music from certain eras can bring back memories of better times. For others, music soothes anxiety or gets them pumped up for a workout. When it comes to people living with dementia, music can help in all of those ways, but it can also help cognition. Hospice organizations are keenly aware of the soothing power of music. Sometimes the music may be used casually, by the facility or the family, knowing that this is a type of music that the person who is in the dying process had always enjoyed. Increasingly, though, employing trained music therapists has been favored. Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: As far back as I can remember my grandmother has had a dog. For the last 10 years, this dog has been Tippy, a small, male, mixed-breed that has been an ideal companion. The problem is that Grandma is getting less able to care for herself — let alone Tippy — and she is going to need to move to an assisted living facility (ALF). I’ve checked around, and while some local ALFs will let people bring their cats, none locally will allow them to keep a dog because dogs need to be let outside, among other excuses. Read more →


Decades ago, having grandparents move in with you was fairly common, and it often worked well. It did for my family. My parents built a new house that could accommodate all the different generations and afforded some privacy for all. Grandma moved in, and the arrangement worked. My mom did not work outside the home, so there was nearly always someone home with Grandma. I was also a born caregiver and gladly did what I could to help with both my toddler sister and my grandmother. Read more →