Alleviating Social Isolation – My Segment on Charlotte Today – 07/15/21

social isolation

Alleviating Social Isolation – My Segment on Charlotte Today – 07/15/21

The pandemic caused social isolation for so many of us over the past 17 months, but it was especially hard on our seniors. So how are they doing now that things are opening back up and how can we all help them? Aging expert Anthony Cirillo has some suggestions to help our senior population.

First, how widespread is this isolation and what impact does it have on people? At least 30% of all seniors are not vaccinated and at least 8 million older people live alone. The AARP Foundation and the United Health Foundation conducted a study, which found that two-thirds of U.S. adults report experiencing social isolation and more than half agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused their anxiety level to increase. Studies have found that social isolation can be worse for one’s health than obesity, and the health risks are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The bottom line is older people feel socially isolated. Cirillo says “that this is impacting your love one in several ways.”

The AARP Foundation has a tool Connect2Affect (connect2affect.org) that offers an assessment test to determine whether you or loved ones are at risk. It asks questions like: Do you participate in social activities or organized groups at least once a week? Do you see or talk to a family member or a friend at least once a week? Under normal circumstances, do you ever have trouble finding transportation to get where you want ?Do you avoid socializing because it’s hard for you to understand conversations? If the answer are yes to any of these questions then your love one has been directly impacted.

So what can we do to help our love ones? Here are some suggestions from Cirillo. It’s important to build and maintain friendships. Stay involved in hobbies and activities. There are ways to also connect digitally. You may want to check out something we launched called Sage Stream (www.sagestream.live) that provides live stream programs to older adults daily. It’s important to talk to family and friends to develop a plan to safely stay in regular touch. Also create a list of community and faith-based organizations that you or the people in your plan can contact in the event you lack access to information, health care services, support and resources. Pets can help combat loneliness, and some pets have been linked with owners’ longevity. Do your research. Research transportation options.

Cirillo says “don’t forget older adults are not the only isolated, lonely people out there.” We all need to evaluate our emotions and talk about our feelings. We all have a role to play in addressing this complex issue, whether by seeking help ourselves or advising others to do so. It can also be beneficial to identify daily things that lessen social isolation. Take Small and manageable steps, such as setting regular communication with family, or taking a 15-minute nature walk, can help you measure progress at a slow but steady pace. For more information visit theagingexperience.com.

Alleviating Social Isolation – My Segment on Charlotte Today – 07/15/21

social isolation

Alleviating Social Isolation – My Segment on Charlotte Today – 07/15/21

The pandemic caused social isolation for so many of us over the past 17 months, but it was especially hard on our seniors. So how are they doing now that things are opening back up and how can we all help them? Aging expert Anthony Cirillo has some suggestions to help our senior population.

First, how widespread is this isolation and what impact does it have on people? At least 30% of all seniors are not vaccinated and at least 8 million older people live alone. The AARP Foundation and the United Health Foundation conducted a study, which found that two-thirds of U.S. adults report experiencing social isolation and more than half agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused their anxiety level to increase. Studies have found that social isolation can be worse for one’s health than obesity, and the health risks are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The bottom line is older people feel socially isolated. Cirillo says “that this is impacting your love one in several ways.”

The AARP Foundation has a tool Connect2Affect (connect2affect.org) that offers an assessment test to determine whether you or loved ones are at risk. It asks questions like: Do you participate in social activities or organized groups at least once a week? Do you see or talk to a family member or a friend at least once a week? Under normal circumstances, do you ever have trouble finding transportation to get where you want ?Do you avoid socializing because it’s hard for you to understand conversations? If the answer are yes to any of these questions then your love one has been directly impacted.

So what can we do to help our love ones? Here are some suggestions from Cirillo. It’s important to build and maintain friendships. Stay involved in hobbies and activities. There are ways to also connect digitally. You may want to check out something we launched called Sage Stream (www.sagestream.live) that provides live stream programs to older adults daily. It’s important to talk to family and friends to develop a plan to safely stay in regular touch. Also create a list of community and faith-based organizations that you or the people in your plan can contact in the event you lack access to information, health care services, support and resources. Pets can help combat loneliness, and some pets have been linked with owners’ longevity. Do your research. Research transportation options.

Cirillo says “don’t forget older adults are not the only isolated, lonely people out there.” We all need to evaluate our emotions and talk about our feelings. We all have a role to play in addressing this complex issue, whether by seeking help ourselves or advising others to do so. It can also be beneficial to identify daily things that lessen social isolation. Take Small and manageable steps, such as setting regular communication with family, or taking a 15-minute nature walk, can help you measure progress at a slow but steady pace. For more information visit theagingexperience.com.

REDEFINING AGING – MAYBE IT IS JUST A NUMBER!

redefining aging

REDEFINING AGING – MAYBE IT IS JUST A NUMBER!

BY  •  JUNE 4, 2021  •  MINDSET

I am writing this the day after Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship, becoming the oldest winner of a major. The number of references to Phil as old was pretty remarkable because if 50 is old, what am I at 64? Nonetheless, Phil had a few wise words in the press tent.

“There’s no reason why you can’t accomplish your goals at an older age. It’s just going to take more effort. If you put in the work, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.”

Well said.

Redefining Aging

An Instagram page tries to redefining aging with beautiful and sometimes provocative images of older women.

Louis Aronson’s book Elderhood, according to one reviewer, “encourages readers to help put an end to the anti-aging industry and its profiteers, to engage in better self-care and to collectively ask the medical community to look at elderhood not as a disease.”

Decline is certainly a narrative that society embraces when it comes to older people. We are diseased, just waiting to die. After all, how remarkable was it that a 50-year-old athlete who, according to the critics, could not win any longer on tour, suddenly surprises everyone and wins a major – surprising everyone except himself.

Thriving, Not Declining!

Spoiler alert – we are not declining. In fact, we are getting better every day, learning new things, exploring, taking chances. My wife and I got the same surprised messages on Facebook after posting picture of us zip lining in St. Lucia! “OMG, how could you do that at your age!”

Yale School of Health Professor Becca Levy, in a frequently cited paper published in 2009, introduced the term “stereotype embodiment theory.” She described the aging process as a social construct in which cultural influences in a person’s life lead to internalized attitudes about aging that have a long-term impact on health.

So if the culture says you’re old, well I guess you’re old. If you want to buy into that.

Speaking to Next Avenue, she noted that: “the risk of dementia goes up with people who have taken in more negative age stereotypes from their culture, but you also could think about it in the opposite way, that people who take in more positive age stereotypes seem to have a cognitive advantage over time.”

Who Benefits from Aging Stereotypes?

The health and fitness arena has thrived by painting pictures of older adults fight against aging, therefore needing their products.

The senior living industry has thrived by putting together one population of people together communally. Yet, when older adults interact more with younger generations, this leads to less stereotyping between the two groups and better attitudes about each other.

Fighting with Attitude

Despite laws, ageism culture exists in society and the workplace. Ask any employed family caregiver.

Jelena Sophie Siebert suggests we avoid “the widespread public view that declining cognitive and physical health is primarily due to calendar age,” because thinking along those lines has a tendency to bring about “a reduced sense of responsibility and a down-playing of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.”

Maybe it comes down to age is just a number. Your attitude is everything. A healthy physical and mental lifestyle will keep you ageless.

What do you think about redefining aging stereotypes? Do you think that attitude is the ultimate solution to the agism problem in our society? Why do you think the younger generations think of people over 50 as old and incapable? Please share your thoughts below!

IS LINKEDIN HELPING OR HURTING CAREGIVERS IN LATEST PLATFORM UPDATE?

linkedin

IS LINKEDIN HELPING OR HURTING CAREGIVERS IN LATEST PLATFORM UPDATE? (VIDEO)

Reprinted from Sixty and Me BY  •  MAY 7, 2021  •  CAREGIVING

LinkedIn is introducing features to its platform that will allow family caregivers to self-identify with titles such as “stay-at-home” mom or dad. People could also label their unemployment gaps to denote when they were on parental leave, taking a sabbatical, etc.

Rise in Caregiving

Obviously, caregiving increased and turnover increased during the pandemic. Half of employers who said they lost employees during the pandemic identified childcare concerns as a factor in leaving the workforce. A 2020 Morning Consult survey of 1,500 unemployment insurance recipients found that 37% of caregiver respondents quit to look after a sick family member.

We have heard some of this story before. Caregiving disproportionately impacts female caregivers and their finances and careers. The same lament fuels companies to start looking at caregiver benefits, particularly around backup care and more time flexibility.

The Problem Is Much More Complex

But is that enough or should Linkedin be doing this at all? In other words, are we solving the wrong problem? Increased time off does not make a family caregiver any more productive. The over-sized elephant in the room is company culture.

Many family caregivers do not self-identify for the very real fear of losing their job, being passed over for promotion, etc. Identifying yourself on LinkedIn as a caregiver is not going to change company cultures and attitudes.

I’ve spent the last few years advocating for solutions that make life easier for family caregivers, whether these were assistance programs that companies offered in EAP programs or technology solutions that made life easier.

Make no mistake, these are needed. But what message are we saying when we do this? The message to me is that family caregivers have to shoulder the burden of care for a loved one and here are some tools to help ease the burden.

The Other Side of the Story

We have given the health care system a free pass in all of this. The vulnerabilities of that system have glaringly been shown during the pandemic. Health systems like to talk about the great experience of care for patients and residents.

Yet they fail to recognize the family caregiver as part of the team; fail to recognize that the family caregiver has health issues of their own; and fail to realize that caregiving is a social determinant of health.

Putting a band aid on the solution, like adhering to the bare minimum standards of the CARE ACT, is not enough.

The Family Care Crisis

I explored this topic with Jeannette Galvanek, founder of CareWise Solutions™. She is a business consultant and speaker who writes extensively about Preserving Employment in an Aging Society. She sees the family care crisis for employers and employees through a very different lens.

The answer is not providing tools for more effective caregiving at home, offering flexible schedules or a leave of absence. As I said, giving people more time off, paid time off, or flex time does not make them a more productive caregiver.

The core issue is societal perception and culture. Caregiving is considered a family or personal problem; it is also a major workforce management issue for employers. A losing proposition for employers, employees and family. Family as the healthcare delivery channel is just not a viable business model. Dual employment is not a sustainable national workforce strategy in a competitive marketplace.

Galvanek suggests we need a new category of job creation, one that is devoted to absorbing more of the burden of caregiving, leaving family members to do what they want to do, can reasonably do, while not suffering guilt or giving up the gratification that comes with caregiving.

Have you had to quit your job to look after a sick family member or help with caring for your grandchildren during the pandemic? What was your employer’s stance? What do you think is the solution? Please share your thoughts below.

Let’s Have a Conversation!

Sibling Rivalry and Caregiving Issues – I Discuss on Charlotte Today

sibling

Sibling Rivalry and Caregiving Issues – I Discuss on Charlotte Today

Family disputes over elderly parents are more common when multiple children are interested and involved in caregiving. Adult children may be wondering how to protect the money of elderly parents from a financially dependent brother or sister. Relationship tensions may escalate if an adult child living with parents becomes overbearing or controlling. One sibling may be taking on the load and not receiving help. How do you juggle these responsibilities and tensions? I discuss on Charlotte Today.

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