Wednesday, April 29, 2015

5 Steps to Combat and Prevent Elder Abuse

What a new federal report recommends to curb this scourge


Not long ago, my aunt, who is in her 80s, was the victim of financial exploitation by an in-home health aide. It started with trips to the drugstore and small loans. Before long, the caregiver was regularly taking my aunt and her credit card to department stores to purchase clothes and other items — not for my aunt.  

Eventually, a clerk noticed what was going on and alerted security and our family. By then, however, my aunt was out hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars. No charges were filed, but the caregiver was dismissed.

According to The Elder Justice Roadmap, a report just released by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, my aunt is one of 5 million Americans affected by some form of elder abuse each year (physical or mental abuse, neglect or financial exploitation). Most families, like ours, don't report such abuses to authorities; only one in 24 do, according to the study.

A Widespread Problem

The Elder Justice Roadmap is intended to help people and organizations recognize, prevent and address the abuse and exploitation of older adults. One in every 10 people over 60 who lives at home suffers some form of abuse, neglect or exploitation, the report says. Those with dementia are far more likely to be abused or neglected by caregivers.

Contrary to popular belief, older adults are more likely to suffer abuse at the hands of their own family members than by a paid caregiver, according to Laura Mosqueda, a geriatrician and director of the National Center on Elder Abuse at University of California Irvine who served on the Elder Justice Roadmap steering committee.

Family caregiver abuse can stem from stress or financial motives. Mosqueda hopes the report will lead to more attention being paid to the factors that can lead to abuse and neglect at home.

"As a provider, I've seen families come in on the cusp of abuse and they are good people," she says. She hopes public awareness of elder abuse will rise to the level where families can get help before it's too late.

5 Steps for Combating and Preventing Abuse

The 40-page report, based on interviews with more than 750 experts and professionals who work with older adults, recommends specific action in five areas:
1. Awareness The report calls for an increase in public awareness of elder abuse — a multi-faceted problem that requires a holistic, well-coordinated response in services, education, policy and research.

2. Brain health It also wants to see more research into brain health, with an enhanced focus on cognitive capacity (and incapacity) and mental health. These are critical factors both for elder abuse victims and for perpetrators.

3. Caregiving There should be better support and training for the tens of millions of paid and unpaid caregivers who play a critical role in preventing elder abuse, the Elder Justice Roadmap says.

4. Economics The authors want to see the costs of elder abuse quantified, particularly because this national problem includes huge fiscal costs to victims, families and society.

5. Resources The report says the nation needs to strategically invest more resources in services, education, research and expanding knowledge in order to reduce elder abuse in America.

How to Recognize Abuse

Beyond its recommendations for the future, the report has already produced immediate benefits. The Department of Justice has created training modules to help attorneys recognize and address potential financial exploitation of older Americans. Also, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is developing a voluntary national adult protective services data system to capture and analyze reports of abuse.

Mosqueda says healthcare providers and social workers need training to recognize the signs of abuse in their patients and clients. "So many age-related changes can mimic or mask signs of elder abuse — a fracture, bruise or pressure sore or burn — a lot of it is missed," she notes.

“Turning the tide against elder abuse requires much greater public commitment, so every American will recognize elder abuse when they see it and know what to do if they encounter it,” said Kathy Greenlee, HHS’ assistant secretary for aging and administrator of the Administration for Community Living, in a statement.

Toward that end, The National Center on Elder Abuse has developed an instructive Red Flags of Abuse Factsheet listing the signs of and risk factors for abuse and neglect.

The Administration on Aging says if you suspect that someone is in immediate danger of being an elder abuse victim, call 911 or contact your local adult protective services agency, which can be found through the National Center on Elder Abuse website or by calling 800-677-1116.

“We must take a stand to ensure that older Americans are safe from harm and neglect,” said Associate Attorney General Tony West in a statement. “For their contributions to our nation, to our society, and to our lives, we owe them nothing less.”

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.

More information is available at

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Stretches and Exercises for Tired, Achy Legs

4 ways to ease leg and knee pain caused by overdoing it
By Linda Melone for Next Avenue

Whether you took a longer walk than usual, tried a new exercise or simply spent all day on your feet, achy legs can make your whole body hurt.
If the achiness stems from exercise, blame it on micro-tears in the muscle cells themselves, says Irv Rubenstein, an exercise physiologist and founder of S.T.E.P.S., in Nashville, Tenn. The little tears spark an inflammatory process that’s necessary for healing. “It occurs and enables proper reconstruction of the damaged tissue,” Rubenstein says.
Another cause of achy legs and knees is the normal aging process. We experience changes in connective tissue (cartilage), which can cause tightness, according to John Fenger, manager of outpatient rehabilitation at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif.

However, if your legs cramp up when you’re walking down the street for no obvious reason, it’s time to schedule a doctor’s appointment, Fenger says. “The pain may be due to an occlusion (blockage) or it may be neurological,” he notes.
For normal aches and tightness, simple stretches and specific exercises can help you ease back to your normal routine sooner.
Here are four ways you can help ease leg aches and pains:
1. Try hair of the dog. Perform a lower intensity, lower volume (reps, sets) version of the activity that made you sore, suggests Rubenstein. If you usually walk vigorously, slow down your pace and cut down the distance. If your soreness is due to lifting weights, cut the weight or do the move without weight and go with fewer sets and repetitions.
In addition, extend your warm-up, suggests Rubenstein, since muscles are not just sore but stiff.

“This way, you can be sure you’re pushing blood (and its accompaniment, oxygen) into muscles to speed healing,” he says, while helping the lymphatic system remove the "damaged" tissue and toxins.
2. Break up your workouts throughout the day. To strengthen legs and ease knee pain, try intermittent squats. “Recent studies show that performing squats may be beneficial to knees when done in small increments during the day, but not when sets are done one after the other,” says Fenger.
For example, instead of performing a set of 15 reps followed by a second set, do one set and then another four hours later and so on during the day to stave off pain without wearing down the knee joint.

Sequential sets may lead to the breakdown of the integrity of the knee cartilage. “Each set causes further breakdown," explains Fenger. "But this does not happen if you allow a rest period in between.”
3. Do tai chi or yoga. A number of studies show the benefits of tai chi on pain relief, including when the pain stems from fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and low back pain.

“This gentle martial art includes many movement patterns and benefits people with leg pain and fatigue,” says Fenger, who also recommends modified and gentle styles of yoga. Qualified tai chi instructors may be found online at, or check Amazon for DVDs for guidance. (Always tell your tai chi or yoga instructor if you are in pain, and ask for modified moves if necessary.)
4. Stretch. Stretches allow for better post-exercise mobility and ease of getting around. “And they may help you feel better,” Rubenstein says. Stretches for specific, common achy muscles include:
Calf stretch:
  • Stand behind a chair and hold your hands on the back for balance.
  • Stand on your toes and hold the position for a few seconds then lower your heels back to the ground. Repeat several times. Avoid overstretching.
Quadriceps stretch (front of thighs):
  • Stand on one leg and raise the other leg off the floor, bending at the knee.
  • Gently pull your foot with the opposite hand and bring your foot close to your buttock.
  • Hold onto a wall or a chair for balance. Hold 20 to 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Hamstring stretch (backs of thighs):
  • Sit on the ground and bend one leg, resting the foot of the bent leg on the inside of the opposite outstretched one.
  • Bend at the waist and stretch forward, reaching the toes on the outstretched leg. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg. Move slowly and gently; avoid bouncing.
Hip flexors (front of thighs, often responsible for low back tightness):
  • Stand facing a bench approximately a leg’s length away; place right foot on the bench.
  • Slowly lunge forward by bending the right leg to a lunge position, keep hands on hips and chest high while maintaining a straight left leg with heel on the ground. As you lean forward into the stretch you should feel a slight pull in your left hip flexor (just below the hip bone). Hold 20 to 30 seconds and switch legs.
Back pain stretch (this extended stretch takes gravity out of play, allowing back muscles to relax):
  • Lie on your back, legs up and over a chair with knees bent at 90 degrees with arms straight out from the shoulders with palms up; relax and feel the body and low back settle into floor (do not force). Hold five minutes.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.

More information is available a

Friday, April 10, 2015

Join us for an Informative and Interactive Presentation on Brain Health

Innovative ways to boost brain health have emerged in recent years. Come and learn what it takes to keep your brain fit and try some new techniques to stay sharp. 

Guest speaker Tonia Vojtkofsky, Psy.D., researcher for UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders and UC Irvine Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, is our guest presenter for this exciting event. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear from an expert in the field of brain health. 

Please join us for this informative and interactive presentation, 
hosted by Summer House at Walnut Village:

Thursday, May 7, 2015 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm 

Walnut Village’s Lifelong Learning Center 891 S. Walnut Street, Anaheim, CA 92802 

Beverages and appetizers • Complimentary valet parking 

Tours available RSVP by Friday, May 1 to Marina (714) 507-7005.


Summer House is part of Walnut Village, Orange County’s most award-winning continuing care retirement community with full-service, resort style living. Summer House is a memory care support neighborhood that’s spacious in size, yet offers an intimate setting of 14 accommodations for private or companion living.

Summer House at Walnut Village
891 S. Walnut Street Anaheim, CA 92802 
(714) 507-7005

We’re an equal opportunity housing provider.

CA License #306000961

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Declutter Challenge: What Works Best for You?

Photo courtesy Liza Kaufman Hogan

My 30-Day Declutter Challenge ended in a flurry as I scrambled to complete the last three days of clutter collection.  

The goal of the challenge was to collect one item on Day 1, two on Day 2 and so forth for 30 days. By the end, I had culled more than the requisite 465 items, really closer to 500.

My declutter pile is big (see ugly photo) but not as big as I imagined when I started the challenge — maybe because I didn't have large items like furniture to shed. Instead, I have amassed a large pile of small items like books, toys and electronic flotsam and jetsam.

The challenge was well suited to a declutter procrastinator like me. Having rules to guide (and force) me to collect a certain number of items per day was really helpful. It occurred to me that you might also do the challenge backwards starting with 30 items when you are most fired up and work down to one item for Day 30. However you get there, you'll be glad you did.

Readers Share Their Declutter Tips

We invited readers to join the challenge (it's not too late to start now) and asked them to share their best tips for paring down their possessions. They had some great advice:
  • "I keep a shopping bag and fill it with things to give away, and donate that full bag every week to a local thrift shop. Then I open a new shopping bag to fill." Pamela Koller, Queens, N.Y.
  • "I decide what has value for me today. What do I really need and want in my life today, and what is something from the past that no longer serves me?" Kevin McGrath, Anaheim, Calif.
  • "I try to think if anyone else will care about this item if I were dead. The answer is most often, no. I still may have a hard time parting with it. I don't like to throw away anything useful, so it must be donated or put on the curb for someone to take." Pam Chapman, Dallas, Texas
  • "I organized and labeled boxes into categories: trash, sell, donate, file." Rich Crossett, Louisville, Ky.
  • "I remembered William Morris' (19th century textile designer and novelist) dictum: 'Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.'”  Jean Melom, Seattle, Wash.

Like me, some readers found it painful to part with some things. Asked what was hardest to part with, Koller said, "cards saved by my recently deceased mother. I can't part with them. Yet."

Marie Scruggs, of Dallas, Texas said, "We gave away a trampoline that wouldn't fit into our new backyard. That was hard. The kids had so many great memories associated with it."

Melom said her books were hardest to discard. "But a friend was having a big book sale with benefits to support the marriage equality campaign in my (former) state, so I felt good helping a cause I believed in," she noted.

Other Ways to Declutter

Doing a declutter challenge or following tips from others are two ways to jettison things you don't need. But what if you have years' worth of stuff and need help going through it? Or you don't have a lot of clutter but need help organizing what you do have or are preparing for a move?  

Professional organizer Janine Adams of Peace of Mind Organizing in St. Louis, Mo., suggests partnering with a friend to get two houses done instead of one. The work will go faster if you have someone to keep you on task, she says. Even Adams declutters with another professional organizer. She recommends you choose the friend carefully. Someone who will encourage you to keep everything or is easily distracted or is in it for the stuff she'll get may not be the best person for the task.  

When You Can't (or Don't Want To) Go it Alone

Sometimes you just need a professional if you don't know where to start or don't have time to do it on your own. Adams says there are five common reasons people turn to professionals for help organizing:

1. They feel overwhelmed.
2. They don’t know how to get organized.
3. They are afraid they don't know how to do it right.
4. They want it to go quickly.
5. They need help staying focused.
If you are looking for a professional to help declutter or organize, check the directory of the National Association of Professional Organizers. You can search by ZIP code and expertise, such as help for families with children or hoarders or particular needs or home office set-up. When I did a general search for residential services, I came up with 33 organizers within five miles of my home.  

If you are helping a parent move or preparing yourself for a move to a retirement community or a smaller home, you can find tips and someone to help through the National Association of Senior Move Managers.

Adams sometimes works with clients helping a parent downsize or move. These situations call for special patience and empathy. You have to "remember that it's their space and their home. Respecting their wishes is really important," she says.  

Generally, Adams does not recommend people rent storage space — what she calls "paying rent on your stuff." But, she adds, "if they want to keep everything, plan to move stuff into storage if affordable."

She says it's important to keep in mind that the person or couple moving may be OK with a living room crowded with furniture if it means keeping things they love, even if that's not how you would arrange your house.

Whether you are decluttering on your own, working with a professional, downsizing the family home or repurposing a room as an empty nester, Adams has this advice:

"Be kind to yourself. Something about clutter makes people beat themselves up. They ask: 'Why haven’t I gotten to this?'" As Adams knows, we all have clutter to a greater or lesser degree. However you approach the challenge, it's difficult. But trust me, it feels great to let go of it.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.

More information is available at

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Seeking Your Direction from Midlife On

Most people go through six stages – which are you in?

I vividly remember turning 40. It was truly the first time it occurred to me that this thing I call “my life” had a horizon, that the notion of dying might actually apply to me someday. It’s not that I had been in denial. There were just many urgent demands on my energy, such as supporting a family and moving up the career ladder.
I’m now nearing 70, and no one needs to remind me I am aging, or that I will die.
The years between 40 and 70 have been a mixed bag, at times exhilarating, at times downright challenging. What I learned along the way is that there are stages most of us go through. With advance knowledge of these phases, you will, I hope, enjoy a smoother ride.
Here’s my map, consisting of six milestones. It will take you all the way from an absorption in the external world of career and parenting (if that is your choice) to a sense of freedom that comes from shifting your focus inward.
Most of us find ourselves in midlife enjoying a stable platform. The trials of moving from adolescence into a full sense of adulthood are safely behind us. Our orientation is comfortably outward. And the basis for our ego development is how we are perceived in the world. We are motivated, our path is clear, and our purpose is understood.
For me, family vacations during this period were activity intensive. Whether sailing, hiking, or attending ball games, the emphasis was always on having “fun in the sun.” Accomplishments and their tangible rewards made my ego feel “safe” as well, even if there was a turn in the road just ahead that I didn’t see coming.
Early Rumblings
Somewhere in our 50s we begin to sense a disconnect. What felt like a clear connection between effort and reward now seems less apparent. There are the beginnings of an inward tug, a subtle demand to pay more attention to our inner landscape. Larger questions begin to loom, such as: Who am I outside of my roles at work and home? What am I doing that truly matters? How am I helping others?

These are the early warning signs that change is ahead and, if heeded, will be seen later on as gifts. If, instead, we resort to denial and its kissing cousin, distraction, the symptomatic clues will develop into something more debilitating to our physical and mental health. Ironically, this is also commonly the time when our external work is in full-flourish mode, necessitating increased time and attention. Like the cartilage in a runner’s knee, our flexible sense of self is caught in-between two hard places, and isn’t fully reconciled to either.
My choice of activities during this stage became increasingly more introspective: music, art, yoga, reading and even some meditation. Our family vacations were now split between having fun together, and personal retreats for me – a direct reflection of the push/pull I was beginning to feel.
As the challenges of change intensify, we either choose to prepare in earnest for transition into the after-work years, or we go deeper into denial and distraction. But what does it mean to prepare? What are we preparing for?
In sum, we are beginning to shift from an outward gaze to an inward gaze – from a guidance system that keys off of the external environment to one that takes it cues from our inner being.
I spent many years honing the basic skills that drove my success in the middle years – in essence, an outwardly focused pursuit of achievement through a goal-centered, future-oriented, strategic and predominantly rational orientation to life. Now I felt an urgency to become more reflective, using skills that were instead open-ended, present-oriented and heart-centered.
Decision Point
Finally, we retire from full-time employment. If we’ve done our preparatory work, the still-budding capacities of introspection are strong enough to override feelings of loss and move us instead toward a sense of gain. There is indeed the potential for opening to a fresh and glorious life chapter.

But it often comes at a stiff price. Psychologists tell us that before creating a whole new sense of who we are, and what we’re here to do, we must first let go fully of the life we have lived and how we lived it.
At this point, I knew that the only way out was through. Jumping in deeper, I became certified as a yoga and meditation teacher, which both enhanced my own contemplative practices and launched me into my next stage: helping others.

With continued practice, a sense of awakening floods in, heralding a newfound life-chapter. We learn to better open our hearts, to even lead with our hearts. There is a form of ego relief as we move more clearly into a felt reality bigger than the confines of our own sense of self.
If that sounds too abstract, think of the rewards in terms of good health. Research shows that as we age, there’s a direct connection between our ability to let go of a rigid sense of self and feelings of being truly reconciled, truly happy. In addition, researchers say that those among us who experience high levels of happiness also enjoy bodies and minds that are freer of pain and disease.

We all desire to become free – to be a slave to nothing and to no one, especially to our own expectations and conditions. The self-trust we have developed in moving diligently through the various stages brings us right to freedom’s door. And as we learn to open it with vigor and greater frequency, the benefits of abundance emerge. We are peaceful, able to feel deeper levels of compassion and empathy, and to engage freely in unconditional love for ourselves and others.
The journey, for me, was definitely worth the effort. May you feel that as well, and may you reap all the rewards that are yours.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.

More information is available a