Nurse assisting disabled senior man using wheelchair

{Read in 4 minutes}  How do you measure quality of life? When a senior receives eye care and a new pair of glasses — how do you measure the extra years of joy, the sheer ability to read, or even the ability to continue driving?

Recently we surveyed clients to see how they were getting along since we last saw them. It was gratifying to learn that nearly 78% reported that their life and budget were now stable. They reported they had enough food to eat; they were feeling socially connected through family, neighbors or friends; and were continuing to take medication according to the doctor’s prescribed dosage. Most reported getting out at least once a week.

The nagging question for me is the smaller number (22%) reporting that they don’t always have enough money for food at the end of the month. Or, knowing from experience how many seniors put on a good front. For example, according to Mr. A:

I’m all right, … getting old of course … I cannot see … I cannot hear … It is hard to go out now that I’m 90 years old … My aide takes me to some appointments … I am very lonely, feel sad … Thank you so much for calling me.”

Correlating quantitative and qualitative data involves measuring quality of life in terms of real life. Our non-profit performance is measured with results-based accountability metrics. The social work staff, however, see quality of life outcomes in more balanced, humanistic terms. What we learn as a team, from periodic surveys, results in the collection of information that helps us fine-tune our programs, look at trends that reveal an increase in behavioral health issues among our senior population, and review how we measure success.

Our regular outreach efforts and volunteer, friendly visitors help us stay connected to seniors in our community who do not have family nearby. We meet people where they are, on their terms, when they are ready. The 22% — those who do not quite meet consistently stable status — may need greater support over a longer period of time.

Time is an important measure when working with seniors. I have learned a great deal from my professional colleagues — and salute them in their caring and professional case management of more than two thousand issues each year. They know that sometimes allowing a client to take their time is part of the process. They are monitoring versus forcing a quick fix. Sometimes waiting; putting just enough support in place when needed is the right response. When measuring quality of life, I am reminded of my mother-in-law Thelma, who at 95, said she missed doing some of the things she used to do. I asked her what she missed the most, and without missing a beat, she said, in her Louisiana drawl: “Standing up.”  To me, that was a great example of the real life version of how to measure quality of life.

Long term supports, applied over time, can provide improved quality of life for seniors. Helping seniors maintain their independence for as long as possible means standing up for them. SilverSource specializes in advocating for seniors and providing for basic needs. Sometimes just a phone call to check-in can make all the difference.

Kathleen Bordelon
Executive Director
Kbordelon@silversource.org
203.324.6584 x 301

Financial Aid and rescue from debt problems and keeping your investments above water represented by a drowning pink piggy bank sinking in blue water with a life{Read in 4 minutes}  There is an alarming trend in murder-suicide rates among the older population, so the news from Whatcom County, Washington, while startling, was not new. This heart-breaking tragedy was apparently due to a couple’s overwhelming health care costs that led them to the belief they could no longer afford their medical care. They were in serious debt and believed they would never be able to resolve their situation.

Is the case of this couple an anomaly? Sadly, no. Many older adults find themselves in this never-ending, mentally crushing position.

Americans borrowed about $88 billion to pay for health care last year, and one in four people skipped care because of costs, according to a new Gallup survey funded by West Health. The nationwide survey found that lower-income adults were more likely to skip care for fear of bankruptcy over spiraling medical costs, but even affluent households deferred care over concerns about finances. Research from America’s Health Rankings reveals frequent mental distress is nearly three times more common among those who are unable to afford a doctor visit (24.3 percent) compared with those who can afford a doctor visit (8.6 percent). And lower-income adults with annual incomes less than $25,000 (24.2 percent) compared with adults with annual incomes of $75,000 or more (5.9 percent).

The National Council on Aging reports more than 25 million Americans over the age of 60 live at or below the poverty line. Suicide rates for men spike after age 65.

Increase in Senior Bankruptcy Filings 

The so-called golden years are often fraught with challenges from reduced income, increased healthcare costs and loss of social connections. According to the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, Americans filing for bankruptcy have increased by nearly 480 percent from 1991. For people over age 75, total bankruptcy filings climbed by nearly 1,000 percent.

Murder-Suicide Disturbing Trend Among the Elderly 

According to Donna Cohen, Ph.D. a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Child & Family Studies, College of Behavioral & Community Sciences, University of South Florida, the typical homicide-suicide case involves a depressed, controlling husband who shoots his ill wife.

The Whatcom County Sheriff said the tragic circumstances might have been averted if the couple had reached out for help. SilverSource is one such agency, but there are many others out there ready and willing to support and help the elderly who find themselves in this same predicament.

The approaching holidays are also a time when seniors have a tendency to succumb to depression and loneliness. It’s a good time of year to check in with the seniors in your life — let them know you are there for them.

There is Help and Hope

When her husband died, and the household income dropped by half, Mrs. S. didn’t know what to do or where to turn. Her oncologist referred her to SilverSource where we helped her transition from the family home to a more affordable living situation, with the support and homecare she ultimately needed. There are resources in all communities across the nation.

If you are a senior, don’t let fear, money, or pride keep you from reaching out for help. And if you suspect a senior is in trouble, you can make an anonymous referral to the Department of Social Services, Protective Services for the Elderly Division in your state.

If you or a loved one needs help, call SilverSource at 203.324.6584. Our expert staff can provide assistance, and connect you with the support you need.

For immediate help, if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

Give us a call — we can help.

Kathleen Bordelon
Executive Director
Kbordelon@silversource.org
203.324.6584 x 301″

Listen to Joan…. Again by Joan Lunden

{Read in 4 minutes} You don’t always notice the changes when you are caring for a loved one from a long distance. We somehow fill in the blanks, don’t pick up on the cues, don’t realize that prescriptions are not being taken as directed. We hear what we want to hear, and believe all is well, until — it becomes so obvious you have to do something.  Continue Reading

I haven’t met the right person,” he said in answer to my question: “Have you fallen this week?” I think I almost blushed. His eyes were twinkling. His sense of humor is so wonderful.

 Senior Citizens doing exercise{Read in 3 minutes}  Frank is a member of a health and wellness program where about 150 seniors meet each week to test their blood pressure, check their weight, and take a Fitbit reading as part of our efforts to encourage walking and additional activities. Why? Because approximately one in four seniors (people over age 65, let’s say) take a fall, which can result in a serious injury and loss of independence.

September is Fall Prevention Month, but fall prevention is important all year for seniors.

Continue Reading

seniors in sports car“Well, I think seniors are really doing OK,” she said, “Because every time I see a really expensive car, an old guy is driving it.”

{Read in 3 minutes}  So began a month-long conversation with our summer interns, who were looking forward to prom and high school graduation. Seeing the world through the eyes of young people is — forgive me — “eye opening.” I am not sure who learned more from the experience! Continue Reading