Medication Management Tips and Tools for Michigan Seniors

Medication Management Tips and Tools for Michigan Seniors

Setting up a medication management schedule is the best way to keep an older adult on-track with the prescription and over-the-counter medicines. One of the biggest challenges is finding ways to stay organized. From monitoring when refills are due to setting up a pill organizer, these tips can help Michigan family caregivers.

Helping a Michigan Senior Manage their Medication Schedule

  • Use a pill organizer. Plastic medication organizers labeled with the days of the week aren’t expensive, and can be a life saver for seniors. By reaching for a single dose of medicine instead of the entire bottle, it’s easier to keep track of what medication they’ve already taken and what dosages remain for that day. Take some time at the start of each week to help your senior loved one set up their pill organizer. This not only keeps them organized, but will also allow you to see when their prescriptions will run out. If your loved will be away from home, a pill organizer makes it simple to bring their medicine with them in a purse or a pocket without having to worry about bulky, hard-to-open bottles. There are also several tech products that can be used to dispense medications at dosage time. Some even send text alerts to family is a dosage has been missed.
  • Set up automatic prescription renewals. The days and weeks can fly by. Before you know it, your loved one is low on medication. An easy way to ensure that they are never without it is to set up automatic renewals with their pharmacy. You’ll get a phone call or a text message when the prescription is ready to be picked up. You can make it even easier for yourself by having the prescriptions mailed to you at home, though this perk will likely depend on your senior family member’s insurance plan.
  • Talk to your loved one’s doctor. The addition of a new pill or vitamin can be a smooth transition or it can be a rocky one. If it’s the latter, be sure to let the doctor know immediately how your senior loved one is feeling so that adjustments can be made in their dosages. Make sure to read the insert from the pharmacy so you are aware of any potentially serious side effects.
  • Ask for help. If you lead an on-the-go lifestyle, then you know how easy it is for something small to throw off your schedule in a big way. You likely know or have your aging loved one’s schedule of medications written down on a list somewhere. Be sure to share that list with others. It might be a trusted neighbor or a family member who is comfortable being a back-up caregiver.

At Heritage Senior Communities, medication management is handled by a registered nurse. Families and their loved ones will have peace of mind knowing that their daily regimen of medication is being carefully supervised. Its amazing how a little bit of organization can go such a long way when it comes to managing medications!


How to Choose a Senior-friendly Realtor to Sell Your Loved One’s Home

How to Choose a Senior-friendly Realtor to Sell Your Loved One’s Home

If you’re getting ready to help a loved one sell the family home in Michigan, don’t dive in unprepared. There’s a minefield of emotional, financial, and legal issues you’ll need to know about before you take that first step. Finding a realtor you can trust is a good place to begin. Finding a senior-friendly realtor may be even better.

What is a ‘Senior-Friendly Realtor’?

You may want to consider hiring a senior-friendly realtor. These are professionals who’ve made it a point to acquire extra training and expertise in working with older adults and their families who are selling the family home.

According to the AARP, a Senior Real Estate Specialist is “…an education-based designation for realtors who can address the needs of home buyers 50 and older”.

The best way to choose a good senior-friendly realtor is to understand what they bring to the table. Here’s what to look for when you’re selling an older adult’s home in Michigan.

  1. Choose a Realtor Who’s Sensitive to Issues Older Adults Face

First, try your best to put yourself in your senior loved one’s shoes. Selling the home you’ve lived in for decades – 50+ years in some cases – is both emotionally difficult and tremendously frightening.

There’s a pretty good chance your loved one will appreciate good service from someone who understands the special concerns that people in their situation face.

Ask anyone of any age who’s sold a home and they’ll tell you: the process itself can be quite grueling. Showings can be particularly stressful for the homeowner, what with having to keep the home looking presentable at all times. It must be spotless and neutral as well as clutter-free. Sometimes the furniture has to be arranged differently to make a more presentable showing.

And here in Michigan, you’ll need to keep up with snow maintenance if you put your home on the market in winter time. That can mean something more to worry about.

A senior-friendly realtor will understand that these conditions are especially stressful and difficult if the homeowner is an older adult. They will customize their marketing and techniques to fit your loved one’s needs.

  1. Look for a Realtor who Understands the Senior Living Market

Many times families start preparing a senior’s house to sell before they have a definite idea on where the older adult will be moving to. Having a realtor who knows the local senior living market can be a real advantage. They may have a network of past clients who can offer objective insight on which communities offer the best care and value to older adults.

  1. Select Someone Who Can Also Help the Caregiver

A good senior-friendly realtor can make this process easier for the older adult and their family. If he or she knows what they’re doing, they’ll immediately understand that this is no ordinary transaction. Everyone involved might have deep-rooted feelings about what’s taking place.

According to data published by the State of Michigan, most seniors prefer to stay in their own homes. That means the decision to sell the home can be fraught with emotion.

And with more family members involved, emotions can run high and conflicts over decisions can develop overnight. A senior-friendly realtor knows how to navigate their way through family conflicts. They can help steer the conversation back to the task at hand: selling the property in a way that satisfies your senior loved one.

Sometimes there are highly complex inter-generational dynamics at play when older adults are selling their long-term home. However, whether you’re a close relative or not, you’re involved in a major life event for the senior you’re caring for. A knowledgeable, senior-friendly realtor is sensitive to all these issues, too.

In the end, your realtor is there to ease the process of selling a senior’s home. It’s a thorny issue for everyone, but a truly ‘senior-friendly’ realtor will ease the stress and guide you and your loved one through the entire process.

Want to know more about issues like this? Subscribe to our blog and stay informed!

Talking with an Older Driver about Hanging Up the Car Keys

Talking with an Older Driver about Hanging Up the Car Keys

Dear Donna,

My mother is 78 years old and drives herself everywhere she needs to go. Although she hasn’t had any accidents yet, I’m concerned that she poses a danger to herself and others on the road. There have been a lot of news stories lately about older drivers who have run stop signs and ended up in serious accidents.

I want her to give up driving, but I don’t know how to broach the subject. How do I talk to her about hanging up her car keys? I have no idea where to begin.

I am envisioning this being a tough conversation and hoping you can help me find the right the words.




Advice for Encouraging a Senior to Hang Up the Car Keys

Hi Meg,

Thank you for your question. It’s a tough one, for sure! It’s difficult because it touches on a very tricky subject between older adults and caregivers like you, who want to do right by their loved ones. It’s great that you recognize the gravity of this matter and the importance of finding the right way to bring up the subject with your mother.

I’ll start right off by saying there’s no easy answer here. Unfortunately, it’s not just about driving. The topic goes much deeper into the issues involved with getting older.

You see driving is associated with independence, especially for seniors who live in rural areas across Michigan where public transportation isn’t always an option. Driving is often the only obvious way to get around. If your mother hangs up her car keys for good, she may feel like she’s lost her independence.

To further complicate the matter, even aging experts lack any sort of standard recommendation for when it’s time for an older adult to hang up the keys. Because aging affects everyone differently, it can’t drive this decision.

I can show you some facts and tips to help you arrive at a good decision.

Some Surprising Stats About Older Drivers

A 2011 study showed actual declines in fatal crashes involving older drivers from 1970 to 2006. What’s more, the decline was substantial. For drivers 70 and older, fatal crash involvement declined 37 percent. That’s a larger improvement than any other age group.

Not only that, but property-damage-only crashes also declined for drivers over 70, while they increased for middle-aged drivers.

Another study showed a continuation of that decline in fatal crash involvements for drivers 70 and older. Rates fell from 19.29 in 1997 to 12.01 in 2014. That study comes to us from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who says older drivers are mostly a danger to themselves. If someone is frail, they are more likely to suffer extensive personal injuries in a car crash.

Older drivers have surprisingly low rates of crashes (at least those which are reported to the police). In fact, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and passengers in other vehicles are more likely to die in crashes involving drivers 30-59 than drivers 60 and older.

Tips for Recognizing When it’s Time to Hang up the Keys

So I will ask you, is there something about your mother’s driving that is causing you concern, or are you simply worried because she’s 78?

If you are having a tough time deciding what is worrying you, here are a few signs to watch out for:

  • Many “close calls” and/or tickets
  • Evidence of lots of “fender benders”
  • Getting lost
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Slow response time
  • Road rage
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty twisting or turning upper body

In addition, if your mother is experiencing muscular weakness and limited flexibility, she may have trouble gripping and turning the wheel properly.

Absent any of these warning signs, it might be hard for you to make a case with your mother about hanging up those keys. Some states require older drivers to take road tests or apply for licenses more often, but older drivers in Michigan are not treated any differently than the rest of the population.

Your best bet is to use the checklist above to guide your decision. It will become increasingly important as your mother turns 80 in a couple of years. Until then, keep an eye on her habits, look for dings in her bumper, and talk to her about what you may do “someday” when she has to stop driving.


Want more answers on important topics for seniors? View our blog for more “Dear Donna” letters from our readers.


The Importance of Legacy Planning on Your Health

The Importance of Legacy Planning on Your Health

A life well lived. Contributions to mankind. Your family. Your stories. The way each of us creates a legacy is as unique as the way we live our lives.

Some of us preserve family history through our stories, while others build businesses and leave them to their heirs. Some leave money to charitable organizations and others leave a legacy through the student lives they’ve touched with a career in teaching.

No matter how humble or grand your legacy turns out to be, it’s important to note that the actual planning of your legacy is entirely fulfilling on its own. That qualifies it as something that’s good for you and good for your health.

Here’s how that works.

5 Ways Legacy Planning is Good for Your Health

One way to think of a legacy is the need to be remembered for the special impact you’ve made in the world. And as each of us well knows, our lives are unique, making our legacies just as unique.

As unique as each legacy might be, however, there are 5 different ways that planning a legacy might be good for anyone, no matter who they are or what they do.

  1. Legacy planning validates your unique brand of living.

By planning how you want to be remembered, you’re giving credence to the idea that you’re unique and special life matters. In other words, legacy planning is a form of life validation, a way of celebrating what you’re all about while you’re still around to join the party.

  1. Thinking about your legacy helps you lead a purposeful life.

Planning your legacy also helps you guide your life. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner said it well in their book, “A Leader’s Legacy:”

“By asking ourselves how we want to be remembered, we plant the seeds for living our lives as if we matter.”

Some people start planning early on in life. Indeed, discussions about your legacy can take place over a lifetime. Maybe you began thinking about the type of mark you wanted to make on the world when you were in your 30’s. Or maybe you and your circle of friends first began thinking about legacies when you all started becoming grandparents.

Whatever the case, it helps you direct your life in purposeful directions.

  1. Planning promotes self-reflection.

Leaving a legacy requires self-reflection, which is good for the mind and spirit. Both are linked to better overall health.

  1. It increases your social activity.

Legacy planning can be inward (self-reflection) and then it can also be outward (sharing your legacy). Both forms do great things for your psyche.

When you share your legacy, the social connections you develop are good for your heart. Let’s say your legacy is rooted in your lifelong support of pets and the Michigan shelters that care for them. You touched the hearts of many pet owners through your dedication to volunteering over the years.

By deciding that’s going to be your legacy, you’re apt to increase involvement with those activities, thereby promoting a more social lifestyle for yourself. Social connections are increasingly important  to health as we age.

  1. Legacy planning encourages you to pursue your passions.

When you’re passionate about something, you may not let advancing age stop you from enjoying it. Your relentless pursuit of passions can serve as an inspiration to others. That’s a fine legacy to leave!

Whether it’s ballroom dancing, yoga, or playing the piano, a passion can have a significant positive influence on your health. Passions involving physical activity will keep your body healthier longer, and those involving mental acumen will keep your brain healthier longer.

Plan Your Legacy by Sharing It with Others

Choosing to share your legacy with others is a key part of legacy planning. Through connecting with friends, spending time with family, or reaching out to the community, you’re not just planning your legacy; you’re creating it as you go.

Leaving a legacy is especially important to older adults with memory loss. If your aging parent in Michigan has dementia, you may be interested in learning more about StoryCorps and their efforts to help with legacy building for people with memory loss.

How to Find Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials in Michigan

How to Find Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials in Michigan

Behind every medical advancement in the modern world, you’ll find a series of clinical trials. And who’s behind these clinical trials? Regular folks like you. Thanks to the efforts of countless volunteers over the years, researchers have made regular improvements in healthcare by finding new ways to detect, prevent, and treat diseases. This includes Alzheimer’s clinical trials.

If you’ve decided to become a volunteer for a clinical trial in Michigan or would like a senior you love to participate in one, this information will help guide you through the process.

Alzheimer’s Clinical Trial

The most common way of looking for a certain type of trial (Alzheimer’s) in a certain location (Michigan) is to use an online search tool. Most of the registries available for searching clinical trials ask you to use a search box or choose from a drop-down list of parameters to find the kind of trial you’re looking for.

If you don’t see an option to choose the State of Michigan, try selecting “Advanced Search”. In many search forms, this brings up a whole new set of parameters to use for narrowing down your search results.

Here are the top sites to use in your search for an Alzheimer’s clinical trial.

  1. The Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center

The National Institute on Aging, a federal agency that falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has a handy search tool on their website.

You can use it to search for Michigan-based clinical trials and studies on Alzheimer’s, as well as other types of dementia. They also include caregiving trials in their database so Michigan residents who care for a loved one may find studies and trials for themselves, too.

The tool is maintained by The Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center, which also provides useful information about the generalities of volunteering for trials. This includes guidance such as what to expect and how volunteering is tied to leaving a legacy. The information is presented in video format on the YouTube channel of the National Institute of Aging.

  1. Alzheimer’s Association’s TrialMatch®

The Alzheimer’s Association is a not-for-profit organization that runs a matching service called TrialMatch®. It is free and open to individuals with Alzheimer’s, their caregivers, and healthy individuals who simply want to help out by volunteering.

You will, however, need to create an online account and then complete a questionnaire. Then, the organization creates a profile for you, logs it into their database, and attempts to match you with a trial in Michigan. They notify you when a match is found.

  1. The National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Like the National Institute on Aging, NIH operates under the wing of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. They too offer a database that can be used to find clinical Alzheimer’s trials in Michigan.

You can search the Clinical Trials Database which currently lists roughly 238,000 studies in all 50 states. It covers all types of international trials, not just Alzheimer’s-related research.

Once you’ve found a suitable trial that’s located in Michigan, your next step will be to find out who’s eligible to participate. Look for the “Protocol” section of the trial description for that information. They’ll also give details about procedures, as well as how long the study lasts and what type of data will be collected from participants.

Your search doesn’t end here, but this is enough to get you started in your quest to find a suitable trial that takes place in Michigan. Want to see what past clinical trials have discovered about Alzheimer’s? Here’s one on meditation and Alzheimer’s.