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While many of us worry about similar things, age does make a difference. What older people worry about most may have some similarities with the younger generation, but they have some very unique fears of their own. Below you will find a list and a summary of several commonly reported fears and suggestions on how to deal with each.
Seniors Worry About the Loss of Independence
When asked what the older generations worry about most, they rated the loss of independence and having to move out of their home into an assisted living facility at the top of their list. Most senior citizens state they want to age in place. But there is some anxiety regarding their ability to do so. Specific fears are health problems; memory problems; and inability to drive and/or get around.
What to do:
Obtaining assistance with household maintenance and transportation and getting proper health/medical care are used to alleviate these fears.
Comfort levels in using today’s technology varies. From a cell phone, to personal computer, to the internet and email, the comfort level decreased with age. But the majority are interested in learning how to use new technology when it enables them to age in place. Ask a family member, friend or seek a basic class that provides the information and education you need.
Remaining independent also means taking the steps needed to be aware of potential dangers in your community. It is always a good idea to stay informed of individuals with criminal records who live in your neighborhood. The address of those with sexual assault charges can be identified at Family Watch Dog. Just enter your street address, state and zip code and a map with the address of offenders will appear.
Many retirees worry about their savings. With expenses increasing and a stubborn financial economy, savings can dwindle faster than anticipated.
What to do:
Meet with a financial adviser. Using a prepared list of questions and write down the answers you are given. You should design a portfolio that does not place all funds in a single type of investment, more conservative, and risk-appropriate. Learn more at:
Finding Affordable High-Quality Healthcare
As our bodies age, the need for healthcare increases. The fear of having a major medical emergency, such as a stroke or a heart attack, and not having adequate healthcare is a major fear of senior citizens. The smaller the retirement account(s), the greater that fear due to limited funds available to pay for quality insurance. And when you add the cost of medication, seniors worry about healthcare even more.
What to do:
Medicare is designed to help older individuals and can be used to cover certain medical-related expenses. Medicare provides two types of insurance; hospital insurance for in-patient care and certain follow-up care, and medical insurance coverage for physician services that are not covered under the hospital insurance. Unless there are changes, the hospital insurance portion of Medicare is available at no additional cost. The medical portion of the insurance is available for a premium and is the best choice to cover more anticipated medical expenses. Medicare coverage would prevent use of your savings to pay for expenses covered by Medicare. You can enroll at http://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/enroll-now.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1.
Long Term Care Insurance is another option for seniors. Not only can LTC insurance be used to cover expenses incurred from long-term illnesses, but it may also allow you to choose where you receive the care, i.e. in a nursing home, adult day-care center or at home.
Seniors Worry About Becoming the Victim of a Scam Artist
Senior citizens worry about potential fraud, such as a con or identity theft. While everyone is at risk for fraud, retirees often face greater risks, as there is a growing number of scam-artists who target seniors.
What to do:
Avoid investments that seem too good to be true.
Check into the background of other service providers, i.e. contractors for age in place home-modification. The Better Business Bureau has a lot of good information. You may also find information on state, county and/or town websites.
Inform more than one trusted relative or family member on relationships with investors and other service professionals.
Fear of Losing Memory
As we grow older, we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions we’ve always taken for granted. It takes longer to learn and recall information. The brain is capable of producing new brain cells at any age, so significant memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging. But just as it is with muscle strength, you have to use it or lose it. There are also some things that can mimic loss of memory which can be addressed by your physician or other professional.
What to do:
Depression can make it hard for you to concentrate, stay organized, remember things, and get stuff done. You need to speak with your doctor if you are experiencing issues with depression.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause permanent damage to the brain. As you age, you have a slower nutritional absorption rate so it is harder for B12 to fulfill your mind and body needs. Smoking and drinking can worsen this. Address it with your doctor early to reverse these effects.
If your thyroid gland is not working properly, you may feel confused, sluggish or depressed. Results can be memory problems such as forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. Medication can control your thyroid function.
Alcohol consumption destroys brain cells. If you drink too much for a long period of time, you increase the risk of dementia. Medical advice it not to exceed 1-2 drinks a day.
Older individuals may easily become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to confusion, drowsiness, memory loss, and result in other symptoms that mimic dementia. Stay hydrated, especially if you suffer from diabetes, high blood sugar, or diarrhea or take medications that cause your body to lose fluid.
Regular exercise stimulates the brain and can lead to the development of new brain cells. It also reduces the risk for disorders such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that impact memory.
You are at a higher risk for memory problems if you stay isolated. Social interaction challenges the mind, and it helps to prevent stress and depression. Clubs and hobby groups are great forums to stay involved.
The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables can keep your mind active. And foods high in omega-3 fats (such as salmon, tuna, trout, walnuts, and flaxseed) are great for your brain and memory. Be careful in overall calorie intake. Eating too many calories can increase your risk of developing memory loss. Focus your calories on saturated and trans fats which can actually help your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of a stroke.
Cortisol is release when you are under stress. Cortisol damages the brain over time and can lead to memory problems. More immediately, stress and anxiety can cause memory problems.
Sleep is important for everyone. It is necessary for memory processing. Lack of sleep causes problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making.
Smoking increases the risk of vascular disorders that can cause stroke and prevent proper oxygenation of the brain
Fear of Terrorist Attacks
No one can guarantee there will never be a terrorist attack on US soil. Nor can you accurately predict where or when one might occur. There are real dangers, but statistically, you are probably personally safe. This is especially true if you avoid high profile events and activities. However, the impact of a terrorist attack hits everyone. Living in a world with turmoil is not controllable and is a reality of life. But the fear does not have to take over your life.
What to do:
Continue your life as normally as possible. Stay involved with recreation and hobbies you enjoy.
Limit your TV and Internet time as these media forums often make us more anxious.
Focus on the facts by getting your information from government agencies and reliable news sources.
Take care of your body. Get exercise, eat healthy foods, reduce your alcohol consumption, and be sure to get enough sleep.
Take time to laugh. Spend time with people that are hopeful and have a positive attitude.
Spend extra family time together doing relaxing things.
Reach out and help others. This can change your focus and provide a sense of accomplishment.
Share your fears with others you trust and in a supportive setting.
Get counseling if needed.
Fear of the US Government
With so much bipartisanship and bickering in the US government, it is not surprising that distrust in the institution has grown. They tend to be too involved in our lives, not provide enough leadership, fall short of proving the necessary protection and security, or make international decisions contrary to popular support that can sometimes result in a conflict.
What to do:
One thing all of us has learned is DC seems to do what DC wants to do. And it does not seem to matter what the voter thinks. So first of all, realize there is little you can do to impact this on a daily basis. What you can do in a larger sense is vote, and vote for those who support the concepts you support.
Get involved with your local government. Maybe Washington may be out of reach so start with your local government; make a difference by getting involved. Voter registration is a low stress activity with limited physical demand and volunteers are always needed.
Fear of Not Having Something Meaningful To Do
After leaving the workforce or no longer being able to hold a position of leadership with high visibility, you might feel a sense of loss and irrelevance. There is no need! Believe me, you can get involved and make a huge difference difference. Why I know this; I have found more opportunities to help than there are hours in a day. How you may ask?
What to do:
Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! There are so many organizations that need people to help with activities that are perfect for seniors. Find National and Community volunteer opportunities at http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/senior-corps.
Seniors Fear Selling Their Home
You may never need to sell your home. The home and yard may be too difficult to maintain or too expensive to pay for someone else’s assistance. If you are living alone, you may want to move into an area where there are more residents in your age bracket. The property taxes may even be taking a hit on your finances. So you may decide to downsize at some point. There can be stresses associated with a move such as going to a strange place, leaving emotional attachments to a home with memories, facing the challenge of packing and physical demands, and adjustment of pets.
What to do:
Visit your new home and familiarize yourself with the new environment. Go to local restaurants and find a new favorite place to eat.
Get assistance of a professional senior re-locator specialist.
Take it slow and start packing early. Get friends and family to help to minimize physical demands.
Take pictures of your home and make a photo album noting your favorite memories in different areas of your home.
Talk with family and friends about your fears and they can provide the emotional support you need.
Surprisingly, death did not rank very high as a fear for seniors. Each of us faces the inevitable one day. So emphasis appears to be placed on those things around us on a daily basis that can impact our lives.