Family Caregiving is often like a Second Full Time Job

Home Instead Senior Care® recently completed a five year study that concluded that 42% of caregivers spend more than 30 hours a week personally caring for a senior parent.  Most caregivers don’t need a study to tell them that caring for an elderly loved one is like a second job, but hopefully the results of this study offer some well deserved affirmation.

First and foremost, caregivers thank you for taking on what is too often a thankless job. Thank you for caring for one of our greatest treasures, our elders. Thank you for taking on what is often a difficult, costly, and exhausting second job.

Next, we want to share some practical actions you can take to help with the load of your unpaid second job.

Lighten the burden by…

  • Getting Paid for your Second Job: In participating states Medicaid’s “Cash and Counseling” Program will pay a family caregiver a small salary for caring for their loved one. This assistance is usually not comparable to a normal wages but it can lighten the financial load of caregiving and might be just enough to allow a family caregiver to make caregiving their only job.
  • Senior Day Programs: Getting involved with a Senior Day Program can free up a lot of your time and get your loved one involved with healthy, social, and engaging activities while still living at home. There are many professional Senior Day Programs but also keep in mind that local groups, like libraries and churches, are also starting their own programs.
  • It takes a Village: Don’t wait until caregiving becomes too much for you to handle to ask for help, reach out to your friends, family, and local community for help. Ask your church to plan more Senior-oriented activities, join a caregiver support group, and  get more people involved in the caregiving process. Sometimes help isn’t there when it should be, but more often the help is there, you just might have to be the one to organize it!
  • Make use of Nonprofits: Don’t be shy about going to a charity for help that you need as a caregiver; it isn’t a matter of pride but one of necessity. Just remember to support and promote these nonprofits when you can.
  • In-Home Care: Sometimes a family caregiver has to acknowledge that they can’t do it alone anymore and that hiring a home care professional to help with caregiving is the best option for both the caregiver and their loved one.
  • Eldercare Products: From wander alarms to amplified telephones to the Ez-Chair table, innovative eldercare technology can lighten the load of caregiving, easing concerns and making difficult tasks less of a challenge. Caregiver robots are still at least a decade away, but don’t overlook the technology that’s available now to help you!

Great Big List of Caregiver Blogs

One of the best ways for a caregiver to find answers, reassurance, and understanding is to connect with other caregivers. To help with that, here is a list of blogs run by caregivers. If you know of any blogs that should be added to this list, let us know!

Personal Caregiver Blogs

  • 3 Years and 13 Dumpsters: Cleaning House After Alzheimer’s – “A personal, moving, yet often funny exploration of the impact of Alzheimer’s on sufferer and family alike; from denial to diagnosis, from care-giving to cleaning out the house.”
  • A Blog inspired by Mom’s Brain – “An online journal about Alzheimer’s caregiving”
  • A Caregiver’s Life – “Award-winning journalist Susan Thomas is the full-time caregiver for her mother. Join her as she chronicles the joy and despair of caregiving.”
  • A Day in my Life – “I am a retired teacher living in a very small town in Oklahoma. I spend a lot of time caring for the discarded, abandoned, and strayed cats of this community. I have had 2 cats ‘fixed’ and they have indoor/outdoor privileges. These cats keep my blood pressure low and a lot of conversation with my husband about their antics. My husband is in a nursing facility now and he misses their funny ways.”
  • A Forgotten Daughter – “Welcome to my crazy world of being a mother of two young ones and helping with my mother who was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s two years ago. “
  • Sharing my life with Lewy Body Dementia – “This blog documents how Lewy Body Dementia has changed my life. It is a continuation of the previous title; “Sharing my life with Parkinson’s and Dementia” because the diagnosis has become more firm.
  • A Miggy Moment – “I am a mother of six, a grandmother of eleven and a great grandmother of fourteen.  I have authored five books, am a would-be poet but, between you and me I am just one more pilgrim on the journey of life following hard after her God. God has been with me every step of my life, including: the never-ending battle with  my husband’s Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the challenge of raising our mentally handicapped daughter, Melissa, the slow decline of my body while my mind seems to stay front and center, the new life lessons I am learning as I approach my nineties, and the summa cum laude I received when I finally handed over the car keys”
  • A Place to Scream – “This about enjoying life to the full with my lovely partner- I scream my head off here so I can pretend to be coping when I have to. MS has robbed my darling of the use of much of her body but has increased our determination to share our love to the full and get as much fun out this world as we can glean. Sometimes it all gets to much so I need to scream about it.”
  • Are U My Mother – “Walk with me and Susan as we journey through Alzheimer’s together, her as the victim and myself, the care giver. Together we will experience the good the bad and the wonderful.”
  • Aromick’s Blog – “My husband of more than 50 years is a victim of Alzheimer’s disease, and we have just completed six years since diagnosis.  The journey has been heart wrenching as AD has changed Ken from a bright, articulate and friendly man who had remained physically strong, capable and remarkably independent into a shuffling old man who is now dependent upon my care and  the kindness of others.”
  • Arthur & Bernie – “Hi, I’m Laura. Arthur is my friend. He’s a retired English professor who lives in Manhattan. Bernie is my grandfather. I call him Pop Pop. He’s a former business owner who lives in small-town Pennsylvania. Me, I’m a writer, and I live in Brooklyn.”
  • By My Side At Dusk – “A Daughter’s Eldercare Journal.”
  • Caregiving – “Caregiving for my Dad, living the dementia roller-coaster, reflecting on disability and the Christian faith.”
  • Caregivingly Yours – “Sharing the trial and error learned lessons of a spouse caregiver about family, home care, and transition to the care facility era from 20 years of living with Multiple Sclerosis as a family.”
  • Caring for Lauren – “Hi, I am Mom to Lauren, who is a 24 year-old young woman with severe, multiple disabilities. Lauren requires care in every aspect of her life. This blog will be a journal of the struggles and joys of providing care for Lauren.”
  • Caring for Person with Parkison’s – “I have decided to blog about my experiences, good, bad or whatever they turn out to be, as a full-time carer for my spouse with PD further complicated by the addition of dementia. I am doing this for an outlet for me, and for others to read if they find the blog!”
  • Chrissy’s Moments – “Chrissy is my mother who has some form of dementia. Most times I call her Chrissy instead of mother; it provides a little distance from daughter to caregiver. She has a gentle and sweet presence; along with, a sense of humor that I get to enjoy most days. Mother has seven children, three of whom live out-of-state. This blog was created so that her precious moments and updates could be shared. Please feel free to comment.”
  • Cura Personalis – “Caregiving for my Dad, living the dementia roller-coaster, reflecting on disability and the Christian faith.”
  • Dad’s Dementia Decline – “An honest and candid blog about being thrown into the world of Dementia after my Dad’s recent diagnosis which left my whole family reeling from shock. While Dementia does not define my Dad, there are ugly and raw feelings that have no where to go when one is watching your loved ones struggle with this nasty brain disease and its effects on everyone.”
  • Dementia ain’t for Sissies – “Caring for a Mom with Dementia.”
  • Days in Dementiaville – “I’m a caregiver by accident but I chose to do the best job of it that I can. I hope by sharing some of the day to day with you, we can all benefit from the knowledge acquired along the journey with Alzheimer’s.”
  • Dementia Nights – “I’m a writer, photographer, consultant. Age 50. My father was a reporter and editor. Then he became something other than that. He died February 8, 2010 at 87. He was widowed in 2003. His decline started a little earlier. His sister died of Alzheimer’s.”
  • Dying to Help – “Caring for a loved one with cancer or other terminal illnesses”
  • Doonan diddly-squat – “In this blog ‘Chartreuse’ takes time out to reflect about living with, caring for and being cared for by a home, a garden and a partner with primary progressive aphasia. Recollections about family, travel and other matters will occasionally intrude.”
  • Elder Mentor – “I’m a free-lance writer and social worker in long term care.  I’ve been working with the elderly population for nearly 15 years.  My areas of specialty and interest include Alzheimer’s and dementia care, palliative care and social policy.  On a personal note, I help care for my father who has dementia, Alzheimer’s type.  He is truly an inspiration to me and reminds me not to take life too seriously.”
  • Fibroworld – “We’re a mother-daughter team.  Dot is in her late twenties and has had fibromyalgia, chronic pain and migraines for nearly 4 years. Fibro Mom is a 60-ish, sometimes crabby caregiver who works part-time.”
  • From the Planet Aphasia – “Do you ever feel like you are living in a parallel universe? Can you see and hear the ‘normal’ people but you’re not sure if they see or hear you? Welcome to my world! Caregiving for a stroke survivor.”
  • From the Coastland – “The eldest of the second family, I look after our mother who is in a long term care facility.  This BLOG was to be a way for  family and those who live further a field, to stay in touch.  Mom is 94, confined to a wheelchair and almost blind from glaucoma, she loves the family visits.   Unfortunately,  as families go, most are too busy to visit, even my own, hence the BLOG.  What is a person to do?”
  • Getting A Foothold – “Like life, TBI has its pitfalls, and caring for a person with TBI is no different. The challenges are there and we meet them together as best we can. Sometimes it is harder to get a foothold than others and sometimes we slip. We help each other back up, and sometimes others help us instead.”
  • Grateful Discoveries – “The 2010 posts were centered on Caregiving and sharing how I cared for my Mother in 24/7 mode until her death on 10/11/10. Topics for 2011 will include actively working through bereavement, reconnecting with volunteer efforts and adding an ‘Aging In Place’ consulting and construction arm to my business.”
  • Go Ask Alice…when she’s 94. – “I’m a woman in my 60s who, like many others, finds that one of my main tasks in life these days is taking care of my mother. Alice is 94.”
  • “had a dad” alzheimer’s blog – “My father’s 3 year journey, now ended, through Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and my feelings about it.”
  • Help! Aging Parents! – “I was a far-away-living adult child whose parents died during this decade. I continue to be a far-away-living daughter-in-law of my husband’s inspirational mother, who still lives independently in her home at age 97.”
  • I am an Alzheimer’s Caregiver – “My name is Bob DeMarco, I am an Alzheimer’s Caregiver. My mother Dorothy, now 93 years old, suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. We live one day at a time.”
  • In All These things – “Our Journal with Alzheimer’s
  • Inside Aging Parent Care – “Caring for the Desperate Caregivers of Aging Parents.”
  • Life with Shaky – “Chronicles of my sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always enlightening journey of a woman whose husband is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.”
  • Life without Memories – “This site was created to provide support for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia and is based on the experiences of my family and friends as well as site visitors who cared for their loved ones who suffered from these terrible illnesses.”
  • Memories from my Life – “An Alzheimer’s blog: Caregiver tips, News articles, Science findings, and Diary of Life with My Mom (who has Alzheimer’s)”
  • Mom, Me and Alzheimer’s blog – “It’s been 20 years since my dad was taken away suddenly and mom cared for herself fairly well until Alzheimer’s slowly started taking her life away.”
  • Mom Moves In – “An 87-year-old mom copes with moving in with her daughter (and vice versa)”
  • Moving In With Dementia – “I am a Unitarian Universalist minister, wife and mother to a six year old son. In August of 2009, my husband, son and I moved in with my parents because my 73 year old mother has dementia with Parkinson’s-like symptoms. This blog is a reflection on how this disease affects our whole family.”
  • Multiple Sclerosis Carer – “My husband Don Dufty, an MS sufferer, is a retired Minister of the Uniting Church in Australia. He was diagnosed in 2005 and the MS progressed so rapidly he was admitted to a nursing home in 2008.”
  • Musings of a Cranky Caregiver – “Family caregiver to a wonderful woman, Skip, who’s had MS for more than 20 of our 28 years together. ‘Mother’ to Ruby and Addy, two great mini-dachshunds.”
  • My Awesome Maltese – “I’m a middle aged Mom who loves reading blogs. I enjoy tennis, mah jongg, spending time with my family and my awesome Maltese. I have spent a great deal of time this past year traveling back to my hometown to care and spend time with my ninety year old Mom.”
  • My Demented Mom – “5 million Americans suffer from Dementia. My mom is one of them. A site for young adult caregivers struggling and coping with ‘the long goodbye.'”
  • My Mama’s Keeper – “A work at home caregiver’s journey.”
  • My Wife has MS – “A raw look at the struggles of Multiple Sclerosis through the eyes of a spouse.”
  • Notes from a Caregiver – “When my husband had a stroke early on the morning of July 4, 2005, I felt all alone and unprepared to deal with the situation. He was only 42, I was six months pregnant, and even after scouring the Internet, I was unable to find a support group or someone to talk to. This blog is created for people like me, who just need to know someone is out there. I encourage you to post comments and ask questions – I will answer you as often as I can, just as I will be asking questions of my readers.”
  • Orphan at 60 – “I write and speak about feeling like an ‘orphan’ at sixty years of age. Five months after my mother died, my father passed away. Sharing my experiences as a daughter, caregiver, wife and mother hopefully will help others who are grieving over the loss of their parent.”
  • Ricky’s Legacy Blog – “I’m a single mom watching my father lose the battle against Alzheimer’s. Being in my thirties, I sometimes feel some self pity for what the disease is taking away from me, my kids, and my parents. As a nurse I know that my dad is riding the beginning of the baby boomer wave that will make Alzheimer’s a national tragedy. I’m hoping by letting others into my world while we ‘wrestle the beast’ so that some people won’t be knocked to their knees like we were.”
  • Risa’s Pieces – “Any stories told in this blog about unnamed persons reflect my actual experience as a palliative care provider. Details have been changed in order to protect their privacy.”
  • Sandwiched In – “This is my account of my actual experiences living sandwiched between generations in the suburbs of the northeastern United States begun in January 2008.”
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil – “A blog about life with a blind husband, a hard-of-hearing daughter and a blind son… and how God delivers us from every evil and grants us peace in our day.”
  • Slow and Easy: The caregiver’s journey with people who have Parkinson’s Disease – “Michael J. Fox has brought attention to the needs of those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, but caregivers are also trapped by the disease and don’t know how to cope. This is my journey with my husband as the disease has taken more of him away from me. The grief never stops for either of us, but, through faith, we have learned to make the best of every moment.”
  • Taking Care of Mom and Dad – “The Fifth Commandment. Deuteronomy 5:16 (New International Version) 16 ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.’ My attempt at honoring my mother and father as they age and are unable to care completely for themselves.”
  • The Amazing Aging Mind – “This site is my personal journey toward discovering the causes and meaning of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. My sister and I are stay-at-home daughters caring for a mother with end-stages Alzheimer’s and a father with (as far as the docs can tell) Parkinson’s disease.”
  • The Bear Hug Waltz – “I have been a caregiver for my mom for over 4 years. She is 96 and in the late stages of dementia. I have 4 grown sons,8 grandchildren, and one on the way!”
  • The Caregiver Blog – “Welcome to our community. We invite you to share your thoughts or questions related to caregiving for the disabled and chronically ill. We offer resources, education, and support to our community. We advocate that all individuals have true worth and should live with dignity and independence. Feel free to send your blogs and share or find the information to help your community.”
  • The CareGivers Blog – “Life changes and so do we. This is a blog about my journey as my 90-year-old mom’s caregiver. I figure if I can make this enjoyable reading then maybe my life (and my mom’s life) will be more enjoyable too.”
  • The Caregiver Resource – “Ideas, Answers, Observations & Travels from a Creative Caregiver.”
  • The Chuck Hileman Blog – “On Sunday morning, February 8, 2009, my father, Chuck Hileman, suffered a severe stroke. In this blog, my sisters, my brother, and I will be following our father’s recovery and rehabilitation”
  • The Dahn Report – “Daily Journal, Caring for Elderly Parents, Life’s Moments, Movies, TV, Comedy.”
  • The Dopamine Diaries – “My goal is to provide a down-to-earth, spunky, and humorous glimpse at the heartache and joys of witnessing life with dementia and Parkinson’s disease through my mother, and to provide a forum for related discussion and support. “
  • The Life of a Caregiving Daughter – “I guess I should just name this blog The Life of a Caregiver and move on from there that seems to be the only thing I am these days.”
  • The Younger We Get – “An occasional, sometimes humerous look at my life, while I take care of my elderly parents, and try to write.”
  • The Zen of Caregiving – “Finding transformation in the process of caregiving. Updates on my adventure of caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s.”
  • Walking into the Fog – “My mother and I are dealing with Alzheimer’s.  My mother has the disease, or some other deteriorating dementia that the doctors can’t diagnose until after she’s gone.  It’s just easier to use the term Alzheimer’s, because then, people understand instantly.  I’m her caregiver.”
  • When Caregiving Calls – “I am a small business owner in Florida. My husband and I have been together for going on 11 years, and married for going on 7 years. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with AD…a year or so ago.”

Group Caregiver Blogs

  • Alzheimer’s Reading Room – “The Alzheimer’s Reading Room has clear, concise, usable news, research, insight and advice for the entire Alzheimer’s community. 100 Million Americans have been touched by Alzheimer’s Disease, 35 million are worried about Alzheimer’s Disease.”
  • The Longevity Network – “Read the latest from the Home Care Assistance editorial team. Explore new research, ideas and strategies for caregiving and positive aging.”
  • Our Parents Blog – “Free and unbiased service focused on helping families with aging parents find the best senior care solution that meets their loved one’s unique needs, be it an in-home caregiver, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home.”
  • Health in Aging – “created by the American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation, to provide consumers and caregivers with up-to-date information on health and aging.”
  • Hospice Care of South Carolina – “Hospice is a philosophy of care focused on improving the quality of life for people with an advanced illness.”
  • SarahCare: Senior Caregiver Support – “Honest advice for the realities of elderly caregiving.”
  • SarahCare: Senior Chronic Care – “Reconsidering chronic care management for Seniors.”
  • Support For Home – “At Support For Home, we know a lot about senior care and home care for folks who need assistance with Activities of Daily Living.  But, we will never know everything, and that means we will never know enough, and that drives us crazy!  So, this blog is all about us sharing what we know and inviting others — families, seniors, organizations, colleagues, competitors — to share in our discussions, our ideas, our challenges, our passion.”

Last time we checked these blogs hadn’t been updated in quite some time, but they still contain compelling stories and useful insights. Check them out and if one is up and running again let us know so we can update this list.

  • 950 Miles Away – “I created this blog so that I would have a place to write about my experiences as the long-distance caregiver for my mother who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. So that I can write freely and honestly, without bringing embarrassment on my mother or my extended family, I decided to blog anonymously.”
  • Alzheimers – The Carer’s View – “And Last But Not Least – The Caregiver…”
  • AlzHub – “I came face to face with Alzheimer’s when one of my parents was diagnosed with it. I have been both a full time and a part time caregiver. This site grew out of my desire to learn as much as I could about Alzheimer’s. It allows me to keep the info I find readily accessible to me and share it at the same time.”
  • A Note from One Mom – “Mom to five grown children, Grandma to eight, full-time caregiver to my stroke survivor husband, designer of eco-friendly children’s party supplies, early morning walking maniac, Food Network groupie, tech challenged, believer in God’s Word and seeker of joy in each and every day.”
  • A Stroke of Love – “On February 10, 2006, an aneurysm in Jan’s brain ruptured. This blog is a place for us to tell you how she is doing and how we are providing care for her.”
  • Caring and Sharing – “Mort, 57, in ill health with arthritis, MS, back problems. Just recovering from recent heart attack. Full time, 24/7 carer for my 89 yr old mother, who is crippled with severe arthritis. Getting very forgetful now bless her.”
  • Caring for Cathy – “Our Families Journey Caring for a Mom with FTLD-MND. It is important to know as you read this journal that this was Cathy’s life post diagnosis… To know Cathy Truly you must know that she was: a Wife, Mother of 3 boys, Grandmother of 9, Sister, Niece, Aunt, Daughter, and Friend.”
  • Dementia Blues – “Funny/sad ruminations by a baby boomer on having two parents with dementia.”
  • Dethmama Chronicles – “The True Adventures of a Hospice Nurse.”
  • Fading from Memory – “What happens to a family when both parents are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease? This weblog chronicles the experiences of one such family in Sydney, Australia.”
  • Feedin’ MamaFeedin’ Mama began when I started a blog as a way to share my experiences and the things I have learned while caring for my own mother and my elderly aunt in their final years.
  • Loving Grand – “A Granddaughter’s Alzheimer’s Caring Journal; My journey with Gram and how I contributed to her walk into the sunset, sometimes funny, sometimes we shed a tear or three, and always dear to our hearts and embedded into our soul. I love you Gram.”
  • Marina’s Abundance – “Marina Gonzalez had an abundance of love to give and this blog is to honor her memory.”
  • Mondays with Mother – “In 2002 my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It is a hard road, and we live it one day at a time. This is a chronicle of her disease and my Monday visits with her.”
  • Living with Alzheimer’s – or, What day is it again? – “A continuing story of what it is like to live with a mother with Alzheimer’s disease. Stressful, tiring, often funny – each day brings new challenges. Read about coping ideas, family involvement, laughter and tears. Does someone you know suffer from alzheimers? Maybe this blog will sound familiar.”
  • My Dad’s Stroke – “My dad had a stroke. It happened. This is his tale of recovery told from his daughter’s point of view. Some of it isn’t pretty.”
  • Never Goodbye – “Navigating the journey through dementia.”
  • The Journey – “This began as a journal of my mother’s progression through Alzheimer’s, but I began it too late. Her journey is over, but mine is still on-going. I hope to chronicle here the journey that I take – the one through grief, acceptance and, ultimately, surviving Alzheimer’s.”
  • The Reality of Dementia – “I’m sharing with you what is the emotional progression of a family dealing with Dementia. My father was diagnosed with FrontalTemporoDementia in late March of 2004 at the age of 60. This is from my point of view as his only son, who loves the man who raised him, as the condition, and Life, moves ahead.”
  • The Reluctant Carer – “I care for my husband who has Huntington’s Disease. I’m new to this caring or ‘uncaring’ and I’m struggling. In being honest about this, maybe other carers will feel less guilty and less alone.”
  • The Yellow Wallpaper – “Caregiving, Alzheimer’s, Mothers, Daughters, Dying”
  • Tracey’s Life – “This is my story of raising two children 14 and 16 who are not mine, but they are mine in my heart. My friend Sharon, their mother, is in a nursing home with Multiple Sclerosis. This is the story of our adventures in life!”
  • Within Crepusculum– “I provide total care for my aging Mother, question why she must endure such an unacceptable darkness, anxiously wait for that day, hour or next minute when she will leave my humankind, anxiously wait for my destiny, experience frustration to its fullest and believe life is more dubious than it ever has been.”

The Long List of Dementia Prevention “Maybes”

It seems like I’m always reading an article about a new study proclaiming that something “may” help prevent dementia. It’s hard to know how to take this news? Is this the slow march of science finally nearing useful results? Do the studies offer only false hope, placebos at best? I don’t have an answer but I thought I’d compile a list of all the dementia preventing “maybes” that I’ve come across.

  • Coffee – In a 21 year long study, Swedish and Danish researchers found that subjects who drank three to five cups of coffee daily were 65 percent less likely to develop dementia, compared with those who drank two cups or less.
  • Tea – According to a study by the University of Singapore, individuals who drink two to three cups of black tea daily are half as likely to show early signs of dementia as those who rarely drink it.
  • Vitamin D – Researchers in the United Kingdom found that the risk of cognitive impairment was 42 percent higher in individuals who were deficient in vitamin D, and 394 percent higher in those with severe vitamin D deficiency.
  • Curry – Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles believe that turmeric may play a role in slowing down the progression of the neurodegenerative disease.
  • Newspapers – The Mayo Clinic has conducted research indicating that reading magazines and newspapers can help protect against failing memory in old age.
  • Significant Other – Swedish research found that marriage or having a partner halved the risk of developing dementia.
  • Sleeping Habits – Prolonged sleep duration may be associated with an increased risk of dementia.
  • Discipline – Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago may have discovered a connection between leading a conscientious life and reduced risks of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Juice – US researchers found the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was 76% lower for those who drank juice more than three times a week, compared with those who drank it less than once a week.
  • Marijuana – Researchers at Madrid’s Complutense University and the Cajal Institute showed that a synthetic version of the active ingredient in Marijuana may reduce inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s and thus help to prevent mental decline.
  • Statins – Scientists have found further evidence that taking commonly used cholesterol-lowering statins may protect against dementia and memory loss.
  • Slimming Down – A US study of more than 700 adults showed that being overweight is associated with smaller brain volume, a factor linked with dementia.
  • Hormone Replacement Treatment – A study by the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London found that Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may protect post-menopausal women against memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Low Blood Pressure – Finnish Scientists have found that individuals with high blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels have a significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as they age.
  • Avoiding Soy – A Loughborough University study has found that consuming high levels of some soy products, including tofu, may increase the risk of memory loss.
  • Vitamin E – Japanese Scientists found that a daily vitamin E supplement protects the brain of mice preventing the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Nicotine – Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in California, US believe that Nicotine may reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms.
  • Big Head – An American Scientist has claimed that individuals with small heads have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – UCLA researchers believe that Omega-3 Fatty Acids, such as those found in fish oils, may delay or prevent Alzheimer’s.
  • Alcohol – According to a study by the University of Bari in Italy, individuals who drink alcohol moderately develop dementia at a slower rate than those who drink little. The study also indicated that individuals who drink excessively develop dementia more quickly than moderate drinkers or teetotalers.
  • Video Games – Studies of patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia or attention deficit disorder have found that those who play games have better speech and brain function.
  • Exercise – A study posted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information  found strength training is particularly effective for improving postural and motor function, and reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Walnuts – A study by the New York State Institute has found that mice who eat walnuts regularly were less likely to develop dementia.
  • Sense of Fulfillment – In a study conducted by the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers found that participants with high scores on the life purpose test were 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared with those who had the lowest scores. (Added July 13th)

All of that shared, keep in mind that there is no conclusive evidence that lifestyle changes will prevent dementia. If I missed a “may” please post it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.

What do you think of all these “mays”? Are they all part of a larger tread? Do only a few of them have merit? Are all of them a waste of time and effort? Let us know what you think, you might help another reader make up their own mind.

10 Things to do on Father’s Day

With strength fading and independence slipping away, many elderly Fathers feel lost and out of place. Father’s Day offers us a great chance to celebrate and honor them but many of us have trouble with the how… There is no one answer as every father is unique but here are a few suggestions.

  1. Take Him out to the Ball Game – Father’s Day is the third weekend in June, a great time to catch a game. Order tickets early, get great seats, and consider a special surprise – like an autographed ball, a picture with the mascot, or a message on the score board.
  2. Hang with the Grandkids – Few things can make a Grandfather feel like part of the family like Grandkids who want to be with him. If you need to bridge the generational gap, try the Wii – let Granddad get some ‘street cred’ by trouncing the kids at bowling.
  3. Skype Reunion – You might remember me recommending Skype as a great free software gift for Dad. Here’s a chance to take it a step further, coordinate with your Dad’s old buddies to arrange for a great big Skype reunion. Hopefully this will open the door for regular video chats.
  4. Quickest Way to a Man’s Heart – Get Dad his favorite meal, take him out if you can or take it to him if you can’t. If he drinks, remember to double check his medication before buying him a beer. He might want to contribute, if he does a good compromise is to remind him that dinner is your treat but ask him to get the tip.
  5. Favorite Shared Pastime – Chances are that your Dad gave you a love of one of his pastimes. Consider taking your Dad out for a few hours of your favorite shared pastime; fishing, golfing, crafting, gardening, etc. Tell him how meaningful sharing this pastime has been to you over the years.
  6. Movie Marathon – Is your Dad a huge fan of John Wayne, Bob Hope, Katharine Hepburn, Groucho Marx, or other vintage film stars? Consider a three movie marathon of his favorites with lots of snacks. Get the whole family involved if you can without drama, this is about enjoying his favorites together as a family not giving him lonely reign over the entertainment system for a few hours.
  7. Daddy’s Little Girl – You may be a influential professional or a successful parent yourself, but in many Dad’s eyes their daughter is always first and foremost their Little Girl. It can be hard to step back into that role but its a surefire way to make many Fathers feel like they still belong in the family. Let Dad feel like a provider; listen to his advice or let him treat you to a coffee, basically let him do something for you even though you don’t need him to.
  8. Classic Game Night – Break out the classic card and board games for a good time with Dad and the whole family. Play games he already knows the rules for; games like Monopoly, Hearts, Canasta, or Pokeno. Remember to play with Large Print Playing Cards if Dad is visually impaired.
  9. His Greatest Adventure – Did Dad live overseas, serve in the military, meet someone famous, or do something else that might qualify as an adventure? Remind him of it and get him to tell the story one more time, even if you’ve heard it hundreds of times already. Get the kids to hear it too if you can without too much drama.
  10. Cherished Memory Book – Get in touch with everyone whose life your Dad has touched; ask them each to send you a letter to him along with some photographs. Put them together into a scrapbook commemorating him and letting him know that he’s not forgotten. Not only will it make him feel special now, years from now it stands to become a treasured family heirloom holding memories that would otherwise be forgotten.

After a lifetime in the role, many Fathers feel insecure after they step out of the provider role for their families. Because of this it is important to avoid anything that might make Dad feel unwelcome. Chances are that you don’t see eye to eye with Dad on everything but, at least for Father’s Day, try to let remarks and points of contention slide. Be gracious and patient, focus on the good and avoid drama. Remember, your goal is to celebrate and honor Dad, not get drawn into old arguments.

Five Classic Male Singers

Few things got my Grandmom hopping, like listening to Bing crooning away.  So a few years ago I got her a CD collection of his.  I feel fortunate that I had early exposure to ‘Classics’; many in my generation and even the generations before me have only a vague idea of what sort of music our elders listened to in their youth.

If you’re looking to buy some nostalgic music for an elderly loved one, here’s a list of ‘Greats’ that its hard to go wrong with!

Nat King Cole

Frank Sinatra

Bing Crosby

Jimmy Durante

Louis Armstrong

Free Computer Software for Father’s Day

5 “Gifts” that will help keep the computer accessible, safe, and fun.

Each Dad is unique in their own way but if there is one trait that most of them share, its that they are often the hardest people to shop for in a family. Especially in their elder years after they’ve left their workshops, hunting trips, and grills behind them. By this point, most of them already have enough socks and ties to outfit a boy scout troop so don’t even think of going there. Well, how about some free software that will help Dad with that computer sitting in the corner of the room?

Skype

Skype is a free computer program that will allow your Dad to do something that was once considered the stuff of science fiction. Like the Jetsons, he can keep in touch with his loved ones through video conference technology that will allow him to see their faces as he hears their words. It is a powerful tool to help fight against feelings of isolation and abandonment.

Skype Screenshot

Skype works by transmitting voice and video signals over the Internet. Skype to Skype calls are provided as a free service. Skype is also capable of making calls to normal phone lines though this service has a small fee.

Keepass

You may remember me recommending this software in my 10 Steps to Better Protect Elderly Loved Ones Online post a couple of weeks ago; it is one of the most important tools that the Elderly can use to help prevent identity theft while making computer use more convenient.

KeePass is a free open source password manager, which will help your Dad manage his passwords in a secure way. Best of all, he’ll only need to remember a single master password or select a key file to unlock the encrypted database holding the other passwords.

Google Earth

Google Earth is a visual globe, map, and geographical simulation program that will allow your Dad to see the world and beyond. It features a variety of modes including the default 2-D flat view, a 3-D augmented view, a flight simulator, a street view featuring real photographs, and more! It’s possible to view famous locations, study the ocean floor, and even take tours of cities all with this free software.

Los Angeles from Google Earth

3D View of Los Angeles in Google Earth

Miro

Miro is a ‘Internet Television’ and Media Player that will allow your Dad to watch all of his favorite shows from Hulu, YouTube, and other sites without all the fuss or frustrating loading times. It’s quick, simple, and easy. Not only that, it can play almost any sort of media file allowing him to watch the ‘avi’ file his brother sent him and without being told to download a new codec.

JAWS

If your Dad has poor eyesight, JAWS will make his computer accessible to him again. This popular screen reader was developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. JAWS provides speech and Braille output for the most popular computer applications on your PC. A computerized voice will read text and guide your Dad through Menus and Programs, making it a good aid for those with poor eyesight and an essential tool for the blind.

That’s 5

I almost included Google Calendar, Google Reader, iTunes, VLC Media Player, and Geni. Think of anything I missed? Please let me know in a comment.

How to Get the Most Life out of your Adult Bibs

All cloth will eventually grow worn and need to be replaced. Tough adult bibs, even those that are machine washable and dryable, will eventually need to be replaced but there are things you can do to help them last longer!

Caring Instructions for Adult Bibs

  1. Do not use fabric softener, while this makes the bib softer and fluffier it actually reduces its absorption.
  2. Always dry bibs on a Low Heat setting to avoid extra wear and tear; air dry when you can.
  3. The hotter the water, the more wear and tear on the bib. Wash bibs in Cold Water, modern detergents are designed to clean fabric even without hot water.
  4. Launder bibs only when you need to, this will cut back on wear and tear.

This is an excerpt from AdultBibs.net, an informative site for Adult Clothing Protectors.

Aging and Malnutrition

Proper Nutrition is essential for physical, social, and psychological well-being. Disturbingly, numerous studies show that malnutrition is common among the elderly. Essential Vitamin and Mineral deficiency plague many older adults. Another common problem is diminished calorie intake that leaves older adults without the energy their body needs to fully function.

There are many reasons that older adults are more susceptible to malnutrition, some common causes are listed below.

  • Diminishing Sense of Taste and Smell
  • Inability to Chew
  • Medication Interference
  • Depression
  • Income Restrictions
  • Inability to Shop or Cook
  • Physical and Mental Illness

If you are a caregiver for a family member who may not be receiving adequate calories or nutrition to stay healthy, there are ways to help.

  • Periodically inspect their refrigerator and cupboards to determine if adequate food is available.
  • Assist with preparing meals and leave enough for easy to re-heat leftovers.
  • Provide Nutritional Supplements between meals, such as Nestlé Boost® Nutritional Energy Drinks (check with your physician before changing or altering dietary intakes)
  • A more “taste-enticing” option may be to offer Boost® Nutritional Pudding Cups, available in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Butterscotch flavors.
  • Meals on Wheels”: A non-profit organization that delivers home-cooked meals during the day for those aged 60+ who require assistance. To find out more information on this service and locate a meals-on-wheels provider in your area, please visit their web site at www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.

Hospital Sheet Buying Guide

There are many types of hospital sheets available for a variety of hospital beds.  How do you choose the best one?  Below is a comprehensive list of things to consider before purchasing your hospital sheets.

Woven Hospital Sheets  vs.  Knitted Hospital Sheets

The difference between woven hospital sheets and knit hospital sheets is how the fabric is constructed.  Woven sheets are constructed by weaving the yarn in and out in opposite directions.  Knit sheets are constructed of a single strand of yarn that is knitted into rows of loops.

Typically knit hospital sheets have much more elasticity and will stretch while woven hospital sheets will not.  Knit hospital sheets are also softer, thicker, and much warmer than woven sheets, which may be desired during colder months or in colder climates.  However, knit sheets are also prone to pinholes, snags or runners that once started, can continually worsen with use and laundering and extend throughout the sheet.  Woven sheets are much less likely to have this issue.   Determining which sheet will work best for your situation can be left up to a matter of preference.

Comparison of Hospital Sheets – Quality Ranking for Softness & Durability

Woven Fabrics

Contrary to popular belief, the fabric content of woven sheets does not have as much to do with “softness” and “durability” of the sheet as the thread count.  The higher the thread count, the more soft and durable the sheets will be.  Thread count is the number of threads per square inch of fabric.

Muslin

Most hospital sheets are made from a lower-end T130 (or 130-thread count) muslin, which is quite standard within the healthcare industry.  Muslin sheets are constructed of loosely woven cotton or poly blended cotton fabric and are typically listed at the bottom of the quality spectrum for softness and durability.  These sheets are usually quite thin and if held up to a light, the light will be able to shine through fairly easily.  A typical Muslin sheet will withstand approximately 75-100 institutional launderings.  These hospital sheets are generally less expensive and work well for many institutions; however, they are not as soft and will not last as long as the alternative higher quality percale hospital sheets.

Percale

Percale hospital sheets are constructed of a T180 (or 180-thread count) and are similar to the quality of standard sheets you will find at your local home store for regular sized home beds.  They are typically 100% cotton or made of a blended poly/cotton.   A typical poly/cotton blended percale hospital sheet will withstand approximately 160-180 institutional launderings.   Percale hospital sheets will almost always be softer and much more durable then their lower quality muslin counterparts.

Be sure to check which thread count you are purchasing before buying your woven hospital sheets!  A good place to buy higher quality T180 (or 180-thread count) percale hospital sheets is Elder Depot.

Knitted Sheets

There are 3 common types of knit hospital sheets within the healthcare market.  Jersey knit and Interlock knit are the more common types found; however, pique knit is gaining ground due to its ability to reduce runners from snags while in use or laundering.

Knitted hospital sheets are popular for many reasons.  They will stretch 20-35%, which allows Knitted Fitted sheets to remain in place when hospital beds are raised and lowered so the corners do not slip off.  They are more breathable and softer out of the package and do not require several launderings to “break them in” as can sometimes be the case with muslin or percale sheets.  Knitted sheets are also well known for their ability to deter wrinkling, although this only applies when the sheet is stretched fully!  Knit fitted sheets may be a good option if “skin shear” is an issue (more about this issue below).

Knitted sheet quality is not rated by thread count, instead they are rated by the weight of their fabric. This is because knitted sheets are “knitted” and not woven.  The higher the weight of the knit sheet (typically measured in ounces), the more thick, soft, and durable the sheets will be.  They can be constructed of a number of different natural or synthetic materials, including cotton, polyester, rayon, etc.  Knitted hospital sheets are typically made from cotton or cotton/poly material and most commonly sold as a bottom fitted sheets, which takes full advantage of the stretching ability of the fabric.

Jersey Knitted

Jersey knit is similar to the fabric found in most standard T-shirts.  Jersey knit hospital sheets are usually constructed of a light to medium weight single knit that can be expected to stretch about 20-25%.  The knitting process creates very fine vertical lines (marking the top of the sheet) on one side and a horizontal grain on the other (facing toward the mattress).  The sheet will feel slightly softer and smoother on the top side, but in general will be soft and smooth to the touch.  The only disadvantages to jersey knit may be the durability.  Over time, with many launderings, jersey knit sheets are more prone to snags, runners, or thinning of the fabric and the fabric can become over-stretched as its elasticity diminishes.

Interlock Knitted.

Interlock knit is constructed of a light to medium weight knit fabric that is a more resilient knit by forming a knot at the juncture of the threads to help prevent runs and resist pin-holes.  Interlock knit sheets can also be constructed of a variety of fabrics and generally have a more natural and higher stretching ability from 25-35%.  The Interlock Knit hospital sheets are also different from the jersey knit as they will be typically be thicker and both sides of the sheet will look and feel the same.

Pique Knitted

Pique is a method of knitting that creates a fine, textured mesh surface.  This softly textured knit provides maximum protection from snags and runs, while remaining soft on the skin.   The appearance of a pique knit fitted sheet is similar to that of a waffle weave.  This is becoming more popular in the healthcare industry due to its greater durability while still remaining soft on the user’s skin.

Hospital Sheets & Skin Shear

Considerations for Those at Risk of Skin Shear

Skin Shear can be a common risk factor for those confined to a hospital bed, especially individuals who are unable to change positions without assistance. Skin shear from hospital bedding occurs when the skin rubs against bedding materials causing friction which can result in redness, irritation and possible sores.  This is different than bed sores or pressure ulcers, as skin shear does not interrupt blood flow, but rather diminishes circulation to the tissue, which in turn damages the skin and blood vessels.  In more basic terms, this is when an individual’s body moves, but their skin remains fixed to the bed sheet, which results in friction that causes skin shear.

Skin shear can develop from a number of causes, including the repositioning or moving of a person by dragging across the fabric of the fitted hospital sheet as opposed to actually lifting the person with a draw sheet.  In addition, when individuals use their heels or elbows to reposition themselves, this can contribute to and cause skin shear.  When skin shear causes exterior skin breakdown and is coupled with the presence of moisture, urine or feces, this could be a breeding ground for more serious skin conditions.

The hospital bedding you choose can help with the deterrence of skin irritation.  If this is a factor in your consideration of hospital sheets, you should consider purchasing fitted sheets that provide a more soft and breathable material, such as knit fitted sheets. These types of sheets are less likely to bunch up underneath the user, which can lead to skin irritation or breakdown and will be slightly less abrasive than woven hospital sheets.  The more breathable knit system can also help to reduce the allowance of moisture that can get trapped in the bedding.

While using knit fitted hospital sheets may help to reduce skin shear or skin breakdown, you always want to be sure that bedding is dry to prevent the moist atmosphere that invites skin irritation.  In addition, an individual that is immobile will need to be moved every few hours (at a minimum) to ensure that skin breakdown and pressure ulcers do not develop.  When moving the person, be sure not to drag them (causing friction), rather use a draw sheet to move the individual by lifting them.

Sizing for Hospital Sheets

How to choose the Right Size Hospital Sheets for Your Hospital Bed

A standard size hospital bed mattress is 36” wide x 80” long.  There are also special hospital beds that provide different size mattresses.  For example, a Bariatric hospital bed (supporting users over 500 lbs) can have widths measuring from 42” wide up to 60” wide.  In addition, certain model hospital beds provide for additional length and can have mattresses measuring up to 84” long.  The best way to determine the appropriate size for your hospital fitted sheets is by actually measuring your hospital mattress (width x length).

It is also important to take into consideration the depth of the mattress.  Most woven muslin and percale fitted hospital sheets will accommodate mattress with depths of up to 9”.  Whereas, a Knit Fitted Sheet will generally accommodate thicker mattresses up to 12” or hospital mattresses that have air pressure overlays, especially due to their stretching ability.   Since most fitted hospital sheets are contoured with elastic corners, they will be able to accommodate depths “less than” what is shown on their dimension.  For example a 36” x 80” x 12” fitted hospital sheet will still fit on a hospital mattress measuring 36” x 80” x 7”.

Standard Mattress Size Measurements

  • Basic Hospital Mattress: 36” x 80”
  • Basic Bariatric Hospital Mattress:  42” x 80”
  • Twin Size Hospital Mattress:  39” x 75”
  • Full Size Hospital Mattress:  54” x 75”
  • Queen Size Hospital Mattress:  60” x 80”
  • CA King Size Hospital Mattress:  72” x 84”
  • King Size Hospital Mattress:  76” x 80”

Brighten the Bedroom!  – Go Pastel!

Alternatives to Standard White Hospital Sheets – Pastel Colors

Most hospital sheets in the healthcare marketplace are standard white.  This is definitely practical if you will need to bleach the sheets on a regular basis for cleaning.  However, don’t be afraid to spice things up and bring some color into the bedroom – even if just for special occasions.  Hospital sheets are not just available in the same boring white, they are also available in a wide variety of pastel colors and designs!

Check out a wide variety of Hospital Bed Sheets at Elder Depot!

10 Steps to Better Protect Elderly Loved Ones Online.

My Grandfather loves Youtube; he spends hours looking up folk songs, nature videos, and other little treasures. Despite the fact that he only uses his computer for Solitaire, Email, and light Web Browsing he has repeatedly been the victim of particularly nasty viruses. On more than one occasion he has lost everything on his computer then paid several hundred dollars to get it working again and, supposedly, safe. That was all before I moved back to the area…


The Internet is a chaotic new realm that holds many treasures, like Elder Depot, as well as many dangers. Having grown up in the era before cyberspace, many Seniors are frightened away by talk of viruses, identity theft, and fraud. That’s a shame as the Internet offers great opportunities for Seniors to stay engaged, connected, and aware; the fears are justified but with a few precautions the dangers can be greatly lessened.

It is important to keep things as simple, stable, and streamlined as possible so…when in doubt, automate.

1 ) Keep the Computer Fighting Fit

Computers are frustratingly flawed marvels of technology, as time passes design and programming mistakes are discovered that need correction. Sometimes those flaws are found by designers but, more often, the designers only become aware of the flaw when a new virus appears exploiting it. Enable Automatic Updates on the Computer, this will ensure that gaps in the computer’s defenses will be patched as soon as possible.

How? That depends on the operating system.

2 ) Equip the Computer to Defend Itself

Most viruses work by tricking users into activating them or by taking advantage of security exploits. It’s likely that your loved one’s computer will be infected, perhaps by something as simple as opening an email attachment from a friend. Antivirus defenses are necessary to defend the computer from accidental infections.

Here are a handful of Antivirus options that we recommend.

  • Comodo : Free Windows Protection
  • McAfee : Windows Protection from $39.95.
  • Kaspersky : Windows and Macintosh Protection from $59.95.

Antivirus programs work by checking suspicious programs against a list of known viruses and taking action if there is a match. It is very important to update this list as often as possible, most Antivirus programs can do nothing to stop a virus if it is not on their list. Enable Automatic Virus Definition Updates on the computer and be aware that this is considered a service by most Antivirus companies. Comodo will allow you to download new Virus Definitions for free but McAfee and Kaspersky charge an annual fee – if the fee is not paid then the Antivirus software will only protect against older viruses and the computer will be left vulnerable.

3 ) Shut Peeping Toms out of the Computer

Spyware is a rampant problem fueled by groups from companies looking for marketing information to con artists hoping to steal an identity with a good credit rating. These groups have no qualms invading your loved one’s privacy and it’s up to you to defend that privacy. Fortunately there are several tools that will help with this struggle.

The first line of defense against intrusion is a Firewall; a filter that only allows in the connections that you approve.

If the computer is using Windows, download and enable Windows Defender. Windows 7, 8 and 10 have Windows Defender enabled by default but double check that it is enabled.

Windows Defender is a good start but given the range of malware out there it’s best to give it some backup. Ad-Aware is widely regarded as the best free anti-malware program available and in conjunction with Windows Defender it will protect a computer from most of the spyware out there.

If the computer in question is a Macintosh the most viable defense available is MacScan.

4 ) Keep Passwords Safe Under Lock and Key

For years “Use several different passwords” and “Use stronger passwords” has been the mantra of computer techies. This counsel, while good advice, is often less than helpful for the Elderly. What is the point of ‘stronger’ passwords when they can’t be remembered?

Fortunately, Password Managers offer a nifty solution. This Software offers several advantages; only one password needs to be remembered, a unique password can be used every time, passwords are protected from many spyware techniques, and all stored passwords are encrypted.

  • KeePass : This password manager has a wealth of features and is completely free.
  • RoboForm : This commercial password manager was CNET software of the year in 2008.
  • LastPass : This password manager is a web service that can be over any Internet connection.
  • Kaspersky : This password manager can be purchased separately or with the Internet Security package.

If your elderly loved one insists on writing down their passwords on a notepad, at least convince them to keep the notepad hidden in a secure location.

5 ) Use Stronger Passwords

Spinning off from the last point, what exactly is a ‘stronger’ password? Generally, a strong password is longer than 6 characters, uses lower and upper case letters, contains a few numbers, and possibly a few symbols. sd37$hWnd is a fairly strong password but it’s not easy to remember at all.

It is possible to make a strong password that is easier to remember. Just use personal information that isn’t commonly known. For example, did your elderly loved one play sports in High School? What was the name of the team? What was their jersey number? The name of the coach? Warriors#34O’Brien is a strong password that very few people could guess and that would resist a hacking attempt better than sd37$hWnd. Here’s another example; what was the first car they owned? How much did it cost? Who did they buy it from? Coronet$2110Miller is another fairly strong password that is easier to remember but that would be all but impossible to guess.

Don’t use these as part of a Password

  • Names of Family Members or Self
  • Zip Codes
  • Listed Phone Numbers
  • Sequential Numbers (123…)
  • Sequential Letters (ABC…)
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Personal Identification Number (PIN)

Consider using these as part of a Password

  • Dates of Personal Events*
  • Names of Old Neighbors, Friends, or Pets
  • Old Unlisted Phone Numbers
  • Personally Meaningful Numbers
  • Symbols like #, $, %, &, +, and -.
*First Kiss, Favorite Vacation, Best Promotion, Saw Ginger Rogers on an intercontinental flight, etc.

Always use a combination of information for a password with upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. In the past some sites restricted passwords to just letters and numbers, most sites now allow the use of symbols and increasingly more sites are requiring upper and lower case letters. Here are a few more example passwords; Mac@Omaha1944, 1954RR&Clay, 7/20/1969@Jean’s, and 10Pounds!1976Jon.

6 ) Loose Lips Sink Ships

When it comes to Identity Theft a touch of paranoia can be healthy as long as it doesn’t become debilitating. It’s very important to keep personal information private. Most people know that Social Security Numbers, Credit Card Information, Banking Information, Insurance Information, and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) should be safeguarded; fewer know that Addresses, Dates of Birth, and Telephone Numbers should also be safeguarded.

Most legitimate online businesses have security measures in place that keep personal information safe. For example, all personal information sent between a customer’s computer and the Elder Depot server is securely encrypted to prevent eavesdropping or tampering. So it is safe to share Addresses, Credit Card Information and Telephone Numbers with sites like Elder Depot; but it is important to verify that e-commerce sites are legitimate businesses before trusting them with personal information.

Sharing an address online is an open invitation for anyone who reads it to come ‘visiting’. Even if the home is secure sharing an address can give a criminal all the information they need to steal mail and with it identity. This happened to an Uncle of mine, someone ordered a credit report in his name, swiped it out of his mailbox when it arrived, and then used that information to steal a significant amount of money from his savings account. Addresses should only be shared online with trusted parties and then only in private through a secure method.

Phone numbers should not be shared online unless they are unlisted. Looking up a phone number can reveal a lot of information on a person that can be used in scams and fraud.

The best guidelines to give to an elderly loved one is to stick to sites that you verify are safe and never share personal information with sites that you have not verified.

7 ) Upgrade to the latest Web Browser

Over a quarter of Internet users still use Internet Explorer 6; a piece of software with several critical security holes that can give viruses, malware and hackers easy access to a computer. For the best stability, security, and compatibility always upgrade to the latest available Web Browser.

For most programs there is little reason to update to a new and potentially confusing version, but Internet Browsers, Email Clients, and Antivirus programs should always be updated to the latest version for security reasons.

8 ) Use Aliases for Online Socializing

When creating a new email, twitter, or similar account for your elderly loved one, use an old nickname or maiden name instead of a legal name. Choose something that friends will recognize but that scam artists won’t be able to garner any information from. For example, Marion Mitchell Morrison would be smart to sign up for email as JWayne or for Twitter as TheDuke.

Social Websites with a higher level of privacy, such as Facebook, frown on colorful aliases but promise safe registration for real names. These sites are generally safe but it is essential to remember the next point…

9 ) Choose Friends Carefully

In general, the elderly are either too trusting or too paranoid about online friendships. Sites like Facebook are designed to leave privacy up to the user but it can be hard for someone new to cyberspace to judge who can be trusted.

Have your elderly loved one ask themselves a few questions before “adding a friend”.

  • Do they know this person?
  • Do they want to know this person?
  • Is this person who they claim to be?
  • Is this a safe person to be in contact with?

If they are not able to ask these questions and take appropriate action based on the answers, consider managing their “friends” for them. It shouldn’t take much effort and can save them a lot of trouble.

10 ) Use Automated Filters

These days just wandering the Internet or opening email from a friend can be hazardous activities. Remember our rule from the beginning, when in doubt automate.

Yahoo Mail and Google Mail both automatically scan email attachments for viruses. Many Antivirus programs can do the same by plugging into email cilents like Outlook Express and Thunderbird.

K9 Web Protection is a Internet filtering service that is free for home use and was designed for parenting in an Internet age. It offers protection from coming across malicious or pornographic material during a simple web search. This automatic filtering out of questionable material makes the Internet safe again and gives your elderly loved one freedom from worrying if clicking on a link is going to show them something appalling or attempt to infect their computer with something nasty.