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Expert Insights

Analysis of trends in senior care, advice for people coping with an aging patent, and health advice for seniors.

Misconceptions of the aging brain

Aging brains slow down due to greater experienceA common assumption is that as we age, our brains tend to process information more slowly. While this often proves to be true, the cause tends to be misunderstood. Many people falsely attribute the brain’s slowness to functional decline. According to a new study, however, that’s not always the case. Older brains work more slowly simply because they store a considerable amount of knowledge.  

By the time you reach 70, 80, perhaps 90 years old, you have accumulated a lifetime of experiences. That information doesn’t just shed away with old cells – your brain stores it. This means older brains have a larger “database,” if you will, to search through than younger brains. And the larger the database, the longer the search will be.

Assisted living offers comprehensive care

Diane WeinsteinBy Diane Weinstein, Executive Director at EPOCH Assisted Living at Melbourne

Recently I’ve seen a lot of articles comparing the cost of assisted living with the cost of home health care. If you’ve read any of these pieces, you’ve noticed that at a glance, a home health aide is less expensive. However, these numbers alone don’t convey the whole picture.

First let me say that we’re lucky to live in a society where people have choices. If you are able to live safely at home, that’s great. But the reality is that not everyone is able to “age in place,” even with the help of a home health aide.

We can’t fairly compare the cost of assisted living with the cost of home health care, because these are not interchangeable services. If you’re a senior who needs access to round the clock care, you will be safer at an assisted living facility.

Stay sharp: Exercise your brain

Brain exercise keeps seniors sharpDid you know that with a little “brain training,” we can maintain or even improve our mental acuity?

Many studies have suggested that engaging in brain exercises positively impacts cognitive functioning. This can help many aging adults maintain their independence longer, and for others, it can even help delay the onset or slow the progression of dementia.

The most comprehensive and compelling of these studies to date comes out of the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging. It’s the largest and longest study of its kind, and among the first to show strong evidence that brain exercises are effective over the long term.

Protecting seniors from scammers

By the end of 2013, the Massachusetts Protective Services department received approximately 21,000 reports of elder abuse, a third of which cited financial exploitation. Indeed, scammers frequently target senior citizens and elder financial abuse is a serious problem plaguing our country.

In all, victims of elder financial abuse lose an estimated $2.9 billion every year, according to a study by the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the MetLife Mature Market Institute. The study also found:

Five-year plan enhances road safety for senior drivers

Safe roads for seniorsAs we age, our eyesight tends to decline while our reflexes begin to slow. While this prompts many seniors to hang up the car keys for good, others continue driving well into their golden years, leaving many concerned about their safety.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of older drivers increased 21 percent between 2003 and 2012. With the population of senior drivers rising, the number of senior driving accidents is also climbing—from the previous year, 2012 saw a three percent hike in fatalities and a 16 percent hike in injuries related to car accidents involving seniors.

Thankfully, the NHTSA came up with a five-year strategic plan to minimize the risks for older drivers and enhance their safety on the road. The plan focuses on three main areas: