Tips for the Emerging Sport: Pickleball!

Above you can see teams of two playing Pickleball on a court. Notice the low net, whiffle ball and enlarged ping pong like paddles being used.

Pickleball is an emerging racquet sport catching the attention of seniors as a fun, low impact sport. So what the heck is Pickleball and does it have anything to do with pickles? This sport is the perfect hodgepodge of ping pong, badminton and tennis, taking elements of each and creating a sport that is attainable for a range of ages. As for pickles, no green veggies will be on the court, however can I suggest a giant pickle holding a paddle as the mascot? The game is said to be named after the founders family dog Pickles, who enjoyed playing with the whiffle ball used for the game as they played in the yard with friends. Some say the original name of the game was called “Pickle’s Ball” but when the name was registered it was shortened to Pickleball.

Why Pickleball may be the perfect sport for you:

Do you like tennis but running all over a large court is a too intense? Pickleball may be just right for you. The courts are only a quarter of the size plus, if you play doubles you are only responsible for half of that!

Do you like the lightness of Pingpong paddles but wished they were a little bigger? Try Pickleball!

Do you like the idea of playing on a small court and having a partner on your team to play along side with just like badminton? Try Pickleball!

Do you like the thrill of a little friendly competition? Do you like social sports where you can make friends? You guessed it…try Pickleball!

It really is no wonder Pickleball is becoming a fast growing sport, you have physical, mental and social benefits all rolled into one heck of a fun game.

Important Tips for Beginners:

Tip #1Know the Rules– Many points are lost from simply not being familiar enough with the rules. Watching a game or two in person or online to become familiar with it before playing can boost confidence and help reduce errors.

Tip#2 Keep Moving– Standing still is your enemy, keep light on your feet to be ready for when the ball comes to your side of the court.

Tip #3 Keep Back, Stay Middle– Try to stay near the non-volley line as much as possible. You have the best odds if you hit the ball staying back in this position.

Tip #4 Keep Paddle High– Try to keep your paddle high at chest level, this way you are in the best position to react to your opponents hard shots.

Tip #5 Eye on the Ball– Just like tennis, ping pong and many other sports, it is vital to keep your eye on the ball!

Tip#6 Comfortable Attire– Make sure your shoes are comfortable and supportive and wear breathable clothes that allow you to move with ease. You cannot focus on the game if you are tugging at uncomfortable clothing that is too tight, too loose, too hot, bunches or rides up, or have sore feet from unsupportive shoes.

Tip#7 Just Breathe- A common unconscious mistake players make is holding their breath. When we focus intensely on something studies show we hold our breath. Many players forget to breathe steadily, hold their breath and start to feel unfocused or dizzy. Practice breathing out as you hit the ball until it becomes habit.

Have fun pickling it up this season!


How to Help Aging Parents with their Pets

Helping Aging Parents with their PetsHelping Aging Parents with their PetsBeloved pets are part of the family, so what happens when your loved ones can no longer care for them due to aging? There are options available to help you and your elderly family member make a decision that is right for all involved. If possible, we want to avoid the painful separation of pet owner and pet. Animals such as dogs and cats not only provide unconditional love and joy, pets also have clinically been shown to improve health in the elderly population. Just a few of the benefits include lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, anxiety, depression and boredom.

Pets are a responsibility that require a certain amount of maintenance and care at any age. In some cases, it is inevitable that the pet must be re-homed. Moving into a pet restricted community such as an assisted living or nursing home is a common instance where a pet can no longer live with it’s owner. Below are tips for pet management and pet relocation acclimation.

Pet Service for hire-If your parent is having a difficult time taking the dog out for walks and potty time, hiring a dog walker may be a great option to choose.

  • Assisted Living or Retirement Community- If your parent is in a retirement community or assisted living, ask management if they can recommend anyone in the area. Often times there is already an established dog walker being used by fellow residents in pet friendly communities. If your parent needs help with their cat, ask the dog walker if they offer other pet services as well.
  • In-Home Pet Care- Check to see if there your parents community has a neighborhood social networking site such as or Here you can find people who live in the neighborhood or surrounding areas offering pet services. I prefer these types of sites over craigslist because you have the option to ask others in the community for input, recommendations and see other information on the individual. Another option is to find a company rather than a single individual in your area such as the nationwide company Fetch! Pet Care. This may be a bit more pricey, however, you may feel more comfortable with this type of establishment.

Find a volunteer- Do you or your parent belong to a church? Many churches offer volunteer opportunities to it’s members. If your church has a youth group ask if they offer summer or after school volunteer opportunities for the teens. Volunteering builds character, teaches responsibility, strengthens compassion and shows the value of giving back. This option could be a triple win your elderly parent, their pet and the volunteer. Volunteers can also be found by searching the web using key words such as “volunteer for the elderly” There are programs designated specifically for helping senior citizens in all areas including pet care.

Re-home to a family member or close friend- In cases where the pet cannot live with your parent either temporarily or permanently, the best alternative may be for the pet to stay with a family member or close friend. This gives peace of mind to your parent(s) that their beloved companion will be well taken care of and visits could be arranged. If people in your close circle are unable to adopt, extending your network pool to acquaintances and friends of friends would be the next step before considering a shelter. Post a nice photo of the pet on social media such as Facebook adding the reason why he or she needs to go to a new good home. This way the animal does not have to spend any time in a cage at a shelter and can go straight to a loving home.

Non profit organizations/No kill shelters for re-homing- Pets are lifelong commitments and when that commitment must be broken it can be very difficult emotionally to have that bond broken. Even if the owner has not been able to show his or her affection for the pet in some time due to ailments, illness or injury, the separation can still feel just as intense.Make sure all other options have been exhausted before choosing to surrender a pet to a shelter leaving this option as a last resort resource.

Creating a Playlist for Mom: 30 Songs of Yesteryear

Songs of YesteryearSongs of YesteryearCreating a playlist for Mom or Dad is a great way to bring back old memories and show them you care. Music allows older adults to reminisce as they listen to songs of yesteryear. If your parent has cognitive impairment such as dementia, music can be great way to connect with each other. In some cases, elderly who have lost almost all memory have shown to have positive responses to familiar songs, sometimes even singing along. With or without dementia, music can have powerful effects on an individuals mood and overall quality of life.

To get you started, I have compiled a list of popular songs from earlier decades. These 30 songs are those that I have found to be recognized and favored by elderly residents living in assisted living and nursing communities. You can use this list as it is, change it up or make your own depending on your loved ones taste in music. If your loved one is religious, consider adding well known hymnals. Songs that have heard or sang along to many times such as hymns, children’s songs and rhyming tunes are often stored in long-term memory. Have fun with your playlist and let us know what your old favorites are in the comments below!30 Songs of Yesteryear

30 Songs of Yesteryear

  1. What a Wonderful World- Louis Armstrong
  2. Somewhere Over the Rainbow- Judy Garland
  3. Swinging on a Star- Bing Crosby
  4. You are my Sunshine- Willie Nelson
  5. Walking After Midnight- Patsy Cline
  6. Battle Hynm of the Repubic- Various singers
  7. Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’- Gordon MacRae
  8. Moon River- Andy Williams
  9. Blue Skies- Ella Fitzgerald
  10. Que Sera Sera- Dorris Day
  11. Tennessee Waltz- Patsy Cline
  12. Dream Lover- Bobby Darn
  13. The Locomotion- Little Eva
  14. Ain’t she Sweet- Gene Austin or The Beatles
  15. Bicycle Built for Two- Nat King Cole
  16. Heart of my Heart- The gang that Sang
  17. Let me Call you Sweetheart- Bing Crosby
  18. Oh you Beautiful Doll- Nancy Sinatra
  19. Shine on Harvest Moon- Ruth Etting
  20. Look for the Silver Lining- Chet Baker
  21. Five More Minutes- Frank Sinatra
  22. Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue- Dean Martin
  23. Bill Bailey- Ella Fitzgerald
  24. Home on the Range- Roy Rogers
  25. When Irish Eyes are smiling- Bing Crosby
  26. My Bonnie- The Beatles
  27. Que Sera Sera- Dorris Day
  28. Love Letters in the Sand- Pat Boone
  29. Oh Susanna- Johnny Cash
  30. Meet me in St. Louis- Judy Garland

Save a Life: How to Become CPR Certified

Save A Life: How to Become CPR CertifiedSave A Life: How to Become CPR CertifiedBecoming CPR certified can be quick, easy to learn and affordable if you know your options. You never know when someone may need CPR, having the know-how to resuscitate someone in need is a pretty cool feeling. Did you know that sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States? You might be surprised to learn that only about 15-30% of people who experience cardiac arrest receive CPR from a bystander. When questioned, common responses of why a person chose not to perform CPR on someone else is because they had never been trained, were afraid of infection from mouth to mouth on a stranger or were worried they may harm the person in the process of trying. In 2010, guidelines for performing CPR changed to include hands only training which studies show can be just as effective for many adults needing resuscitation as mouth to mouth. May it be a stranger or your own loved one in desperate need of help, there are several options to equip you with the confidence to step in and save a life!

Online CPR Certification

Becoming certified online is pretty simple and you can learn from the comfort of your own home. The drawback to taking the class online is not having the opportunity so practice with a dummy or have an instructor critique your technique. If this concerns you, you may want to opt for a class that you can attend in person. If you feel comfortable with learning online I recommend becoming certified through the Red Cross or the American Heart Association. If you find another site on your own beware of companies who care more about receiving payment than actually teaching you anything.

In-Person Classes Near You

This option is most favorable in my opinion if you are able to leave your home. Many people including myself learn best from hands on experiences. Attending a class near you gives you the opportunity to interact with others, ask questions freely and feel confident that you are performing the techniques correctly by demonstrating in front of a professional. Search online for CPR classes near you by typing in CPR classes and your zip code. Most likely there will be an organization in your community offering courses such as the YMCA, American Red Cross or Medical/Urgent Care facilities.

Free Online Tutorials

If for any reason you cannot attend a class at the moment, there are free tutorials available online. Keep in mind, this does not replace the need to be certified, but it can help you familiarize yourself with the process. If you do watch videos before attending a class, you can start by viewing the different types of CPR techniques and how they vary.

  • Mouth to mouth CPR
  • Hands only CPR
  • Infant CPR
  • Child CPR
  • Adult CPR
  • Pet CPR

Enroll into a class today so you’ll be ready…just in case. If you’re already certified or have performed CPR on someone, tell us about your experience!

Maintaining Independence As You Age

Independence, what does it mean to you? If you Maintaining Independence

Maintaining Independencewere to ask a child, a teenager, an adult and a senior citizen they will all most likely give you very different answers to what independence looks like through their eyes. It’s quite easy for younger generations to take for granted certain physical and mental independences. We begin life like little sponges absorbing up a world of possibilities around us. As we get older and begin to notice limitations caused by aging, illness or accidents, independence takes on a different meaning. If our sight, hearing, mobility or mental function has been affected, it can be challenging to find alternate ways to stay independent and maintain our lives the way we always have. There are things you can do to help maintain all of the independence you possibly can for as long as you can. The first step is to become familiar with hazards and to know what resources are available for you to help keep you where you want to be.

Take fall prevention measures by safe proofing your home.

  • Rugs are huge trip hazards as the corners turn up or the rug itself gets bunched up. Tack down the corners of every rug or carpet in the home.
  • Railings and grab bars can be very helpful in restrooms, showers, hallways and staircases. Make sure they are installed properly and have the capacity to support full body weight.
  • Pad sharp corners around the home such as table edges and counter tops in case of a fall.
  • Move all kitchen supplies that are not within reach. Avoid using step ladders, stools or struggling to reach reach items from high cabinets. You may need to go through lower cabinets and get rid of appliances that are no longer used or that do not work properly to make room.
  • Adequate lighting in the home can prevent falls caused by poor eye sight or misjudging where something is. Replace bulbs as needed and let natural light shine through by opening window blinds and curtains.
  • Program emergency numbers on your cell phone or have an alert system of some sort such as medical alert pendants to receive help quickly in case of an emergency.

Be aware of scammers who want to steal your financial independence away from you.

Never give out personal information or open your door to solicitors. Financial independence is stolen from seniors every day from phone, internet and door to door scams.

Join a group or start a hobby.

With the power of the internet, it is easier than ever to find groups and hobbies for seniors near you. Participating in a group or having a hobby is a great way to feel independent and happy. If past hobbies are no longer an option, try something new!

Reach out for help if you need it.

No matter what your age, everyone could use a little help at different points in their lives. Some seniors feel that asking for help is sign of weakness and may be too embarrassed to ask or accept assistance, especially from children. Even though asking for help may seem like the opposite of being independent, if you over exhaust yourself or even become injured from trying to do too much that independence will be very short lived. Think of your long term independence and go ahead and reach out to loved ones. In home care is a great option for seniors to stay in the comfort of their own home without having to move into an assisted living or nursing facility.

What is Vascular Dementia?

What is Vascular Dementia?What is Vascular Dementia?Vascular dementia is fairly common, ranking number two after dementia caused by Alzheimer’s Disease. Vascular dementia occurs when the brain is deprived of enough blood carrying the oxygen and nutrients it needs. The lack of blood causes brain damage which affects memory, reasoning, planning, judgment and other thought processes. According to Avi Almozlino, chief of neurology at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Alzheimer’s disease largely affects the gray matter (the main bodies of nerve cells), while vascular dementia affects the white matter (the connecting fibers in the brain). Both types of dementias involve memory loss and confusion, however, vascular dementia may include issues with walking and other movements.

Causes and Risk Factors

  • Multi-infarct dementia or single stroke. Not all strokes result in vascular dementia, however, the more strokes you have the more your brain is at risk. Vascular dementia can develop through a single large stroke or series of “silent” strokes. Dementia caused by multiple silent strokes is called Multi-infarct dementia which is thought to be the most common form of vascular dementia. Because these strokes do not provide outward evidence that they have occurred, the patient is usually unaware of the stroke(s) until the damage eventually shows itself through dementia symptoms.
  • Narrowed or chronically damaged blood vessels. Vascular dementia can also develop through conditions such as diabetes, lupus erythematosus, brain hemorrhage, high blood pressure, temporal arteritis, hardening of the arteries and wear and tear associated with aging.

Common Symptoms

-Problems with memory

-Slowed thinking

-Confusion which may worsen at night

-Trouble concentrating

-Unsteady gait

-Leg or arm weakness

-Personality changes

-Laughing or crying at inappropriate times

-Loss of bladder or bowel control

-Difficulty doing things that used to come easily

-Inability to follow instructions

-Unusual mood changes

-Difficulty planning, making decisions and analyzing

-Hallucinations and delusions


-Slurred speech

Symptom Overview

Vascular dementia symptoms vary depending on which part of the brain is restricted from blood flow. In some cases a person can be suffering from two types of dementia such as vascular and that caused by Alzheimer’s Disease. When different types of dementia’s combine, various parts of the brain are affected in different ways causing the patient to show symptoms and progression differently than another patient with dementia. This is why even though there are many commonalities dementia patients share, each case is unique due to the countless possible combinations and various parts of the brain affected.

Generally, dementia caused by Alzheimer’s alone tends to progress gradually while vascular dementias caused by strokes or conditions causing damage to blood vessels have a more noticeable drops in decline. For a visual, picture Alzheimer’s as walking down a slope and vascular dementia as walking down a staircase. All dementias behave differently in each individuals brain and there is no real way to know how a patient will be affected or how quickly they will decline. All we have are studies to go by that show similarities among patients. If you or a loved one suspect you have had a stroke or have any of the conditions mentioned above that can cause damage to blood vessels in the brain, there are steps you can take to help reduce your risks.

Risk Reduction Tips

-If you smoke, stop.

-Know and manage blood pressure.

-Carefully control diabetes keeping glucose levels low per doctors instructions.

-Decrease stressors in your life.

-Check cholesterol frequently.

-Check for abnormal heart rhythm.

-Keep alcohol to a minimum, if you drink do so in moderation.

-Incorporate exercise in your daily routine.

-Eat consciously enjoying healthy options with less fat and salt.

-Make it a point to have more fun, laughing and feeling joy reduces your chances of strokes brought on by stress.

Wheelchair Exercises for Seniors

Wheelchair Exercises for SeniorsWheelchair Exercises for Seniors
Simple Exercises That Get You Moving

Older seniors can benefit both mentally and physically from weekly exercise, especially those who are wheelchair bound. Having limited mobility does not need to stop you from reaching your fitness goals. While many fitness routines for seniors utilize balls, bands and weights there are also simple routines where all you need is…you! Feel free to modify your routine by adding or subtracting various exercises, the important thing is that you are becoming more active. So now it’s time to turn up the tunes and get moving!

Neck Rolls- Warm up your neck muscles by slowly moving your chin down towards your chest then over to your left shoulder and repeat 5 times. Next roll your head to your right shoulder an additional 5 times. Keep pressure off of your spine by only rolling your head sideways and not to the back.

Shoulder Lifts- Slowly lift both shoulders straight up towards your ears and then back down. Repeat 5-10 times.

Arm Stretches- Extend your arms out in front of you and interlace your fingers. Sit up straight and keep arms stretched out in front of you. Keeping your hands clasped together, raise your arms as high as you comfortably can then slowly bring them back down. Repeat 5-10 times.

Side Twist- Slowly twist your body to the right and hold onto the side of your wheelchair with both hands. Make sure to turn your head with your body. Stay in this position for 5-10 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.

Knee Lifts- Hold onto your wheelchair with both hands, one on each side. Slowly lift one knee up as high as you comfortably can and hold for 3 seconds then gently place your foot back on the floor by lowering your knee. Repeat 3-4 times then switch to your opposite knee.

Leg Circles- Raise your foot up and rotate your leg making small circles keeping your foot flexed. Continue circular motion for 10 seconds then repeat with opposite leg.

Front Foot Lifts- Lift your feet up off the ground while keeping your heels planted on the floor. repeat 5-10 times on each foot.

Heel Lifts- Keeping your toes pressed to the floor, lift your heels up off the ground and then back down 5-10 times.

Churn the Butter- Make two fists and place one on top of the other. Keeping this hand position, mime as if you are slowly churning a large bucket of butter clockwise in a circular motion. “Stir” for 5-10 seconds then repeat motion counter-clockwise for an additional 5-10 seconds.

Running Man- Quickly jog your feet barely lifting your feet off the ground. For higher intensity add arm movements as if you are running. Continue your seated jog for 5-10 seconds, take two slow deep breaths then repeat 3-4 times.

Swimmer- Using your arms, imitate the following swimming strokes 5-10 times each. You can also choose your own swimming strokes if you are not familiar with the names.


The Crawl/Freestyle


Seated Jumping Jacks- Open and close your arms and legs just as you would a traditional jumping jack. You can further modify by this exercise by doing just arms first and then legs. Try 3 sets of 5-10 jumping jacks.

Deep Breaths- Cool down with 5-10 long deep breathes. Breath in through your nose and slowly exhale out through your mouth.

Note: Stretching and exercise should never feel painful, listen to your body and start slow and easy with gradual progression. It’s always a good idea to ask your doctor before starting a physical program to find out if there is anything you should avoid, appropriate level of exertion and recommended frequency.

Caring for Aging Parents: You’re Not Alone

Caring for Aging Parents- You're Not AloneTransitioning an aging parent can be difficult, but know that you are not alone. The number of available options such as in-home caregiving and senior care facilities continue to expand as our nation becomes increasingly aware of the rising number of seniors in need of assistance. As you are noticing physical and cognitive changes in your loved one, you may also be noticing his or her environment needing a change as well. Starting the transition may feel overwhelming, but finding the resources that are right for you and your family will help get the process started.“You don’t have to climb the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Support Groups

Attending a caregivers support group in your area can be a great place to start. You will have the opportunity to share your feelings, concerns and needs with a professional and others who have had the same experience. Support groups can offer a safe place for caregivers, family, friends and even your parent to join in as they offer practical information and options in order to make informed decisions. You will have the opportunity to talk through challenges, find ways of coping and learn about other available resources in your community.

Find an organization that will fit your needs. Many elderly care facilities provide weekly and monthly support group meetings held by senior care professionals. There are online support groups available if you can’t attend in person. Some health care providers host caregiver support groups as well so check in with your doctor or health insurance provider to see if you are covered under your plan.

Lines of Communication

For some, talking to parents about future scenarios is uncomfortable to even think about. Communicating about future care options now and using words like “caregiver, in-home care, assisted living, nursing and rehabilitation” can help take the sting out of hearing these ideas for the first time should a crisis arise. Just like most things in life, it takes time to get used to something new, especially new ideas that we are not sure about or sound unappealing. Of course, many of us would like to stay in the comfort of our own home for as long as possible but when extra care is needed, our way of thinking must shift for our loved one’s safety and well being. Don’t wait for something big to happen for you to open up those lines of communication, your loved one will benefit from it in the end.

Sharing is Caring

Share your ideas and concerns with your loved one and remember to talk withyour parent, not atthem. Show that you genuinely want the very best for their future and that you are their biggest advocate. Avoid words like “you have to” and let them know you are in this together as a team. “Together Mom, we will find the best solution to your needs.”

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – John Kabat-Zin

Without a Cure, Alzheimer’s Could Bankrupt Medicare

While Alzheimer’s research has come so far in a few short years, there is still a long way to go. With studies focused on finding potential disease prevention methods and discovering new links to Alzheimer’s, researchers are hopeful that a treatment is on the horizon. Yet, the disease remains to be a leading cause of death with no treatment and no cure.Without a Cure, Alzheimer's Could Bankrupt Medicare

Threatening to reach epidemic proportions and potentially bankrupt Medicare, researchers are calling for increased federal funding to wage war on Alzheimer’s.

A Closer Look at How Alzheimer’s Could Bankrupt Medicare

While researchers are hopeful that 2016 will bring further advancements in Alzheimer’s research, the current Alzheimer’s stats are tragic, both emotionally and financially devastating.

The latest statistics surrounding the economics of the disease give a glimpse into the catastrophic nature of the Alzheimer’s:

  • Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that can not be cured, prevented or slowed
  • The total cost to the U.S. economy of caring for people with Alzheimer’s is $226 billion, half of which Medicare covers
  • If Alzheimer’s is not treated or slowed, it will cost the U.S. economy over $1 trillion by 2050 with the part covered by Medicare rising to $589 billion
  • For family caregivers, Alzheimer’s costs an average of $287,038 to provide care for the last five years of a person’s life

The cost of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is much higher than someone who is fighting cancer or heart disease, other top causes of death in the U.S. This is because much of the care required at the end of a person’s life with Alzheimer’s is assistance with activities of daily living (i.e. bathing, dressing, eating, grooming) and that kind of care is not covered by insurance.

As the disease progresses and care costs continue to grow, Alzheimer’s could bankrupt Medicare, as it covers about half of the direct costs of caring for people with the disease.

Find Senior Living Near You

Closing the Funding Gap

Researchers and experts agree that federal funding for Alzheimer’s needs to increase, and quickly. Federal funding is currently at just under $1 billion, drastically less than the $3 billion spent on HIV/AIDS research or $5 billion spent on cancer.

Director of the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Bruce Miller, states:

“This is clearly the underfunded and understudied problem of the 21st century. We’ve made a lot of progress in therapies around heart disease, cancer and stroke, and we need to move faster in Alzheimer’s research. If we can’t find better therapies for an aging brain, as a society we will dramatically suffer.”

Current research methods are focused on preventing or stopping the progression of Alzheimer’s before symptoms occur. Slowing or delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s by just five years would decrease Medicare spending by 50% and bring new, refreshing hope to a weary population of caregivers.

What do you think can or should be done to wage a war on Alzheimer’s disease? Share your suggestions with us in the comments below.

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