Author Archives: Elizabeth Miller

Navigating the Challenges of Aging: Tips for Maintaining Independence in Seniors with Dementia 

 

As our loved ones age, the threat of diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia looms large. With over 6 million adults affected by Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S., it’s a concern that many families face. While these conditions bring cognitive and functional challenges, there are ways to support seniors in maintaining their independence and dignity. 

Early Detection and Proactive Care 

Early detection of cognitive decline is crucial. Regular check-ups and discussions about memory concerns with healthcare providers can lead to early diagnosis and better care planning. Utilizing services like the Medical Annual Wellness Visit can help in assessing cognitive impairment and managing other chronic conditions. 

Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle 

Research shows that physical exercise, not smoking and managing other cardiovascular risks can lower the likelihood of cognitive decline. Encouraging seniors to stay active, eat a balanced diet and engage in mental exercises can significantly contribute to maintaining their cognitive health. 

Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment 

Adapting the living environment to suit the needs of seniors with cognitive challenges is vital. This includes safety modifications in the home to prevent falls, using reminders and labels for orientation and simplifying daily tasks to enhance their ability to perform them independently. 

Strengthening Social Connections 

Social engagement is an integral part of healthy aging. Encourage seniors to participate in community activities, join clubs or groups and maintain regular contact with family and friends. This social interaction can help in slowing cognitive decline and improving overall well-being. 

Supporting Caregivers

Caregivers play a critical role in the lives of seniors with dementia. Programs like the Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH) provide valuable support and education for caregivers. Caregiver health directly impacts the quality of care they can provide, making their well-being a priority. 

While the journey with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is challenging, maintaining a senior’s independence as much as possible is crucial for their dignity and quality of life. By adopting these strategies, families and caregivers can help their loved ones navigate this path with grace and support.

Mind Matter: Daily Habits for Lowering Risk of Dementia

While there is a lot that we still don’t know about dementia, it’s important to arm ourselves with the information that we do know about this disease. For our seniors and aging relatives, we want to recognize and encourage behaviors that will not only create a healthier lifestyle but also lower the risk of developing dementia.

What is dementia?
Dementia is a brain disease that affects a person’s memory or thought processes. Additionally, dementia can also affect a person’s personality, communication abilities and other mental functions of daily living. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

Who is at risk?
Anyone can develop dementia, but some people may be at a higher risk than others. For example, those who are 65 years or older, certain minority groups, including Hispanic or African American adults and women tend to be at a higher risk.

What can I do to lower my risk of dementia?
There are many daily factors to focus on that can help lower your risk of dementia, including:

  • Managing high blood pressure – Talk to your doctor about ways to manage high blood pressure through medication and lifestyle behaviors.
  • Not smoking – For smokers, counseling and medication and help with quitting the habit for good.
  • Being physically active – Just 30 minutes of physical activity a day can have a big impact on overall well-being.
  • Preventing diabetes and heart disease – Talk to your doctor about your family history and risk factors for these conditions and ways to treat them with medication and lifestyle changes.

Take charge of your brain health today through small, healthy lifestyle changes. Not only can these changes make a big difference in your daily life, but they can also lower the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s and related conditions. You can also lower your risk for other chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

“Reducing Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Sept. 2022, www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/reducing-risk-of-alzheimers-disease/index.htm.

Another Successful Sagepoint Golf Tournament

Dear Sagepoint Community,

We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who participated in our Annual Sagepoint Golf Tournament this year. Returning for a fourth year, the Swan Point Yacht & Country Club was buzzing with excitement on September 20 as golfers and attendees made their way to the greens. From sponsors to golfers, attendees to contributors, we truly could not have put on this event without your support and enthusiasm. We are incredibly grateful for such a robust turnout and the immense generosity of the community towards our seniors.

Event attendees enjoyed an exciting day on the course while savoring delicious food and drinks from our sponsors. While it was amazing to see our community in full swing, the best part of the event was seeing the incredible support of everyone towards our cause.

We hope everyone who attended had a fun time supporting our cause for improving Sagepoint’s Assisted Living and Memory Care programs. Thanks to your help, we are well on our way to our goal of growing awareness of dementia and the effects it has on the person, the family and the community as a whole. We look forward to proceeding with our plans to expand community outreach efforts to develop caregiver support and training programs for those who care for loved ones with dementia and other long-term cognitive illnesses.

Qualified Charitable Distributions for Your Philanthropic Goals


It’s the time of year for giving and with our end-of-year campaign, Caring Hearts, we have the perfect opportunity for you to contribute to a cause that supports our seniors. With your contributions, we’ll raise funds to help Sagepoint Senior Living Services grow awareness of dementia and the effects it has on the person, the family and the community as a whole. To achieve this goals, we will expand community outreach efforts through caregiver support and training programs for those who care for loved ones with dementia and other long-term cognitive illnesses.

Whether you have a loved one who lives with dementia or you know someone whose life has been touched by this illness, there are many reasons to support this worthy cause. But, did you know that there are tax incentives that make charitable giving easier than ever?

With tax-free charitable giving from an IRA, seniors age 70½ or older can make tax-free charitable donations from IRAs that count toward satisfying required minimum distribution and reduce taxable income. Read more about Qualified Charitable Distribution below as you consider your end-of-year donations.

What is a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD)?
A QCD is a tax-free charitable distribution of funds directly from the IRA trustee (custodian) of an eligible IRA account payable to a qualified charitable organization that can receive a tax-deductible contribution. A tax-free QCD is defined in IRS Publication 17 – Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals on page 126.

Normal distribution from an IRA of deductible contributions and earning is included in income and taxed as ordinary income. The tax-free QCD removes the distribution from taxable income. QCDs are recorded on Form 1040, U.S. Individual Tax Return 2018 – the sum total QCD distribution is included on line 4 a – IRA distribution, and the abbreviation ‘QCD’ is written on line 4 b – taxable amount.

Who is Eligible to Make a tax-free QCD?
IRA account owners and beneficiaries age 70 ½ or older on the date the tax-free QCD is made to one or more qualified charitable organizations.
Taxpayers who now claim the standard deduction can still make tax-free QCDs.

What type of IRA accounts are eligible for a QCD?
Traditional IRA, Rollover IRA, Inherited IRA accounts and non-active SEP and Simple IRA accounts are eligible for a tax free QCD. Active SEP or Simple IRA account currently receiving employee or employer contributions is not eligible.

Roth IRA accounts are eligible but a tax-free QCD will not lower income tax because distributions from Roth IRAs are already tax-free and not included in income.

What type of retirement savings accounts are ineligible for a QCD?
Employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and 457(b)s are not eligible for tax-free QCD. A normal or tax-free QCD distribution to satisfy the IRA RMD requirement in a given tax year cannot count toward satisfying the RMD requirement for employer-sponsored requirement plans.

However, an employer-sponsored plan account owner may consider a direct transfer rollover to an IRA Rollover account that would then be eligible for tax-free QCDs. RMD calculations for tax-deferred IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans for the current tax year will be based upon the fair market value of the account at the close of business on December 31 of the prior year, factored by your age and life expectancy. Therefore, before implementing a rollover strategy the time and suitability should be taken into consideration.

What is the tax-free QCD distribution limit?
Seniors age 70 ½ or older may make tax-free charitable donations and exclude up to $100,000 from gross income per tax year by making tax-free QCD’s directly from an IRA. There is no carry-over from year to year. Your spouse may also make a tax-free charitable donation and exclude up to $100,000 from gross income per tax year for a combined total of $200,000.

Summary
Whether you donate to our end-of-year Caring Hearts campaign or another worthwhile cause, tax-free QCDs may be a great way to fulfill your philanthropic goals and make a lasting charitable impact in your community. Always consult your professional tax accountant, estate planning attorney and/or investment advisor before implementing any strategy.

Older Victims Have Been Losing More and More Money to Elder Fraud

Christine Parker, CFP®, Chartered SRI Counselor sm, is Managing Director of Parker Financial, LLC; an Independent Fee Only Investment Advisor in the state of Maryland.  Christine currently serves as a member of the Sagepoint Senior Services Foundation Board of Officers and Directors. 

It is very possible for seniors aged 60 and older to experience irreversible economic loss and great psychological distress as a result of elder abuse and elder fraud.  

The term elder abuse refers to the mistreatment of seniors who are vulnerable, especially those who are physically and mentally handicapped, including abuse, neglect, or financial abuse, often perpetrated by family members, and other trusted persons.  Elder fraud, on the other hand, is generally committed by strangers – criminals who use various schemes to prey on the elderly.

Fraud victimization among older adults is influenced by these 7 major factors

  • Cognitive decline
  • Heighten emotions in decision making
  • Overly trusting nature
  • Psychological vulnerability
  • Social isolation
  • Risk-taking and
  • Lack of knowledge and information regarding fraud 

Researchers at the Stanford Center on Longevity working in collaboration with researchers from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the AARP Fraud Watch Network “found that inducing emotions such as excitement and anger in older adults increased their intention to buy falsely advertised items.”

The Office of Victims of Crimes at the Department of Justice seeks to raise public awareness of the National Elder Fraud Hotline and encourage victims of fraud to reach out and report.

There are different types of fraud schemes that affect different generations.  Elderly adults and their loved ones and caregivers need information about perpetrators of elder fraud schemes and knowledge about how to prevent it and report it.  The main goal of elder fraud is to exploit older adults financially.   

Reported Incidents of Elder Fraud and Scams

Using the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network database, which tracks reports of fraud, schemes, financial losses, contact methods, payment methods, and other pertinent information, we can track elder fraud trends. We can also know schemes used to perpetrate elder fraud.

Elder fraud is a serious and growing threat. According to the FTC, total reported losses have been increasing each year since 2020 as shown in the chart below:

 

 

For older adults aged 60-69, 70-79 and 80 and older, the median financial loss reported so far in 2023 is $500, $800 and $1,393.     

In this time period, older adults experienced the following fraudulent schemes most frequently: business imposters, government imposters, tech support scams, online shopping, and prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries. Online shopping, tech support scams, and sweepstakes and lotteries scams reported had higher occurrences of financial loss.

The most commonly reported payment method used by older adults who were scammed is the credit card, followed by debit cards, gift cards, reloadable cards, payments apps, bank transfers, crypto-currencies, wire transfers, and money orders. Scammers contact older adults using social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), websites or apps, phone calls, online ads or pop-ups, email, text, email and mail.


Investment Scams


According to FTC data, older seniors lost more money to investment schemes than to any other category in 2022 and 2023.  From $1.8 billion in 2021, investment scam losses for all consumers doubled to $3.8 billion in 2022. For seniors aged 60-69, 70-79, and 80 and over, the median financial loss reported so far in 2023 is $12,841, $13,100, and $11,100, respectively. 

Protecting financial accounts    

In order to help protect your assets, banks, credit unions, and brokerage firms encourage you to designate a “Trusted Contact.”  If the institution suspects financial exploitation or has difficulty contacting the owner, they can reach out to this person in an emergency situation to protect your assets.

Consider this and other security features offered by your financial institutions to include: reset passwords, enroll in advanced authentication (set up two-factor authentication,) and enroll in alert notification for any transactions as soon as they occur (set up security alerts). 

Resource

In their website, www.aging.maryland.gov, the Maryland Department of Aging provides information about elder scams and fraud, as well as how to report it.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice.

Mae’s Happiness, Linda’s Peace of Mind

It had been five years since Linda Simon’s father had passed away. And in that time, not a day went by that she or one of her two siblings didn’t spend the night with her mother, Mae, in the house her parents had shared for so many years. 

“My parents were married for 70 years, so Dad was all she knew,” said Linda. “Once he was gone, she just didn’t like being in the house all alone, so we stayed with her.”

Soon, Linda and her siblings started noticing that Mae wasn’t making the best choices when left alone and grew increasingly concerned about her safety, physical well-being and mental health. 

“It was clear she needed more help, and after five years, we just couldn’t do it anymore. We told her, ‘Mom, you need to have someone with you.’” 

Linda and her sister began looking for assisted living options in the area. After each one visited Sagepoint, they both agreed that it was the place for Mae. 

“I went over and met with the folks at Sagepoint, and I liked them. My sister went over too and she liked them. So we took Mom over to meet with them, and it was hard for her because she had lived in that house for so long.” 

But Mae knew she needed assistance, so she agreed to move in. Her initial reluctance soon lifted, and she began enjoying herself. She loved the staff instantly and quickly made friends with a number of other residents. 

“Mom had always had a garden at home, and she loves flowers. So when she moved in, she told everyone, ‘We need to have flowers around here.’ So they worked with her, had flower boxes built and they even gave her and my sister money to go buy the flowers, and she took care of all of them for a long time.”

Linda and her siblings were also grateful for the social aspect of the community. 

“She plays games, which she never did, and she goes to game nights, and she’s become the star bingo player and has a big tin of candy bars in her room that are her winnings. A new resident moved in who could play the piano, and a group of them would get together to sing songs to the piano music.”

While Sagepoint’s staff knows how to take care of her social needs, they are always attentive to Mae’s well-being.

“Everyone is so good to her, and they all love her so much,” said Linda. “One of the staff members mentioned that Mom gets anxious when she’s in her room by herself, so she goes and sits with her. And she was going through this stage where she had a hard time eating, and the staff sat with her and they helped feed her.”

“And I see them give the same care to other residents too. They’re just very attentive people.”

While it was initially a difficult decision to move Mae from her home, Linda knows that choosing Sagepoint was the best choice she could’ve made for her Mom.

“I can’t express how good they are to her. I’ve recommended Sagepoint to many people. They keep the place clean. They wash their clothes. The food is always excellent. They care about the residents who are there and consider them part of their family.”

 

Sage Advice Community Conversation Series Begins in September

There are no easy answers when it comes to a loved one suffering from dementia. But, there are resources and tools to help you better understand this disease and feel more prepared when caring for someone with dementia.

In our newly launched Sage Advice Community Conversation Series, we aim to provide information and tools for families of those living with dementia and provide them with a greater understanding of the condition. Each series will address a specific topic related to dementia. At the events, presenters and experts will share resources and advice about a certain aspect of dementia to aid families in caring for their loved ones.

Beginning in September, we invite anyone whose family has been affected by dementia to attend to gain more support and resources. Past participants have shared, “This series fills a need in the community for more information and resources about a disease that requires comprehensive support and affects so many families.” 

On September 11, the topic, “What is Dementia?” will offer a broad overview of the condition, including causes, symptoms, stages, prevention and treatment. Next, on September 25, “A Walk in their Shoes: A Dementia Experience” will offer attendees a glimpse into the daily challenges of living with dementia through participating in hands-on activities. 

Don’t miss this chance to better equip yourself with information and resources as you navigate the challenging  journey of a loved one living with dementia. 

For more information and to get your free ticket visit the links below. Space is limited, please make sure to register to secure your spot. 

Monday, September 11 | 6-7:30pm 

What is Dementia? 

Monday, September 25 | 6-7:30pm 

The Dementia Experience 

Sagepoint Senior Living Services, Adult Day Services Building

10200 La Plata Rd, La Plata, MD 20646

 

A Hands-On Approach to Care

As the Chief Nursing Officer, Denise McCann is more than a caregiver to the residents at Sagepoint. Driven by the goal of making every resident as happy and comfortable as possible, she is the leader of a team of dedicated and talented professionals who care for the residents. She provides clinical oversight, training and education and support for the team, the residents and their family members. 

The Nursing Team’s approach to working with residents stems from Denise’s own philosophy of care.

“Caring for a person with dementia requires compassion and an in-depth knowledge of the disease,” said Denise. “Understanding how the disease progresses allows a caregiver to apply compassion and creativity in care options. We also recognize that we must provide holistic, individualized care not only for the patient but for the family members as well.”

While rewarding, leading a team in an environment like Sagepoint can be challenging at times. For Denise, leadership comes down to communication and a willingness to make a difference. 

“I find that communicating often with residents, family members and staff is vital. Asking staff ‘how they are doing’ makes them feel supported and cared for so they can provide the best care to our residents. By seeing and talking to our residents often, I can generally see what kind of day they are having and help direct staff to assist. I feel that having a relationship is important as it helps me to identify if I see any changes in the patient’s status and adjust the staff activities accordingly,” said Denise. 

This hands-on approach doesn’t just help her staff or residents; it also helps the families who entrust Sagepoint with the care of their loved ones. She takes the concerns and feelings of family members very seriously, as she knows their support is vital to the care of her residents. 

“Moving a loved one into long-term care is a difficult decision for many family members. While they recognize the time has come for professional care, they have questions about their loved one living in a senior living center,” said Denise. “Recognizing how tough that can be, the management team and I work through their feelings – sometimes doubt, guilt or sadness over their loved one’s changing status. These are all feelings that we can work through together. It takes time. Having the family involved is key to building a relationship of trust. We encourage family and friends to visit and participate in activities. We realize that moving a loved one into a long-term care facility is hard, but we strive to make the transition as easy as possible for patients and family members.”

Denise feels how important her role is and how special Sagepoint is when interacting with residents. “When I come in every day and see the faces of our residents and family members that I am so fortunate to provide care for means so much to me.” 

Tee Up With Sagepoint In 2023

Any golfer will tell you that the only thing better than a round of golf is another round of golf! After an incredibly successful third-annual Sagepoint Golf Tournament, we’re teeing it back up and hitting the links again this year. The fourth-annual Sagepoint Golf Tournament is set for Wednesday, September 20, at Swan Point Yacht & Country Club. This is the perfect opportunity to connect with community leaders and make a difference in senior care in Southern Maryland.

The tournament will include a full day of golf with a captain’s choice scramble format, putting contests and exciting raffle opportunities. Returning this year are the very popular raffle for the Pinehurst Course #2 trip (the site of the 2024 US Open Golf Tournament!) and Mulligan Ball Raffle. New this year – Have a PGA pro hit your tee shot! More details to come!

Sagepoint Senior Living Services is a nonprofit organization caring for seniors and persons with disabilities in southern Maryland for nearly 50 years. This year, all proceeds will be put towards improving Sagepoint’s Assisted Living and Memory Care programs. 

Our goal is to raise funds to help Sagepoint Senior Living Services grow awareness of dementia and the effects it has on the person, the family and the community as a whole. We plan to achieve this goal by expanding community outreach efforts to develop caregiver support and training programs for those who care for loved ones with dementia and other long-term cognitive illnesses. 

Hurry and sign up today to beat the Early Bird Deadline by July 28, 2023! After July 28, the prices will increase. Sponsorship opportunities still remain, but they will go quickly. Email Joyce Riggs at JRiggs@SagepointCare.org for more information. 

Register for the 2023 Golf Tournament Here

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Come from a Place of Love When Caring for Those with Dementia

Demenita Care Blog HeaderThe newly released 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Special Report by the Alzheimer’s Association highlights the disease’s troubling projected growth. Nationally, there are more than six million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Dementia. That number is on pace to more than double to 13 million by the year 2050. Unfortunately, things do not appear any better from a local level. The number of Marylanders with the disease is on pace to grow by nearly 20% from 2020 to 2025. Next door in Delaware, that number is 21%. In Virginia, it’s over 26%. 

While these trends have tremendous implications for the nation’s healthcare policy, facilities and resources, they also present an unpleasant eventuality for many of us – a future caring for a loved one suffering from dementia. 

There are no easy diseases when it comes to having a loved one afflicted with a life-threatening condition. Any debilitating affliction that diminishes the life of someone you care about is a terrible burden. That said, dementia is an incredibly cruel disease that robs us of our loved one’s personality and essence before claiming their body. It turns spouses into strangers, best friends into afterthoughts and children into unwanted visitors. And left in its wake is a person who is scared, frustrated, confused and, in many ways, alone, surrounded by loved ones who share all of those same feelings. 

Despite the rollercoaster of emotions you may experience when caring for someone with dementia, it’s important to approach the situation with a calm demeanor, a sound plan and plenty of love. While it may seem prudent and safe to help them as much as possible, let them be somewhat self-sufficient. Treating a loved one as if they’re completely helpless can exacerbate their condition and leave them less connected to their surroundings. 

It’s also important to speak to them like their adults, not children. And while it’s helpful to talk at a slightly slower pace and give them more time to respond, always remain respectful, as that will encourage them to engage more. Speaking of a slower pace, it’s also good to walk and act at a slower pace so your loved one doesn’t feel rushed or fall behind. 

As you care for a loved one with dementia, you must be realistic and honest about your ability to look after them. While you undoubtedly have their best interests at heart and give them the finest care you possibly can, it may not be enough. And if that happens, you must not feel shame, guilt or any negativity about your attempts to care for them. Dementia is an incredibly difficult disease to treat, which almost always requires the help of professional caregivers. With each case being as unique as the loved one it afflicts, knowing how much or how little care to give is an immense challenge.

That’s why we at Sagepoint Senior Living offer such a wide range of care options for those with Alzheimer’s disease or suffering from dementia. Sometimes people in the early stages of the disease only need a little assistance around the house, like meal preparation or doing a load of laundry. As their condition changes, so can their care. We offer adult day services, assisted living, memory care and everything in between – all specifically tailored to the specific needs of your loved one. 

With the growing number of people being diagnosed with dementia by the year, the likelihood that you will care for a loved one with this horrible disease is also growing. Please, follow the advice above. Stay patient and loving with them; after all, if this journey is frustrating, scary and confusing for you, imagine what it must be like for them. 

Be strong for them. Remember them as they were, and love them as such. It may not save them from Alzheimer’s, but it may make their time with you more special and rewarding.