7 steps to healthier barbecue

Here’s how to make the best Fourth of July cookout ever

By Maureen Callahan for Next Avenue

HealthierBBQ-GettyImages-web

Credit: Getty Images

It may be the favorite way to cook on hot summer days, but experts say the high heat of grilling can produce cancer-causing compounds that are dangerous to your health.

But with the 4th of July nearing, don’t ditch the barbecue just yet. Grilling can still be one of the healthiest methods of cooking, as long as you use the right techniques and make healthy food choices.


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Why Social Security benefits won’t be cut

One of the presidential candidates is a key reason

By Chris Farrell for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

I love Social Security. Seriously. Social Security was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 and over time has evolved into America’s most successful pension and insurance program.  Social Security helps keep millions of America’s elderly out of poverty, too.

Those aren’t particularly controversial sentiments, except in bitterly polarized Washington, D.C. Conservatives have routinely called for cutting back on Social Security’s “unaffordable” benefits and “privatizing” the system. Social Security, they say, is “bankrupt” and a “Ponzi scheme.” Liberals have staved off Social Security benefits cuts in recent years largely through a defensive strategy of preserving the status quo established by the 1983 National Commission on Social Security Reform.

But things are changing — bigtime.


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Prepare for surgery with exercise and diet

‘Prehabilitation’ is slowly being recognized as valuable for success after a procedure

By Judith Graham for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

A dozen years ago, at the age of 50, Lillie Shockney decided to have breast reconstruction surgery after two bouts of cancer and two mastectomies. The procedure called for removing a flap of skin and fat from her abdomen, used to rebuild her breasts.

Shockney knew a lot about breast cancer and the trials of recovery: she was (and still is) director of the breast center at Johns Hopkins’ Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. Characteristically, this dynamic nurse didn’t want to stay in the hospital for any longer than absolutely necessary.


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Opening our eyes to elder abuse

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a call for better detection and action

By Emily Gurnon for Next Avenue

ElderAbuse-web

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and Next Avenue joins in the effort to shine a light on this pervasive problem.

An estimated 5 million older Americans are abused, neglected or exploited every year, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. That’s a conservative number, the organization says: for every one case that’s reported, as many as 23 are not.

“Elder mistreatment is a serious public health issue, and merits the same level of response as child abuse or domestic abuse,” says Terry Fulmer, Ph.D., president of  The John A. Hartford Foundation and a researcher and authority on elder mistreatment and abuse, in a statement last week.

She urged all of us to increase our vigilance.

“In particular, health care, emergency services, social service, and law enforcement professionals, who are on the front lines, should use every interaction with an older person to screen for possible mistreatment,” she says. “One simple yet powerful way to do this is by asking the question: ‘Are you safe at home?’

That’s especially important with older adults who may be cognitively impaired or rarely outside of the presence of a potential abuser, Fulmer says.

Manifestations of Abuse

Elder abuse comes in many forms, including physical, psychological, financial and sexual abuse.

Last month, Next Avenue published a series on abuse in the guardianship and conservatorship systems, finding that, despite decades of efforts, pernicious patterns have endured.

As the boomer population ages, the numbers of people affected by guardianship and conservatorship will rise tremendously, experts predict. With the stroke of a judge’s pen, an older adult can see his or her most basic rights stripped away. A family member or even a stranger appointed by the court will decide where they will live, how their money will be spent, what health care they will get, when they will go out and whom they are allowed to see.

Educating Ourselves

We urge everyone to learn about elder abuse and know the signs that someone may be being abused.

We also urge the presidential candidates to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and offer their ideas on how to address the disturbing reality many older adults live with every day.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is organized by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.

© Twin Cities Public Television – 2016. All rights reserved.

Getting rid of possessions: It’s harder than you think

Since the process is partly psychological, here’s how to prepare

By Harriet Edleson for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

If you’re ready to move to a smaller space or think you might want to downsize in the not-too-distant future, take a deep breath and start planning.

It’s a much bigger task than you’ll ever imagine, partly because the process entails far more than just deciding which possessions to keep and which to toss.

Most people acquire things over a lifetime — one decade, year, month or day at a time. Through the years, possessions from clothes to decorative arts can accumulate: Flexible Flyer sleds tucked away in the basement crawl space; bridesmaid’s or flower girl dresses stored in closets; Valentines, birthday cards and other personal correspondence stashed in night table drawers.


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How to start painting at any age

3 tips from a pro on easy ways to pick up a brush and begin

By Heidi Raschke for Next Avenue

Painting-web

Untitled painting and collage by Megan Jackson

Megan Jackson is the kind of person people describe as an old soul. “It’s hard for me to really connect in my own age group, and that’s always been the case,” says the painter who created the untitled work that tops Next Avenue’s Artful Aging Special Report. “I’ve always had older friends.”

Before Jackson created this work of painting and collage, she wasn’t familiar with the terms “artful aging” or “creative aging” — which refer to the practice of engaging older adults in participatory, professionally run arts programs with a focus on social engagement and skills mastery. But she knew many people who were living it. Like her friend Lori, who became what Jackson calls a “botanist photographer” in her 60s.


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Give elders and their caregivers the support they deserve

This Influencer In Aging says changes are vital as the nation gets older

By Ai-jen Poo for Next Avenue

Support-web

Editor’s note: This article is part of Next Avenue’s 2015 Influencers in Aging project honoring 50 people changing how we age and think about aging. Here, Ai-jen Poo, one of the Influencers, discusses the importance of caring for our nation’s caregivers.

Every day, at least 10,000 Americans turn 65. When we imagine the future, most of us envision ourselves living life on our own terms, in our homes and communities, connected to the people we love, even as we become more frail. As Atul Gawande, Next Avenue’s 2015 Influencer of the Year, so eloquently put it, we want to continue to be “the authors of our own stories” as we age.

Yet, most of us don’t have a plan to make that happen, and we as a nation don’t have a plan, either. Our family caregivers are overstretched and our care workforce is underpaid; both are undervalued. Families are pushed into poverty to pay for care. What we have in place simply isn’t sufficient to meet the growing need for care and supportive services in our country.


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What banks are doing to curb elder financial abuse

Why some are proactive, but others are afraid to be

By Juliette Fairley for Next Avenue

ElderAbuse-Thinkstock-web

Credit: Thinkstock

An increasing number of banks and credit unions are implementing fraud-prevention initiatives to prepare for the onslaught of aging Americans expected to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

They are training tellers “to flag potential suspicious behavior, such as coercion by family members, frequent withdrawals of large sums of money in a short period of time or transferring large sums of money,” said Ramsay Alwin, vice president of economic security at the National Council on Aging in Washington, D.C.

This proactive work is likely to benefit older customers as well as the financial institutions. By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s is estimated to reach 7.1 million — a 40 percent increase from today’s 5.1 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.


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Older adults join the tech revolution

shutterstock_243533803 Technology is becoming less of a mystery for many older adults. For some, devices like tablets and smartphones, and services like the Skype video calling program, are becoming a part of everyday life.

In 2013, the Pew Research Center studied technology use and trends among Americans age 65 and older. Here are some of their findings.

• 59 percent of seniors said they go online—up six percentage points from the previous year.

• 77 percent of older adults have a mobile phone, up from 69 percent the previous year.

• 27 percent of seniors own a tablet, an e-book reader, or both. 18 percent own a smartphone.

• 79 percent of older adults who use the internet agree with the statement that “people without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,” while 94 percent agree with the statement that “the internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past.”

If you’ve been wanting to learn more about using your computer, tablet or smartphone, here are some ways to begin:

Ask for help. Ask a son, daughter, or grandchild to walk you through the steps for what you want to do. The Pew study found that only 18 percent of seniors feel comfortable learning to use a new device on their own—so you’re not alone!

Be patient. Don’t try to learn everything at once. Focus on a particular program or function — email, Facebook, Skype, texting, etc. —until you get the hang of it.

Worried about privacy? You’re right to be cautious, but don’t feel that going online will expose you completely. Never to give out sensitive information such as your bank account, credit card number, or Social Security information unless dealing with a trusted source, such as a legitimate shopping site like Amazon.com.

For more good technology tips for seniors, visit seniortech.us/tips/

Why I decided to make friends with death

We know we will die someday, so we must accept and plan for it

By Irene Kacandes for Next Avenue

Friends-Death-web

Credit: Getty Images

(This article was written as a part of The Op-Ed Project.)

While we may fear meeting death alone, most of us are actually more afraid of dying surrounded by the wrong kind of people — that is, by health care workers.

Yet that is all too likely to be our fate. Statistics are squirrely, but many point in this direction. Seven out of 10 Americans express the wish to die at home. More than 80 percent of patients say they want to avoid hospitalization and intensive care at the end of life. And yet, the current reality is that about three-quarters of us actually die in some kind of institutional setting.

What is the source of this disconnect? As someone who has spent most of the last 15 years grappling with loved ones’ life-threatening illnesses and deaths (and co-authored a book on the topic), I’ve come to the conclusion that it starts with our attitudes — with our failure to recognize that our births guarantee our deaths.


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