I am sure you’ve heard the saying “it’s a small world” at some point in your life. About 3 years ago, I learned just how small the world really was and how important it is to know your family history. My best friend’s mom passed away, and I attended the memorial service and met one of her co-workers, Mary. We had an instant connection and became fast friends. So, 3 months ago I received a text message from my Mary asking if my grandfather had a sister named Viola who had lived in Mississippi. To my surprise, she was correct!
Mary and I had been friends and had no idea we were related. When I joined Facebook, I used my married name and recently decided to add my maiden name to my Facebook profile. After a short conversation, I learned that Mary was in fact the granddaughter of my paternal grandfather’s oldest sister. This year instead of one family reunion, I will be attending two, with plans to share all I know about my family’s history. The friendship between Mary and I encouraged me to learn more about my father’s side of the family and my family tree. Learning your family history can be a wonderful journey into history. There are many research websites to locate public records, like www.usa.gov and membership-based websites such as www.ancestry.com. These websites can help you build family trees and upload photos so that this information can be passed on to generation after generation for years to come.
I hope my story encourages you to share at family gatherings this summer all the knowledge you have about your family’s history. Even if you feel the information you have to share could be redundant, share it anyway. Someone may learn something about you or members of your family that they never knew. For more ideas to make learning and sharing family history fun, visit sites like www.Pinterest.com, or www.Ask.com. Both sites offer a wide variety of ways to learn and share your memories.
While attending the annual Columbus Art Festival yesterday, I asked my aunt if she was wearing sunscreen? Her response was, “There’s really no need for that now because the damage has been done at this point.” Since she is 70 years old, I thought she might be right. I told her that I was certain that protecting your skin at any age is important. Of course, skincare became the topic of conversation throughout our afternoon together. Finally we agreed to disagree, and I was given the task of providing her with tips on ways that she could, from this point on, protect her skin from the sun and the harsh winds of winter.
Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light harms fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag and stretch. It also bruises and tears more easily. And though the sun’s rays feel good, they are not a friend to your skin. You may not notice changes that the sun’s rays cause to your skin immediately, however they can cause wrinkles and age spots, and they are the top cause of skin cancer. Spending too much time in the sun can also give your skin freckles, rough texture, white spots, a yellowing of the skin and discolored areas of the skin (which doctors call “mottled pigmentation”).
With June being the official start of summer, it is the time when most of us spend hours upon hours outdoors each day enjoying every second the summer sun has to offer. Keep in mind that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. More than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in the country each year. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will account for more than 76,000 cases of skin cancer in 2014. Please keep the following tips in mind as you enjoy your summer fun in the sun this summer.
- Avoid direct exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Seek shade, especially in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Cover up with protective clothing to reduce skin’s exposure to UV rays and cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat.
- Use sunscreen and lip balm with SPF 30 or higher. Apply a generous amount and reapply every 2 hours (or after swimming or sweating).
- Wear sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB absorption.
- Sunscreen doesn’t protect from all UV rays, so don’t use sunscreen as a way to stay out in the sun longer.
- Follow these practices to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days.
- Avoid other sources of UV light such as tanning beds and sun lamps.
You should monitor your skin every month and have a routine check-up with your doctor (at least once yearly), especially if you have risk factors for skin cancer, such as a family or personal history, spending a lot of time outdoors, or you have many moles, pale skin and are prone to sunburn or have had several sunburns.
All seniors know they need to exercise, but most don’t know there are simple activities that can be done in the convenience of their home that count towards your daily physical activity goals. If you don’t currently have exercise goals in place, hopefully the following 5 fitness activities will show you how simple it can be to add physical activity to your everyday life.
- Balancing: Although balancing isn’t an obvious part of exercising, everyday activities require the ability to control your body’s position. From getting out of bed, to walking on an uneven sidewalk, and standing on tiptoes to reach something on a top shelf of your cabinet — all involve balance.
- Endurance Aerobic Activities: Endurance, or aerobic activities, increase your breathing and heartbeat, which helps improve heart and lung health. This can make chores like vacuuming and raking the yard easier to do. After all, who wouldn’t want to get a few chores in while helping your heart and lungs at the same time?
- Strength Training: Strength exercises help build muscles and bone, counteracting the weakness that can come with aging. Simple things, like sweeping, carrying in groceries or even getting up from a chair, can help make improvements in your muscle strength and in keeping and maintaining your independence.
- Stretches: As we age, connective tissues become less elastic, so stretching is important to maintain a functioning range of motion. Stretches should never cause pain or serious fatigue, so always be sure to warm your muscles prior to stretching. Take in deep breaths in each stretch for up to 60 seconds to get the full benefit of the stretch, and always be aware of the position of your spine.
- Video Games: Many seniors are now joining the world of video games, and have quickly learned it is the ultimate way to connect with their grandchildren. With popular video game consoles, such as Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect, seniors can use these and the variety of other interactive games to improve their fitness in the comfort of their own home.
Though incorporating a regular exercise routine into your everyday life can take some time, taking a few minutes a day to be more active is crucial to maintaining a healthy and independent lifestyle. Before you start any exercise routine, be sure to discuss your plans with your doctor for any health restrictions he or she may want you to consider before getting started. Also discuss with your family your plans so they can help you check your home to make sure there are no safety issues that need to be handled before you start your exercise plan.
Recently, my 96-year-old uncle and his wife decided it was time to downsize after going up and down the steps in their two-story home for many years. Day after day, it became a task they could no longer conquer. As you can imagine, making the choice was very difficult for my uncle since he and his first wife had raised 5 children in that home, and had also welcomed 3 of their grandchildren. Moving out of a house regardless of where you are moving can be an incredibly emotional journey. Many see it as the end instead of a new beginning, and emotions can run high. Knowing what to expect can be a challenge for you and your loved ones. And although it was my uncle who was moving, I had several fond memories from visiting their home, and I was overwhelmed with emotions when I heard the news that they were moving from the house I went to every day after vacation bible school each summer. At that same time, I knew it was a move that had to happen for my uncle’s well-being.
During the flurry of activity leading up to the move, you will see your whole life packed into boxes — some items will go with you, other items to your children and some will be donated. You realize quickly that your new home cannot accommodate all that you had in your previous home before downsizing.
Moving out of the family home is a big change on many levels. First, it is a huge disruption to daily routines and a major transition into new surroundings. And for an older adult, these disruptions and transitions take much longer to adapt to than for someone younger. Secondly, a move at this stage of life may trigger concerns about loss of independence and what lies ahead. Losing any kind of independence is difficult for those who have lived an independent life. When the time comes for your loved ones to downsize and move to a new residence, remember to be sensitive to these moments. Take time to listen, be empathetic and help assure them that the move is a very smart thing to do.
To help my uncle, all of his children came home to help pack. They threw a “parting party” at the old house, and two days later they hosted a housewarming party at the new residence. My uncle and his wife have been at their new home for almost 2 years now. My uncle still volunteers every Saturday at our church, and is very active with his veterans group, where he has been a member for 50+ years. My uncle and his wife are extremely pleased with the choice they made and no longer miss the old house at all. My cousins feel comfortable knowing that their father is safe, and is being looked after by his wife and the staff at their independent living residence.
For information on independent living options at any of the Methodist ElderCare locations, call today to schedule an appointment to help determine which living option is best for you and your family.
For the past few years since moving from Virginia to Columbus, my father has allowed me to take over paying his bills. Each month, along with his checkbook, he hands over the EOBs he has received that month from his insurance company, with payment amount circled with his red ink pen, which he believe he owes. Every month I explain that just as printed on the top of each statement, it is not a bill, but that it is an Explanation of Benefits. One day I thought I should ask what he had done with the EOBs he received while living in Virginia. He said “I’ve paid them.” I had him show me how he had determined what to pay, and quickly learned he had been giving money away, paying the amount of the bill before his two insurance companies had paid their portion. After a few inquiries, it was apparent that he just needed to move forward and there was no way to recover the money he had paid out already, especially since it had been a couple of years.
Have you ever considered paying the amount listed on your EOB? Do you have friends who have or who consider it? I hope the information below will help you and those close to you when you receive your next EOB in the mail. According to most insurance companies that I talked to, here are things you should know. An Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is a notification form provided by your insurance company when a healthcare benefit claim is processed on your behalf. The EOB displays the expenses submitted by the provider and shows how each claim is processed.
The EOB has four major sections:
- Claim Information includes the member and patient name, the member’s group and identification numbers, and the claim number.
- Summary highlights the financial information – the amount billed, total benefits approved and the amount you may owe the provider.
- Service Information identifies the health care facility or physicians, dates of service and charges.
- Coverage Information shows what was paid to whom, what discounts and deductions apply, and what part of the total expense was not covered.
The EOB may also include additional information:
- Information About Amounts Not Covered will show what benefits limitations or exclusions apply.
- Information about Out-Of-Pocket Expenses will show an amount when a claim applies toward your deductible or counts toward your out-of-pocket expenses.
- Information about Appeals explains your rights regarding review or claim denials.
- Fraud Hotline is a toll-free number you can call if you think you are being charged for services you did not receive or if you suspect fraudulent activity.
Your EOBs are always available, and if you would rather contact your insurance company by phone, you will find their 800-number listed on the back of your insurance card. Remember — don’t reach for your checkbook until you are sure of the exact amount of your out-of-pocket cost.