CSA Blog Mediation: Finding a Way to Resolve Family Conflicts

CSA Blog
Mediation: Finding a Way to Resolve Family Conflicts

Family fights over the care, legal, and financial issues of aging relatives, can have disastrous results. Using a skilled mediator can make all the difference in achieving peace, harmony, and resolutions. Click here to read blog post.

Family disputes can be among the most painful of all. People who are related by blood or
marriage may have such close ties that they fully understand not only how to do the right
thing for each other, but also how to hurt each other. When caregiving is involved and financial issues come up, it can bring out either the best or the worst in families.
Emotion is deep and old resentments can surface. Some families turn to dispute resolution with an outside professional to assist them when they get so mired in conflict they cannot find their way out.
The following two examples of actual cases (names changed) illustrate how families deal with these distressing conflicts. Mediation was a successful alternative for one family, enabling them to resolve their differences for the sake of an aging parent. Note the
choices each family made and the effect on the outcome of the conflict.
The Case of the Three Brothers
Three brothers are engaged in battle over their mother, Margaret’s, living situation. She has severe dementia and can’t care for herself independently. She has run out of money. Her only remaining asset is her home and she wants to stay there.
The oldest brother, James, seized power over her finances from the middle brother, Paul. James convinced his mother to appoint him the power of attorney and the agent on the healthcare directive, and displaced Paul, who had always been on both documents. Margaret wasn’t competent to sign anything when James made this move, but he didn’t seem to care. That infuriated Paul. Little brother Joe was somewhat passive, but sided with Paul. The three never got along very well, even as children, and their communication did not improve as they grew up. They largely avoided one another until now.
Without communicating with his brothers, James decided to move Margaret to an assisted living facility that cared for people with dementia. It would be in her neighborhood, she would have her own room, and her house would be sold to pay for it. A deposit was paid and the move was set.
When Paul heard of this, he became enraged, told Joe, and they both threatened to sue James. In response, James found a lawyer and began guardianship proceedings. There was no money in their mother’s checking account to pay the lawyer, so James promised
the attorney that she would get paid when the house was sold.
Margaret’s long-time estate attorney, not the guardianship lawyer, suggested mediation. She urged the siblings to stop upsetting their mother and each other by using a neutral person—a mediator—to help them try to reach some agreements.
This sounded like a good solution. With the mediator’s guidance, they could figure out a way to be more civil to each other and work toward a less aggravating future while caring for their mother. However, James refused to go to mediation. The guardianship case continues to move through the courts. Thousands of dollars will be needlessly wasted
on litigation that pits brother against brother. No one is likely to come out a winner, regardless of what happens in the case.
Who’s In Charge of Dad?
Three sisters were embroiled in a conflict over their father’s care. He was frail, needed help at home, was easily confused, and thought he was somewhere else most of the time. One of the sisters lived nearby and the other two sisters lived far away. They didn’t trust the sister nearest their father, and had reached the point of not speaking to one another. A professional handling their day-to-day finances understood the conflict among the siblings and she suggested mediation.
Surprisingly, all three sisters agreed to mediation. Four sessions took place over the phone, as all were distant.
The sisters gradually worked out their disputes. Each one had a point of view. Mistrust had dominated their communications for months and they had become hostile with one another. With discussion, each was able to ask questions, get information, and begin
to clear up misunderstandings. They made rules with the mediator’s help, and when they started to follow them, the trust they needed was re-established. They came to many agreements about how to best take care came to many agreements about how to best take care of their father, and finally reached a level of peace that had not been present in their dealings with each other for years. Their underlying mistrust, some of it going back to childhood, was not addressed, as mediation is not therapy, but they were able to work together to make the quality of their father’s life better.
Their father was well off financially so the family hired a nurse care manager and good home-care workers. The nearby sister was the liaison for everyone. She texted her siblings daily on their father’s situation. A few months later, their father died suddenly. But
now the daughters could look back on the time they cared for him during what turned out to be his last months, and knew that they had done their best for him. Mediation had enabled them to work together for their father’s benefit and for theirs as well.

Families at War

Family conflict is not at all uncommon when it comes to dealing with aging loved ones. Their old hurts, resentment, and emotional dysfunction emerge when they have to come together over the care or finances of an aging parent. Sometimes, they cope with not getting along by avoiding each other completely. This can go on for years. When a crisis happens, such as hospitalization of a parent, they are forced to not only see each other but make decisions together.

Being forced to make decisions as a group is even more difficult when the older adults in the family have not signed an advance healthcare directive (power of attorney for healthcare decisions), or a durable power of attorney for finances. However, even with these documents in place, as with James’ case, manipulation and influence over his vulnerable mother could undo what she had done when she was competent to sign
the documents.

In James’ case, he failed to communicate altogether, acted alone, and caused a fresh set of conflicts and resentments that could have been avoided. Conflicts over how to spend an aging parent’s assets are common. What needs to be examined closely is how to
avoid having the situation escalate to a legal fight. Unfortunately, litigation seldom works to benefit families in conflicts like this. Often, people engaged in these battles do irreparable harm to each other in the process. It’s a lose-lose ending.
In other situations, such as the three sisters, families choose to use an outside person to help them do what they have been unable to do by themselves. As you can tell from the outcomes of both of these true behavioral patterns, the choice families make affects

their relationships with each other in the long term. Mediation won’t fix every fight, but according to mediate.com, it’s statistically at least 80 percent effective in bringing people in dispute to agreements. Families that do not get along should be advised to
consider mediation as an option to make things better for everyone. An objective, neutral outsider can do a great deal to help family members reach agreements and resolve issues.’

The Mediation Process
Mediation is a voluntary process involving a trained, neutral mediator, and at least two parties in dispute. The parties meet, whether in person, by phone, or Skype. Mediation is a lot more than just talking things over. Mediator training is extensive, covering both the art and science of how the process works. A minimum of forty hours of training with both dispute resolution theory and mock mediation sessions is standard in the field. Mediators must have a basic understanding of how conflict works, how to de-escalate it, and how to ensure that all participants in mediation are heard. Mediators develop skills in drawing out the underlying emotions associated with conflict. They also use creative approaches to help the parties in conflict devise ways to resolve their disputes.
Many mediators have much more than forty hours of training. Some states certify mediators, but in most states there are no formal licensing requirements.
During mediation, the parties describe what they want to accomplish and the mediator takes on the task of making sure that every party at mediation has a chance to suggest possible solutions. The mediator leads the discussion and asks questions. The parties make their own decisions. The end result of a successful mediation is a written agreement or a set of agreements. Each person present has a voice in what happens. People do not have to like each other to reach agreement, but they often have to give up something to get something.
The mediator does not judge who is right or wrong or what the parties should decide. Rather, the mediator is a guide, referee, source of suggestions, and creative neutral party who finds common ground. The mediation agreement is a contract that all parties sign, and it is enforceable in court.  Apart from the written mediation agreement, all aspects of the process are confidential. What happens in mediation stays in mediation.
Finding a Qualified Mediator
Mediators are usually independent, though some work in community-based organizations. Some are lawyers, though being a lawyer is not required. The best mediator for any dispute is a person who is experienced with the issues at hand. For example, a mediator
who works with older adults should have solid working knowledge of common areas of conflict concerning seniors and families, and know the community resources they can use to help solve their problems. Legal, healthcare, and emotional health issues may come up and it is important to find a mediator with expertise in one or more of these fields.
Some mediators work in a team approach, called co-mediation. Especially for larger groups, this can be very effective. Two mediators can see more problems from more angles and offer better suggestions than a single mediator can.
Mediate.com and eldecarermediators.com are independent resources for finding a mediator in your area. Other sources are dispute resolution services in local organizations, courts, or legal services groups dealing with older adults. Some courts have sponsored
programs for mediation, and some offer low-cost mediation for parties who represent themselves. However, one does not have to have a court case to find a mediator. The field of mediation for family disputes about aging individuals is emerging as a separate specialty, and there are relatively few mediators experienced in this area as compared with general mediation. It is referred to as “elder mediation” in the legal and mediation
Community-based organizations may offer free or low-cost mediation of this kind of dispute by using volunteer mediators. The drawback is that the volunteers may be new mediators, or may lack expertise or subject matter experience in the issues in dispute. The amount of time a mediator can work with a family may also be limited. Outside of community mediation services or low cost clinics, mediators generally work
independently on a fee for service basis.
Private mediators charge by the hour, often at rates similar to an attorney’s fees. The cost can be high for several sessions of mediation in a complex matter. However, it is certain to be much lower than the cost of any litigation. If you think of it as a preventive strategy to avoid paying ongoing attorney’s fees and court costs, mediation is a clear winner with excellent chances of success.
Unfortunately, family conflicts are common. People are living longer, creating more issues about running out of money, who is going to care for them, and loss of independence. Dysfunctional family members have to make decisions about these matters, which brings
out underlying long-standing problems. Fortunately, mediation is emerging as an excellent way to address these issues. It can help people reach agreements about many of the problems families face. Those who feel the pain of a family conflict or who witness it, should consider using mediation as a way to relieve the anguish and find a path to a more peaceful outcome. If you are a professional or an advisor to families at war, you are
in an excellent position to suggest using mediation, a tried and true method to reach agreements. •CSA




Senior Spotlight World War II Veteran Recalls His Service

Senior Spotlight
World War II Veteran Recalls His Service

Cliff Hibpshman watched the invasion of Normandy from the deck of a ship and then marched into a town he had “never seen so torn up.” In May, Cliff flew to Washington, D.C.on the Honor Flight Tour to see the World War II memorial firsthand. Click here to view article.

One year after the United States was drawn into the second world war in 1942, Clifford “Cliff” Hibpshman received a surprising, although not unexpected, notice from the president of the United States. The notice was an Order to Report for Induction, and just like that, at 23 years old, Cliff was drafted into the U.S. Army.

In 1944, Cliff and his platoon were sent to France, sailing across the Atlantic on the RMS Aquitania. His job in the 9th Replacement Depot was to drive the fresh young recruits, along with weapons and supplies, to the front lines of battle. Cliff recalls driving the 6X6 army trucks loaded with armed young soldiers along the Red Bull Highway, the headlights modified to a one-inch slit, to avoid being seen by the German airplanes flying over the famous road.

Cliff recalls watching fearfully from the deck of a ship sitting on the English Channel as hundreds of brave soldiers fought their way through the beaches at Normandy. Cliff recollects waiting in silence until the smoke cleared and they received the order that the beach was secure. They marched forward into the town of Saint-Lo. He had “never seen a town so tore up as St. Lo,” with only a part of a lone building standing among the rubble and destruction. As if it only happened yesterday, Cliff describes velvet chairs hooked together, dangling from one of the two balconies left barely clinging to what was left of the brick wall of a theater.

Today, inside Cliff’s neatly organized apartment in Colorado, hanging on a plain white wall is a lone framed shadowbox, where he has displayed rank stripes, service pins and several medallions. Cliff carefully removes one particular piece—the Battle Star Medal. “This medal,” he proudly explains, “was earned in the battle at the Chateau of Fontainebleau.” He stares at the medal for a moment. “We kicked those Germans right out of there.” Without another word, he places the medal back in the case.

In 1946, Cliff returned home to Colorado and shortly afterward married his longtime sweetheart, Lily. Together they raised two boys, while he worked in construction, a skill he adopted while in the military. Although he was not a carpenter by trade, he spent much of his active duty term as the company carpenter, and it turned out he was very good at it. Now at 95 years old and a widower, Cliff proudly displays photos of his grandkids and great-grandkids. His oldest son and two grandsons followed in his footsteps, proudly serving our country in the Navy, Army and Air Force.

In May of 2014, Cliff was one of 25 World War II veterans chosen by the Honor Flight Network to participate in an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War II memorial, completed in 2004. The four-day trip was filled with amazing sights and powerful feelings. Cliff felt a wave of emotion after seeing the memorial firsthand, recalling a statement a stranger made to him the day he came home in 1946. The woman embraced him, looked him straight in the eyes, and said, “You guys have changed the world.” The Honor Flight Tour makes several trips a year, escorting World War II veterans from all over the country to the World War II memorial, at no cost to the veterans. Hundreds of volunteers and fundraising events make these trips possible for veterans who may never get to see the memorial otherwise. For more information on the Honor Flight Network go to its website.




Your Money Is It Worth Anything? Check the Web.

Your Money
Is It Worth Anything? Check the Web.

When you decide to start getting rid of your belongings, one factor is whether your old goods have any value. Fortunately, the internet now has many sites that will provide some idea of what your possessions are worth.  Click here to view article.

Whether older adults are downsizing or just want to get start purging the belongings they have accumulated over a lifetime, many find themselves in a quandary: what to sell, what to give away and what to throw away. One factor in the decision is whether the goods have any value.

Are those delicate china teacups you inherited from your mother worth anything? What about that 1930s chair your aunt gave you? Or the Sandy Koufax baseball card that came with a pack of gum? How about your old Beatles vinyl albums?

Fortunately, the Internet now has many sites that will provide some idea of what your stuff is worth, if anything. People most commonly use eBay because it lists just about anything that’s sellable. More specific websites deal with antiques and collectibles, and other sites deal with only one category, such as jewelry, stamps or vinyl records.

An antique is defined as an item from an earlier era, which shows some degree of craftsmanship and is valued because of its age, rarity, condition or other unique features. A collectible is typically a manufactured item designed to be collected, such as a baseball card, although the lines often blur between the two classes.

Many of these websites also offer a way to sell your item, or you can research the item online and then visit a local retail store, such as an antique or used book store, as an informed seller.

The Biggest: eBay

The largest and most general online source for prices is eBay. To quickly and easily find out what your item is selling for, go to “Advanced Search” (from About.com). Type in the name of your item, and where it says “Search Including,” click the “Completed Listings” button. Look for the green prices, “Sold,” which will give you an idea of what others have received by selling what you want to sell.

The listing also shows the name of the seller/dealer, so you can contact them to see if they want to buy or sell your item (at a commission).

Another source of information is eBay’s discussion forums under “Community.” On these category-specific boards you can find people who collect just about anything. Please note that to access this section of the site, you’ll need to sign up for eBay first.

One expert points out that quality is more important than quantity. Your collectible or antique’s condition can greatly influence the price it will bring. For example a 1962 Sandy Koufax baseball card was priced between $1 and $700, depending on the condition.

Antique and Collectible Sites

The Internet has many sites that offer information and prices for antiques and collectibles. Some offer free estimates, while others charge a fee. If you decide to use one of these sites to sell an item, there’s usually a cost. Here are a few popular antique and collectibles websites:

Lofty has more than 60 appraisers and experts who provide free evaluations of fine art, antiques, collectibles and jewelry, as well as a marketplace where people can buy and sell. Sellers pay a 10 percent fee, and Lofty handles all shipping arrangements.

Value My Stuff has a team of 68 former Sotheby’s and Christie’s experts who appraise items in over 48 collecting categories. Once you upload photographs and details of your item, Value My Stuff will email you a report detailing your item’s history and value.

Kovels has been a respected name in the antique and collectibles business for over 30 years. Its yearly price guide lists more than 900,000 real prices rather than estimates for antiques and collectibles sold in the United States, Canada and Europe. Each entry gives a description, price and year of sale.

Priceminer combines data from eBay, GoAntiques and the Internet Antique Shop to provide information that spans several years, in the form of graphs and charts, including average price, number of items included in the average, range of price from highest to lowest and a current estimate based on today’s market conditions.

Collectors Weekly encompasses many collectibles, including books, postcards, movies, musical instruments, clothes and games. The site links to eBay auctions, so if you type in the name of the record you might want to sell—say the Beatles’ Revolver, you would find out that the auction price is anywhere from $15 to $150.

Worth Point boasts that its “Worthopedia” has more than 200 million “sold for” prices with item details and images, plus a library of articles written by experts in different categories.

Specialty Sites

Almost anything you want to sell or at least find out the value of probably has its own website: vinyl records, bicycles, skis, baseball cards, dolls, books, even Beanie Babies. For example, Beckett lists more than 22 million sports memorabilia items from nearly 1,200 hobby shops and auctions worldwide, while theNumisMedia Fair Market Value Price Guide provides the value of rare coins.

If you want to get rid of your old computer or camera, Worth Monkey focuses on used electronics and more. It searches the Internet for the current asking and selling price of used goods, then provides the average low, middle and high price of the product and directs you to the site where you can find the highest and lowest average price.

Going Local

For some items, such as skis, golf clubs or bicycles, it makes more sense to try to sell locally. One collectibles expert advises that your local Craigslist, for example, can garner better prices than national websites. Selling locally targets nearby interests (alpine skis will sell better in Colorado than Florida, for example) and helps you avoid the cost and hassle of shipping large items.

If you live in a large metropolitan area, chances are good that there is a local retailer buying and selling your item. Brick-and-mortar resale shops often specialize in antique jewelry, coins, used sports equipment, books, antiques and records. Before starting your local shopping trip, do some online research so that you know your item’s low, medium and high pricing options.

You can also sell your things at the local flea market or have a garage sale. You’re not likely to get top dollar, but you’ll quickly get rid of lots of items without too much expense.

Getting Help

If you don’t have the time or energy to do all the research yourself, there are other options. Professional organizers will sometimes find or suggest places to sell your unwanted items. If you are moving, a move manager (see Don’t Make a Move Without Getting Help, July 2014 Senior Spirit) is often knowledgeable about venues to sell items. If you are making a large move or getting rid of someone’s estate, an estate sale can appraise the worth of the items and sell them. You’ll likely have to pay a large commission, but you won’t have to spend time figuring out details on your own.

You can also consign your items to an auction house, either online, locally or through a specialty house. Check its references, fees and the work required from you before deciding on the right auction. Or, hire an appraiser. To find an expert appraiser in your area, go to the American Society of Appraisers.

If you can’t or don’t want to deal with selling your belongings, donate them to a thrift shop that supports your charity of choice. Many organizations will pick up items and provide a receipt for a tax deduction.

And if getting rid of your valuables is too difficult and you decide you’ll just leave it to your family, you should check with them first. It might be that your heirs are not interested and may just take your treasured china to the nearest dumpster.


“13 Ways to Sell Your Stuff!,” About Home

“Antiques and Collectibles Appraisal”

Appraise Your Own Junk

“How Do I Know What My Stuff Is Worth?,” eBay

“Identify What You Have and What’s it Worth,” About.com

“What’s This Worth? “ Crawford Direct

Different Types of Value

When determining the worth of your item, you should be aware that items can be valued differently:

  • Insurance value refers to the amount a person would receive (minus any deductible) should an insured item be destroyed, lost or stolen.
  • Market value refers to what something is worth on the open market—that is, the price a buyer is willing to pay.
  • Perceived value is what you believe something is worth. It is often associated with how much the buyer is willing to pay or the minimum the seller is willing to accept to part with an item.
  • Sentimental value refers to the inherent worth something has to a person, which others may not recognize or appreciate.

For example, a sterling silver tea set circa 1930s might be appraised for insurance purposes at $10,000 to $15,000. However, because pewter and plated sliver are less expensive and more practical for younger generations, the market value for pre-owned sterling silver may only be 5-20 percent of its insured value.

The perceived value and market value of a dining room set are the same when a person buys the set from a furniture showroom, but once delivered to the customer, the market value is likely to drop 25-50 percent or more.

Many items that have been in a family for generations (for example, an antique music box, pocket watch or wedding picture) may have sentimental value that is considerably higher than any other type of value.




Medical News Twist Your Way to Better Health



Twist Your Way to Better Health

Before taking yoga classes, Bunny Grossinger, 87, had serious back problems that limited her mobility. But after the New York City resident started working with a yoga instructor, she found that her life was changed physically and mentally. Though doctors had told her she would need a walker soon, she can now walk again on her own, she told the New York Daily News.

After seeing Grossinger’s experience, the yoga instructor started a yoga studio aimed at those over 65. For older adults, yoga has many benefits, including increased bone density and increased flexibility at a time when we feel more stiff and creaky.

If you’re just starting out or haven’t done yoga for a while, don’t get turned away from yoga classes by the young athletic types wearing their skintight yoga pants and shirts, able to do Downward-facing Dog without thinking about it. Don’t be discouraged if you have a hard time doing the Warrior pose, because your body won’t bend over that far. It can take a while to limber up and stretch the muscles. Experts advise starting slowly and finding a beginner class, preferably one for older adults.

Medical News

Twist Your Way to Better Health
Yoga is being touted as a way to ease a whole host of health conditions, including preventing osteoporosis, improving sleep and increasing immunity. Yoga classes are available almost everywhere these days, but you can also do a few simple poses at home.Click here to view article.

When we were younger, yoga was considered a strange esoteric practice done by people wearing white turbans. Now it’s become accepted, a regular fixture of recreation centers, health clubs, senior centers and assisted living residences. Some health plans offer to pay for yoga classes to keep their clients healthy and fit.

Multitude of Benefits

While ancient yoga practitioners promised a reversal of the aging process, research hasn’t yet been able to back up that claim. Still, studies have documented an amazing array of benefits from this 5,000-year-old form of exercise (see sidebar, “What Is Yoga?”).

Increases strength and flexibility. As we get older, our range of motion becomes limited, which makes us more vulnerable to bad falls. Yoga stretches all parts of the body, including the spine, which is often not affected by other exercises, such as walking. Yoga’s poses stretch muscles, ligaments and tendons and lubricates joints. By repeating the poses, we improve balance and increase strength.

Improves bone health. A gentle yoga practice may can be effective in increasing bone density.In one pilot study involving adults with an average age of 68, who practiced yoga for 10 minutes each day researchers found subjects gained bone density.

Aging women have an increased potential for developing osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become brittle and prone to breaking. Because yoga’s postures are weight-bearing and involve balance, they can help women reduce the possibility of bone fractures by maintaining bone strength and promoting joint agility.

Relieves stress. Numerous studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. Because you concentrate on the poses and breathing deeply, yoga centers you in ways that most exercise can’t. At the same time, yoga can enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.

Decreases migraines. Research shows that migraine sufferers have fewer and less painful migraines after three months of yoga practice. It’s not clear why but it could be that yoga works to relieve both mental stress and physical misalignment that cause migraines and other issues.

Improves sleep. Harvard researchers found that eight weeks of daily yoga significantly improved sleep quality for people with insomnia who participated in this study. Another study found that twice-weekly yoga sessions are associated with better sleep and less fatigue for cancer survivors. These results may be due to exercise’s physical benefits plus yoga’s breathing and relaxation techniques, although the reasons have yet to be determined.

Lessens chronic pain. A Harbor-UCLA Medical Center study reported participants needed less pain medication after only four weeks of yoga. Other studies report a decrease in arthritis pain among the participants.

Manages chronic conditions. Yoga can reduce risk factors for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. According to a report to the National Institutes of Health, some evidence suggests yoga may be helpful when used with conventional medical treatment to help relieve some of the symptoms linked to cancer, asthma, diabetes, drug addiction, high blood pressure, heart disease and migraine headaches. In a study by the Yale University School of Medicine, researchers found that adding three days of yoga and meditation to your weekly routine may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Reduces blood pressure. Several studies have shown yoga can reduce high blood pressure because of its calming techniques and physical activity, which both help to lower blood pressure. In a study at the University of Pennsylvania, 58 men and women, aged 38 to 62, were divided into three groups: a diet and weight reduction and walking program; a yoga practice of two to three times per week for 24 weeks; and a combo program consisting of both yoga and dietary intervention. The research team found that only the yoga group experienced the biggest drop in their blood pressure (“Yoga Can Help Lower Blood Pressure,” June 2013, Medical News Today).

Eases depression: Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found that yoga may be superior to other forms of exercise in its positive effect on mood and anxiety. The researchers contrasted GABA levels in the brain, which are associated with depression and other widespread anxiety disorders, of yoga practitioners and walkers over a 12-week period. One group practiced yoga three times a week for one hour, while the remaining subjects walked for the same period of time. Not only did the yoga practitioners’ brains show higher levels of GABA, but they reported less anxiety and a better mood. (From “New Study Finds New Connection Between Yoga And Mood,” June 2013, Medical News Today).

In addition to these listed benefits, other reports state that yoga can increase hand-grip strength in rheumatoid arthritis patients, control or decrease weight, reduce breathing difficulties in bronchial asthmatics and relieve menopausal discomfort.

Simple Exercises

Although yoga is generally considered safe for most healthy people when practiced under the guidance of a trained instructor, see your health care provider before you begin yoga if you have any of the following conditions or situations (from “Yoga Precautions,” Mayo Clinic):

  • A herniated disk
  • A risk of blood clots
  • Eye conditions, including glaucoma
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe balance problems
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure

Taking a yoga class can help beginners, especially, because trained instructors can work with their physical issues (bad knees, stiff back, etc.), and a class can provide the social benefit of interacting with others. You can also do some simple exercises at home (from “10 Yoga Exercises for Seniors,” How Stuff Works).

The One-legged Wind Releasing pose is a good, gentle stretch for the mid- to low-back and hips because it stretches all of the muscles in those areas, which helps resolve low back pain.

  1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
  2. Hug your right thigh to your chest, using a strap or belt to assist you, if necessary.
  3. Straighten your left leg along the floor, keeping your foot flexed.
  4. Keep your pelvis and right buttock on the floor (or, if you’re unable, keep your left leg slightly bent).
  5. Breathe deeply until you feel the muscles relax, and then stay a few breaths longer.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

The Staff pose helps strengthen the muscles in the mid-back, improving posture. It also strengthens the quadriceps to help stabilize the knees.

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front. It may help to sit with your shoulder blades against a wall with a small rolled-up towel between the wall and your lower back.
  2. Pull in your belly and sit up tall.
  3. Place your hands on the floor next to your hips, fingers pointing toward your toes.
  4. Without hardening your abdomen, flex your thigh muscles while pressing them down toward the floor, rotating them inward and drawing your groin muscles toward your tailbone.
  5. Flex your ankles, pointing your toes toward your body.
  6. Imagine your spine is a staff pressing into the floor, and try to hold this position for two to 10 deep breaths.
  7. Relax.

The Seated Forward Bend pose can help reduce blood pressure. Use a chair to avoid overtaxing your back.

  1. Sit on a chair, keeping your knees together and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Inhale.
  3. As you exhale, bend forward, rounding your shoulders and bending your back forward one vertebra at a time.
  4. Let your arms hang by your sides.
  5. Hold this pose for three breaths.

As you do this pose, your chest should make contact with your thighs, with your forehead near your knees.

For flexibility in your legs, try the Legs in V pose:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs comfortably spread apart in a V shape. It doesn’t matter if the V isn’t that wide to begin with; it’s more important to stretch comfortably.
  2. Grab a bunch of firm pillows and place them in front of you.
  3. Lean forward, keeping your neck long, and use the pillows to support your upper body. Breathe six times, allowing yourself to hang and feel the stretch along your legs.


“5 Surprising Health Benefits Of Yoga,” Feb. 12, 2014, Huffington Post

“10 Yoga Exercises for Seniors,” How Stuff Works

“NYC Yoga Class Caters To Seniors,” June 26, 2012, Sunrise Senior Living

“Seniors Can Find Confidence and Flow in Yoga Practice,” Aging Care

“Yoga,” American Cancer Society

“Yoga for the 50+,” Senior Fitness

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is a form of nonaerobic exercise that involves a program of precise posture, breathing exercises and meditation. In ancient Sanskrit, the word yoga means “union” (from American Cancer Society).

First practiced in India more than 5,000 years ago, yoga is one of the oldest mind-body health systems in existence. Yoga is said to cultivate prana, which means vital energy or life force, and is similar to qi (or chi) in traditional Chinese medicine. People who practice yoga claim it leads to a state of physical health, relaxation, happiness, peace and tranquility.

More than a hundred different types of yoga are practiced in the United States today. Most of them are based on hatha yoga, which uses movement, breathing exercises and meditation to achieve a connection between mind, body and spirit.

Practitioners say yoga should be done either at the beginning or the end of the day. A typical session can last between 20 minutes and an hour. A yoga session starts by sitting in an upright position and performing gentle movements, all of which are done very gradually, while taking slow, deep breaths from the abdomen. A session may also include guided relaxation, meditation and sometimes visualization. It often ends with the chanting of a meaningful word or phrase, called a mantra, to achieve a deeper state of relaxation.




You can live a healthier life with Alzheimer’s

You can live a healthier life with Alzheimer’s

People with Alzheimer’s disease will experience good days and bad days. An emphasis on living a healthier life can help prepare you to live well and focus your energies on what is most important to you. Maintaining your physical, emotional, social and spiritual health may help improve your daily life.

You will experience good days and bad days with Alzheimer’s disease, but an emphasis on living a healthier life can help prepare you to live well and focus your energies on what is most important to you.

A healthy life with Alzheimer’s

Living a healthy life with Alzheimer’s disease involves examining the influences that impact your experience living with dementia. The health benefits associated with maintaining your physical, emotional, social and spiritual health may help improve your daily life.

By educating yourself about the disease, developing effective coping strategies andplanning for the future, you can create a solid foundation from which to cope with new challenges and changes.

Caring for your physical healthback to top

Take care of your physical health with diet and exercise. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help you live well with your diagnosis for as long as possible.

Use these tips to maintain your physical health:

  • Get regular checkups. Establish a relationship with a physician you trust.
  • Establish a routine for diet and exercise.
  • Create a care team that understands your physical health needs and can help you monitor or respond to any changes that occur.
  • Listen to your body! Rest when you are tired and be mindful of overextending yourself.
  • Drink only minimal amounts of alcohol.
  • Do not change medications and/or dosages without first checking with your doctor.

Multiple studies have shown the benefits of physical activity for individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s. Research suggests that mild-to-moderate physical activity may help delay or slow a decline in thinking skills, reduce stress, possibly help improve symptoms of depression, and may even reduce risk of falls.

You may want to try a group exercise class, where you can connect with others who enjoy similar activities. Aerobic exercise, increasing your heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes, provides the most benefit for physical and cognitive health. Try vigorous walking, bicycle riding or tennis.

If exercise was a part of your life before your diagnosis, keep doing it. An active lifestyle may help preserve your sense of independence and identity. If you are not an active person, consider including exercise as a part of your daily routine. Always check with your physician before starting a new exercise routine.
> Learn more about exercise for seniors at go4life.nia.nih.gov

Healthy eating
Although a balanced diet has not been proven as an effective treatment to address symptoms of Alzheimer’s, the best current evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, also may help protect the brain. A Mediterranean diet includes relatively little red meat and emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats.
> Learn more about healthy eating at choosemyplate.gov

Mental stimulation
There is no conclusive evidence that brain exercises can slow or reverse cognitive decline. However, learning new information, taking a class, or challenging yourself to try a new hobby or activity may help increase your brain activity. Some types of mental exercises may have the added benefit of connecting you with others socially, which also may improve your mental health. If you enjoy mental stimulation or brain exercises, keep doing them.

Caring for your emotional and psychological health

Coming to terms with a serious diagnosis like Alzheimer’s disease involves embracing changes in your emotional state. You may experience unwanted feelings and emotions, which may be triggered by your relationships with others, your experience with stigma or your frustration with daily changes. One of the most important things you can do is talk about your feelings with someone you trust such as your spouse, partner, pastor or counselor. Sometimes a different perspective can be helpful as you learn to adjust to living with the disease and cope with difficult feelings.

At times, your emotional state and responses may be the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. You may have frustration, anger or confusion, and have no control of your emotions. As a result, you may be unsure of yourself around family and friends or in social situations. Learning to express yourself can help you cope with emotional responses, and help those around you react in the most appropriate ways.

Try these tips for enhancing your emotional health:

  • Allow yourself to experience a range of emotions.
    There is no right or wrong way to feel.

  • Learn about how others living with the disease are overcoming stigma to support their emotional health.
  • Consider meeting with a trusted friend or advisor.
  • Join a support group of others in the early stage.
    Contact your local chapter about support groups available in your area.
  • Maintain close relationships.
    This will provide you with support when you feel overwhelmed by emotion. Others can provide you validation.
  • Establish a social network that includes others living in the early stage.
    A good place to start is joining our message boards.

Sadness or depression?

It is normal to feel sadness about your diagnosis. But when sadness takes hold and moves into depression, it’s time to get help from your doctor as depression is treatable.

Warning signs of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness or unhappiness that last most of the day nearly every day.
  • Decline in interest or pleasure in almost all activities most of the time.
  • Difficulty making decisions or easily distracted.
  • Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy almost every day — even small tasks may seem to require a lot of effort.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures, and blaming yourself when things aren’t going right, and experiencing these feelings almost every day.
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things. (This is also common in Alzheimer’s disease, so it may not be as reliable as other signs.)
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide. If you have suicidal thoughts or attempts, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
  • Crying spells for no apparent reason.
  • Changes in sleep patterns or appetite.

Caring for your social health

Strong relationships and an active social network can have an impact on your health. Connecting with others who also are living in the early stage can be a comforting and satisfying experience. These individuals truly understand what you’re going through. Building a support network with others like you can help normalize what you’re experiencing, reduce the impact of stigma and improve your quality of life.

At first, you may be hesitant to engage in social activities for fear of making a mistake or having difficulty with communication. Consider pursuing activities that you enjoy or that satisfy you so much, that you can move past your hesitation.

Caring for your spiritual health

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or serious illness can inspire a focus on spirituality and life’s greater purpose. Enhancing your spiritual life can help you cope with challenging feelings, find meaning in your diagnosis and live your life more deeply.

Who each of us is at our core is more than our former jobs, things we are good at doing or even the conversations we have with others. The core of who we are is what we think of when we talk about the “self” or our “spirit”. Connecting with our core being and what is most significant to us is our spirituality.

Now that you are living with Alzheimer’s disease, it may feel as if you are going to lose those things that give you a sense of who you are — your job, the things you love to do, your accomplishments, your role as a parent or partner, etc. These represent only parts of who you are. They have to do with who you are in relation to something outside of yourself. Your personal sense of self comes from within.

Self and spirituality

Research shows that the essence of “self” remains with us and can be a source of strength and coping in the face of serious illness. There are times for all of us when priorities get reassessed. These times often come when major changes or significant losses occur; such events bring the opportunity to consider what is most important to focus on and what to let go of.

Some people find their spiritual core through church or connections with their spiritual community, or through being in nature. Others find the essence of self through solitary activities that calm the mind, like meditation, yoga or prayer. Still others find it through the love of family and friends, by engaging or just being with those who provide understanding and acceptance.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s brings big issues and questions to the forefront. Sometimes things get forgotten or pushed down on the priority list when we are living busy lives.

Explore your own spirituality by taking some time to answer some of these questions:

  • Who or what do I usually turn to for strength in difficult times? Can I use those supports now?
  • What has grounded me over the years? How can I incorporate some of those things into my day-to-day life?
  • How do I experience peace and serenity? How can I build some part of that in to my routine every day?
  • How do I understand the meaning of this disease in my life?
  • How can I help others? Whether I know them or not, how can I make life better for other people?