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July 2011

Volume 4 Issue: #6


Safety Month

National Council on Fireworks Safety

UV Safety Month
American Academy
of Ophthalmology



July 4

Worldwide Alzheimer's Awareness Week

July 6th - 12th
In This Issue
VITAS Serves Veterans
Stay Safe in the Heat
Retirement Top Money Concern
Memory Slip?
Focus on
the Positive
Book of the Month

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The Aging
with Grace VA Application Guide & Tool Kit

The "Cliff Notes"
for the VA Aid & Attendance Benefit Process

AWG VA Self Help Guide

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on the Care Connection blog

Are you a caregiver? Connect with others who are facing the challenges of elder caregiving on the Aging with Grace "Care Connection" blog.
This popular blog won the 2011 "Top 100 Senior & Boomer Blogs & Websites."

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Beyond Driving
with Dignity


Matt Gurwell

Workbook for
the families of
older drivers
Special AWG Pricing
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& learn more

Hospice Myths

Thinking Well: Drawing on thoughts that change behaviors

Dr. Wayne T. Phillips  

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Medicare Corner 

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Message from Patricia ...  


Patricia Grace, Founder

I hope all of our members, providers and colleagues had a fun-filled July 4th.


This year, my entire family gathered at my home on July 4th to celebrate my mother's 90th birthday. Thank goodness she doesn't have a computer ... she would be very upset to know that I spilled the beans about her age!


I have great childhood memories of July 4th - parades, flags, cookouts, fireworks, and of course, wearing red, white and blue.


Summer is a time of vacations, family reunions and weekend getaways. Remember, many assisted living communities, as well as home care providers, provide short-term stay or care programs.


Enjoy the summer and stay cool ...  

Serving those who served their country    

VITASVITAS brings unique care to veterans near the end of life

Jerry, an Army vet with heart disease and dementia, wanted to talk about his military experiences. As his dementia progressed, he relived those days over and over.

Debbie happily listened to her dad's war stories every day when she came home from work. But when Jerry's heart condition worsened and he began receiving hospice care, she couldn't afford the home care he required.

But because Jerry was being cared for by VITAS Innovative Hospice Care®, his team understood a veteran's needs. They helped Debbie file for a monthly pension from the VA that paid for home care when she was at work. His VITAS team provided medical and emotional care to Jerry at no cost. Bereavement support for loved ones continued for 13 months following Jerry's death.

More than 30 years of experience has taught VITAS that, whether it was 10 years ago or 60, their military service can be very meaningful to veterans with a limited time to live.

VITAS provides respect, comfort and compassion to all its patients, but some staff and volunteers are trained in the unique needs of veterans. They work with the VA, Medicare, Medicaid and local organizations to help veterans near the end of life access benefits and resources.

"It may surprise people to learn that 25% of those who die every year in America are veterans," says Thad Jaracz, LTC Army (Ret.), senior director of corporate services at VITAS. "Hospices that identify veteran patients and gather information about their military history are much better prepared to address their unique clinical and psychosocial issues."

VITAS also supports other organizations that honor and support vets, including Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive!, the 2011 National Memorial Day Parade, the Tuskegee Airmen and Honor Flight.

And VITAS recruits veterans as volunteers. Whether driving patients to the doctor, helping to replace lost military medals, planning memorial services for veterans or just listening, veteran volunteers support their brothers and sisters in arms.

"They speak the same language," says Jaracz. "They bring their understanding of the vet's experience into the patient's home; they understand what the patient has been through. It's fabulous that these veterans are willing to give their time to other vets," he adds. "We need more of them."

Contact VITAS at 1.866.418.4827, or visit

Summer is here and so is the heat!  

Stay HydratedThe elderly and young children are at particular risk for heat illness. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. When humidity levels are high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly.

Other conditions lending themselves to increased risk are obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, prescription drug use and alcohol use.

Air conditioning provides the best protection from heat exposure and heat-related deaths. However some people may be fearful of high utility bills and limit their use of air conditioning. This places people who may be already at risk for heat illness at increased risk.

Many people think electric fans are sufficient during extreme heat. Fans may provide comfort, but they will not prevent heat-related illness when the temperature is in the high 90s.

Heat-stroke is a severe illness that occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. The body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. This type of heat-related illness can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Warning signs of heat illness vary but may include: 

  • extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
  • throbbing headache
  • dizziness, nausea and confusion
  • unconsciousness

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. If left untreated, it can progress to more serious heat stroke. 

  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Cut down on physical activity.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Money for retirement still ranks as the
top financial concern  

Money TroublesA new Gallup poll shows that two-thirds of Americans worry they will not have enough money for retirement, making it their top concern out of eight possible financial items. This represents a 13% increase in a 10-year period.

In 2001, Americans' top three concerns were related to retirement security, having enough funds in the event of a medical crisis and maintaining their standard of living, and Gallup indicates these issues have remained top concerns, with increased amounts of worry.

A closer look into the 66% of all Americans concerned about their future shows a staggering 77% of Americans in the 30-49 age range who consider themselves moderately or very worried about retirement - the most of any age bracket.

Many of those in that same age group also believe Medicare and Social Security are in a crisis, and Gallup says 74% of nonretiree investors plan to rely more on an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement savings than on Social Security.

The poll shows that worry about maintaining an enjoyable standard of living has reached a new high at 58% of all Americans, up from 43% in 2001. Concerns over medical costs have been high since the 2008 recession, with 60% of those polled expressing worry.

Telling the Difference between
a Harmless Slip or Something Serious  

alzheimersWhen is a memory slip of the brain nothing to worry about, and when should it trigger a question to your doctor? Dr. Kirk Daffner, a Harvard brain specialist, has these tips:

"If someone has reduced or slowed ability to retrieve names of friends and acquaintances - especially those they've recently met - that's probably very benign," Daffner says. "But if they consistently can't recall the names of close friends or family, that's a red flag."

If you don't immediately recognize somebody you meet outside their usual context - say, a coworker you see at the grocery store - that's normal. But if you have no recollection of having met a person you know, that could signal a problem.

It's common to occasionally not recall an event or a conversation. But if you consistently have no memory of events, even when others give you clues, that's a real concern. "Occasionally making a wrong turn when you think you know where you're going is not worrisome," Daffner says. "If you frequently get lost in familiar places, that's far more concerning."

If you're slow to come up with a word you want sometimes, don't worry. But if a previously familiar word means nothing to you, ask your doctor about it -  especially if you don't recognize words you used to know often.

"And if your primary care doctor simply dismisses your questions as 'you're getting old,' and you or your family find that the problems are interfering with your life, advocate for some sort of formal evaluation," Daffner says. "It's really important for people to feel they've been heard and they're being taken seriously."

Energize your Aging! with Dr. Wayne Phillips  


Dr. Wayne Phillips, Ph.D. FACSM, Intrinsic Coach

The Lifestyle Habits of
Successful Aging: Be Positive!    


For the past several months I have been writing about the concept of "Successful Aging," beginning with a brief overview of nine "Habits of Successful Aging." My subsequent columns have described and explained these habits in greater detail and suggested some avenues and options to help you more successfully include them in your lifestyle.  


This month's habit for discussion is "Be  Positive."


Kicking yourself up the assets

Taking an asset-based or positive approach to life has been a cardinal focus in the growing field of Positive Psychology. In the 1980s, educational research out of Stanford analyzing teaching performance reported that an approach focusing and building on a teacher's assets (i.e. what they did well) promoted high quality learning, while an approach focusing on a teacher's deficits (i.e. what they did poorly) was far less effective. This deficit-based approach however is still out there not only in education, but also in health, wellness and even Successful Aging!


Even today, the rationale(s) for setting and achieving wellness goals such as getting active, getting fit or eating healthy are still too often stated in terms of either reducing your actual bad stuff (e.g. losing weight) or on reducing your risk of bad stuff (e.g. risk of dying). The list of other usual suspects will be obvious: obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, stress, depression, anxiety, risk of a heart attack, risk of a stroke, etc.


I suspect this is a consequence of our medical model of health - uniquely designed to fix the bad stuff, but with no designs at all on improving the good stuff. Because of this we tend to view our wellbeing more in terms of how bad we aren't rather than how good we are. When we try to improve our wellness behaviors we tend to focus more on overcoming obstacles rather than achieving goals, on what we are not going to get, rather on what we will be getting.


What I have learned over the years both as a scientist and Intrinsic Coach® is that focusing on the positive aspects of pursuing an active lifestyle will bring you a host of positive benefits - you'll look better and feel better about your self and your life, be more alert, and have more energy, clearer thinking, better quality of life, better sleep and more independence.


So as you think about the situations and goals in your life - what assets are kicking up for you?


Wayne T. Phillips, Ph.D., FACSM, Intrinsic Coach®, is an internationally recognized author, consultant and speaker in the field of active aging, strength and health-related behavior change. A member of the Aging with Grace Expert Panel, Dr. Phillips is co-founder and chair of The STRIVE Wellness Corporation, a company whose mission is to improve the functional independence, health and quality of life of older adults. For more information about STRIVE visit For more information about Dr. Phillips' work and research visit Have a question on this article, or a wellness topic you would like Dr. Phillips to write about in the column? Email him.  

Book of the Month

The Real George WashingtonThe Real George Washington  

Jay A. Parry & Andrew M. Allison  


Parry and Allison have written a historic treasure. If you want to know more about George Washington - the man - his character, his loyalty and his leadership - then this is the book to read." Add this to your summer reading list. 

- Patricia Grace

Click to learn more and purchase...                                    
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