407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org

December 30, 2022

Medical Alert Systems

Medical alert systems should provide reliable, 24/7 monitoring by trained monitoring agents, allowing seniors and their caregivers to live with less worry, at home or on the go.

An alert system should provide the following: 

  1. If there is an emergency, you should be able to push the button on your pendant or wristband. Systems with Fall Detection will automatically send an emergency alert to the company if a fall occurs. 
  2. A monitoring center should receive the alert, and a trained monitoring agent should respond to over the base unit’s voice communicator. If there is no response, the agent should send help. 
  3. The medical alert system monitor should notify emergency responders and/or family as needed. Professionally monitored medical alert systems should help make life simpler and safer for seniors and their caregivers. Having safety measures in place can help seniors continue to live their lives independently and provide immense peace of mind to caregivers.

While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage. This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in. The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents across 50 senior facilities. The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs.

The Orlando Senior Help Desk (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues.

December 23, 2022

Representative Payee

Some of the millions of people who get monthly Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits need help managing this money. A person assigned to help you manage your monthly benefits is called a representative payee. The Social Security office may decide you need a representative payee if they receive information that indicates you need help to manage your money. They try to select someone who knows you and wants to help you. Your representative payee should be someone who you trust, who sees you often, and who clearly understands your needs.

A representative payee receives your monthly benefits on your behalf and must use the money to pay for your current needs. Eligible costs include:

  • housing and utilities;
  • food;
  • medical and dental expenses;
  • personal care items;
  • clothing; and
  • rehabilitation expenses (if you’re disabled).

If there is someone you want to be your representative payee, tell a Social Security representative, and they will consider your request. Social service agencies, nursing homes, or other organizations are also qualified to be your representative payee. Ask them to contact the Social Security office.

If you receive a decision that you are appointed a representative payee and don’t agree that you need one, or if you want a different representative payee, write to the Social Security office within 60 days to appeal that decision.

If you can’t manage your finances, someone else can help. If you have a trusted friend or family member who can be your representative payee, their publication: A Guide for Representative Payees will provide more information on our representative payee rules.

While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage. This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in. The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents across 50 senior facilities. The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs.

The Orlando Senior Help Desk (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues.

December 16, 2022

When You Need to Stay in the Hospital Longer to Get Stronger

Sometimes, your loved one is going to be discharged from the hospital, and you feel that person is not ready to come home. You can refuse discharge. Every state has a quality innovation network Improvement Organization.  These government agencies help people with Medicare and Medicaid. 

KEPRO handles Florida, Georgia, etc. It is a beneficiary and family-centered, quality improvement organization that can help you.  

Quite simply, this is how it works and I tried it with my mother a few years ago. The hospital gives a discharge order. You refuse the order. You call KEPRO for an appeal. A KEPRO physician reviews your loved ones record. The beneficiary and facility are notified of their decision.

Here is the cool part. You almost cannot lose. Reviewing the case takes 1-2 days, sometimes longer if a weekend is involved. Your loved one receives two days of care in the hospital. You are not charged anything for the extra days, because they cannot charge you during an ongoing appeal.

While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage. This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in. The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents across 50 senior facilities. The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs.

The Orlando Senior Help Desk (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues.

Keith in Israel: November 10, 2022

Today was the trip south to Masada and the Dead Sea.  This means it’s a very early morning so we can climb Masada before it gets too hot.  When you enter the Judean desert, the topography changes dramatically and it’s incredibly beautiful.  When the Dead Sea appears, the contrast of the desert and the blue water is incredible.  It’s hard not to just stare.

A view of Masada.

When we got to Masada, I decided to take the snake path up.  I’ve had some health issues lately and this probably wasn’t the smartest decision, but I took my time and made it to the top in a record slow pace.  On the walk I got to spend time with friends as we talked and chatted.  Even though it took a long time, I enjoyed the process of getting to the top.  One of the guys on our trip had his Bar Mitzvah in the synagogue on the top of Masada which was incredibly meaningful.  We toured King Herod’s amazing structure, something I’ve done about 15 times.  I always enjoy exploring the steam baths which were ingeniously constructed, and you can still see some of the 2,000-year-old art painted on the walls.  We finished the tour, headed down via cable car, and headed to the Dead Sea.

I love the Dead Sea.  I know for some people it gets old very quickly but it never does for me.  The water is beautiful and there is something about floating the way you do that is just enjoyable.  Add the Dead Sea mud on your skin and the incredible mountain beauty both on the Israeli side and the Jordanian side and it’s captivating.  After being so hot and sweaty from Masada, it was refreshing to float, cool down, and hang out.   

Enjoying the Dead Sea.

After lunch, we headed back to Jerusalem to visit Ammunition Hill.  This is the site of a key battle in the Six-Day War.  It was essential for Israel to capture Ammunition Hillel (named because it had been a British Ammunition depot) in order to liberate the old city of Jerusalem.  It was an incredibly fierce battle and when you see the battle site, it’s amazing to think what these soldiers went through and the bravery they exhibited.  I first came to Ammunition Hill in 1989 on my first trip and it’s always been a place that is intriguing to me.  After the tour of the battlefield, we went inside where General Effie Eitam (Ret) spoke to us.  General Eitam is a true hero.  He told us stories about the raid on Entebbe, in which he played a key role, and how miracles really happen in Israel.

The stories related to Entebbe.  After the plane was hijacked, they didn’t know where Entebbe was.  He was sent to the store to buy a globe so they could figure it out.  Using a globe isn’t a good way to plan a raid.  And just when they felt most hopeless, the phone rang.  It was an Israeli engineering company who told them that they heard about the hijacking and that the plane was headed to Entebbe.  This firm had built the Entebbe airport and had all the plans available, “if the IDF wanted them.”  A true miracle.   

The second story about Entebbe related to the creation of the plan for the raid.  The plan involved parachuting from a plane into a lake and then swimming to shore to gain access.  The plan was almost finished when once again, the phone rang.  This time it was another company that told them they didn’t want to parachute into the lake for entrance.  After getting over the fact that the operational security was terrible and their plans were being leaked, they asked why.  It turns out that Idi Amin, the rule of Uganda, liked to take his enemies out on his boat for a breakfast meeting on the lake.  He would end up throwing them into the lake, which was packed with large crocodiles.  Without that call, they never would have known there were crocodiles in the lake and the raid would have been a disaster.  General Eitam was on the plane that raided Entebbe. 

And he told us that “it’s impossible to be a realist in Israel without believing in miracles.”  He is truly an incredible man and I hope to one day take him up on his offer to us to visit him and his family in their home.

It was a long and exhausting day as we headed back to the hotel.  The first thing I did was run a hot bath to soak in.  My body was sore from the time on the bus, the hike up Masada, floating in the dead sea, and not much sleep.  It felt great to relax.  After a quick shower, it was time to head out to dinner at one of my favorite places, Lechem Basar in First Station (the old train station).  The food is incredible and the company and conversation great.  I had a ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ experience as the door to the restaurant was open and it was cold.  So I got up to shut it.  Immediately somebody went through the door and propped it open.  So I’d get up and close it again.  And immediately somebody would go through the door and prop it open.  We had great laughs and imagined what Larry David would end up doing since I was clearly Larry David in this situation.

At the Yeshiva.

After dinner we headed to a Yeshiva for a late night learning session.  It was fascinating to participate as we discussed medical ethics and prayer with the 18-20 year old students and the Rabbis.  Their tradition is to start at 11 pm, end at midnight, and then have chicken poppers and cholent to eat.  I was too full from dinner to have any food but I enjoyed the conversation and experience.

It was finally back to the hotel to sleep.  Another incredibly full and rewarding day.   

July 29, 2022

Dehydration in Seniors

Dehydration is dangerous no matter what your age, but seniors are at a greater risk for dehydration than other age groups. Dehydration happens when you don’t drink enough water. When your body’s water content is too low, it causes damage quickly. Dehydration is especially prevalent on hot days or after vigorous exercise. Mild or moderate dehydration is easy to recover from, but severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention.

Risks for seniors experiencing dehydration include:

  • Diarrhea and vomiting: in addition to losing fluids, your body’s electrolytes and minerals are quickly depleted;
  • Fever: high fevers quickly lead to dehydration. The higher the fever, the faster you become dehydrated;
  • Excessive sweating: if you don’t replace the fluids lost while sweating, you can become dehydrated. Don’t wait to replace fluids at the end of a workout or strenuous activity. Instead, drink a little water all along to avoid severe dehydration;
  • Increased urination: diabetes that isn’t yet diagnosed or controlled through diet or medication can lead to passing more urine and depleting your water supply.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Feeling unquenchable thirst
  • Few or no tears
  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Not urinating frequently
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Confusion
  • Black stool

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Diarrhea or vomiting that lasts longer than 24 hours
  • Feeling irritable and disoriented
  • Sleepier than usual without reason
  • Inability to keep fluids down

While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage. This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in. The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents across 50 senior facilities. The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs.

The Orlando Senior Help Desk (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues.

July 1, 2022

Exercising Our Brains

Most people notice changes in their thinking and memory as they grow older. Neurologists tell us that some older adults develop dementia, however, most memory changes are age-related and normal.

Staying physically active benefits every organ in our bodies—and that includes the brain. Our brains also need a good mental workout. Studies show that cognitive decline can be reduced through a combination of daily activities, like using a computer and playing word games.

Mental stimulation encourages new connections between brain cells—and these connections provide alternate pathways for accessing memories, making it easier for the brain to compensate for the cognitive changes associated with dementia.

The emphasis definitely is on “new,” because neurologists say that when it comes to top-notch brain exercise, novelty is especially beneficial. 

  • The number one way to stay mentally (and physically) fit is dance.  The combination of learning new information and movement is especially good for the brain.
  • Consider taking classes—both the information and social interaction help the brain!
  • Learn a new language or art form.
  • Read and join a book club for both mental and social stimulation.
  • Do puzzles of all sorts.
  • Play video games.
  • Get outside and garden!

While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage. This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in. The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents across 50 senior facilities. The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs.

The Orlando Senior Help Desk (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues.

July 8, 2022

Caring for Someone with Dementia

It is estimated that 1 in 3 people with dementia and 1 in 7 of those with Alzheimer’s live alone. A diagnosis of dementia does not automatically mean a person cannot safely live independently; some people may be able to live on their own for a time after their initial diagnosis. Others may be at too much risk to continue living alone.

It is common for people living with dementia to go through a series of stages, from complete independence to living with someone or needing a long-term care placement over the course of disease progression. When a person who has lived alone eventually needs to consider other options, the move to live with someone can be difficult for all those involved. Some people with dementia may try to hide or compensate for the problems they are experiencing. If you are a family member or caregiver of a person with dementia, it can be difficult to decide whether a person who is living alone is truly in need of help.

Please keep in mind that just as a child cannot be safely left alone, neither can seniors with child-like capacities or judgment be safely left alone.

While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage. This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in. The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents across 50 senior facilities. The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs.

The Orlando Senior Help Desk (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues.

July 15, 2022

Nutrition for Seniors

Nutrition is about eating a healthy and balanced diet so your body gets the nutrients it needs. Nutrients are substances in foods that our bodies need to function, and include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Good nutrition is important for energy at every age.  It may also help prevent some diseases, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

But as you age, your body and life change, and so does what you need to stay healthy. For example, you may need fewer calories, but you still need to get enough nutrients. 

Eat foods that give you lots of nutrients without a lot of extra calories, such as:

    • Fruits and vegetables—bright colors are the most nutritious;
    • Whole grains like oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice;
    • Fat-free or low-fat milk and cheese, or soy or rice milk that has added vitamin D and calcium;
    • Seafood, lean meats like poultry, and eggs;
    • Beans, nuts, and seeds.

Avoid empty calories. These are foods with lots of calories but few nutrients, such as chips, candy, baked goods, soda, and alcohol.

Pick foods that are low in cholesterol and fat. You especially want to try to avoid saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats are usually fats that come from animals. Trans fats are processed fats in stick margarine and vegetable shortening.

While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage. This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in. The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents across 50 senior facilities. The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs.

The Orlando Senior Help Desk (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues.

July 22, 2022

Hydration for Seniors

Water, the most important liquid on the planet, makes up roughly 60% of the human body. That is why it is so important to stay hydrated. Most doctors agree that you should try and consume eight to ten 8-oz. cups (64-80 fluid ounces) of water each day.

The health benefits of drinking water are numerous:

  • Keeps your skin hydrated. Your skin is mostly made of water. When dehydrated, it can lead to disorders and wrinkles. Drinking water is the easiest and cheapest way to stay looking young!
  • Lubricates your joints. Cartilage contains 80% water. Dehydration lessens the effectiveness cartilage has on joints and, in turn, leads to pain and inflammation.
  • Aids in weight loss. Water is the perfect zero-calorie drink to replace soda or other sugary drinks. Drinking a big glass of water before a meal will also help prevent overeating.
  • Promotes healthy kidneys. Your kidneys are primarily used to filter liquids that come through your body. When dehydrated, kidney stones can start to form and, in extreme cases, dehydration can lead to kidney failure.
  • Relieves allergies. When your body is dehydrated, its airway constricts. This heightens breathing difficulties brought on by allergies or asthma.
  • Helps with healthy digestion. The digestive system is reliant on water to process food correctly. Dehydration can lead to digestive problems, constipation, and heartburn.

Water is so important to our everyday lives, and we should make a concerted effort to drink the recommended amount. Seniors tend to exercise less, and exercise increases one’s thirst, so they need to be especially careful to drink enough water. 

According to the Institute of Medicine, almost 75% of Americans suffer from dehydration. There are plenty of ways to make sure you reach your daily recommended water intake. Try remembering to drink a glass of water after every bathroom break, or use one of the numerous water tracking apps. Keep a water bottle by your side.

While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage. This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in. The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents across 50 senior facilities. The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs.

The Orlando Senior Help Desk (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues.

August 5, 2022

Summer Safety

Summer weather can pose special health risks to older adults and people with chronic medical conditions. 

Hyperthermia is caused by a failure of the heat-regulating mechanisms of the body. Heat fatigue, heat syncope (sudden dizziness after prolonged exposure to the heat), heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are all forms of hyperthermia. Older adults are at particular risk for these conditions, and this risk can increase with the combination of higher temperature, individual lifestyle, and general health.

Lifestyle Risks:

Seniors seldom drink enough fluids. Other risks include living in housing without air conditioning, lack of mobility and access to transportation, overdressing, visiting overcrowded places, and not understanding how to respond to hot weather conditions. Older people, particularly those with chronic medical conditions, should stay indoors in cooler spaces on hot and humid days, especially when an air pollution alert is in effect.

People without air conditioners should go to places that do have air conditioning, such as senior centers, shopping malls, movie theaters, and libraries. Cooling centers, which may be set up by local public health agencies, religious groups, and social service organizations in many communities, are another option.

Factors that increase the risk of hyperthermia may include:

  • Dehydration
  • High blood pressure or other health conditions that require changes in diet. For example, people on salt-restricted diets may be at increased risk. However, salt pills should not be used without first consulting a doctor.
  • Heart, lung, and kidney diseases, as well as any illness that causes general weakness or fever
  • Use of multiple medications. It is important, however, to continue to take prescribed medication and discuss possible problems with a physician.
  • Medication-reduced sweating, caused by diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and certain heart and blood pressure drugs
  • Age-related changes to the skin such as poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat glands
  • Being substantially overweight or underweight
  • Alcohol use

Heat stroke is a life-threatening form of hyperthermia. It occurs when the body is overwhelmed by heat and unable to control its temperature. Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include a significant increase in body temperature (generally above 104 degrees Fahrenheit), changes in mental status (like confusion or combativeness,) strong rapid pulse, lack of sweating, dry flushed skin, feeling faint, staggering, or coma. Seek immediate emergency medical attention for a person with heat stroke symptoms, especially an older adult.

If you suspect that someone is suffering from a heat-related illness:

  • Get the person out of the heat and into a shady, air-conditioned, or other cool place. Urge them to lie down.
  • If you suspect heat stroke, call 911.
  • Encourage the individual to shower, bathe, or sponge off with cool water if it is safe to do so.
  • Apply a cold, wet cloth to the wrists, neck, armpits, and/or groin. These are places where blood passes close to the surface of the skin, and the cold cloths can help cool the blood.
  • If the person can swallow safely, offer fluids such as water, fruit, and vegetable juices. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage. This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in. The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents across 50 senior facilities. The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs.

The Orlando Senior Help Desk (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues.