Senior Safety Day is a proven life saver

LACONIA — In conjunction with area fire departments, LRGHealthcare is getting ready for its 15th Annual Senior Safety Day set to take place Saturday, October 17.

Senior Safety Day is a chance for local seniors to have a free home visit from their local fire department where they will supply and change smoke detector batteries free of charge. No need to search for which smoke detector is beeping and trying to figure out how to make it gosh make it stop! And, balance on that stool or chair no more to try to change out the batteries. LRGHealthcare and your local fire department will get it taken care of.


For 15 years, LRGHealthcare has raised money to provide the batteries and smoke detectors and worked with area fire departments to offer this program. It has helped keep seniors across the region safe and independent in their homes. Last year alone, they visited 300 homes on Senior Safety Day. Participating communities include Franklin, Tilton/Northfield, Sanbornton, Belmont, Hill, Andover, Bristol, New Hampton, Meredith, Center Harbor, Moultonborough, Laconia, and Gilford.
"Senior Safety Day has proven to be such an important opportunity to partner with our area fire departments for the safety of our seniors," stated LRGHealthcare Community Educator, Melissa Lee. "It gives emergency response workers a chance to get to know their community members at a non-emergent time where they can focus on preventing emergencies. We're making homes safer and more importantly, keeping people safe."
Earlier this year, it was proven that Senior Safety Day is, in fact, keeping seniors safe. At the end of 2014, Gilford Fire Department visited a home to do an inspection on a new oil burner that had been installed. While there, they noticed that the home was lacking in smoke detectors and they recommended to the home owners they get more installed and get signed up for Senior Safety Day. The homeowners took their advice and had their detectors taken care of on Senior Safety Day that November.
Just a few months later, the same homeowners were awakened by one of their smoke detectors. A fire had started around their chimney and wood stove and it was burning fast. They quickly called 911 and a police officer was first on the scene where he forced entry to save the homeowners who both struggle with mobility issues. Thankfully, they made it out safely. The home has since been rebuilt in the same location where the couple continues to live today.
Gilford Fire Chief, Steve Carrier commented, "It's nice to be able to link a save directly back to a program we work on and see the benefits of it."
Smoke detectors are an early warning that you don't want to be without. They are critical to give those in the home an opportunity to get out. But, detectors have to be maintained. Carrier recommends if your smoke detectors are more than 10 years old, they should be replaced. And, general rule of thumb is to change the batteries in your detectors when you change your clocks (twice a year). So, when you fall back or spring ahead, that's the time to change the batteries.
If you'd like to take advantage of Senior Safety Day Saturday, October 17, contact the LRGHealthcare Community Education Department at 934-2060 Ext. 8329. And, remember, this program is free. Deadline to sign up is Friday, October 9.

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Loneliness and isolation can affect seniors' health


Owner/Administrator, Comfort Keepers


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11 million, or 28 percent of people who are aged 65 and older, now live alone. Consider these facts from the Administration on Aging:

  • People over 65 have an average life expectancy of almost 
20 more years, which is a long time to live alone.
  • While 72 percent of men over 65 are married and living with someone, only 45 percent of women are married, and 
37 percent are widows.
  • Almost half of women over 75 live alone.

Lack of contact with others is a serious issue among seniors. Sometimes, a senior has no local network of family and friends, and feels disconnected from his or her community. Other times, a senior may withdraw into isolation as a result of health conditions, depression or mental illness. Fear of falling can keep a senior isolated in his or her home, as can fatigue, chronic pain or shame over memory problems. In addition, many seniors become nervous about driving. As a result of these factors, older adults may be alone for days or even weeks without someone to watch over them.

Loneliness Affects the Brain
Loneliness may speed up the onset of dementia. In a recent Dutch study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, researchers followed more than 2,000 healthy, dementia-free seniors for three years and found that 13 percent who reported feeling lonely developed dementia by the end of that time, as compared with six percent with strong social support.

Loneliness Harms the Heart
In 2012, the Journal of the American Medical Association compiled the results of numerous studies and concluded that there's a proven link between loneliness and heart disease. In one study, researchers at Harvard followed 44,000 people with heart disease and found that eight percent of patients living alone passed away after four years, compared with 5.7 percent of those living with a spouse or others.
In research on the outcomes of coronary disease, Swedish researchers discovered that coronary bypass patients who checked the box "I feel lonely" had a mortality rate 2.5 times higher than other patients 
30 days post-surgery, and that even five years later they were twice as likely to have passed.

Loneliness Can Mean a Shorter Lifespan
When researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, followed a group of seniors for six years, they found that by the end of the study, almost a quarter (22.8 percent) of all the older adults who had reported feeling isolated or lonely had died. Another 25 percent had suffered significant health declines. In contrast, among the seniors who said they were happy or satisfied with their social lives, only 12.5 percent had declining health, and only 14.2 percent had died.


Ways You Can Help Protect Seniors from Loneliness

  • Help seniors become more social-media savvy through their use of email, news sites 
and sites of interest, and connections through Facebook.
  • Provide companionship with conversation and activities such as cooking and eating together, reading aloud to the senior, playing games, scrapbooking, listening to music or taking a walk.
  • Provide transportation to seniors so they may visit family and friends, go shopping, 
attend events and visit outdoor venues such as parks.
  • Help a loved one find support and/or social groups at senior centers, YMCAs, places of worship ─ wherever seniors tend to gather.

Also, as a caregiver, make sure that older adults who live alone take their medications as prescribed, eat healthy foods on a regular basis, sleep well and get some form of exercise. Monitor them for these details, ask questions ─ and for extra support, encourage their family members to do so as well.
Isolation and loneliness are key signs that a senior lacks the support and tools needed to live a healthy, independent life and may be spiraling into decline. Comfort Keepers' Interactive Caregiving can help by keeping senior clients engaged physically, mentally and emotionally while living independently at home.

Comfort Keepers is a leader in providing non-medical in-home care consisting of such services as companionship, transportation, housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminder, bathing, mobility assistance, and a host of additional items all meant to keep seniors living independently and worry free in the comfort of their homes. Comfort Keepers have been serving New Hampshire residents since 2005. Call 603-536-6060, toll free 800-990-0727 or visit for more information.

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Estate Planning and the Family Vacation Home, Part 2: Taxes

By Charles F. Tucker, Esq. & Danielle Flory, Esq.

Last month's article entitled "Estate Planning and the Family Vacation Home" highlighted important family considerations associated with the transfer of a vacation home. Lawyers can help families deal with complexities and develop a plan that will allow a vacation home to stay in the family for generations to come.

Lawyers can also help clients navigate the complex, frequently changing tax consequences associated with the transfer of a vacation home and, in some cases, minimize the tax burden. Tax consequences associated with a transfer of property depend on whether an individual chooses to transfer property at death or during life.

Individuals who wish to transfer property at death can name a recipient or recipients by developing an estate plan. An individual's estate will be subject to estate tax at the 40 percent rate if his or her taxable estate and lifetime gifts exceed $5.43 million. (This amount is subject to change, by law it follows inflation, but is also subject to periodic Congressional action.) A taxpayer-friendly provision called "portability" allows spouses to avoid estate tax if cumulative taxable transfers do not jointly exceed 10.86 million dollars, if the proper election is made.

And so, for most of us, this tax is not of concern. Additionally, if an individual transfers property to a spouse, the marital exemption will eliminate estate tax associated with the first spouse's death. If the surviving spouse has substantial wealth, the deceased spouse's executor should make a portability election by filing an estate tax return within nine months of the deceased spouse's death to allow the surviving spouse to utilize the unused portion of the deceased spouse's $5.43 million  gift and estate tax exemption amount. Under current law, if those who inherit sell the property, they are benefitted by a "stepped up basis" to the date of death value and, if sold shortly after death, will have little or no capital gains tax to pay.

Alternatively, an individual may also choose to transfer his or her property during life, by gift. An individual will be subject to gift tax at the 40 percent rate if lifetime gifts exceed the $5.43 million exemption amount. Lifetime gifts reduce the exemption amount available for an individual at death. However, individuals can transfer $14,000 per year, per recipient without "eating into" the 5.43 million dollar exemption amount under a provision known as the annual exclusion. Spouses can jointly transfer $28,000 per year, per recipient without "eating into" the applicable exemption amount. An estate planning lawyer can help you establish a long-term gifting program to transfer a substantial amount of assets out of your estate over time, without reducing the exemption amount available at death.

The tax disadvantage of a gift is that the person to whom the property is given has the basis of the donor. If the recipient sells the property, the entire appreciation from when the donor acquired it, either by purchase or by inheritance, (less the cost of improvements made) is taxable as a capital gain. If the donor in turn was the recipient of a gift, the value of the property is tracked back to the value at the time of the first person who gave the property.

Given the inflation in property values, especially vacation properties in New Hampshire, the capital gain, and therefore the tax, can be significant if the transfer is through a gifting program. Lawyers can help you develop strategies for gifting appreciated property and advise you in how to weigh the capital gains tax consequences associated with the gift versus the other issues surrounding acquiring the property through inheritance.

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Seniors and Sleep: How much do they need?

By Martha Swats

Owner/Administrator, Comfort Keepers


If you or your loved one is over age 65, it's likely that getting enough sleep has become an issue. Seniors typically take longer to fall asleep, and often wake up during the night numerous times. These are two main reasons many seniors don't get as much sleep as they need. In fact, according to an article on, studies of adults over 65 indicated 13 percent of men, and 36 percent of women, need more than 30 minutes to fall asleep.


Why do seniors have more trouble sleeping?

Several factors contribute to difficulty sleeping as one ages. Dr. Lim Li Ling, a consultant neurologist for the Singapore Neurology & Sleep Centers at Gleneagles Medical Centre, offered these as the most common reasons:

The natural aging process. As we age, our bodies make less of the chemicals and hormones that help us sleep well, such as Melatonin. Some seniors develop sensitivity to environmental factors affecting sleep such as noise.

An increase in neurological and other medical conditions. The parts of the brain that control sleep are affected by conditions such as Parkinson's disease or stroke. Arthritis can also play a role in sleep quality due to chronic pain. Additionally, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder causes one to kick involuntarily during sleep, and that contributes to daytime sleepiness.

The effects of medication. The medications that treat conditions associated with aging, and the fact that seniors are more likely to be on multiple medications, interfere with the duration and quality of sleep.

A higher prevalence of sleep disorders. In this case, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common. OSA causes blockage in the upper air passage during sleep. Two additional sleep conditions that contribute to seniors getting less sleep are Restless Leg Syndrome and Insomnia. For men, prostate conditions cause the need to urinate frequently throughout the night.

Mood factors such as anxiety and depression. Most seniors are affected to varying degrees by the loss of loved ones, spouses and close friends. Also, as seniors face retirement and other significant life changing events, they are more likely to have trouble sleeping.


The dangers of inadequate sleep

It's when we are sleeping that our bodies regenerate cells and clean our blood by circulating it through the liver. The need for sleep is as basic as that for water and food. Many people think it's OK to go without sleep—to power through the day anyway. But doctors warn that, just because you've gone without enough sleep for a big part of your adult life, doesn't mean it won't impact you as you get older.

Senior adults are already prone to some illnesses, as well as falls, accidents and balance deficiencies. Not getting enough sleep just increases all these risks. There is compelling research that indicates too little sleep contributes to an increased appetite and weight gain.

While many senior adults struggle with depression and anxiety, those without these conditions are more prone to developing them if they don't get enough sleep.


How much sleep do seniors need?

There are differing theories in answer to this question. Much data, including information from the National Institutes on Health, suggests seniors can remain healthy with less sleep than the general population. For example while the average amount of required sleep is about seven to nine hours nightly, some sleep experts say a bit less than that—maybe about seven and a half hours on average—is adequate for seniors.

Other experts report that seniors need as much sleep as they always have to function at their best. Either way, experts typically agree on three things: first, most seniors are sleep deprived; second, the sleep cycles of aging adults change; and third, the best indicator of achieving enough sleep is how one feels during the day.

According to an article written by Jennifer Dixon for WebMD, older adults slip into what is called an advanced sleep phase. When this happens the body's natural 'clock' desires both earlier bed and wake times. Seniors who have always been 'night owls' and keep their same sleep habits, may be at risk of sleep deprivation and all the health risks associated with it.

As we age, we tend to get less 'deep sleep,' according to an article for, reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH. Additionally, Ling said it's more common for senior adults to spread their sleep out over a 24-hours period, sleeping 4-5 hours per night and taking additional naps during the day. Ling believes this habit is perfectly fine as long as the total amount of sleep is adequate.

Ling also warns that seniors should not accept a lack of proper rest and daytime sleepiness as a normal process of aging. If you or your loved one has experienced trouble sleeping for more than two weeks, a trip to the doctor is warranted.


Take steps to support healthy sleep

Doctors suggest numerous ways to help seniors get enough sleep, and many apply to people of all ages: avoid caffeine close to bedtime, avoid large meals near bedtime, and rise and go to bed at the same time every day. advises these additional habits to help foster adequate sleep:
*Make sure you are healthy, and all your medical conditions are diagnosed and treated.
*Exercise early in the day.
*If you can't sleep, don't just lie in bed. Get up and do something relaxing such as reading or listening to music.

Many people who have trouble sleeping also turn to natural remedies such as Melatonin and Valerian Root. Always check with your doctor before trying a natural sleep remedy.

About Comfort Keepers
Comfort Keepers is a leader in providing non-medical in-home care consisting of such services as companionship, transportation, housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminder, bathing, mobility assistance, and a host of additional items all meant to keep seniors living independently worry free in the comfort of their homes. Comfort Keepers have been serving New Hampshire residents since 2005. Let us help you stay independent. Please call 603-536-6060, toll free 800-990-0727 or visit our website at for more information.

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Communicating effectively wth someone with Alzheimer’s

Jennifer Harvey, RN, BFN, CDP

Co-owner and Clinical Director, Live Free Home Health Care


NEW HAMPTON — Caring for an individual with Alzheimer's disease isn't a walk in the park; in fact, it can be downright stressful. A person's understanding of the disease as well as attitude about the illness can have a large impact on the way day-to-day caregiving responsibilities are managed. However, just because this illness has taken over someone close to you, it doesn't have to conquer you as well.

So what do you do when your loved one blames you for something you didn't do or becomes paranoid that you are plotting against him or her? If your first instinct is to try to orient the person back to reality, you are not alone. Many family caregivers spend endless hours trying to do this, but to no avail. Their loved ones may continue to press the issue, and even become angry or hostile at the "evidence" presented to them. Fortunately, there are ways to manage daily challenges in order to minimize a caregiver's stress and improve the odds that an individual with dementia will respond positively.


One of the best approaches to use with people with dementia is validation – a technique that confirms their right to feel a certain way and express their emotions regardless of the situation. The validation theory, developed by Naomi Feil, suggests that an individual could be revisiting past events or trying to solve unfinished business. This helps explain why some people feel the need to go to work years after they retire or pay off a debt from decades ago. By validating their experience, you are meeting them where they are and sending a message that you still accept them no matter what. Here are a few examples of validation at work:


1. Scenario: Your sister says, "You stole my money! Give it back!"

Incorrect Response: "I'm sick of you accusing me every time you hide your money. You stuffed it in your drawer five minutes ago. I saw you do it, so stop blaming me."

Validation Response: "Oh no, your money is missing? I can see why you're upset. Well, don't you worry because I am going to help you look for it."

Understanding: It is common for people with dementia to hide items and forget where they are moments later. Since it can be embarrassing to admit this, individuals sometimes accuse others to take the focus off themselves. Rather than trying to deflect blame, simply let your sister know that you understand how she feels and that you want to help her resolve the situation. Then walk her over the drawer and ask her to open it. When your sister finds her money, allow her to take pride in finding it all by herself.


2. Scenario: Your wife says, "Get away from me, you're not my husband!"

Incorrect Response: "But I am your husband! Look at our matching wedding rings. You know, you really upset me when you don't remember who I am."

Validation Response: "You must love your husband very much. I can tell by the way you talk about him. Why don't you tell me about your wedding day?"

Understanding: Memory loss can cause individuals to forget even their closest loved ones. When your wife becomes agitated, respect her space, validate the love she feels for her spouse, and allow her to talk about "him" while you are sitting right beside her. Even though she may have forgotten you today, hearing her talk about you will demonstrate that you are still very close to her heart.


Another powerful approach to utilize is redirection - a behavioral intervention that shifts the individual's focus, by distracting the person or moving away from an undesired topic or behavior to something more pleasant. Here are some examples:


1. Scenario: During meals, your father refuses to eat, saying, "You're trying to poison me."

Incorrect Response: "That's ridiculous! Why would I ever do such a thing? Eat your meal and stop making up crazy stories!"

Redirection Response: "Dad, I understand you are feeling afraid, but I want you to know that I would never let anything bad happen to you. You are safe with me. By the way, this meatloaf is delicious. I am having a big plate of it myself. Let's have some together and you can tell me all about the fishing trip."


Understanding: It is difficult, if not impossible to rationalize with people with dementia. Instead of trying to orient Dad back to reality, instill a sense of safety, and demonstrate it by eating the same meal as him. Once you've established trust, you can quickly refocus him by shifting the conversation to something more pleasant, such as a fun day he had by the docks.


2. Scenario: Your grandmother says, "I have to leave now. I need to pick up Jimmy from school."

Incorrect Response: "Grandma, Jimmy is a grown man. He's 60 years old. You're not going anywhere."

Redirection Response: "Oh Grandma, you have always been such a loving mother to Jimmy. Why don't you come with me to get a drink of water and tell me all about what you love to do with Jimmy after school?"

Understanding: People with Alzheimer's disease often live in the past by re-creating experiences that happened long ago. Despite the fact that Grandma hasn't picked Jimmy up from school in decades, her maternal instinct is still very strong, and she feels an urgency to follow the same routine she did while he was growing up. Take this as an opportunity to reunite your grandmother with those happy memories. She will tell you all about those wonderful times she had with Jimmy and will forget about wanting to leave.


Accepting the world of the person for whom you are providing care, and utilizing the communication techniques of validation and redirection will result in less stress for both the caregiver and the person with Alzheimer's. To learn more about the best techniques for caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, contact Live Free Home Health Care at (603) 217-0149 or visit
About Live Free Home Health Care:
Serving the Lakes Region and Central New Hampshire, Live Free Home Health Care, LLC is dedicated to providing top quality care in the comfort of home, wherever home may be. Family owned and operated, Live Free Home Health Care offers a wide range of services, from companion care and assistance with activities of daily living to skilled nursing. All care is supervised and updated by a registered nurse, who is specially trained to watch for new or changing health issues. Whether the need is for short or long term care, Live Free Home Health Care works with each client's physician to provide a continuum of care unparalleled with other agencies, and the compassionate staff promises to treat each client respectfully and like a cherished family member. Live Free Home Health Care also offers medical alert systems to provide extra peace of mind should an emergency care need arise. For further information, contact (603) 217-0149 or visit

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