Making the Most of Retirement: Learn New Skills Online

By Steve Johnson, Public Health Library


Photo from Pixabay

Once you’ve retired from the workforce and start spending your days at home, life gets pretty dull. You sit around all day doing the same old things and spend the rest of your life in monotony, right?

You couldn’t be more wrong! Retirement is a time where you can try new things and learn all the stuff you always want to but never had time for. Luckily, you have a resource right at your fingertips that makes this easier than ever… the internet!

You can learn a hundred new skills thanks to online tutorials and how-tos-- everything from cooking a gourmet meal to learning your favorite song on an instrument. Best of all, it’s good for you!

There are many benefits to learning new skills throughout your retirement years:

  • Learning new things can help prevent depression.
  • It improves your communication skills.
  • It provides you with a sense of accomplishment.
  • They can introduce you to new people.
  • Actively learning as a senior can prevent memory loss.

Learn About Art History Online

If your ideal vacation involves going to cities around the world and visiting the best museums, this is the hobby for you. Nowadays, you can take virtual gallery tours and learn new things about the most famous (and non-famous) works of art out there.

Whether you are a fool for modern art or you prefer to look at classical sculpture, there is something out there for you.

Best of all? Most of these courses are free online. You get to learn the history behind the work, the artist, and even the time period it was created.

So, why learn about art?

  • It helps us understand the past.
  • It fosters cultural understanding, as well.
  • It can help you become more creative yourself.

Learn How to Play an Instrument Online

Maybe you used to play a little in the past, but you’ve grown rusty over the years. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to be able to fill your home with music, and now you finally have the time to learn. Whatever your motivation for learning to play an instrument, doing so is incredibly beneficial.

  • Playing an instrument can improve dexterity in your hands.
  • It helps with cognition and creativity.
  • It can improve your mental health.
  • Music makes you happier.

Since you save money by taking lessons online, you want to be pickier when it comes to buying your instrument. Say you want to buy a trumpet:

  • Start with a student trumpet.
  • Don’t forget accessories (mouthpiece brushes, cleaning snakes, etc.)
  • Look for a finish that is pleasing to the eye.

Learn How to Cook Online

Sure, you probably know how to scramble an egg and grill a cheese… but there is so much more out there to learn! The internet is an endless source of culinary techniques and recipes for you to try. Plus, cooking for yourself has so many benefits:

  • You can control the ingredients to better reflect your health needs.
  • It saves you time and money.
  • It brings people together.
  • It’s a form of self-care and helps you practice mindfulness.
  • Plus… it’s fun!


Now that you are enjoying retirement, make the most of it by learning new skills and knowledge. The internet is a boundless resource for you to tap into.

You can explore the world’s best museums and take free classes that help you understand the artist and the work’s context. Free online music lessons are great for you brain and fill your house with music. Learning to cook online has several benefits, the least not being the delicious food you make.

Whatever skill you learn, you help sharpen your mind and improve your life when you pursue knowledge in your later years.


Assistive Technologies for Seniors with Dementia

By Lucy Wyndham


Photo by Aaron Ang on Unsplash

With around 5.5 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s dementia and numbers expected to rise over the next decade, the technological sector is stepping up its game, with a series of innovations aimed at making the disease more bearable both for those affected and their family and friends. In this post, we highlight just a few technologies that are working to increase safety, practicality, and comfort.

Motion Sensor Lights

One of the earliest indicators of dementia, is forgetting everyday responsibilities such as closing the lights or turning off electrical appliances. Dementia affects the working memory, as well as long-term memory though in the initial stages, seniors are often able to live alone with assistance from family members, and the help of technology.

Although motion sensor lights originally envisioned to help conserve energy, they are an excellent way to help seniors worry less about closing the lights when they leave a room, or about switching them on when they need to get out of bed at night – thus reducing the risk of falls.

Depending on the wattage, those who leave their lights open spend a few more cents every hour; when one considers that most Americans spend 15% of their electricity bill on lighting, the importance of energy conservation becomes patent, if only from an economic standpoint.

Medication Reminders

Common medication errors that can arise with dementia include scheduling errors (failing to take medication on time) and episodic errors (patients forget whether or not they have taken their medication, which can result in missed or doubled doses).
Assistive technologies for medication include automatic pill dispensers (which come with an alarm so the patient always takes the right dose at the right time) and smart pill dispensers that notify caregivers when medication has been taken.

Medical Alert Systems

These devices, often worn as a necklace or on the wrist, contain technologies such as fall detection, which enables seniors to obtain assistance when and where they need it. This technology is particularly important for those with Alzheimer’s/dementia, since the latter have a higher fall risk owing to a number of factors – including problems with balance, difficulty walking, or changes in vision and hearing.

Visual Aids

This category includes special clocks (which contain larger numbers and have a simple, clear design). These gadgets often have magnifying aids and indicators of whether it is day or night time. They can also have different designs to choose from (digital vs analogue, for instance), to personalize the experience for users.
Also visual in focus are picture phones, which enable users to make calls by pressing on images of friends and family, instead of having to search by name and number.

In this post, we have mentioned just a few technologies developed to help those with dementia lead an independent life for as long as possible. While most focus on simplifying daily tasks, some are more concerned with ensuring that patients are attended to speedily, which is important considering the higher fall rates and mobility challenges faced by persons with dementia.


Dementia-Friendly Apps for Seniors

By Lucy Wyndham


Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

Technology usage among seniors is rising, and it is really helping the older generation to improve their quality of life. Around 32% of seniors own a tablet computer, such as an iPad. They are instinctive to use and far easier than operating a desktop computer. A quarter of seniors also own a smartphone and use apps on it for everyday activities. This explains why so many apps are now being marketed for seniors. Many of these are suitable for people with dementia and are informative, entertaining and useful. They engage the mind and help with simple tasks like remembering names.

Creativity and Interaction

Puzzles and games can help with dementia with 'The Let’s Create Pottery' app being particularly engaging and imaginative. It helps with fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as visual perception. It also allows users a good element of creativity, it is easy to use and has bright colors. You throw the clay onto the potters wheel, and then use your fingers to create beautiful pots and vases.

Along the same lines is Flower Garden. It is a good hobby if you are getting older, but perhaps haven’t got the best mobility. It is a delightfully charming app to grow your own virtual garden. Many people with dementia struggle to get out and about, but with Flower Garden, you plant seeds and care for the flowers until they are fully grown and ready to harvest. You will need to water them too and really look after them.

Assistance Remembering

It can be difficult for people with dementia remembering names and details about friends and acquaintances. Knome is a specially designed app for iPad and iPhone that helps you to remember people’s names and details about them. You create a profile for each person and add to it helpful details.

Recogneyes is a fantastic app for creating signs to help at home with remembering. You can create signs for different rooms, showing where important features are, such as light switches and plugs. You can even create signs to help you remember what is for dinner.


Mindmate is a good app for helping people with dementia to get on with their daily lives better. It is useful for carers and families too. It features reminders for daily activities that need to be completed, anything from brushing teeth, to going for a walk. There are interactive games to help keep the mind busy, and you can use it to access photos and pictures to help with day-to-day activities.

Installing useful apps onto a tablet computer can really help people with dementia keep active, busy and independent. They are entertaining, interactive and can boost quality of life.


How to Update the Kitchen and Bath to Ensure Senior Safety

By Lucy Wyndham


Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Making a home safe for seniors is vital as your loved ones begin to age. Whether you are a family member looking to update your own home in a way that allows your elderly loved one to regularly visit, or you are a director at a senior community, there are certain renovations that can be made to ensure greater senior safety and security. By assessing the potential needs, you can determine which changes need to be made.

Many seniors will appreciate interconnectedness that is achieved through the use of digital technology—and this type of technology should be made available in every room in the house. To save seniors from falls or other accidents, installing a wireless system will make any environment automatically safer. In addition to digitizing the environment, two rooms that should be updated for the sake of senior safety are the kitchen and bathroom.

Senior-Friendly Kitchen Updates

When modifying a home to be senior-friendly, a good place to start is the kitchen, as it will undoubtedly be a space that needs to be utilized each day in some capacity. One kitchen feature to consider is the storage. Keep items, like cookware, that will be used regularly in lower cabinets that can be easily accessed—even from a wheelchair.

You may also want to purchase items like Lazy Susan trays, sliding wire organizers, or pull-down shelves for enhanced accessibility. It is also useful for seniors to have drawer handles that are easy to open and close to avoid arthritic pains, and to have a kitchen faucet that is updated with lever-style fixtures instead of hard-to-twist knobs. With these easy, low-budget renovations, seniors will be more capable of working in the kitchen without encountering issues.

Safety Installations for the Bathroom

After considering the necessary kitchen updates, you will want to focus on making the bathroom more accessible. Bathrooms may be the most dangerous room in the house for seniors, combining slippery surfaces, like tile or linoleum, with water. One update to immediately consider is adding grab bars to the side of the toilet.

Bars that are wall-mounted will make it easy to get up from the toilet securely. You should also add grab bars to the tub or shower to avoid slipping. It can be very difficult for seniors to get in and out of the tub or shower on one’s own, and bars will be able to support a person’s full weight while giving them needed stability.
By making these updates to your home or rooms in your community, you will ensure that seniors are safe and capable while using spaces like the kitchen and bathroom.


Healthy Hobbies for Graceful Aging

By Steve Johnson of Public Health Library

/Embracing a healthy lifestyle is paramount for living a long life, but it’s not as simple as just eating well and getting in moderate exercise. Studies show that staying socially active through hobbies helps seniors lengthen their lifespans while improving its quality.

Avoiding isolation through activities that stimulate you both mentally and socially is as important as going to the doctor and being physical in your day-to-day life. Hobbies can especially help seniors who are getting over illness or addiction. They provide structure, social constructs, and help boost self-esteem-- all things necessary for recovery.

Try one of the below hobbies to help you live a longer, healthier life.


If moving around isn’t as easy as it used to be, swimming is the perfect hobby to pick up in order to work stiff joints and muscles without straining your body. Swimming puts you in a low-pressure atmosphere, allowing you to glide through motions with ease compared to being on land.

Swimming helps improve strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. It can also help with balance and muscle tension while releasing feel-good endorphins in the brain. Find a senior swimming class in your neighborhood or hit the pool on your own and freestyle.


Gardening is a meditative experience that provides gentle physical activity that’s perfect for seniors. It increases mobility and flexibility while getting one outside to soak up natural vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D--or the “sunshine vitamin”-- helps the body fight off disease, reduces depression, and boosts weight loss efforts. Along with proteins and calcium, vitamin D is also necessary for bone density and muscle growth.

Additionally, gardening has psychological benefits. It gives a person a sense of purpose and responsibility. Gardening satiates our desire to nurture something while also easing anxiety and promoting mindfulness.


Most yoga classes involve low impact exercises where seniors can modify the poses to make it easier on their body. Yoga helps relieve stress and alleviates hypertension. The stretching and pose-holding also strengthens bones and promotes balance. Perhaps best of all, yoga provides a supportive community of like-minded peers that care about personal growth and health. Yoga studios pop up on every corner nowadays, but most senior centers and community clubs also offer it, since it is so popular with the 50+ crowd.

Visual Art

Many people don’t realize the deep well of creativity they have until they tap into it in their senior years. Creating visual art stimulates the brain, which is proven to help stave off Alzheimer’s. Whether you want to paint, sculpt, scrapbook, or get creative with cross stitch, knitting, or sewing, the benefits of creating art are universal.

Art also provides opportunities for social engagements. Whether you participate in a class or invite friends over to create together, it’s a fun activity where there are no mistakes to be made, so it’s very low pressure for those who may be on the shy or nervous side.


Those who want to spend their remaining years pursuing a healthy lifestyle may focus on eating a well-rounded diet and getting in enough exercise… but is that enough to truly maintain a high quality of life? Recent studies show that staying mentally and socially active through hobbies helps improve quality of life for seniors.

Gentle physical activities like swimming provide physical movement without being too hard on the body. Gardening is perfect for those who like to spend time outdoors and those who love to nurture. Yoga is popular among seniors because it is customizable and provides community. Finally, creating visual art helps seniors tap into their creativity and stimulate their brains, which can actually help with dementia.


Finding Financial Assistance as a Senior

By Lucy Wyndham


Photo by Lotte Meijer on Unsplash

Ask any senior about their main concerns for the future, and many will answer that financial stability is at the forefront of the list. Currently, over 66 million individuals receive social security benefits in order to lower their monthly expenses. Surviving on savings and social security isn’t easy though, especially when you take into consideration elements such as mounting medical expenses, rising care costs, and inflation.

If you’re among the many American seniors who struggle financially, know that you’re not alone. As the baby boomer generation continues to retire, more and more adults are finding it difficult to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. Luckily, though, there are assistance programs aimed at helping seniors to afford an independent or semi-independent lifestyle.

Supplemental Security Income

For many seniors, social security but it doesn’t always pay the bills. This year the average worker received just under $1400 in social security benefits, and for many, that’s barely enough to cover rent. Over 60 percent of beneficiaries rely on this income for at least half of their expenses, including food, housing, transportation, and more.

Supplemental Security Income or SSI, is a benefit reserved for seniors over the age of 65 who are struggling to make ends meet. Individuals who are blind or who have a limited income can also apply for aid. As of 2017, the monthly maximum amount for a single individual is $750, while couples can receive up to $1,125 per month.

Housing Assistance

Housing is a significant expense for many seniors, whether they live independently or in a nursing community. The cost of a room can vary greatly between different regions, and it’s important to consider this fact before settling on an area in which to retire.

Medicaid programs in certain states can help to pay for anything from dental care to nursing home services and assisted living situations. Currently, over forty states offer financial assistance for seniors in an assisted living situation. Some regions also include aid for those in residential care, adult foster care, and nursing communities. While some states cover the cost of medical care, others only include the costs of personal care services. The majority of this funding is provided through state Medicaid programs.

Finances are a concern for many within the senior community, particularly those that live on the funds from social security checks. Luckily, there are avenues that low-income adults can take to ensure that they’re able to live out a comfortable retirement.


Want to Make Electronics More Accessible to Seniors with Mobility Issues?

By Lucy Wyndham

Photo by Louis Blythe on Unsplash

 In 2014, the United States Census Bureau reported that “mobility is [the] most common disability among older Americans.” Even the most simple of tasks can be next to impossible when walking and moving is impaired. While senior living communities do an excellent job of helping older adults overcome these obstacles, it is crucial to think of ways to help improve the daily experience of seniors with mobility issues.

One commonly overlooked struggle is the ability to use common electronics. Getting up to answer the phone, turning on the TV, or walking to the computer are not always possible for older adults. To help make electronics easier to use for seniors with mobility issues, review three top modifications that can be made to any living space.

Encourage the use of mobile phones

When creating mobility-friendly homes for seniors, it is essential not to overlook considerations for commonly used electronics. This is especially true when it comes to the phone that is selected for an older adult with mobility challenges. For those who consistently have difficulties answering their landline phone, a mobile phone is a wonderful alternative. Seniors can choose to keep their mobile phones by their side at all times, and never have to worry about missing a call. They can also have quick access to a phone in case they need to call for emergency help.

Select an easy-to-use television remote

Being able to control the television without having to stand up or walk is another important consideration. Since many older adults have difficulties with seeing and pressing small buttons, having an easy-to-use remote can be just as important as having a remote. Giving seniors the ability to effortlessly watch television helps foster independence and removes unnecessary hassle.

Switch to tablets or laptops rather than desktop computers

Getting up, walking to, and sitting down at a computer is a major challenge for seniors with mobility issues. Individuals who are unable to easily access their computers may be discouraged from staying in touch with loved ones by email, social media, or video chat. That’s why it is crucial to help make computers as accessible as possible. Some seniors may enjoy the idea of switching from a desktop computer to a tablet or laptop. Tablets and laptops provide all of the same features as a desktop computer, and in most cases, are just as user-friendly.

With more seniors using technology and electronics every day, it is essential to make computers, phones, and televisions more accessible for older adults struggling with mobility challenges. A few simple modifications can make it possible for seniors to access their electronics on a daily basis with minimal effort.


Battling Pneumonia in the Elderly

By Lucy Wyndham


Pneumonia among seniors may be common, but it can have severe consequences, causing almost 51,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. The illness is a particularly big worry among the elderly, because this group can have a weakened immune system and other differences that make them more susceptible to contagion. In this post, we discuss the causes and signs of pneumonia in the elderly, and discover how to prevent it through specific measures, including staying connected to vital information, vaccination, and lifestyle changes.

The Nature of Pneumonia - Types, Causes and Symptoms

Pneumonia is a term used to describe a category of lung infections which may be caused by bacteria or by viruses. Symptoms vary from person to person but they can include a high fever, rapid breathing, headache, lethargy, a sharp stabbing pain when inhaling oxygen, chills and sweating. Less common symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Bacterial pneumonia tends to present more severe and longer-lasting symptoms though both types of pneumonia require diagnosis and treatment. Additional, less common types of pneumonia include bronchial pneumonia (involving inflammation of the bronchi), lobar pneumonia (in which one or more of lobes become inflamed) and double pneumonia (when infection is present in both lungs).

Why are Seniors at a Higher Risk of Pneumonia?

Elderly persons in nursing homes are particularly susceptible to pneumonia because they can have impaired immune systems owing to their age (the risk can increase if they are recovering from surgery). Contributing factors also include chronic obstructive lung diseases, use of a nasogastric tube, and dysphagia (having difficulty swallowing). Because immune systems can be weaker in the elderly, it can be easier for pneumonia to spread within a care setting. Another important reason why the elderly are so susceptible to lung infections is the physiological changes they undergo - for instance, the lungs lose elasticity and the strength of respiratory muscles decline. The cough reflex, too, is weaker in this group.

What Strategies Should be Taken?

Carers and family members should be aware of the symptoms of pneumonia, so that elderly patients can receive a diagnosis and treatment immediately. Usually, diagnosis will involve a blood test, CAT scan and sometimes, additional tests. Doctors need to determine whether the infection has a viral or bacterial source, in order to administer the appropriate medication. Sometimes, hospitalization is necessary - this is especially true when oxygen levels are so low that patients require the use of oxygen machines and intravenous medication. Information is also key; many people aged 60+ are embracing the Internet age, opening social media pages to keep up with friends who live far away, and using the Internet as a research tool. Nursing homes with computer facilities should encourage residents to gain information on pneumonia and other illnesses they may be more prone to, so they can take preventive measures.

In the case of pneumonia, prevention is certainly better than cure. Seniors should get the yearly pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, and practice strict hygiene on a daily basis - this means washing hands frequently, especially after using the restroom and before eating. Finally, they should refrain from smoking, which significantly increases their pneumonia risk.

Pneumonia is a serious, life-threatening infection which affects those with weakened immune systems strongly. Families and health professionals therefore need to be on the alert for possible symptoms, ensure their loved ones receive the pneumonia vaccine, and encourage the adoption of healthy habits, to keep it at bay.


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How to Beat the Heat Stroke – A Guide for Seniors

From Steve Johnson of Public Health Library


One of the most controversial debates in recent history has been over the topic of global warming. Regardless of whether or not you believe in climate change or global warming, there’s no denying that some areas have seen a relatively mild fall and winter. For the past few years, we have experienced a rise in record-breaking temperatures above and beyond anything previously recorded.

This temperature increase has led some individuals to worry about whether senior adults will be left vulnerable to heat stroke (or worse) on hot days. Age is a factor in many heat-related illnesses, this doesn’t mean seniors have to stay indoors or limit their enjoyable experiences. Although fall is officially upon us, the risk for heat stroke is still present. Seniors can enjoy the warm and cool combo without falling victim to the elements. Here are some tips for how to have a happy, healthy outdoor experience at any age:

Stay hydrated. Few seniors drink enough water each day, reaching instead for soda or tea. It also doesn’t help that as we age, physiological changes within the body can limit our ability to perceive thirst - and many medications can contribute to dehydration.

Beat the heat. Take care not to allow increased temperatures to shorten your life expectancy. Because every situation is different, seniors should talk to their doctors about how to protect their health. See how your medications might be affected by the heat. Ask whether any of your medications might put you at greater risk of dehydration, heart conditions, or overheating.

Consider your clothing. People of all ages should also take proper safety precautions before going outside. Always wear sunscreen, and consider wearing a hat. Keep in mind that although the temperature may be cool and the sun hidden behind clouds, UV rays are still shining, meaning you are still vulnerable to sunburn and heat stroke. Consider wearing light-colored cotton clothing, as the breathable fabric is more naturally cooling, and dress in layers so you can adjust your comfort level accordingly. Because harmful UV rays can damage your vision as well as your skin, it is important to wear UV protective sunglasses when outdoors.

Ask for help. It’s tempting to stay indoors to avoid the heat and the cold. Unfortunately, that leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation for many seniors. One solution is to ask for help from your loved ones. See if family and friends will stop by for extra visits or assist with grocery deliveries and other errands during the day.

Utilize local services. Check to see if your local area offers services assisting with tasks that are especially difficult for seniors, such as mowing the lawn or delivering groceries. If you’re a pet owner, you might also consider hiring a professional dog walker. These types of services can be literal life savers, allowing seniors to stay safe and cool indoors rather than going outside and risking exhaustion and overheating.

Thanks to the tips above, seniors don’t have to dread the warm temperatures. There’s no reason why people of any age can’t get outside and enjoy the fresh air. With your doctor’s blessing and some safety precautions, you can enjoy a safe and happy outdoor experience.

Steve Johnson is a health nut and wants to use his writing to make the world a healthier place. As co-creator of PublicHealthLibrary, Steve enjoys helping people find the health and medical information they need most.

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