Category Archives: Elderly Care

Six Tips To Choosing A Caregiver

There are close to 50 million Americans with conditions that limit the daily activities in some fashion, according to the Department of Health and Aging. The report further finds more than 10 million individuals aren’t able to live independently.  One in five seniors over the age of 85 are in need of long-term care and help with everyday tasks ranging from cooking meals, feeding themselves and taking care of personal hygiene.  As boomers continue to age, the need for caregivers increases so adults with aging parents will at some point have to make a decision to either hire an in-home caregiver or find a place for them to age with full or limited assistance.

When you’ve reached the point where you simply need to admit that you need help caring for an aging relative, here are seven tips to consider:

  1. Determine your needs before beginning the search for a caregiver. Does your aging relative need specialized care like physical therapy or pain and medication management? Will you need to bring in a non-medically trained individual to help with meal preparation, personal hygiene tasks and dressing or does your relative need a companion? Will you want the caregiver to provide light housekeeping, help running errands or bill paying? List all of the items you believe you will need help with.
  2. Begin the search for a healthcare provider by asking friends, church members and the physician’s office. Check with senior care agencies in your area as well for advice and referrals.
  3. Before interviewing caregivers, write a job description for him or her. Include the amount of health care training you believe the individual will need; it may be a good idea to speak to your relative’s physician for advice in this area. Once you’ve created a job description, work up a contract that fits the job description and come up with an hourly wage that fits into your budget.
  4. Put together a list of questions for the candidates. Make certain you write down their answers, collect a resume from them and note your first impressions. You should also have the potential caregiver meet your aging parent as well.
  5. Gather a list of references from potential health caregivers you are considering. You are leaving your aging relative in the care of this individual and you need to make certain you have made the best possible choice. Even though you may need to hire help quickly, you need to hire thoughtfully to ensure the person you hire had the necessary skill set to care for your loved one.
  6. Ongoing monitoring of your aging loved one’s health should be a priority for the family.  You may be hiring a healthcare giver to offer you respite, but you still need to monitor the care the senior in your life is receiving. Make time to meet with the caregiver at the home on a weekly basis, at the least to gauge progress and how the caregiver and your relative are getting along.

Make certain the caregiver also understands the importance of the home medical alert system that you have for your parent. Regardless of the amount of time both you and the caregiver spend in the home, the medical alert device offers peace of mind for those times when neither of you are in attendance.

 

Make The Most Of Your Doctor’s Visits

Feeling rushed when going to a doctor’s appointment seems to be the norm rather than an exception, most individuals say. Older adults especially may feel rushed and may hesitate to ask their doctor any questions other than for the medical issue at hand. Being unable to speak freely with your physician though can lead to health consequences as a small issue may escalate into a much larger health concern if unaddressed.

According to studies, nine out of ten patients, regardless of age, have a hard time communicating with their physician, but as they age, they have a more difficult time understanding the information the doctors are passing along to them. As your parents age it is usually a good idea to have a family member attend the office visits and take notes on what the doctor says and help your elderly parents voice their concerns. It’s also a good idea to get your aging relatives to keep a notebook of medical concerns and aches and pains as they arise between doctor’s visits.

If the seniors in your life aren’t able to get a family member to go to the doctor’s visit and advocate for them, they need to be able to speak up and ask the doctor to repeat information and instructions; they should also bring their notebook and go through the list of medical concerns. Be sure to stress to them the importance of taking careful notes.

Taking all current medications to doctor’s visits with them is also a good idea as the doctor will want to see the medications and the dosage, especially if your aging parent has more than one doctor treating them. Having the doctor check your elderly loved ones medications will help prevent harmful drug interactions. In some cases, drug interactions can cause dizziness which can lead to trip and fall accidents. In individuals over the age of 65, trip and fall accidents are the leading reason they become hospitalized and may lose the ability to age in place.

If the seniors in your life are determined to age in place, then taking care of their health on a daily basis is a must. Another way to help them remain independent and to provide peace of mind to all family members is to equip the home with a medical alert system; these devices provide the senior with a medical alert pendant and in the event of an emergency at the push of a button medical personnel can be dispatched.

Remaining active, taking medications at the prescribed doses, having the home age-proofed and having access to a medical alert device can help your aging parent remain safe and healthy in his or her own home.

Five Eldercare Resources You Need To Know About

Baby Boomers are being faced with the responsibility of caring for their aging parents and when the need arises, it’s typically in the midst of a crisis situation. Being faced with an emergency and being in panic mode is not the time to seek out care giving assistance or resources for the elderly.  The process of gathering the information needed to secure elder care services is one that will take time and resources.

In most areas of the country, there are resources and agencies to whom you can go for help and advice. Here are five to get you started:

  1. Office of the Aging or Agency of Aging – these agencies are run under the auspices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This department is charged with helping seniors and their families obtain resources and information on a wide variety of issues that face the elderly. This agency has access to both printed materials and phone numbers and websites for senior service providers that you can contact.
  2. 211 – many major cities in America offer the 211 telephone service as a way to connect individuals with elder care services in your particular community. The services available – from both the phone number service to the information it provides – vary by municipality. If it’s available it can put you in touch with support services for the elderly such as rental and utility assistance, home health care or adult day care facilities, food banks, respite care and Meals-on-Wheels providers.
  3. National Institute on Aging – this site offers a “one-stop shop” for service providers for the elderly.
  4. Senior ministries – the church or other religious organization that your aging parent belongs to can be a resource for services for your relative. Many religious organizations provide volunteers that will visit your aging parents in addition to providing you with contact information on other services in the area that are available.
  5. Your employer – you may not have thought about it, but your employer could be a resource and many large organizations provide access to free eldercare guidance through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Ask your human resource department for information on social agencies that can provide resources for caring for your elderly.

Caring for an aging parent will certainly change your life in many ways but it can be a rewarding time for both of you providing a chance to connect and help them out in their time of need. Many individuals find that a valuable gift for an aging parent is to equip their home with a home medical alert device and then pick up the monthly tab. With this device, your parent is equipped with a medical alert pendant and in the event of a health emergency or a trip or fall, they can press a button and summon immediate medical help. These devices offer both peace of mind and allow your relatives to remain living independently in their own homes for a longer period of time.

Getting Over Your Anxiety to Visit the Nursing Home

Mustering up the willpower to visit your loved one in a nursing home can be a little challenging. Nursing homes have a bad rap when it comes to soliciting visitors. Oftentimes people complain that nursing homes smell bad, or that it is depressing to see so many elderly people in poor health with not much time to live. Loved ones often feel pangs of guilt for not visiting their family members in nursing homes and then experience more guilt for loathing the idea of visiting. There is no better time than the holidays to show your loved ones how much you care.

Like most things we dread, the prospect of visiting the nursing home is much worse than the actual process of doing it. More often than not you feel extremely gratified after visiting loved ones, and chatting with other residents truly lifts their spirit and consequently yours as well.

If you still need more of an incentive to visit your loved one, think of your visits as checkups to make sure that your loved one is in good hands and satisfied with his or her care. You can view your visits as a way to improve your loved one’s life in the nursing home, making their experience that much more enjoyable. By having a mission to accomplish with each visit you will begin to feel like your visits have a purpose and that you are using your time constructively.

  •  Come prepared with questions when you go visit your loved one. Allow them to reminisce on the life they led and regale you with stories from specific incidents. Ask your mother or father about their wedding day, about their profession, about their proudest moment, the list goes on and on. We often view our parents as entities that have existed as long as we have, but they had an entirely different life before you were born. Ask them about their life prior to your existence and about the incidents that occurred when you were too young to remember.
  • Bringing old family photo albums and/or music from your loved one’s prime are also ways to get communication flowing. Photo albums are especially significant among people with dementia, who can often recognize childhood faces even if they can’t remember the person standing in front of them. It is also a good idea to find out what kind of music your loved one liked to listen to. Bring in cds or your laptop to play songs that they will enjoy. Their whole mood will change once they hear an old favorite they haven’t listened to in years.
  • While at the nursing home you can also take the time to make sure that your loved one is being properly cared for. How fast does the staff respond to accidents or clean up spills? You can monitor how your loved one is being cared for and view how others in the facility are cared for as well. Confirm that the rooms have medical alert buttons like LifeFone, to ensure that help responds immediately.

When contemplating visiting your loved one in the nursing home the best motivation may very well be to put yourself in your loved one’s shoes. One day you may be living in a nursing home and you will want visitors. You will also appreciate it if your loved ones check up on you to make sure you are well cared for and happy. Next time you feel a sense of dread in regards to visiting the nursing home remember how good it actually feels to see your loved one and how satisfied you feel after you leave.

5 Tips To Prevent The Elderly From Falling

Statistics show that one in every three adults over the age of 65 years suffers a fall annually. In addition to the serious injuries and death that can occur, the medical expenses incurred as a result of the falls totals more than $20 billion. Falls are typically the result of physical changes that occur as individuals age.

There are precautions that can be taken to reduce the dangers and if your loved one is determined to age at home, here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of falling:

  1. Trip and Slip Dangers: Due to reduced mobility as you age the possibility for a slip and fall accident increases. Make certain your aging parents wear shoes with non-slip soles and make certain they fit well. Remove all throw rugs or other small obstacles could be hazardous and place electrical cords behind furniture and not in the walkway. Non-skid wax should be used on hardwood and linoleum floors. Spills should be cleaned up as soon as possible.
  2. Physical Issues: Muscle weakness, pain in joints when walking , dizziness and other illnesses can lead to falls in the elderly. Health exams and using medications in proper dosages can prevent balance and joint pain problems. Before taking any over the counter medications, your loved one should check with their physician to see if there could be any negative interactions with their prescriptions. Another way to make certain your elderly parent or family member stays safe at home is by equipping their home with a medical alert system. These alerts and medical bracelets allow the elderly individual to press a button and summon help in the event of a fall or other medical emergency.
  3. Light It Up: High watt bulbs should be used in light fixtures and night lights are a good idea to light up hallways or other dark areas. Also place power-interruption flashlights in strategic locations. With these in place, should the power goes out, the flashlights will turn on.
  4. Fix It Up: Thick carpets can cause trip and fall hazards so if you’re considering a remodeling project, remove carpets and install non-slip floors. There should be handrails on all stairs and grab bars in the bathtub and shower. Purchase a bathing stool and install a handheld shower nozzle. Every bathtub and shower should have a non-slip bath mat.
  5. Safe At Home Living: If your elderly loved one uses a cane or walker, they can help reduce the risk of falling but it’s vital that there are no items such as furniture or carpeting that the walker or cane should get stuck on. Living safely at home means that your loved one should also try to remain physically active whether that means take an age-appropriate exercise class, a daily walk, or other exercises approved by their doctor.

If all of these steps are taken and your elderly loved one is equipped with a home medical alert system you will have greater peace of mind and the medical alert will allow them to age at home more independently.

Read More:  Making Your Home Safe for Seniors

Connecting with your aging parents through technology

An increasing number of baby boomers are almost done raising their children, but are not done with caregiving as they’re turning their attentions to taking care of their aging parents. One way that caregiving has become easier is that many of the baby boomers’ parents are more tech savvy than in generations past. Technology is one way that caregivers can stay in touch with their parents when traveling to their home isn’t an option because of work or family responsibilities.

Many boomers find that setting their parents up with a computer so they can hook them up with cameras and emails and online video communication options helps them stay connected. Setting up a daily web chat or checking in through daily emails can help the family stay in touch without being in the same physical proximity. Knowing that there should be a daily email or web chat can offer the family peace of mind. As a way to add a more personal touch, caregivers can plan for a live video (web chat) during dinner. This is especially helpful if the aging parent lives alone. If you and your aging parent plan to “eat dinner together” a few times a week, it can break up the loneliness and also offer a unique way for the family to stay in touch. Additionally, having a live web dinner chat can assure the caregiver that their aging parent is eating healthy meals.

Equipping your aging parents’ home with a home medical alert system adds to the peace of mind. A home medical alert system also allows individuals to stay in their homes for a much longer time because you’ll know that if they fall or get injured, they can activate the medical alert button and help will be dispatched. While caregivers typically make long trips to their aging parents home to check on them, run errands and take care of household chores, the installation of a home medical alert system lets them know that between the time they make the trip to the home, their parents are being continually monitored and that help is only a button push away.

Bringing Your Parents on Vacation for the Holidays, Do or Don’t?

Although it feels as if fall has just arrived, before you know it you will once again find yourself consumed by the hustle and bustle that is the holiday season. With the holidays inevitably comes travel, and for aregivers, travel translates to additional stress and additional planning.

As a general rule when it comes to caregiving it is never too early to begin piecing together or add to your game plan.

The first question you will need to ask yourself is whether or not you are going to bring your elderly parent with you. Before deciding what is best for you and your family, it is wise to consult with your loved one’s doctor to  determine whether or not he or she is physically up for  the challenge. If the verdict is no, there are a variety of alternatives to consider for your loved one.

If your elderly parent plans to remain in their home during your travels, it is a good idea to invest in a medical alert system. Medical alerts provide loved ones and their family members with peace of mind, giving seniors the means to live independently for a longer period of time. For less than a dollar a day your parent will be equipped with 24 hour protection at the touch of a button. By wearing a small pendant in the form of a bracelet or necklace, he or she can simply press the panic button on their medical jewelry in order to contact their personalized emergency response team. With Lifefone’s medical alert systems beginning at $24.95 a month the value is incomparable.

If your parent needs additional care, you may want to evaluate in-home care for the days you will be out of town. If you know you will need additional help in advance, do your research and find a caregiver both you and your loved one will be comfortable with. Do yourself a favor and a take a day or two off from caregiving so that your temporary or part time caregiver can step in and become acquainted with your parent. This way you can catch up on some much needed “you” time and your mom or dad will have the opportunity to become acquainted with their new caregiver.

If neither of these options fits your loved one’s specific needs, consider placing them in a nursing home or an assisted living facility during your absence. Many of these institutions offer short-term care.

On the other hand, if you decide to travel with your elderly parent, there is a host of new possibilities to consider. The first thing you should do is assemble all the important medical documents, insurance information, prescription information, and phone numbers you will need in case of emergency. Be sure to pack all of the medical supplies your loved one requires, and pack a little extra just in case. You never know when extras could come in handy. Keep the medications in their original packaging so that if you need a refill, the pharmacy will know exactly what medication your mom or dad is on. Also, scope out medical centers and hospitals in the area before your trip.

While on vacation, try to stick to your normal routine at home as much as possible. This includes eating at the same times, bathing at the same times and participating in similar activities. When driving either to the airport, or to your destination, plan for additional time. In some cases the time it would normally take you to travel doubles.

When packing, it is also a good idea to bring along your loved one’s medical alert system. Call your loved one’s provider ahead of time and let them know you will be taking the device with you out of town. Most medical alerts can be programmed to function in another city. This way if your loved one decides to forego an activity you had planned for your vacation, you will feel more at ease leaving them alone.

Regardless of where the holidays take you, the most important thing to remember is to take the time to cherish the memories you will be creating with your family. By taking the proper steps to get both you and your loved one fully prepared for the traveling ahead, you will be better able to live in the moment and cherish all the joy the holidays bring.

Fall Prevention Awareness Week

Falls among the elderly is a serious problem and growing!  One out of three people over the age of 65 falls at least once a year.  According to theCDC, the direct and indirect cost of injuries from falls is expected to reach $54.9 billion by 2020!  Fall awareness and prevention becomes ever more important as our population ages.

Thankfully, many falls and fall related injuries can be prevented.  In an article called Making Your Home Safe for Seniors, we provided steps you can take to reduce the risk of a fall.

Fall Prevention Awareness Week is September 18 – 24, 2011 with many states taking part.  Fall Prevention Awareness Day, Friday, September 23 is an opportunity to become involved in your local area activities.  While activities vary by location, they include educational programs and home safety checks.

With autumn approaching at a fast pace, examine your home and those of the elderly to identify hazards. Consider risk factors such as poor eyesight, prior injuries that may cause walking problems, physical activity levels and other hazards.  As Baby Boomers age, the impact of a fall creates greater financial and emotional burdens. Education, examination and awareness is key to helping reduce the impact of falls and related injuries.

 

Fall Prevention Awareness Week

Falls among the elderly is a serious problem and growing!  One out of three people over the age of 65 falls at least once a year.  According to theCDC, the direct and indirect cost of injuries from falls is expected to reach $54.9 billion by 2020!  Fall awareness and prevention becomes ever more important as our population ages.

Thankfully, many falls and fall related injuries can be prevented.  In an article called Making Your Home Safe for Seniors, we provided steps you can take to reduce the risk of a fall.

Fall Prevention Awareness Week is September 18 – 24, 2011 with many states taking part.  Fall Prevention Awareness Day, Friday, September 23 is an opportunity to become involved in your local area activities.  While activities vary by location, they include educational programs and home safety checks.

With autumn approaching at a fast pace, examine your home and those of the elderly to identify hazards. Consider risk factors such as poor eyesight, prior injuries that may cause walking problems, physical activity levels and other hazards.  As Baby Boomers age, the impact of a fall creates greater financial and emotional burdens. Education, examination and awareness is key to helping reduce the impact of falls and related injuries.

 

How to Stop Caregiving from Ruining your Relationships

There is little question that today’s sandwich generation aptly fits the definition. With all the pressure caving in around them from their duties caring for their parents on one end and their children on the other, it is little wonder baby boomers feel they have no time to maintain outside relationships. Yet, nurturing relationships outside of caregiving duties are crucial to a baby boomer’s well being, regardless of how little extra time there is in the day.

Adult children live in a much more hectic world than the one that existed even a generation ago. People are living a lot longer today, thanks to medical advances, but the health of these individuals is not always as advanced. Many elders today are stroke survivors, suffering from dementia or diabetes, or have a myriad of other health concerns. While many still maintain a good quality of life, they need help to do so – and that’s where baby boomers come in. Continue reading