Tag Archives: Home care

Decorating For Mom And Dad: Tips To Make Them Feel At Home

There are myriad reasons why your parents may need to move into your family home. These reasons range from one of your parents passing away and the other being unable or unwilling to live alone, to their needing more care than you can provide unless they are under your roof, to their not having enough money saved up to continue to age in place or to move into an assisted living facility. Regardless of the reasons why you are opening your doors to your aging loved ones, you will want to find a way to make them feel welcome and at home in their new living space.

If you find that you’re trying to move your parents from the home in which they’ve lived for decades into a small space – in some cases a spare room in your home – there will likely be the need for downsizing of their possessions. Rather than trying to move all of their belongings from their home into a space at your house, spend some time with them going through their possessions and determining what they absolutely cannot live without or what you may be able to give to another family member as a gift to keep in the family.

Here are some tips to make the transition easier and to make the room in which they will be living in your home more of a home-like feeling for them:

  • If the room is small and they will be using it as a combination living room/bedroom setting you will want to make the best use of the small space. This can be done by painting the room a light color, make it feel brighter by using light, airy curtains and by using light colored bedspreads and furniture coverings.
  • If you’re hanging paintings in the room, forget the rule about hanging them at eye level (this makes a small room feel even more cramped) hang them higher because this creates an illusion of a larger space.
  • Use large, intricate mirrors to make the room seem visually larger. Place a large mirror on a wall opposite a window to “double” the feeling of the space.
  • Using end tables, chairs or beds with legs rather than styles that are chunky and sit on the floor can make a room feel more airy and open.
  • You don’t have to downsize furniture to accommodate a smaller room. Make certain the furniture in the room is comfortable and usable. If your parents like larger pieces of furniture, opt for light colored covers to brighten the space.
  • Resist the urge, or help them resist the urge, to clutter the space up with knick knacks or collectibles. Filling every available space with memorabilia will instantly make it seem smaller.
  • Look for pieces of furniture that can do double duty. For example, look for end tables or ottomans that also provide storage space. Use a bed skirt to conceal storage containers under the bed.
  • Use lighting that is on the wall or ceiling, rather than cluttering up the space with table lamps. If necessary install motion activated lights or those on sensors that will turn off after a specified amount of time.

Moving your aging parents into the family home will certainly take adjustment on everyone’s part but with some thoughtful planning it can be a smooth transition for everyone.

 

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How To Hire An In-Home Caregiver

Once your family has determined that you need to hire the services of an in-home caregiver for your aging parent, the time comes to decide exactly what you will be looking for in a caregiver and what tasks he or she will perform. If your parents are hoping to continue to age in place, the tasks a hired caregiver will perform will likely be different than if you need the services for your parent in your own home.

Once the family has identified the type of tasks the caregiver will be responsible for, it’s best to put together a written job description. This description should clearly define the roles of the caregiver and should include everything from hours to be worked, to pay offered to tasks performed. The job description should spell out if the tasks include driving your relatives to doctor’s appointments, shopping and/or preparing meals, being responsible for medical care or personal hygiene duties.

After writing the job description, you will also want to consider and interview checklist. Some of the things you might want to consider are:

  • What experience does the individual have with caring for a person with the particular ailments or memory impairments your relative has?
  • What type and level of health care training does he or she possess? (for example, CNA, RN, LVN, etc.)?
  • Can they drive and do they have a vehicle that can accommodate your relative and any devices they may need to get around (wheelchair, walker, etc.)?
  • Can the healthcare provider lift the patient in case he or she needs a level of care in which he cannot move on his own?
  • Ask for references from prior clients.

Where to find a home healthcare worker?

The question now is, where can you find an in home caregiver? There are many options, from going through a home health care agency to hiring an individual you may have heard about to placing an ad to calling a local state or federally-funded agency for advice on where to hire a healthcare worker. There are pros and cons to each type of hiring decision.

If you use a home care agency to hire someone you will find that person will have been screened and vetted. If the worker you hire becomes ill, chances are the agency will be able to send a replacement. Agencies typically have access to employees with varying skill levels that could more easily suit your needs. A healthcare worker from an agency may have special training in physical or occupational therapy or other disciplines. A drawback to an agency is that you may not have access to the same healthcare provider every day and this could cause confusion in an elderly patient; as a matter of fact, you may have little to no say over who comes to care for your relative. Agency healthcare workers typically cost more than other options.

If you opt to hire a private healthcare worker you have the control over who that person is and the fact that it is typically less expensive. Also, with a privately hired healthcare provider your relative has the luxury of continuity with him or her. Some of the cons include that if your healthcare provider is ill, it will be difficult for you to find a replacement, you will need to do your own screening and reference checking and your insurance or Medicaid may not cover a privately hired worker.

What to include in a contract?

When you’re developing a contract – and you may wish to speak to a lawyer to have this done – make certain it contains, at a minimum, the following information:

  • Employer and employee name and addresses
  • Wages (you may want to consult with an attorney as you will likely be responsible for tax withholding and reporting)
  • Holiday and time off
  • Benefits which may include eating meals there, to paying for mileage if your healthcare worker needs to drive their private vehicle while caring for your relative
  • Employee’s social security number
  • Any behavior that is not allowed: smoking, drinking, being late for work, etc.
  • What the hours of work are
  • When and in what format will payment for wages be made
  • Complete description of the duties that will need to be performed
  • Termination, how much notice the healthcare worker is required to give in addition to how much notice you need to give if you’re terminating and under what stipulations termination could fall
  • The contract should be dated and signed by both parties

To find the right home healthcare worker for your family is a task that should not be undertaken lightly especially when you consider that this person is going to be responsible for your loved one and will be spending a majority of the day with him or her. While the formation of a job description is a great first step in the hiring process, be prepared to spend time interviewing and interacting with your potential healthcare worker so you are certain you’ve hired the best person to care for your relative.

How To Hire Qualified Home Care Providers

How To Hire Qualified Home Care Providers

When it comes to caring for an elderly or ill relative who is determined to remain in his or her home, you will be faced with the prospect of hiring a qualified home care health provider. There is specialized training that home health care providers must undertake, but above and beyond the training is the personality of the individual who will be interacting – sometimes on a daily basis – with your loved one.

Finding a home care health provider that is not only qualified but one with whom your family member feels comfortable is a daunting task, but once you’ve done it, you will see that the effort you put into the hiring process was worth the effort. A home health care provider is an asset to come in and take care of health related issues, run household errands and take your relatives to doctor’s appointments as well as making certain that they are eating, caring for themselves and their hygiene and getting exercise. In addition to hiring the services of a qualified home health care provider, outfitting the home you’re your aging relative with a home medical alert system and medical alert jewelry helps provide ‘round the clock peace of mind.

Here are some traits you will want to look for in a home health care provider:

  • Will they prepare meals?
  • Will they help with light housekeeping, laundry, and taking trash to the road for pick up?
  • Will they make certain the patient remains active by making certain they get up and move around the house or even undertake light exercise such as a walk?
  • Will they address health and safety needs? Make certain medications are being taken and that doctor’s visits are attended?
  • Do they adhere to strict confidentiality requirements?
  • Are they an effective communicator with family members in the event of a medical issue? Are they compassionate with your family member?
  • If your family member has any special medical needs, is the health care giver able to attend to those needs?

Above and beyond these traits, you and your loved one must feel comfortable with the person and feel confident in his or her attentiveness to the needs and wishes of the elderly relative.

The caregiver should also be aware of the elderly individual’s medical alert bracelet and system and make certain the individual is always wearing the help button. You will likely want to add the health caregiver to the list of medical emergency contacts for the home medical alert monitoring system as well as a select list of family members. Equipping your aging loved one with a qualified in home health care provider as well as equipping both them and the home with a home medical safety alert system provides peace of mind both day and night.

Winter and Cold Weather Precautions for Seniors

Cold winter temperatures are as harmful as summer heat waves when it comes to the health of senior citizens. As a caregiver, you may worry what will happen to your parents in the event of a winter storm that knocks out electricity and when snow makes the roads impossible to drive on. If your parents or senior loved ones have
their home equipped with a Lifefone medical alarm system, once the power goes out, the battery backup kicks in and customer service is contacted. Having a home medical alarm system offers you and your loved ones peace of mind, regardless of the weather and distance between you.

Here are some items to check at your elderly loved one’s home to make certain they are taking care
of themselves once the frigid winter months kick in.

  • Make certain the thermostat is set to at least 65 degrees to help prevent hypothermia. Many seniors will feel more comfortable with the temperature a bit higher, but it shouldn’t go below 65. Common signs of hypothermia include: drowsiness, slow or slurred speech, memory loss, uncontrolled shivering and sense of exhaustion.
  • If the home is not well-insulated, you may want to consider covering the windows with inexpensive plastic sheeting to keep the wind from blowing in. Also plastic sheets will still allow sun to filter in and keep the home warm.
  • The home should be equipped with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These should be checked monthly to make certain they’re in good working order and batteries should be changed at least twice a year and also as soon as they begin emitting a low battery warning.
  • If the senior adults have access to supplemental heating such as a generator or kerosene heater, make certain they understand exactly how to operate it and that the house must be properly ventilated at all times when it is operation.
  • Unless it is crucial, they should remain indoors when there is a storm brewing or when the temperatures hover at or below the freezing mark.
  • Ensure that your loved ones have cupboards full of food and that their medications are up to date and filled. Additionally, stock up on foods that can be eaten without having to be cooked in the event of a power outage.
  • Make certain your loved ones have access to additional blankets in an easily accessible location so they don’t have to climb to reach them when the temperatures drop.
  • Test their medical alarm system to make certain it is working properly and that they are diligent in wearing the emergency alert bracelet or pendant in the event of a slip or fall.
  • Make arrangements for a neighbor to come and check on your loved ones in the event you live too far away and can’t get to the home in the event of an emergency. Also, make arrangements to have the sidewalk shoveled and the driveway cleared so they don’t have to worry about the feeling of being  “trapped.”

 By following these precautions, using a common sense approach to leaving the house, navigating winter roads and employing the services of a home medical alarm system offers peace of mind for everyone involved.

Caring for the Caregiver

There are currently millions of Americans that are caring for aging or disabled family members. These caregivers are typically also in the midst building their careers and raising their own families. Taking care of aging parents can be a strain both emotionally and financially, especially when you consider that according to a report caregivers deal with high levels of stress, poor physical health, loss of income, lower at work productivity and depression.

Part of the reason for the issues that caregivers deal with are that they feel they are alone in the everyday care of their parents. Even if the aging parent has a healthcare provider come to the home to offer medical care and relief, the caregivers feel “invisible” and are typically not consulted on items relating to the care they provide almost round-the-clock.

In addition to caring for the aging parent a caregiver typically is responsible for:

2.  Personal hygiene care is something the caregiver either typically providers or makes certain that the aging parent is taking care of on his or her own. Personal hygiene can also include wound care and treatment.

3.  Errands need to be run, groceries need to be purchased and medications need to be picked up. In addition, the caregiver may be responsible for driving the aging relative to and from doctor’s visits.

4.  Companionship could be part and parcel of the caregiver’s routine. If the aging parent lives alone, providing companionship and conversation could be one of the most important benefits the caregiver can provide.

In most instances the caregiver doesn’t live with the aging or disabled parent, so chances are even when they leave the home, the parent is never far from his or her mind. One way to relieve some of the burden and offer caregivers peace of mind is by equipping the aging relative – whether in home or in an assisted living facility – with a medical alert system.

The installation of a medical alert system offers peace of mind to both the caregiver and the relative whose home is equipped with the device. If the individual suffers a fall or some other health injury, he or she can activate the lightweight, waterproof LifeFone pendant device and the service providers at the medical alert system company alert paramedics and family members based on the individual care instructions. From the moment the device is activated the patient’s personal medical profile is displayed and the LifeFone Emergency Response team remains in contact until the emergency situation has been resolved.

Your Guide to Hiring In-Home Help

Hiring an in-home caregiver can provide much needed relief when caregiving duties become more than a one man job. In-home care often proves to be the ideal living scenario for seniors who can no longer take care of themselves, but choosing the right in-home agency often means the difference between enjoying the experience and regretting it.

While there are a myriad of options available for in-home care, there are certain factors that should be taken into consideration when deciding on the right agency for you.

1.      Get recommendations. Choosing a well-known agency is not enough; you also have to seek references. Getting a feel for how other customers enjoy the service will help you feel more confident in your decision. Get a sampling of references to make sure the general consensus is accurate.

2.      Make sure the agency has backup care. It is not safe to assume that all agencies have backup care in case the regular care provider becomes ill, goes on vacation, or has a sudden emergency. Making sure the agency you choose has sufficient backup staffing will eliminate a lot of stress down the road. 

3.      Repetition is good. Allowing a stranger into your home can be an uncomfortable process, and should not be a routine occurrence. The agency you choose should be diligent in making sure the same caregiver goes to your loved one’s house everyday. While there may be a rotation of caregivers providing regular care (taking into account vacations and other emergencies) your loved one should have a personal relationship with every caregiver they are matched with. If someone unfamiliar arrives at the door to provide care, the experience can be very upsetting. Consistency and familiarity are very important when it comes to in-home care.

4.      Know what is covered and what isn’t. If your loved one needs care following a medical stay make sure you know exactly what is covered and what will have to be paid out of pocket. Never assume something is going to be covered, or you may be strapped with large out of pocket fees. Although doctors or medical professionals may recommend certain in-home services, it is a good idea to conduct your own research to determine what is right for you.

5.      If you choose to forego the agency know employer taxes and liability laws. If you feel more comfortable hiring someone who is not a part of an agency, you may be responsible for their taxes and for liability in case something happens to them on the job. Consult with your state employment department to determine what paperwork needs to be filed and whether or not you are covered for worker’s compensation.

Finding the right in-home care provider may take a bit of research, but the work is worth the effort. Making sure your loved one is in good hands when you are not around is an invaluable resource.

4 Alternatives to Assisted Living

America’s senior citizens are living longer more active lives, and have fast become the largest-growing sector of society. With a ballooning population, thanks to advances in medical science, better access to health care and better living conditions, more living options are available for the elderly outside of assisted living facilities.

  1. Staying at Home: One of the most disconcerting fears regarding aging among the elderly is the loss of ability to live independently. Ideally, most elderly individuals would prefer to live their remaining years in the comfort of their own homes. Those requiring daily assistance are finding it easier to manage their lifestyle by buying a medic alert system, relying on a part-time caregiver and hiring someone to help with the cleaning and shopping. With a few extra costs, staying at home is becoming a viable option for some elderly.
  2. Combining Staying at home with Adult Day Care: Some elderly individuals require more hands on care during the day. For them, adult day care facilities are available. These facilities combine medical, nursing and therapeutic services with fun daily activities and meal services. Spending the day in a stimulating environment with the ability to return to the comfort of their own bed at night, allows many seniors the control and stability they crave.
  3. Senior Communities: Individual apartments inhabited by the 55+ community for the more social elderly crowd offers social activities, meals and assistance with daily activities depending on the level of need. Elderly adults can maintain their own living space while having the comfort of knowing help is available at the push of a medic alert button.
  4. Independent Living Centers: Following a major surgery, a stroke or any other debilitating injury, Independent Living Centers provide intensive physical therapy to assist individuals to relearn everyday skills. These facilities are similar to adult day care in that they provide daily care for the elderly, while still allowing them to return to their own household at night. Therapy is also administered daily as opposed to receiving care two or three times a week.

Choosing how to spend remaining years is a delicate decision that should be assessed by the individual whenever possible.  As with all mentioned lifestyles, seniors determine what is most practical for them by assessing their health, mobility and finances. Having choices provides peace of mind, comfort and security during a time of important decision making.

 

The High Cost of Caregiving



With over 35 million people over the age of 65 living in the United States, and 30 percent of adult children providing finances for their parents’ care, one of the biggest burdens currently associated with aging is the high cost of medical care.

 

As a person ages their need for long-term care significantly increases. Those over the age of 85 are the fastest growing population group in the nation. As people continue to live longer, their need for long-term care is extended and with an increase in the need of caregivers, this ballooning group will soon use all the current programs designed to pay for formal caregivers, and then some.

 

Most caregivers providing care for the elderly today are informal, unpaid family members and their economic value is estimated at $306 billion nationwide each year, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Meanwhile annual national spending on formal health care only reaches $158 billion.

 

With the increase in family caregivers, in 2002 over half of U.S. workers said they provided some form of caregiving, employers are beginning to experience staffing problems due to caregiving. Businesses lose an estimated $17.1 billion each year attributable to their employees’ absences due to caregiving for family members over the age of 50.

 

While many elderly people in the U.S. have their finances figured out related to medical services and medications, they often ignore the costs associated with long-term care. As government programs are being sucked dry by this burgeoning population, elderly Americans are going to need to start focusing on ways to pay for the high cost of long-term care on their own.

 

My Grandfather (†); photo from January 17.JPG

Image via Wikipedia

 

The Caregiver Next Door

 

“America’s Growing Unpaid Occupation”

 

With 43.5 million Americans providing unpaid care to individuals 50 and older, 19 percent of American adults are now undertaking the role of caregiver. So who makes up this staggering population?

The average caregiver is a 46-year-old married female who provides care for a 77-year-old female, typically her mother. She also has a job outside her duties as a caregiver grossing $35,000 per year. While men assume the role of caregiver as well, women typically spend 50 percent more time providing care than their male counterparts.

Devoting an average of 20 hours per week of assistance to their care recipient, in addition to putting in a full day of work at the office, makes the caregiver’s workload exhausting! Additionally, most caregivers do not choose to don the hat of caregiver, rather four in 10 caregivers believe they did not have a choice in becoming a caregiver. The responsibility of caregiver typically falls on the adult child who resides closest, in the absence of funds to provide a formal caregiver for the care recipient.

By spending so much of their time caring for another individual, caregivers often sacrifice work time to provide adequate care. In fact seven out of 10 caregivers adjust their work schedules by coming in later to work, leaving early or taking a block of time out of the middle of the day to fulfill their care receiver’s needs. The average caregiver remains in this role for four years, so it is not surprising that during that time they are often forced to take a leave of absence from work for at least a week to provide care in case of illness.

With so much on their plate – juggling kids, parents and jobs – the sandwich generation of caregivers experiences a lot of stress and time constraints that often lead to the elimination of maintaining their own health. One out of every six caregivers witness a deterioration of their health during their role as a caregiver.

As the demand for caregivers increases, the role of caregiving will continue to fall on to the sandwich generation. However, the future of caregiving is becoming a little less secure as boomers are changing jobs more frequently and moving to accommodate those jobs. The future profile of caregivers may be a little more varied.