All Posts in Category: Aging Life Care

A caregiver discusses personalized care plans with a senior couple considering in-home care services.

Why Personalized Care Plans are Essential for Home Health Care

You’ve just started checking out home health care choices for an older loved one, and you’re becoming a bit overwhelmed. There are a lot of options to consider, and so many new and unfamiliar terms to learn. Take, for instance, personalized care plans. It may look like just another bit of jargon in a sea of confusing terms, but it’s actually perhaps one of the most important aspects of home care services. Here is why:

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A family smiles as they surround an older man blowing out candles on a cake, one of the senior birthday party ideas they implemented to make him feel special.

Celebrate Someone You Love With These Creative Senior Birthday Party Ideas!

If you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate the life of somebody you love, nothing beats a birthday party! The key to planning a successful birthday celebration for an older family member is crafting ideas that are unique to the individual. The best senior birthday party ideas begin with thinking through:

  • What size of an event should it be, according to their personal preferences?
  • What interests and hobbies are important to the person?
  • What brings meaning and purpose to their life?

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A woman implements techniques for better time management for family caregivers, smiling as she writes in her planner.

10 Ways to Improve Time Management for Family Caregivers

How much extra time do you have on your hands? If you are like many family caregivers, carving out enough time to meet each day’s basic requirements may be hard enough. The thought of having regular intervals of downtime might seem unattainable.

Caregiving is certainly a time-intensive commitment. But what if there were steps you could take to manage your time more effectively, allowing each day to run more smoothly and even providing you with time for yourself? It’s not quite as far-fetched as it might seem! These suggestions to improve time management for family caregivers are an excellent place to begin.

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An older man with insomnia lies in bed, staring off into the distance as he tries to establish healthy sleep patterns.

How to Establish Healthy Sleep Patterns for Older Adults

We have all been there: counting sheep, slowing down our breathing, listening to white noise, all in an attempt to force our brains to shut down to allow us the sleep we desperately need. As we grow older, it can be even more challenging to get enough sleep. Older adults can experience alterations in their sleep architecture, including more frequent awakenings, lighter sleep, and a shift towards earlier bedtimes. However, maintaining healthy sleep patterns is very important for cognitive function, physical vitality, and emotional health.

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Put Your Best Foot Forward with These 7 Tips for Good Foot Health

Your feet are amazing. You’ve counted on them to keep the rest of you upright and moving for a long time! When you were born, your parents looked to their pudgy cuteness, those pads of fat on your soles where arches would later form, gleefully counting the digits on each foot. 

As time marches on, your feet continued to serve as they kept you mobile. Per the American Podiatric Medical Association, by the time you’re 50, you will have averaged 75,000 miles. And though we take them for granted much of the time, our feet are a complex and sensitive part of our anatomy with more than 250,000 sweat glands per set—and more nerve endings per square centimeter than any other part of your body. You can find an entire list of fun facts about feet over at North West OrthoSports. 

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Although your feet might not be the window to your soul, they are a potential soothsayer of your overall wellbeing and health. The condition of your feet can indicate medical concerns like poor circulation, diabetes, heart disease and thyroid issues. For a full list of possible markers of health check out the article over at The Healthy, “10 Subtle Signs of Disease Your Feet Can Reveal.”

Now that you’ve stopped to think about the vital role your feet play in live, we hope you feel a little more empowered to take care of them like the friends they are! Just follow these 7 tips for foot care to keep you on your toes:

1. Examine the bottom of your feet often. Look for cuts, splinters, cracks in the skin and pressure sores. If any wounds here persist without evidence of healing for more than 24 hours, contact your physician.

2. Look for evidence of ingrown toenails. This is a problem for anyone, but especially for those with circulation issues who might not feel the presence of inflammation and infection. If left untreated, the wounds of an infection can become a more serious problem that leads to amputation.

And for those of you unfamiliar with ingrown toenails, they occur when nails of the main toe are cut to curve with the shape of the toe (rather than straight across.) The sides may grow into the skin, causing infection. Be sure to cut your nails straight across and gently file the sides down.

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3. Get pedicure care as needed. Your toenails grow slowly. In fact, it takes six months for a toenail to replace itself! At the same time, toenails that grow can be sharp as a razer and cut into your skin. Assure that your toenails are regularly trimmed, and if they are particularly thick or if you can’t bend over to manage them yourself, all the better reason to treat yourself to at least two professional pedicures a year. You can also get the help of an in-home health care provider like Home Health Companions for periodic foot care.

4. Soak and stretch your feet. As if you really needed a reason to soak your feet in some warm, fragrant water on a regular basis! Besides feeling good, soaking your feet in warm water does wonders to relax tense muscles. As we age, we lose muscle flexibility and strength, so any stress to muscles will be felt. Soothe those tired “dogs” with an occasional soak.

After each soak, take a few minutes to do some stretches for your plantar fascia ligaments (which stretches from your heel to your toe). The inflammation of this ligament can lead to pain when walking. Stretching is good for every part of you, and your feet are especially appreciative. Medical News Today offers 6 exercises you can do while your muscles are already relaxed after basking in warm water.

5. Wear socks that fit—and wick! When it comes to socks, you want ones that are loose enough in the cuff and toe that your blood flow is not inhibited. Also, avoid socks with seams, as the pressure of those edges can cause damage to your skin. But most importantly, you want your socks to keep your feet both warm and dry! You might be surprised to learn that, when it comes to fabric, cotton is not the best option for socks because it retains moisture and does not allow for airflow. That means sweaty feet will sort of “stew,” which is a yuck! Fabrics including Merino wool (which is anti-bacterial, breathable, and warm) or polyester (which dries quickly) are better choices. Or, if you still prefer cotton, get socks with a polyester blend.

6. Wear the right size shoe. Did you know your feet continue to transform as you age? Over at the University of Foot and Ankle Institute, they explain that, as we age, our foot morphology 

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changes, resulting in an increased width and length. And we also lose muscle mass and fatty tissue, causing more shape shifting in our feet. The result is that older people frequently wear ill-fitting shoes on one or both their feet because they’re buying the size they always did before.

That same article goes on to cite a recent study of 100 adults over 65 where it was discovered that 83% of the participants were wearing shoes of the wrong size. As we age keeping our feet protected from injury is more important than ever especially if we don’t sense pain due to peripheral neuropathy or other health issues. By wearing socks and shoes that fit at all times, we help protect our feet from hazards of wounds.

7. Moisturize. It might seem counter to keeping your feet comfortably dry, but you want to protect your skin from becoming dry and cracked. In addition to the soaking mentioned in a previous tip, be sure to apply moisturizing lotion to the top and bottom of your feet while avoiding any contact with the skin between the toes.

Take action with these seven foot care tips to keep your feet and toes twinkling! And if you or a loved one needs help with foot care, consider working with an in-home care professional such as those available at Home Health Companions Services. Your feet are truly your friends, so make sure to give them their due and they’ll make strides to keep serving you!

Bibliography:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/foot-health-pictures/funky-feet-facts.aspx

https://www.manchesterfootandankleclinic.com/foot-facts.html

https://www.thehealthy.com/foot-care/foot-symptoms/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324353

https://www.footankleinstitute.com/blog/are-your-shoes-the-right-size/

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Health Care Services

How to Age at Home with Confidence

Whether it’s you or someone you love, growing older means dealing with changes in health that can render daily living more complex. And if aging in place at home is one of your primary goals, it could still be difficult and scary to discuss what to do to reach that goal.

Health and aging mean dealing with new information, new specialists, more appointments and medications. These pile onto existing worries, including home maintenance, personal mobility, care of or by a spouse, and paying your bills. You want to stay in your home, but you’re not sure how you can make it work and still be safe.

You’re not alone in dealing with the struggle, and there are resources available to you. The first step is to plan and to form a strategy based on the services you need now—and as your circumstances change. This is exactly what we deliver in our Aging Life Care Services.

Advocacy for seniors, and those who have special medical needs, has become increasingly important in our society with so many aging loved ones. As per Population Reference Bureau: “Today, 40 million people in the United States are ages 65 and older, but this number is projected to more than double to 89 million by 2050.” More of us are older and more of us want to stay in our home, so gaining help to navigate the needs and services available has become critical.

If it seems daunting to create your age-in-place plan, there is help. A Home Health Companions Aging Life CareTM professional (also called a geriatric care manager) works with you and your family to make sense of all the moving parts of both the medical and personal care you need.

Here, we’ll explore why aging at home is beneficial, and how support from an Aging Life Care professional will make it possible.

Benefits of aging in place

Your desire to age in your home is understandable. You prefer to remain where you’ve lived in other chapters of life, and with the things and amenities that are familiar. You’d like to maintain your independence and keep as active a life as you can, too.

Over at Retirement Living, they’ve highlighted the top reasons aging is place is optimal in the article “5 Benefits of Aging in Place.” The list includes personal comfort, maintaining your cognitive health, and keeping your social networks. And to this list we can add the reality that retirement communities can be problematic for the spread of diseases, because people who are already susceptible to infection live there in greater numbers.

The primary reason most people want to stay at home, however, is that it is often the most affordable option. Long-term care facilities charge sometimes astronomical monthly fees, and even assisted living runs in the thousands of dollars per month.

In contrast, by staying in your home, you could keep living costs manageable, especially if your home is paid in full. Even the monthly mortgage would be a fraction of the cost of a retirement community.

 

The value of an Aging Life CareTM professional

The benefits of aging in your home are many, but coordinating all the pieces of medical and personal needs as you age can be a struggle. Whether it’s you or someone you love who needs to prepare to age at home, working with an Aging Life Care professional will assure everyone involved is confident of the plan put in place.

What can an Aging Life Care Professional do for you? Over at the Aging Life Care Association, they provide a detailed description of the myriad of areas where these experts offer an objective assessment.

Here, we highlight a few:

  • Medical concerns. This means they can act as a liaison with your physicians and specialists to determine the kinds of care you’ll require and how those needs can be managed at home.
  • Financial concerns. This can mean help with arranging bill payments, consultations with a Power of Attorney, or connecting families to local and governmental resources.
  • Family concerns. This can be a particularly challenging area, especially for families who live some distance apart. Conversations can be difficult when everyone is not heard or understood. Aging Care Professionals are skilled in working with families to help keep the focus on shared expectations and goals.

Aging Life Care Professionals walk hand-in-hand with their clients while taking a bird’s eye view of the circumstances and objectively working to tailor a specific proposal that will provide confidence for you going forward.

Oftentimes, it may take a consultation or two to chart out the communications of medical providers and other services. However, once you feel assured and understand your plan, that Aging Life Professional can step aside and come in again only as needed or when circumstances change.

At Home Health Companions, our Aging Life Care Professionals offer a seamless transition from plan to implementation. Once you’re set, other staff can step in to provide private duty nursing, personal and companion care as you need.

Aging Life Professionals help people stay at home longer, safer, and with greater quality of life. As we all continue to age, the services of these experts will be in even greater demand.

May was National Aging Life Care Month! The Aging Life Care Association and partners gathering touching stories from families who have benefited from working with Aging Life Care Professionals. You can find those stories on their Facebook page.

 

Bibliography:

https://www.prb.org/americas-aging-population/

https://www.retirementliving.com/5-benefits-of-aging-in-place

https://www.aginglifecare.org/ALCA/

https://www.facebook.com/AgingLifeCareAssociation

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Meeting Home Health Needs During the COVID-19 Crisis

We’re so very proud of our team members and their continued dedication to safely caring for our clients. During unprecedented times, our staff continues to observe stringent hygiene and health protocols while providing caregiving and nursing services. They are a vital human connection for our clients, especially right now.

New: Virtual Services
Families who face a need for in-home health services for a loved one during the COVID-19 crisis also struggle with protecting their health. That is why we are now offering virtual assessments to determine which services are needed and assist families in selecting the most appropriate choices. We are also able to provide virtual nurse visits.

In some cases, families are delaying engagement of home health services during the crisis and choosing to provide care themselves in the interim, while they themselves are at home. Other families are moving loved ones out of facilities temporarily to avoid the virus. We understand!

If you or someone you know is providing caregiving for a family member until the COVID-19 crisis subsides, ensure you have a care plan in place.

Create a Care Plan
A care plan is a list of all the tasks the caregiver does for and with your loved one. If you’re a Home Health Companions client, you have a care plan in place. If you are not a current client or if your loved one’s health has changed significantly, our Aging Life Care certified professionals can create one for you. Contact us at 214-295-8213. Our phone is answered 24 hours a day.

Additional Resources
If you are now in the position of providing care yourself, this new guide can be a useful resource: “Helpful Family Resources for Dealing with COVID-19.”

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Should you bring your loved one home?

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins asks families to consider bringing loved ones home from assisted living and skilled nursing facilities and caring for them at home. The Dallas Morning News reports that this suggestion is in response to confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents of a North Dallas senior-living facility.

Every situation is unique. Home Health Companions is here to help concerned families evaluate options and make informed decisions.

If you are thinking about moving a loved one home and providing in-home care – even temporarily – here are questions to address:

  • Can a nurse or caregiver help my loved-one at home daily?
  • What, if any, equipment would be needed, i.e. a hospital bed?
  • Do I have the resources available to help my loved one?

Please call us to discuss your concerns at 214-295-8213. Our phone is answered 24/7.

An Aging Life Professional® can help

If you are considering moving your parent home from a facility due to COVID-19, one of our certified Aging Life Care Professionals will work with you to create a plan of action, including logistics such as scheduling care and provision of any needed equipment.

An Aging Life Care™ certified professional, also known as a geriatric care manager, helps families with needs-assessment, plans of care, and arranging for services to meet their needs. They are experienced in several areas related to aging care, including counseling, gerontology, mental health, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc.

To schedule an assessment, please contact us today at 214-295-8213.

Why Home Health Companions?

Home Health Companions has earned the Best of Home Care Employer of Choice Award two years in a row from Home Care Pulse, who collects unbiased feedback direct from employees. Our client satisfaction for March 2020 is an impressive 93.7%.

But don’t take our word for it.

“Home Health Companions prevent crises from occurring. They anticipate the needs of the client and meet those needs. They are always available and are quick to get on any issues,” Home Health Companions client.

 

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Health Care Services

Tips for Communicating with Seniors

Seniors crave social connection as much as the rest of us. Unfortunately, sometimes they are less able to verbalize their feelings as well as they used to or are self-conscious about slower speech or reduced memory. Some extra effort may be needed to strike up a conversation with them. 

It’s important to try not to treat seniors differently. Realize that they have had rich experiences, which you can tap into and learn from during your time with them. Your honest and loving curiosity about their lives will both help to trigger memories for them as well as provide a natural path for conversation. 

Planning for a Visit 

If you know ahead of time that you’ll be visiting a senior, consider bringing something to do or talk about that might help trigger memories for them. A few ideas include:

  • A family photo album 
  • Music from when the person was young 
  • A simple craft project or puzzle 
  • A homemade goodie 

If they have access to a kitchen and used to enjoy cooking, bring ingredients for a meal or snack you can enjoy making and eating together. This might spark conversations about favorite foods, cooking techniques, or recipes 

Speak Normally

Avoid talking down to elderly people. Do not use baby talk, a singsong voice, or inappropriately familiar terms of endearment. Talk to them as you would any other adult. Many seniors feel insulted when people talk to them as if they are children, even if those people don’t mean any harm.

Questions to Spark a Conversation 

If conversations don’t seem to flow naturally, here are some questions that might help: 

  1. Who influenced your life the most? 
  2. What is the happiest moment of your life? 
  3. What is your proudest accomplishment? 
  4. What is your earliest memory? Note that many people’s long-term memory stays intact much longer than their short-term memory. 
  5. Who were your friends when you were growing up? 
  6. Did you have a pet? 
  7. Did you travel when you were younger? Where was your favorite vacation? 
  8. What was your favorite hobby? 
  9. What was school like for you as a child? What were your favorite and least favorite subjects? 
  10. What do you wish you’d done that you didn’t? 

It might be tempting to finish sentences, fill in blanks, or correct inconsistencies, but it is more respectful to give your full attention. Be patient if they aren’t able to speak or think things through at their previous pace. 

Try to stick to one topic at a time. Limit distractions to allow time to collect their thoughts. Turn off televisions or phones and move to a quiet corner, if possible. 

This is a time of their lives that may be characterized by loss: loss of health, finances, friends, mobility, and control, to name just a few. If we let them talk about these losses, it often gives us opportunities to talk about alternatives that help them retain the control they have left. 

When planning time together, rather than asking open-ended questions, give a couple of options. For instance, instead of “What would you like to eat?,” try “Would you rather have tacos or spaghetti for dinner?” 

Be aware of non-verbal communication. As people lose the ability to talk clearly, they may rely on other ways to communicate. Facial expressions may show sadness, anger, frustration, or other emotions. Allow them to express themselves verbally and non-verbally in every way they can. 

The bottom line is that all humans crave connection. They want to feel valued, respected, and loved. The efforts you make to communicate with your loved ones and seniors that you spend time with may be valued far more than you even realize and maybe even far more than they can express to you.

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Health Care Services

Researchers Explore Why Women’s Alzheimer’s Risk Is Higher Than Men’s

Scientists are beginning to understand why Alzheimer’s disease affects more women than men and why the disease seems to progress more quickly in women’s brains. The explanation appears to involve social, biological and genetic differences, researchers reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles.

One study looked at sex differences involving a toxic protein called tau, which tends to spread like an infection through the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.

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Health Care Services

Benefits of Hiring In-Home Care for an Older Adult

When a loved one is still living at home but struggling with the loss of independence as they age, hiring in-home care can be a great solution. Professional caregivers provide older adults with the physical assistance they need for the routine activities of daily living (ADLs) such as meals, bathing and dressing. In addition, in-home care can offer peace of mind to your family as well.

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Technology: Health Care Solutions for Aging Adults?

Adopting elder-friendly technologies may level the health care playing field as shortages loom in the number of professionals equipped to care for older adults.

Older adults often say that technology is the realm of the young. Statistically, it’s true that people under the age of 65 use digital devices to a greater extent. However, it’s the older generations that stand to benefit most from all technology has to offer.

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7 Ways Technology Has Improved Senior Care

Seniors make up more than 13 percent of the United States population (43 million people), according to the Census Bureau. That number is growing every year as a result of to the baby boomer generation. More than half of the baby boomers living in the country—around 76 million of them—are not classified as seniors yet, so it’s crucial that they become more aware of the many facets of senior care.

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Aging Life Care Managers® Help Families Create Evacuation Plans

Disaster planning is an important part of caregiving. When the unexpected occurs, like a flood or wildfire, minutes can be the difference between a safe evacuation and a more dangerous situation. Aging Life Care Managers can help families create and implement disaster plans. These professionals can assess a families’ situation, locate resources and support, and coordinate care plans so that older adults or others in need of services can age safely and with confidence.

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Health Care Services

Finding the Right Support Group

Support Groups can provide great comfort to family caregivers but finding the right one for you depends on many factors. Review these suggestions for finding a group that fits your needs.

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Research Confirms Value of Home Care Services to Family Caregivers

A recent study by Stanford Center on Longevity found that fewer Baby Boomer caregivers (U.S. adults ages 55 – 64) were less “socially engaged” with family and friends in 2012 versus 1995. The key reason for the decline includes other obligations like caring for an ailing relative. Caregivers are often unable to maintain more social lives while caring for a loved one which affects their own health and well-being.

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Programs and Therapies Explore Ways to Manage Pain

Deborah Sferlazza, 60, a former school principal, lives with chronic pain — but she’s learned ways to put her pain “in the back seat. It (the pain) is not always invited to the party,” she said.

After three surgeries to fix her discs, the pain remained. Her medications take some of the edge off, but she is unable to work and went on disability.

“I was treating myself like a china doll, worrying that anything I might do would break me,” she said.

She stopped socializing.

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Motivation to Move: Study Finds Mild Exercise Helps Decrease Pain and Improve Activity Level in Older Adults

It’s never too late to reap the benefits of exercise, and that includes older adults with arthritis and other muscle and joint conditions, according to a study. Researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) found that a low-impact exercise program in senior centers in New York City’s Chinatown and Flushing, Queens communities helped decrease pain, improve mobility and enhance quality of life for many participants.

The study, titled “Effects of a Culturally Tailored Low-Impact Exercise Program for Chinese Older Adults in NYC”, was presented at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in Denver.

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Health Care Services

How to Talk to Your Parent About a Move to Assisted Living

We all want to stay in our own homes for as long as we can. However, it’s not always in their best interest to do so. How do we talk with family members about the realities and dangers of staying at home once health is failing, and how do we convince them that a move to an assisted living center could be a very good, and positive option?

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Signs a Senior Needs Help at Home

Admitting the need for help and accepting assistance is not easy for people as they age. The responsibility often falls on family members to recognize the signs that an aging loved one might need support in completing daily living tasks.

How do you know if it is time for in-home care? Look for the red flags listed below.

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Financial Issues You Need to Discuss With Aging Parents

A recent survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that seven in 10 adults say they have difficulty talking to their families about who will make financial decisions for an aging family member who loses the ability to safely handle their money.

Part of the problem is the aging parent. Many elders have an attitude of secrecy about their financial situation. Deeply ingrained attitudes are not going to change. You need to work with them, by offering reassurance that you are not trying to take advantage of your parents, or take control over their lives. Reaching this emotional level in the conversation works far better than making an argument that “it’s time, and you’re getting old”. That line just might exacerbate their fears of losing control over their lives. Secrecy is often based in these fears.

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Trading Work for Caregiving: Financial and Practical Considerations

Each year over 43 million Americans provide unpaid care to a family member, usually a parent. But caregivers should carefully consider their own financial situation before they chose to leave the workforce to care for a family member.

Most of the time adult children can manage medical appointments and financial obligations. Often, the caregiving required extends beyond this investment. What most caregivers usually don’t consider is the financial impact caregiving has on their own monthly budget and retirement funds.

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4 Red Flags to Look for During Holiday Visits With Parents

When families live far away from one another, the holidays may be the only opportunity that long-distance caregivers and family members have to personally observe older relatives. Age-related decline can happen quickly. Family members who haven’t seen their aging loved one since last year may be shocked at what they see: a formerly healthy father looking startingly frail, or a mom whose home was once well-kept now in disarray.

And the number of caregivers considered long distance is significant. According to a study conducted by the National Alliance of Caregiving, in collaboration with AARP, 15% of the estimated 34 million Americans who provide care to older family members live an hour or more away from their relative.

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How to Include an Aging Family Member in Holiday Celebrations

The holidays are meant to be a joyous time for families to gather and celebrate. As we head into this holiday season, these usually happy occasions can be challenging for families with aging parents and loved ones.

Older adults with mobility issues, or conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s can start to feel isolated during the holiday season when everyone is getting together for celebrations and family visits. The holidays can disrupt familiar routines, or may require difficult travel, which can sometimes make an aging individual feel like a burden.

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Health Care Services

How Aging Changes in Bones, Muscles, and Joints

Changes in posture and gait (walking pattern) are common with aging. The skeleton provides support and structure to the body. Joints are the areas where bones come together. They allow the skeleton to be flexible for movement. In a joint, bones do not directly contact each other. Instead, they are cushioned by cartilage in the joint, synovial membranes around the joint, and fluid.

Muscles provide the force and strength to move the body. Coordination is directed by the brain but is affected by changes in the muscles and joints. Changes in the muscles, joints, and bones affect the posture and walk, and lead to weakness and slowed movement.

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Health Care Services

Physical Therapy: An Alternative for Pain Management

We are in the middle of an opioid epidemic. Nearly 25.3 million adults suffer from daily (chronic) pain, according to the CDC. Yet a large number of patients, many of them seniors, need help managing pain. Are there alternatives to these medications, which may cause addiction and dangerous side effects?

Physical therapy is one of the non-opioid alternatives recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recently released guidelines that urge prescribers to reduce the use of opioids for most long-term pain management. The guidelines indicate that while prescription opioids are appropriate in certain cases (such as cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care), non-opioid approaches are preferred, given the damaging potential side effects of opioids, which include depression, overdose, and addiction, plus withdrawal symptoms when stopping use.

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How to Prevent Medication-Related Problems

If the healthcare industry tracked the costs of addressing medication related problems (MRPs) it would be the fourth most costly “disease” after cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. This cost reflects only the direct healthcare costs, those costs paid directly to prescribers, hospitals, rehab/emergency care/ long-term care services and for medications, anything billed or paid for by the healthcare system and consumer.

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Preventive Screening for Seniors: Is That Test Really Necessary?

Caregivers and seniors often find themselves inundated with messages touting the benefits of this cancer detection test, or that diagnostic exam.

And, for those over 65, Medicare offers about a dozen free screenings—from bone density measurements to mammograms.

But, are all those tests really necessary?

The honest answer to this vital question is, regrettably, very complex.

Age is really just a number

Many health organizations, including, the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), use age-based cut-offs to determine recommendations for certain screenings.

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Adult Vaccination: Protect Yourself, Protect Others

In the interest of promoting more robust discourse around the importance of regular vaccinations for serious but preventable contagious conditions, MHA@GW is hosting a guest post series in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). AgingCare.com has paired with MHA@GW to encourage people of all ages to receive the proper vaccinations in order to protect their health and others’. Read more about this project here.

For many people, the topic of vaccinations evokes childhood memories of anxious trips to the doctor for shots. However, keeping up with recommended vaccine schedules through adulthood and old age is just as imperative as receiving those initial doses in childhood.

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Long-Distance Caregiving: Geriatric Care Managers Can Help

It is a concern many caregivers have: “Should I encourage my parents to get more help? The last time I visited, my mom seemed very confused, like she just wasn’t quite there. Dad didn’t seem to notice and didn’t want to talk about it when I asked him.”

If you do not see your parent often, changes in his or her health may seem dramatic. In contrast, the primary caregiver might not notice such changes, or realize that more help, medical treatment, or supervision is needed. Sometimes a geriatric care manager or other professional is the first to notice changes. For families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, it can be easier to “cover” for the patient—doing things for him or her, filling in information in conversations, and so on—than to acknowledge what is happening.

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When Answers Aren’t Easy

A geriatric care manager can alleviate stress and worry for family members while considering care options and managing responsibilities for loved ones.

When it becomes clear that an older member of the family is no longer able to live alone entirely unassisted, that individual and family members may need to make care choices to improve the quality of life. It can be difficult to know what kinds of services are available in the community to provide that needed care. That’s where a geriatric care manager can be an lifeline for selecting the appropriate level of care.

A geriatric care manager is a valuable resource to help manage and balance concerns about the appropriate level of care when caring for aging family members  get complicated. She can schedule in-home care assistance and communicate with all the family members on the care required.

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Ask for Help. You’re Not in This Alone.

Michelle Booth of Foster City, California, moved in with her parents 10 years ago, her three-year-old daughter in tow. Her parents were both in their late 70s, but they had the strength and the good health to be helpful, doting grandparents. That was years before her father suffered several strokes and before her mother developed Alzheimer’s disease.

Booth still lives with her parents, but she’s the one providing all the support. “They were a great source of help to me,” she says. “Now the roles are reversed.”

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Learning On-The-Job: Critical Steps That Every New Caregiver Should Take

If you’re caring for a chronically ill or disabled friend or relative, you’ve joined one of the biggest — and most important — workforces in the country. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA), an estimated 44 million Americans have taken on this vital job. They fix meals, make doctor’s appointments, do the laundry, and generally make sure their frail or sick relatives or friends can live as well as possible for as long as possible.

Caregivers have every right to feel proud of their role. Without them, untold numbers of people would have to move to nursing homes or other facilities. Of all of the adults who receive long-term care at home, nearly 80 percent depend solely on the help of friends and family members. And without caregivers, the health care system would likely collapse from the financial burden. As reported by the FCA, it would cost over $375 billion each year to pay for the services that family caregivers provide for free.

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When Aging Parents Resist Help

As Americans get ready to visit family and friends over the upcoming holidays, a survey reveals experts’ top tips for overcoming a common and difficult family problem—aging parents resisting the help they need. Experts surveyed by the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) say that emphasizing to aging parents that receiving assistance can help them maintain self-sufficiency and continue living independently is the best strategy.

This release came on the heels of related findings from ALCA (formerly the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers), finding that 80% of care managers reported regularly encountering cases where seniors are resisting needed help or declining assistance from their children or loved ones. ALCA also reported that the three types of help aging life care professionals most often find seniors resisting or declining are: decisions about whether to continue driving (cited by 67% of those surveyed), getting needed home health care (62%), and assistance with household chores like cooking, shopping and cleaning (60%).

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Choices

In the wake of healthcare reform, health providers are bundling services to link the ‘continuum of care’: the insurance companies contract with hospitals, hospitals with doctors, rehabilitation centers, medical providers and medical and non-medical home care companies.  It is important for the consumer to know that they do have choices as to what providers to select – the consumer does not have to choose the ‘partner’ company.  One of the patient’s Bill of Rights states that choices should always be given, and you – the patient – have the right to choose a different company from the ‘partner’.

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Caregivers Professionals Recognition Week

The Texas House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 4 during this the 83rd Legislature, Second Called Session 2013 to designate the week of September 8, 2013 as Caregiver Professionals Recognition Week. Direct support caregivers help individuals with physical and mental disabilities to live meaningful, productive lives in their respective communities, and to reduce  costly institutional services.  They build close relationships with people they assist, who rely on them for assistance with tasks such as eating, bathing, dressing, taking medications, overcoming mobility issues, and attending religious and other recreational activities.  Research clearly demonstrates community and peer recognition activities positively affects the recruitment and retention of members of this workforce. 

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What’s the Difference: The Four Types of Home Health

Medicare Certified Home Health Agencies, Licensed Home Health Agencies, Licensed In Home Care Agencies, and Hospice

Most clients reach a point in their life where they need a caring hand. Care can’t be categorized as “one-size-fits-all”. It can be confusing deciphering the differences between “Licensed Home Health Agencies” and “Licensed In Home Care” and although it might be easier, you can’t just refer everyone to the hospice around the corner. But which type of care is right for you or your family? Here’s a guide to the four types of home health:

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