Monthly Archives: April 2011

Subtle Signs and Signals

During my kids hectic teenage years I often loss site of my parents ‘aging needs.’ I wish I had been more available, more observant, more everything, but it just wasn’t possible since they lived a fair distance from me. ‘Beating’ yourself up over a lack of parental oversight isn’t productive so I would like to share some ‘aging signs and tips’ that might be of help.

Some of these ‘signals’ may be noticeable to you, however if your parents do not live close it might be important to contact a friend or two of theirs so that you stay abreast of a possible problem before a crises ensues. Being aware of any changes in the way your parents handle day-to-day chores can provide ‘health’clues.

Read the full article here

Contemplating The Inevitable

It dawned on me, albeit reluctantly, that I am perilously close to being classified ‘a senior’, hence my pursuit of information; i.e. ‘senior stuff’…the importance of which is far greater to me today. Several years ago I was clueless to the ramifications of getting older or the havoc the same could wreak in regards to the ‘quality of life’. AARP has been issuing me a ‘join’ card for several years (possibly 10), which I avoid, as if to do so would miraculously keep me ‘age stationary’. But I digress…

Currently on my ‘be informed and educate others’ list is to advocate and encourage baby-boomers to discuss and prepare for that which is inevitable so that they make ‘aging’ arrangements that satisfy their needs and at the same time keep others in the loop as to their wishes. As an employee of Home Instead Senior Care I am all too aware that many seniors reach ‘critical crisis’ mode before any plans for care, care-giving duties, payments, assistance or living quarters have been given any thought either by the senior, their children and/or their extended family members.

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Helping Mom and Dad Regain Their Mobility

It’s not unusual for us here at Home Instead Senior Care to hear stories of elderly parents having fallen or having been laid up for several weeks…Many times we are asked about seniors regaining their strength and suggestions on how best to assist that recovery by family caregivers…

In a nutshell, help get your parents moving. A study has shown that hospitalized elderly patients who work to get back on their feet even by taking short walks around a hospital unit tend to leave the hospital sooner than their more sedentary peers.

The research, conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, draws on data collected from 162 hospitalized patients over age 65. Each patient was fitted with a pager-sized “step activity monitor” attached to his or her ankle – an electronic device capable of counting every step the patient took.

“Using these monitors, we were able to see a correlation between even relatively small amounts of increased mobility and shorter lengths of stay in the hospital,” said Steve Fisher, a UTMB Health assistant professor and lead author on the paper. “We still found this effect after we used a statistical model to adjust for the differing severities of the patients’ illnesses.”

Talk to your parents doctor or health care team about ways that you can get your mom or dad up and around. Most hospitals are eager to help their patients recover and will assist them in daily walks. If you want to supplement that care by assisting your parent, I am fairly certain they would welcome that encouragement. Or, if you are unavailable, consider hiring a caregiver companion who could help your parent in the hospital and/or after they return home as a way to keep your loved one motivated to move as well as to lend a helping hand with household chores such as meal preparation, light housekeeping and medication reminders.

Home Instead CAREGiversSM are screened, trained, bonded and insured, and capable of assisting your parents with several activities of daily living until they regain their strength. Home Instead Senior Care® also makes every effort to match CAREGivers with seniors of similar interests, which is a bonus for many older adults.

For more tips on how you can help your parents realize the important benefits of exercise, click here

Community Living Assistance Services and Supports

In February 2011 Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius provided an update on the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program, created under the Affordable Care Act. The CLASS Act establishes a voluntary insurance program for people who are unable to perform two or more “functional activities of daily living,” such as the ability to feed or dress one’s self without assistance. Unfortunately, such impairments typically accompany the progression of Alzheimer’s and other diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis (MS).

The program will help eligible individuals pay for non-medical services and supports to enable them to remain as long as possible in their homes and communities. Those who choose to participate in this voluntary program pay premiums while they are working and become eligible should they become functionally impaired, regardless of age. Adults who meet the eligibility requirements will receive a cash benefit of no less than $50 a day to purchase services such as adult day care and transportation services.

The Secretary is working on several key CLASS program benefits and enrollment issues before the program becomes officially available in October 2012. During her remarks, Secretary Sebelius emphasized the agency’s continued efforts – ranging from increasing public awareness about long term care services, to ensuring benefit flexibility for eligible individuals. The Alzheimer’s Association supported the CLASS program and its passage as it specifically includes within the eligibility requirements people who develop substantial cognitive impairment. This new voluntary insurance program will help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease remain as independent as possible – living in their homes and communities for as long as possible.

While we continue to work toward the day when we will have treatments that stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks, in the meantime CLASS can serve as an important part of an individual’s overall plan to be as prepared as possible to cope with Alzheimer’s impact. For more information

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men (don’t always work)

The clock may be ticking faster than you think. Are we ever really fully prepared…especially if we have waited to make those end of years ‘legal docs’ because our parents (or ourselves) appear healthy and after-all we have made it to our 60’s – 80’s with relatively no problem…

But then, in an instance, a family member’s health deteriorates and rapidly! They are admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and/or congestive heart failure, etc. What follows is a series of challenging moves from the hospital to a rehab center to a respite center, back to the hospital and even a possible nursing home stay.

In an instant all your research and eminent ‘senior’ planning is out the window. With a parent or both parents on a health roller coaster, it is impossible for you to properly evaluate their needs and the situation quickly becomes more than you can handle.

Thankfully Geriatric Care Managers have surfaced in this, the day and age of the rapidly blooming ‘baby boomers’ and their parents into senior ‘caredom’. Although the cost may be prohibitive to some, many long-term care policies cover the expense. Geriatric Care Managers will assess and coordinating your aging parents’ needs. They will assist in filling out long-term care paperwork, having medical records transferred, help with doctors and coordinate with the facility you eventually select.

Most Geriatric Care Managers provide unbiased advice because they are not associated with any one senior living facility so a surviving parent or caregiver can be at ease of receiving legitimate as well as helpful advice. Hiring a professional who understands the ins and outs of senior care can help families through their crisis. Their input will help you select the best facility available for your parents – something that will allow you peace of mind. If you are looking for a certified Geriatric Care Manager to assist with your family’s elder care planning needs, please consult this online Directory for an expert in your area.

Caring for a Loved One with Chronic Pain: The Four Caregiver Cornerstones

It’s important to realize, that as a caregiver, you are not alone. Articles such as the one recently written by Lee Woodruff in Huff Post portrays the many emotions and confusion all family caregivers may struggle through at one time or another. For additional information and support as it relates to non-medical senior care please click here for additional information.

The Budget Battles: The Threat to Medicaid and Medicare

When will we see our elected officials make decisions that support the elderly in this country? We are currently underfunded in almost every area of healthcare and regardless of the claims made by most insurers that they are NOT making money, it seems more likely that they are just NOT making AS MUCH as they used to. Profits are down because people are living longer and instead of cashing out their policies they have opted to ‘hang-on’ to them…We are in a sad state of affairs when it comes to our seniors….

In an editorial written in today’s NY Times…

Representative Paul Ryan’s proposals to reform Medicare and Medicaid are mostly an effort to shift the burden to beneficiaries and the states. They have very little reform in them.

They certainly won’t solve the two most pressing problems in the nation’s health care system: the relentlessly rising cost of care and the shamefully high number of uninsured Americans — now hovering around 50 million. Mr. Ryan is also determined to repeal the new health care reform law. Never mind that the law would make real progress on both fronts, covering more than 30 million of the uninsured and pushing to make health care delivery more efficient and effective and less costly.

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Yes Virginia, We Are Aging

Baby boomers do not want to believe they are aging. We are the quintessential ‘hippies’ and rebels. Alas we have come to realize the process cannot be stopped and the topic has become the ‘in’ thing to write and read about. If you find yourself obsessed about weight gain, sex drive or chronic diseases, remember ONE thing… the key to healthy aging is a healthy lifestyle. And as simplified as that may sound…eating a variety of healthy foods, practicing portion control and including physical activity in your day-to-day routine can go a long way toward increasing your chances of aging well. If you haven’t given the process much though it’s never too late to begin making lifestyle changes in order to feel better…

However, I cannot stress enough that anti-aging therapies — such as restrictive diets, supplements or expensive treatments claiming to postpone or even reverse the aging process — may not be fully vetted, so you should tread cautiously. There’s no quick fix for healthy aging. You need to KNOW what it is you’re buying, and fully understand exactly what the treatment entails and WHAT it will deliver…