With people living longer these days, it is expected that by 2050, approximately 70 million individuals will reach age 65 and older. (That is approximately double the current age/population.) Obviously, this expansion of the elderly population will require more healthcare resources and personnel to meet the demand. But it will also necessitate a more proactive approach to monitoring one’s health – including more thorough knowledge of insurance and Medicare coverage. Preventative health screenings, along with advances in medical technology, will enable early detection.

For women age 65 or older, the American Cancer Society recommends cancer screenings as follows:

— Breast Cancer Testing: It is important that women report any changes in the way their breasts look or feel to their caregiver and/or a healthcare provider right away. They should get a mammogram every 2 years, or can even choose to get one every year, if they fall in the risk category (breast cancer runs in their family or they’ve had breast tissue issues before). It is important to know if a senior has a higher than average risk for breast cancer.

— Cervical Cancer Testing: No cervical cancer testing is needed if the senior has had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results during the previous 10 years. However, senior women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 20 years after that diagnosis, and the testing is covered by Medicare.

— Colon Cancer Testing: Testing is recommended for colon cancer, and there are many testing options. Plan to consult your primary health care provider. Medicare covers colon cancer testing.

— Lung Cancer Testing: If the senior has a history of smoking, talk to your physician about whether you should get an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit the senior if they are an active or former smoker who has quit within the past 15 years. It is important to discuss and learn the benefits, limitations, and risks of screening with a healthcare provider before testing is done. Medicare does cover lung cancer testing.
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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Taking advantage of “positive” health habits can make seniors less vulnerable to various forms of cancer. According to the National Institute of Health, advancing age is a high risk factor for cancer, with persons over 65 accounting for 60% of newly diagnosed malignancies and 79% of all cancer deaths.

Being “proactively” healthy requires some measure of discipline to incorporate nutritional diets and engage in any number of forms of exercise and other lifestyle habits. However, early detection and screening are extremely important in identification and diagnosis.

Cancer Screenings for Men Age 65 or Older

— Colon Cancer Testing: There are many colon cancer testing options. Talk with your health care provider about which tests are best for your unique situation and how often you should be tested. Medicare will cover the cost of testing.

— Prostate Cancer Testing: Important to consider overall health status, in addition to age, when deciding about the best prostate cancer testing. Men who expect to live at least 10 more years should talk with a care provider about the uncertainties, risks and potential benefits of testing to determine whether they want to be tested. Medicare covers prostate cancer testing.

— Lung Cancer Testing: Seniors who smoke are more at risk for lung cancer and should discuss with their health care provider whether they should get an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit seniors who are either active or former smokers. Medicare covers testing.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Some people with depression may not recognize that they’re depressed. Explain to them that the condition can get progressively worse, even become chronic, if not treated early.

People with depression can’t simply rest and sleep it off. And family providing care and support will not solve the problem. Medical and psychosocial support is needed.

Family should listen carefully for signs of hopelessness and pessimism, and don’t be afraid to call for help — either a treatment provider, or even take them to the ER if their safety is in question.

Activities that promote a sense of accomplishment, reward, or pleasure are directly helpful in improving depression. Choose something that the person finds interesting. Still, keep in mind that they may not feel interested in the activity right away.

Other tips:

— Pay attention. If someone you love has been depressed in the past, pay attention if the person is experiencing some of the riskier life phases (in terms of depression), such as adolescence or a recent childbirth.

— Find local services. Use support services in your community or online resources such as National Alliance on Mental Illness to help you find the right specialists to consult on depression treatment. A primary-care physician or an ob/gyn can also provide referrals for a psychiatrist. It’s worth investigating supportive services and specialists.

— Encourage doctor visits. Encourage the person to visit a physician or psychologist; take medications as prescribed; and participate in cognitive behavioral therapy for depression.

— Read all about it. Books about depression can be useful, especially when they are reliable sources of advice or guidance that’s known to help people with depression. Books can often shed light on the types of treatment available.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

I was recently informed that a college classmate just lost his wife. She committed suicide, and the cause was depression. He never saw this coming…

I am re-posting pertinent information, sourced from health.com, concerning depression and awareness. Am hoping this will help someone effected by this medical condition…

1.) Realize treatment is key. Depression is a medical condition requiring medical care. As a family member or friend, you can listen to the person and give your support, but that might not be enough. If you keep this in mind, it can prevent you from losing patience or getting frustrated with them because your best efforts don’t “cure” their depression.

2.) Get active in their care. The best thing you can do for someone with depression is support his or her treatment. Tell your friend or loved one that depression is a medical problem and ignoring it will not make it go away.

3.) Talk about it. Let them know that you and others care about them and are available for support. Offer to drive them to treatment or, if they want to talk to you about how they’re feeling, know what to listen for.

4.) Stay in contact. Call or visit the person and invite her or him to join you in daily activities. People who are depressed may become isolated because they don’t want to “bother” other people. You may need to work extra hard to support and engage someone who’s depressed.
Routines that promote exercise, nutrition, and a healthy amount of sleep are helpful.

5.) Focus on small goals. A depressed person may ask, “Why bother? Why should I get out of bed today?” You can help answer these questions and offer positive reinforcement. Document and praise small, daily achievements—even something as simple as getting out of bed.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Asthma sufferers can get help that will enable you to enjoy life while managing your symptoms. There are preventative steps that can be taken to minimize some inflammation issues.

First, you might begin by speaking with your physician and developing an action plan. Asthma is treated with two types of medicines: long-term control and quick-relief medicines. Long-term control medicines help reduce airway inflammation and prevent asthma symptoms. Quick-relief, or “rescue” medicines relieve asthma symptoms that may flare up. This may mean, for example, using an inhaled cortico-steroid every day and an inhaled long-acting spray as soon as symptoms begin to appear. It may also mean using an over-the-counter antihistamine, perhaps in combination with a decongestant to relieve nasal congestion.

While asthma has no cure, it can be effectively managed. Working closely with an asthma specialist can provide guidance on taking medicines properly, avoiding asthma triggers, tracking level of asthma control, responding to worsening symptoms, and seeking emergency care when needed. In short, it means staying on top of your game and your condition. This might include, for example, using a peak flow meter, which will show if your asthma is getting worse, even before you start to feel symptoms.

Best to build a plan to manage your asthma with your primary care physician.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Asthma affects an estimated one in 12 Americans. It is a chronic lung disease where the airways narrow and swell, producing extra mucus, making it difficult to breathe. Other common symptoms include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. It can be debilitating for sufferers.

Here are suggestions on preventive actions that can be taken:

• Pay attention to pollen counts and stay indoors when they are very high. High pollen count days tend to be warm and windy (with lowest pollen count days when it rains).
• Keep the windows closed and the air conditioning on when you are in the house or car. This will keep the pollen from coming inside.
• Regularly vacuum and dust flat surfaces in the house. Pollen collects in dust, so cleaning will keep levels down indoors.
• Wash the pollen off when you return home. It might seem like overkill, but it’s a good idea to shower and change your clothes when you return home.
• Use your medication preventatively, rather than waiting for symptoms to appear.

Bottom line is…if you have asthma don’t simply “grin and bear it” or wrap yourself in a bubble to avoid contact with allergens that trigger asthma symptoms.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Heat related fatigue or illness effecting elderly parents can take many forms, including rapid breathing, weakness or fainting, headaches, and confusion.

First and foremost, replenish the elderly – or anyone suffering from heat related issues – with water, which is best served at room temperature. This will help to cool the body. Can they be moved to a cooler location in the house? Is there a fan to blow air over them? Certainly removing excess clothing will help. Allowing the skin to cool down as it emits water will help the body to lower temperature and stabilize.

Some additional tips for keeping seniors cool and comfortable:

— If you don’t have air conditioning, keep shades or drapes down and blinds closed on the sunny side of the house, but keep windows slightly open to allow for ventilation. Is there a finished basement in the house? Usually this room is much cooler.

— Keep electric lights off or turned down low, and turn off all unnecessary electrical appliances, such as computers and TV’s which generate a lot of heat.

— Have you ever walked into the kitchen during dinner preparation and felt the room hotter than the rest of the house? Avoid generating excessive heat. Minimize use of the toaster. Try to cook without the oven. And avoid heavy meals.

— Be aware that certain medications make it harder for your body to control its temperature and/or may make it easier for your skin to burn. This includes both common prescription and over the counter drugs. Consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding side effects of your medications.

— Use a fan in the house near the window to bring in the cooler air from the outside. But don’t use a fan to bring in hot air from the outside. Don’t use a fan in a closed room without windows or doors open to the outside.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Costs for senior care continue to rise. Increasingly, reports from both independent living and assisted living facilities indicate the cost of resident and or elderly care is on the rise.

Research indicates average cost increases are 2.7% year over year. Extrapolated over a ten year period, this equates to more than a 25% increase over the next decade.

There are multiple reasons for an uptick in costs. 1) Seniors are simply living longer, and old age requires additional services and care. 2) Seniors are waiting longer to transition and move, which means they are older upon arrival to a senior living complex. Delaying the transition increases the chances that there will be an acute need for care. And, 3) Staffing levels at both independent and assisted living facilities are being expanded to accommodate demand (to provide care assistance to residents), and therefore costs are being pushed onto these elderly consumers.

In this current ten year period (2016 – 2026), it is expected that there will be approximately 1.6 billion over the age of 65 years. For those (many!) attempting to live their retirement years on limited or fixed income, the costs of communal/residential living will not be reachable.

Assisted living and other similar options are simply cost-prohibitive to many elders. In response, a growing number of seniors are building care options at home. They prefer to remain at home, and “age in place.”

Many aging parents only require a few hours of support and assistance per day. In-home care services are able to address this need with a care plan fitted to the individual(s). If more care services are needed, you ramp up.

It is clear that in-home care provides the most flexibility and cost efficiency for growing numbers of seniors across the U.S.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

An elderly parent with dementia can be an extremely difficult case for family members. Stress, frustration, lack of sleep, physical breakdowns can be characteristic of caregivers who are attempting to help aging seniors. Family caregivers may be putting their own health at risk when they are in denial about the help they need caring for an elder.

Tips on facing denial and maintaining emotional intelligence:

— Keep yourself sane: for many, this may involve sharing your frustrations and thoughts with a non-judgmental confidante. Perhaps a dear friend, or member of extended family. Also, consider keeping your thoughts to yourself – by writing a journal or diary to assist in releasing thoughts onto paper.

— Understand your emotions, and recognize anger. It is not easy to control emotions in the “heat of the moment”. Nor is it to “turn the other cheek”, and not take insulting comments personally. But remember you may be dealing with a parent who has a disease.

— Accept support. Family, friends, neighbors may all provide small measure of assistance.

— Understand the medical issues. There may be behaviors that can be anticipated based on medications and physician diagnosis.

— Give yourself a break. Find actions which provide some relaxation. Exercise, fresh air, a strategic phone call, going for a walk, laughter – can give you a chance to refresh for the tasks at hand.

— Professional help is available…don’t hesitate to ask! Call your local Council on Aging for recommendations on professional counseling. There are also many local support groups which meet on a regular basis during daytime or early evening hours. You are not alone, and others may provide insight and empathy as to your circumstances.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Due to the heat, summer months (particularly July and August) can be a very difficult and uncomfortable time for the elderly. Of foremost concern are aging parents with chronic illnesses and/or those who take certain medications.

The biggest dangers for seniors are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Watch for light headed-ness and symptoms of fatigue.

Here are some suggestions to consider:

— Drinks lots of cool water even when you’re not thirsty. You can dilute water with a 50/50 mix of natural fruit juices if you desire a change. Avoid alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, coffee, cola, and caffeinated drinks. Caffeine is a diuretic, which can lead to dehydration.

— Stay out of the blazing sun or heat whenever possible. If you must go outside, stay in the shade as much as possible and try to go out early in the morning or later in the evening when it is cooler.

— Wear a hat and loose fitting, comfortable clothes with materials like cotton, linen, and silk. Avoid synthetic fabrics as they retain heat and may make you more uncomfortable. Also, dark colors absorb the heat – so stay with lighter colored clothing from the wardrobe closet.

— Take advantage of air conditioning or cool places like shopping malls, libraries, movie theaters, etc. A brief rest stop to cool down can be very helpful.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com