Archives for posts with tag: elderly

Good personal hygiene is one of best ways to keep an older adult healthy.

If you expect to assist elderly parents in various aspects of personal hygiene, start with preparation. Have gloves at the ready, and wash your hands before and after any activity. Discuss with the senior the task at hand, and explain each step of the process. Encourage seniors to help themselves as much as possible.

– A relatively quick sponge bath can substitute for a full bath or shower. Maybe you have moved the bedroom downstairs, and negotiating the stairs for a full shower is not going to happen often. So you need to set-up with a washbowl, and juggle an elderly parent standing or sitting nearby. Be certain to have all necessary supplies, including gloves, washbasin, soap, drop cloth for floor, washcloths, face towel, bath towels, and clean, dry clothing.

– Shaving can be accomplished in a relatively simple fashion. An electric shaver will work wonders. Otherwise, be prepared with towels, razor and shaving cream, and a wash basin.

– Like bathing or showering, washing hair on a daily basis is not necessary, but should be accomplished with some weekly regularity. Simply combing or brushing hair will assist in maintaining vitality. Probably best to use a mild shampoo.

– Brushing teeth is a habit which seems to get disregarded by many seniors. Encouraging good oral hygiene is important for older adults. When assisting with brushing teeth, utilize a soft toothbrush. And bring along toothpaste, a rinse glass of water, a small basin or bowl, and a face towel. A dentist will need to regularly check-up on dentures to ensure and confirm proper fit, and to assess staining and any gum irritation.

Elderly parents may take a bit longer to accomplish cleaning, but enabling them to independently complete such functions (if possible) is important. Aiding an elder with personal hygiene is key to their health and self confidence.

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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

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Breaking news on next year’s cost of living adjustment for seniors. Re-posted from AARP…

Benefits for more than 60 million Social Security recipients will go up next year by a mere 0.3 percent, the Social Security Administration announced Tuesday.

This is the smallest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) since automatic raises began in the mid-1970s. And it comes after recipients received no bump up in benefits for 2016 because inflation was so low.

For retired workers the average monthly benefit in January will go up $5 to $1,360. But beneficiaries will likely find this small sum eaten up by higher premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor and outpatient hospital visits, experts say.

“Over the last five years, Social Security COLAs have remained small or nonexistent at 1.7 percent or lower, even though every cent can matter to beneficiaries and their families,” Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP’s CEO, said. “After last year’s zero COLA, this year’s announcement doesn’t offer much help to the millions of families who depend on their Social Security benefits. As prescription prices skyrocket and Medicare premiums and other health costs increase, many older Americans have understandable concerns.”

The annual COLA is designed to prevent inflation from eroding Social Security recipients’ purchasing power. The Social Security Administration calculates it by comparing the third-quarter inflation rate — as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W) — to the inflation rate during the third quarter in the year a COLA was last determined.

If there was measurable inflation over that time, beneficiaries receive a COLA. If prices remained flat or even fell, there is no COLA.

The COLA also will have an impact on Medicare Part B premiums. Premiums for 2017 haven’t been announced yet, but the Social Security Administration warned: “For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.”

When there isn’t a COLA, Part B premiums remain flat for about 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries. The burden of higher premiums then falls on the remaining 30 percent, which includes new beneficiaries and higher-income households.

Last year when there was no cost-of-living increase, Congress stepped in to minimize the impact of higher premiums on the 30 percent as well as to limit deductible increases for all.

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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

“Are my elderly parents safe while living in their home?” This is a common question of adult children as we monitor and care for our aging parents.

There are certain safeguards that can be easily implemented in the home. However, some safety enhancements do require the participation of seniors.

Consider some of the following:

– Keep a logbook of medication schedules. A brief notation or checkmark will provide evidence that pills have been taken daily.

— Utilize a medical alert system. Something simple such as a necklace will ensure you have your medical alert with you at all times. Or, keep it within easy reach of your chair or coffee table.

— Sturdy chairs. Probably best to consider removal of step stools. The risk of injury from a fall increases exponentially for every foot you are above the ground.

— Is a stair lift possible to install in your home? This is a big help for seniors living in a two-story residence. Or, at the very least, make sure the stairs have a non-slip surface.

— Utilize consistent lighting throughout the house. Seniors may suffer from poor eyesight, either depth perception or peripheral vision impairment. Certainly well-placed nightlights, or lights on timers for evening hours, can be a big help. Make sure elderly parents have a little illumination at night so they don’t have to fumble for a light switch in the dark and they can see where they are going.

— Do your parents walk with a cane or walker in the house? If so, then have extras for certain rooms. Keep a cane in the living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Most falls occur going from bedroom to bathroom. Make sure those devices are near their bed so when they get up they can easily reach them.

— Finally, move slowly from a sitting position to a standing position. Moving too quickly can result in light-headedness and loss of balance. Get up slowly.

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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

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

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

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

In addition to our elderly parents, other family members may also suffer from denial. Have you ever said to yourself, “Mom and Dad seem ok. When I spoke with them last week, they said everything was fine.”

Can you honestly trust their opinion? Are they fooling themselves? Or you?

Many elders have a form of dementia, some cognitive impairment or memory issue, and/or a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. It is extremely difficult for family members to accept that our elderly parents have gotten old, and changed. They have lost much functional ability, and they are no longer the parent you may remember. Having a realistic perspective about your elders is crucial.

If you are ignoring the signs of aging, you may be worsening the issue. You may be allowing your elderly loved ones to put themselves at risk.

Establish safeguards and reference points in observing behaviors. Do any dear friends whisper signs of observed deterioration? Does the doctor mention things to watch for? Is your own observation enough to cause you to stop and question what you have seen or heard? Ask questions from your family caregivers…what are they dealing with?

Are you observing anger? Do you see multiple and unusual disbursements from the checkbook? Are clothes increasingly soiled? Has there been a recent series of scratches or dents on the car?

There are professional resources available in most communities. Educate yourself on warning signs. Encourage medical involvement. Be aware that small, sometimes subtle changes in the aging continuum can be the alarm for increased scrutiny and assistance.

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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

“You don’t need to worry about it…I can do it myself”.

How many times have you heard such a statement from your elderly parents?

The subject of conversation could be almost anything. Have you cut the lawn? Have you had breakfast/lunch or dinner? Are you due for medications? Need help with errands, or laundry, or paying some bills?

Elders may be in denial as to their ability to properly function. And while we don’t want to take these functions away from them – especially if they remain able to complete the task at hand and live with some degree of independence – they may be denying the truth. They will not make themselves lunch. They have not taken their medications.

Seniors can hurt themselves, or others, when they deny the truth. If your loved one tries to do everything as they’ve always done, but in reality they require supervision, they are bound to hurt themselves or others. It could be a fender-bender in the supermarket parking lot; or heat exhaustion and possible heart attack from cutting the lawn. Or confusion from lack of food and too many prescription pills. Finally, if the “well spouse” has memory impairment, and he/she is caring for elderly partner, there may be unintentional harm.

— If a loved one has memory impairment, he or she will more than likely not be eating a healthy and nutritional diet. Poor nourishment, and lack of hydration, can quickly create problems. Meal planning, and grocery shopping, requires time and attention. Not to mention proper food preparation. Always a good idea to scan the food in the refrigerator, and boxes/cans stored in cabinets. Has anything been kept too long?

Seniors and driving accidents. Elders lose reflexes, hearing, and eyesight. This may result in bumping up over the curb, or scraping another nearby vehicle. But auto accidents can be catastrophic. Pedestrians and innocent bystanders could be hurt. As well as the elderly driver.

Elderly can overdose on medications. And many times the reason is simple…they can’t remember when or how many pills they took. So they double up on quantities when they do remind themselves about pill time. Increasingly, many elders are ingesting a dozen or more pills over the course of a day. This can be very, very difficult to keep track of for elderly parents and family members.

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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

Came across this post recently…an interesting issue for seniors. Does the body metabolize prescribed meds?

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 200,000 older adults are hospitalized annually due to “adverse drug reactions”. And 55 percent of the elderly don’t take their medications according to the doctor’s orders.

For some, it is a vision problem – not being able to read the small print on prescription labels which can lead to potentially dangerous misuse. For others, it may be due to memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and they simply forget to take their medications which can lead to life threatening situations. For a senior in a memory care unit, it is difficult for them to tell you a.) if they have taken their medications, and b.) if their medications are working properly. (And finally, these seniors may be unable or unwilling to advocate for themselves. They are blindly following orders.)

But, what if they are taking their medications as prescribed but they don’t have the ability to metabolize those medications? Not only are they throwing money away on medications that aren’t working, their health may be diminishing while they are on a “trial and error” medication. Have you ever heard a physician say, “take this for three weeks and if it doesn’t work, come back and we’ll try something else?” In an elderly person, sometimes you can’t afford to wait.

A lot of senior communities around the country have implemented the Metabolic Validation Program, via pharmacogenetic testing. By doing a simple buccal swab of the cheek, the healthcare team can now know scientifically if a medication has the ability to metabolize in that individual, as well as if they are having drug-on-drug interactions, or may need a dosage adjustment according to their rate of metabolism.

So what does it cost the individual or the facility? Medicare B covers the cost of the test and in some states, medicaid covers it as well. You might be asking yourself, “Will this bankrupt medicare?” The answer to that is no. Due to overspending on unnecessary medications, this test is actually a cost savings. For individuals on multiple medications this test can significantly reduce consumption of inefficient drugs.

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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

Health care costs will likely be your biggest retirement expense. For older adults, saving for retirement is only a start. Having enough financial resources and flexibility to live in retirement, PLUS cover expected health care costs as you grow older is a completely different planning equation.

Everyone will have a unique plan for aging. But forecasting options and strategizing about your “plan” is important – because it is likely that a significant portion of these future costs will come out of your own pocket.

Consider the following:
– Medicare covers only about half of beneficiary’s total health care costs.
– The higher your adjusted gross income, the higher your monthly Medicare premiums.
– Medicare generally does not pay long-term care expenses.
– Financial advisors estimate out-of-pocket health care estimates for a 65 year old couple can reach $250,000 – $400,000. over twenty years of retirement.
– Paying Medicare premiums, deductibles, co-pays and other shared costs will be elderly responsibility.
– A Medigap policy is an additional expense to consider. These are sold by private health insurance companies to help supplement original Medicare. This means it helps pay some of the health care costs that original Medicare doesn’t cover (like co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles). These are some of the “gaps” in Medicare coverage.
– Medicare Advantage Plans: A type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare Advantage Plans include Health Maintenance Organizations, Preferred Provider Organizations, Private Fee-for-Service Plans, Special Needs Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, most Medicare services are covered through the plan and are not paid for under original Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer prescription drug coverage. Of note: Medicare Advantage Plans may vary state by state, and county by county.

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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