Archives for posts with tag: elders

Good personal hygiene is important. When providing assistance to an elderly parent or a senior, it has multiple benefits.

– Good hygiene assists with healthy skin and can help prevent infections
– Good hygiene, and clean clothes, makes an older adult feel better about themselves
– Personal grooming can provide an elder with a positive emotional sense of self
– A warm bath or shower can provide comfort and relaxation

Preliminary planning can ease the effort in assisting an elder into the bath or shower. They may not actually say it, but they can be very afraid of slips and falling. Also, aging parents can be stubborn about avoiding the cold and chill of the bathroom. Prep the room before getting started. Turn on the heat fan to warm up the room. And obviously, turn on the water to a warm and comfortable temperature which is “senior approved” before they step in. Seniors may like the water warmer than you do.

You may require a “shower chair” for an elderly parent. This is a chair with feet suctions which stick to the floor of the bathtub or shower, which enables seniors to sit while bathing. Remember, they may difficulty standing for any length of time. Grab bars can be a big help in actually getting in/out of the shower tub. If possible, insert a non-slip mat on the floor of the shower. Utilize gloves, washcloths, back brushes, and soft soaps for skin care. And have a clean, dry towel at the ready.

Take the time to set out a complete change of clothing prior to bathing. Seniors may require some assistance in taking clothes off, as well as putting on clean garments.

Older adults, generally, have sensitive and/or dry skin. So they may not need or desire bathing more than once or twice a week. This is something to remember…the elderly may not need daily bathing. No reason to fight this unless needed. Allow aging parents to help decide what kind of weekly routine works best for them.

Finally, encourage them to take care of themselves as much as possible. Provide a helping hand, or guidance, wherever needed.

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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

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

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

Denial can be an internal mechanism of protection. It can protect us from certain emotions we want to avoid, or refuse to accept. But sometimes it can be a hindrance in acknowledging the truth, or dealing with the reality of a person or situation. When an elderly parent or caregiver is in denial, it may quickly lead to unhealthy situations.

Sometimes, denial can be compounded by distance. But it also may occur right in front of us. For example, having a long distance telephone conversation with my mother – who is clearly not feeling well. But she denies sickness in order to avoid the truth of a hospital visit. Or, my mother denying the fact that my father has become a risk while driving, and allowing him to continue “because he has always done that”.

Caregivers need to be cognizant of right vs. wrong when caring for an aging parent or loved one. I will highlight some areas to monitor below, and next week.

1.) Elder confusion (or abuse) can be both subtle, and overt. Years ago, my mother had a roofing contractor come by the house, and tell her the driveway needed re-paving. This was the same contractor who had performed the work 2 years prior. He then submitted an exhorbitant invoice, and she innocently wrote a payment for the amount. It was stealing.

Denial can also be (somewhat) unintentional, personal, and subtle. A wife who yells at her husband to get up off the couch and cut the lawn, or go up in the attic, or take out the garbage, may not understand they are actually being abusive. The wife is urging the husband to “be what he once was”, but he may not be physically or mentally capable of such functions.

2.) Seniors can become disoriented.
Certain memory banks in the brain have been rendered inaccessible due aging or disease (alzheimer’s). The brain doesn’t remember directions or locations as it did before memory impairment. This can lead to frustration, panic, and anger.

3.) Seniors can have a home accident.
We had a case of an elderly woman starting a fire in her kitchen. She made two mistakes…placing flammable materials in the microwave, and setting the cook time too high. Or, sometimes the simple act of standing from a previous sitting position can cause fainting, and disorientation. A fall can easily break brittle bones and cause significant bodily damage. Leaving your elderly parents unsupervised can lead to accidents all over the house…in the kitchen, bathroom, stairway or 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

Re-posting a timely entry from the Social Security Administration…I think we all know someone fighting or surviving cancer…

In 2016, more than a million people will be diagnosed with cancer around the world. This alarming statistic affects the young, the elderly, and families everywhere. On June 5, 2016, we observe National Cancer Survivors Day in the United States. In support of this day, Social Security encourages getting checkups to provide early detection, raise awareness through education, and recognize the survivors who have gone through this battle or are still living with the disease.

Social Security stands strong in our support of the fight against cancer. We offer services to patients dealing with this disease through our disability program and our Compassionate Allowances program. Compassionate Allowances are cases with medical conditions so severe they obviously meet Social Security’s disability standards, allowing us to process the cases quickly with minimal medical information. Many cancers are on our Compassionate Allowance list.

There’s no special application or form you need to submit for Compassionate Allowances. Simply apply for disability benefits using the standard Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application. Once we identify you as having a Compassionate Allowances condition, we’ll expedite your disability application.

Social Security establishes new Compassionate Allowances conditions using information received at public outreach hearings, from the Social Security and Disability Determination Services communities, from medical and scientific experts, and from data based on our research. If you think you qualify for disability benefits based on a Compassionate Allowances condition, please visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov to apply for benefits.

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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

Population and demographic shifts…technology improvements…financial restrictions…all are areas effected by our changing marketplace. I will highlight various trends taking shape in my next two blog entries.

– The healthcare industry continues to grow. Some projections forecast greater than 25% growth for next 5 – 7 years, which means various services will expand. It also places a burden on Medicare to cut back, tighten restrictions, and push for efficient care deliveries.

– Technology usage will expand. Data analysis will help patients understand their care options. It will also help provide more efficient care monitoring and staff coverage.

– Registered nurses will remain in demand in the work force. Not only in large population centers, but also regional hubs where communities are partnering to create efficient and timely services and delivery systems.

– The labor force is changing, and the duties are shifting. Nurses may choose an early retirement lifestyle. But the rise of nurse practitioners to assist overburdened physicians will continue. Nurses will be needed to help support duties that were previously handled by physicians.

– The senior population, ages 75 or older, is becoming more and more comfortable with the internet and information access. Many more seniors are comfortable utilizing computers, cell phone, tablets, etc. Also, the delivery infrastructure (browsers, speed, data delivery) continues to improve and simplify.

Elders aging in place is a necessity. There will never be enough assisted living or nursing home facilities to absorb our ever growing senior population. Further, the services once provided by assisted living have become outdated…because the elderly residents have become much more needy as they have grown old and frail.
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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