Archives for posts with tag: home health agency

In honor of Veterans Day, I am re-posting a memo from the Social Security Administration…

Every Veterans Day, the nation honors the brave men and women who risk their lives to protect our country and the freedoms we cherish. Social Security honors veterans and active duty members of the military every day by giving them the support they deserve. A vital part of that is administering the Social Security disability program.

For those who return home with injuries, Social Security is a resource they can turn to for disability benefits. Social Security’s Wounded Warriors website is at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors.

The Wounded Warriors website has answers to many commonly asked questions, and shares other useful information about disability benefits, including how veterans can receive expedited processing of disability claims. Benefits available through Social Security are different from those available from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application.

The expedited process is available to military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs.

Even active duty military who continue to receive pay while in a hospital or on medical leave should consider applying for disability benefits if they’re unable to work due to a disabling condition. Active duty status and receipt of military pay doesn’t necessarily prevent payment of Social Security disability benefits. Although a person can’t receive Social Security disability benefits while engaging in substantial work for pay or profit, receipt of military payments should never stop someone from applying for disability benefits from Social Security.

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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

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 your elderly parents safe living in their home? Generally, they sound comfortable on the long distance phone call. But aging issues can negatively effect their home safety and mobility due to the haziness brought on by medications — physical weakness or soreness which has them compensating their posture — and eyesight deterioration.

Here are some simple, and helpful changes to the home which may assist elder navigation and safety.

— Remove throw rugs. They may look nice, but they effectively change the surface level of the floor, which can effect the steps and gait of a senior. They may protect the carpet, but they can easily slip and slide, which is a tripping/falling hazard. Keep the flooring levels simple and consistent. Can they walk unimpeded with a cane or walker?

— Remove items that can block hallways and walkways. Seniors need a clear, open path for navigation. Obstructions can hinder movement, and be unsafe for elders who may be having difficulty with eyesight as well as physical movements. Keep electrical cords covered, or tacked to the wall perimeter. Walking from room to room should be free of all obstructions.

— Install railings or grab bars. How many times have you witnessed your elderly parents navigate their household by grabbing onto counter tops, door knobs, and furniture as they shuffle from living room to dining room, or bathroom? If seniors are unsteady, consider installation of railings and grab bars throughout the house. Certainly, this is a very positive safety addition to tub and shower areas.

— Home security. Are doors locked? Are windows locked? My parents live in a nice neighborhood which can be a target for theft. Installing sensor lighting in driveway, and a dead bolt on the back door, has been very helpful additions in addressing safety concerns.

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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

Most seniors take medications for age-related health issues. And a very high percentage of elderly take multiple medications, which can be frightening and confusing. Mismanagement of prescription medications leads to nearly 30 percent of all hospitalizations in the U.S.

Our elderly population, due to a wide range of medical issues, is particularly exposed to mistakes and prone to forgetfulness. Many seniors have developed good habits to track their daily medications. For example, many keep a notebook/diary and mark every day to provide a record of compliance. However, many others simply can’t, or won’t, keep track on a daily basis.

Family caregivers and home care staff can greatly assist elderly parents manage their medications. But you need to be involved on a consistent basis, either daily or weekly.

– Understand your medications. Are there side effects to consider? Is there a way to minimize the list?

Research reveals that approximately half of adult Americans “have difficulty reading, understanding and acting upon health information.” This is not particularly surprising. When seniors do not understand, they tend to ignore, dismiss, and forget.

A simple call to your local pharmacist can provide relevant background and review of medication schedules. Understanding the med list is invaluable in eliciting patient engagement and awareness. Keep a current, written, medication list. And make multiple copies.

– Stay consistent with one, local pharmacy. There are multiple benefits to establishing and maintaining one source. First, convenience, location, and service. Does your pharmacy deliver your prescriptions? They might also set-up your pill dispenser for 1-4 weeks in advance.

Secondly, having an additional resource to review medications is helpful. Your primary care physician should be aware of all prescribed medications, but sometimes a hospital visit will necessitate changing drugs. Having a pharmacist to review and distribute meds helps to keep watch for potentially dangerous drug combinations.

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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

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

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

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