Archives for posts with tag: home health care

As we grow older, normal aging causes elders to experience decline in cognitive functions. Leading a healthy lifestyle that’s both socially and intellectually stimulating combats normal, age-related mental decline.

Here are some additional tips to help keep the mind sharp and brain nourished:

– Paint, draw or doodle: Use your brain by using your hands. Join a local art class, whether stenciling, water color, or oil. Simply making a picture is an excellent workout for the brain.

– Listen to music: Music has been linked to improved cognition and memory functioning. Plus, it can be a mood enhancer or relaxing agent.

– Old dogs can always learn new tricks: Take in a lecture or historical presentation. Check out adult education classes on something you’ve always been interested in, or just something that sounds fun. Local colleges and senior centers can offer engaging, low-cost lectures and classes for older adults. You can learn a new language, become competent as a piano player, or learn new technology (such as an ipad, new computer or cell phone, etc.).

– Do puzzles: Or play cards. A brain challenge will stimulate your intellect, increase your mental capacity, and exercise your brain. Everything from crossword puzzles to jigsaw may be entertaining and helpful.

– Write: A short story? A letter to a long lost friend? Writing improves working memory and your ability to communicate. It can be an email, or a blog, or a private diary.

Maintaining an active, social, healthy lifestyle may be the best defense against dementia and brain disease.

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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

The misuse resulting from juggling and coordinating multiple daily medications is the country’s fifth leading cause of death. Market research reveals that seniors between the ages of 65 and 69 take an average of 14 medications daily. And this number only increases as seniors age. If you have ever set-up a pill dispenser for your elderly parents, you understand how confusing and difficult the task. Further compounding the problem…think of the difficulty for a senior with cognitive or memory problems.

– Maintain an up-to-date med list. I urge elderly clients to post copies in kitchen, or on the refrigerator, or bedside table. Or, keep in a logbook which remains in the house. And, keeping family caregivers informed and up-to-date can be vitally important.

Is there a difference between brand name and generic substitutes? Has your pharmacist explained these differences? Is there potential for adverse drug reactions, such as fatigue and drowsiness? Irritability? Upset stomach?

Home care staff can play a significant role in clarifying the medication maize. Be sure document a complete listing, which includes over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and any herbal supplements.

– Keep a watchful eye on pill drawer. Most seniors do not throw away expired or unused pill containers. They keep them, under the assumption that they may be “needed.” Or in case they “run out”. Unfortunately, this is a very bad habit. Almost all the dosages change, so keeping an old prescription is unwise. Get rid of expired pills!

– Organizing pill boxes. Some seniors may be able to handle this task on their own, while others will need assistance. I always try to set-up the next week prior to the current week expiring. This enables continuity…the pills are always ready when needed.

Obviously, taking medications at certain times of day — around any mealtime of morning, lunch, or dinner — helps with scheduling. Or, at bedtime. This will help seniors to remember to take their pills. Be watchful of signs that your elderly parents are struggling, or missing, their daily meds. Ask your pharmacy to automatically refill and deliver your medications.

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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

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

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

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

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