Archives for posts with tag: in-home 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

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As we age, our brain literally shrinks. Over time, we may lose more than 10% of its size. But the brain is similar to muscle, in that muscles shrink and lose strength without exercise. Similarly, the brain can be “exercised” through a variety of different approaches from mindful stimulation, puzzles, and life long learning to proper nutrition and rest.

Seniors may experience declines in many key areas of cognitive function. Here are some tips to maintaining an active brain.

– Exercise: Regular exercise can be extremely positive in keeping the brain healthy. When your body benefits from exercise, so does your brain.

– Reading: Is beneficial on many levels. When you read, you may experience “new learning”. You absorb the information contained in the book. And the functional act of reading actually helps to build connections within the brain that make it more versatile.

– Eat properly: Concentrating on an all-around healthy diet may be the best nutritional strategy for keeping the brain, and body, in good health. Research has identified many foods and food groups such as fish, and nuts, which have been linked to a healthy brain.

– Maintain good posture: Maintaining an upright posture improves circulation and blood-flow to the brain. Slouching posture requires the circulatory system to work harder to maintain healthy blood flow.

– Sleep well: Getting enough sleep is important for mind and body. Sleep provides rest for a weary and tired body, supporting a refreshed body and mind.

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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

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

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

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

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

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