Archives for posts with tag: non-medical companion

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

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

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

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

Due to the heat, summer months (particularly July and August) can be a very difficult and uncomfortable time for the elderly. Of foremost concern are aging parents with chronic illnesses and/or those who take certain medications.

The biggest dangers for seniors are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Watch for light headed-ness and symptoms of fatigue.

Here are some suggestions to consider:

— Drinks lots of cool water even when you’re not thirsty. You can dilute water with a 50/50 mix of natural fruit juices if you desire a change. Avoid alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, coffee, cola, and caffeinated drinks. Caffeine is a diuretic, which can lead to dehydration.

— Stay out of the blazing sun or heat whenever possible. If you must go outside, stay in the shade as much as possible and try to go out early in the morning or later in the evening when it is cooler.

— Wear a hat and loose fitting, comfortable clothes with materials like cotton, linen, and silk. Avoid synthetic fabrics as they retain heat and may make you more uncomfortable. Also, dark colors absorb the heat – so stay with lighter colored clothing from the wardrobe closet.

— Take advantage of air conditioning or cool places like shopping malls, libraries, movie theaters, etc. A brief rest stop to cool down can be very helpful.

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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

When elderly parents, and family members, are in denial…they often put aside and discard evidence pointing to urgent problems. They refuse to accept the real state of health. And, they do not prepare properly and realistically for end of life.

Here are some issues to consider as we all inevitably age…

1.) Have your legal papers in order: Specifically, establish contact points with your elderly parents and family with a designated “Power of Attorney” (POA). Any hospital will request this document, but also the local bank and utility company. It establishes who can speak on behalf of an incapacitated adult.

2.) If family is not involved, then who? When family members are in denial, they can not advocate for elderly parents. This may get turned over to someone outside the family, which can create tension within the family…as well as a financial burden.

3.) Denial can escalate family conflicts. Differences, real or imagined, can produce arguments, tension, and frustrations. A split within the family means that some are picking up all the chores and responsibilities…while others refuse to help. Communication can become strained.

4.) Finances, including net worth and investments, are traditionally private matters. But if older adults are no longer mentally competent, these financials might be mismanaged and losses can result.

5.) Denial can lead to avoidance. And time is a finite resource. Which means family spends less time with elderly parents rather than more time. This is a lost opportunity to create family bonds and memories. Some small interaction may provide a lasting image and memory.

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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