Archives for posts with tag: non-medical home care

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

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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

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

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

“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

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

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

Timely re-post from the Social Security Administration as we approach Memorial Day…

“Traditionally, on Memorial Day we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

The unexpected loss of a service member is a difficult experience for the family. Social Security helps by providing benefits to protect service members’ dependents. Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits.

It’s also important to recognize those service members who are still with us, especially those who have been wounded. Just as they served us, we have the obligation to serve them. Social Security has benefits to protect veterans when an injury prevents them from returning to active duty.

Wounded military service members can also receive expedited processing of their disability claims. For example, Social Security will provide expedited processing of disability claims filed by veterans who have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent & Total (P&T). Depending on the situation, some family members of military personnel, including dependent children and, in some cases, spouses, may be eligible to receive benefits.

Service members can also receive Social Security in addition to military retirement benefits. The good news is that your military retirement benefit does not reduce your Social Security retirement benefit.

Service members are also eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you have health insurance from the VA or under the TRICARE or CHAMPVA programs, your health benefits may change, or end, when you become eligible for Medicare.”

You can learn more about Social Security survivors benefits at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.
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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