Archives for posts with tag: sandwich generation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Taking advantage of “positive” health habits can make seniors less vulnerable to various forms of cancer. According to the National Institute of Health, advancing age is a high risk factor for cancer, with persons over 65 accounting for 60% of newly diagnosed malignancies and 79% of all cancer deaths.

Being “proactively” healthy requires some measure of discipline to incorporate nutritional diets and engage in any number of forms of exercise and other lifestyle habits. However, early detection and screening are extremely important in identification and diagnosis.

Cancer Screenings for Men Age 65 or Older

— Colon Cancer Testing: There are many colon cancer testing options. Talk with your health care provider about which tests are best for your unique situation and how often you should be tested. Medicare will cover the cost of testing.

— Prostate Cancer Testing: Important to consider overall health status, in addition to age, when deciding about the best prostate cancer testing. Men who expect to live at least 10 more years should talk with a care provider about the uncertainties, risks and potential benefits of testing to determine whether they want to be tested. Medicare covers prostate cancer testing.

— Lung Cancer Testing: Seniors who smoke are more at risk for lung cancer and should discuss with their health care provider whether they should get an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit seniors who are either active or former smokers. Medicare covers testing.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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

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