Archives for posts with tag: seniors

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.

**************************************************************************
– 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

Advertisements

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.

*****************************************************************
– 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.

*********************************************************************
– 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.

**************************************************************************
– 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.

***************************************************************************
– 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.

*******************************************************************************
– 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

Heat related fatigue or illness effecting elderly parents can take many forms, including rapid breathing, weakness or fainting, headaches, and confusion.

First and foremost, replenish the elderly – or anyone suffering from heat related issues – with water, which is best served at room temperature. This will help to cool the body. Can they be moved to a cooler location in the house? Is there a fan to blow air over them? Certainly removing excess clothing will help. Allowing the skin to cool down as it emits water will help the body to lower temperature and stabilize.

Some additional tips for keeping seniors cool and comfortable:

— If you don’t have air conditioning, keep shades or drapes down and blinds closed on the sunny side of the house, but keep windows slightly open to allow for ventilation. Is there a finished basement in the house? Usually this room is much cooler.

— Keep electric lights off or turned down low, and turn off all unnecessary electrical appliances, such as computers and TV’s which generate a lot of heat.

— Have you ever walked into the kitchen during dinner preparation and felt the room hotter than the rest of the house? Avoid generating excessive heat. Minimize use of the toaster. Try to cook without the oven. And avoid heavy meals.

— Be aware that certain medications make it harder for your body to control its temperature and/or may make it easier for your skin to burn. This includes both common prescription and over the counter drugs. Consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding side effects of your medications.

— Use a fan in the house near the window to bring in the cooler air from the outside. But don’t use a fan to bring in hot air from the outside. Don’t use a fan in a closed room without windows or doors open to the outside.

*************************************************************************
– 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.

********************************************************************
– 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.

**********************************************************************

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

Came across this post recently…an interesting issue for seniors. Does the body metabolize prescribed meds?

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 200,000 older adults are hospitalized annually due to “adverse drug reactions”. And 55 percent of the elderly don’t take their medications according to the doctor’s orders.

For some, it is a vision problem – not being able to read the small print on prescription labels which can lead to potentially dangerous misuse. For others, it may be due to memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and they simply forget to take their medications which can lead to life threatening situations. For a senior in a memory care unit, it is difficult for them to tell you a.) if they have taken their medications, and b.) if their medications are working properly. (And finally, these seniors may be unable or unwilling to advocate for themselves. They are blindly following orders.)

But, what if they are taking their medications as prescribed but they don’t have the ability to metabolize those medications? Not only are they throwing money away on medications that aren’t working, their health may be diminishing while they are on a “trial and error” medication. Have you ever heard a physician say, “take this for three weeks and if it doesn’t work, come back and we’ll try something else?” In an elderly person, sometimes you can’t afford to wait.

A lot of senior communities around the country have implemented the Metabolic Validation Program, via pharmacogenetic testing. By doing a simple buccal swab of the cheek, the healthcare team can now know scientifically if a medication has the ability to metabolize in that individual, as well as if they are having drug-on-drug interactions, or may need a dosage adjustment according to their rate of metabolism.

So what does it cost the individual or the facility? Medicare B covers the cost of the test and in some states, medicaid covers it as well. You might be asking yourself, “Will this bankrupt medicare?” The answer to that is no. Due to overspending on unnecessary medications, this test is actually a cost savings. For individuals on multiple medications this test can significantly reduce consumption of inefficient drugs.

**************************************************************************
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