Here is a tip for you and your family when caring for elderly parents…
More and more Baby Boomers are finding themselves in a juggling act. Over one quarter of America’s families juggle caring for their elderly parents, raising their families and working. To cope with these new pressures families need to be prepared by adopting a ‘Family Plan.’
One of the greatest fears of the elderly is losing their control, independence, and dignity. Being proactive in planning for their long term wishes through a Family Plan helps eliminate these fears. The most important topic to address in a Family Plan is location; where do they wish to reside? Whether it is a nursing home, assisted living facility, their home, or your home, cost and quality of life will always be the central issues. Investigate the pros and cons of each option and allow your parents to ultimately decide.
The first step in developing a Family Plan is to arrange a discussion with your family members. Whether it is over the internet, by phone, or in person, each willing and able family member should be involved. When you meet, roles and responsibilities should be discussed.
- Primary Caregiver- Who will oversee the day to day care?
- Backup Caregiver- Who will support the primary caregiver?
- Emergency Coordinator – Who will compile and maintain lists of personal information, medical provider information, social information (friends, clergy), service providers (attorney, accountant) and medications (dosages and reasons prescribed)?
- Legal Coordinator – Who will develop and compile the necessary legal documents, such as, Advanced Directives and Wills?
- Financial Overseer – Who will make sure bills are paid?
While there is no one size fits all Family Plan, these roles apply to most families who care for elderly loved ones. Having a family plan developed before a crisis occurs helps ensure that you and your family members make decisions that will be in the best interests of your parents and loved ones. Stay at Home offers Family Consultative services to help you develop your own Family Plan. To discuss a Family Plan with your local Stay At Home administrator, please fill-out the form on your right. We look forward to talking with you.
Stay At Home of Lee County
A story from Stay At Home of Lee County, home care franchise located in Ft. Myers, Florida
written by A.J. Canfield
I returned a phone call to a client that was referred to me by a local rehabilitative center. During my short conversation with the wife of the client, I learned that her husband was being re-admitted into the hospital due to complications. Just on hunch and the sound of her voice, I knew that she personally needed comforting. I told her that I would be happy to meet her at the hospital to see what I could do to help her and her husband.
Walking into the emergency room, I recognized her immediately. She was standing in the hallway beside her huband who was lying on a gurney. At first glance I could tell that she was scared, alone, and out of sorts. It was at that moment I realized our care was for her as much as it was for the man whose hand she was holding.
It took about an hour to get her husband settled into a room. As soon as he was asleep, I whisked her off to the cafeteria for some much needed nourishment. It was obvious that she had not eaten all day and she was starting to fade. We enjoyed light conversation over our meal and she was so appreciative of all my help. This is where my story begins.
You see, Rose (an alias) has been the primary caregiver of her husband for several months while he has been recuperating from a C2 fracture of the spine. And for explanation purposes without medical jargon, the C2 vertebrae essentially holds your head on your body. Up to that day when I met Rose in the hallway, her husband spent many nights in hospitals, nursing homes, and rehab facilities. The doctors are confident that her husband will recover, but it will be a long and arduous process; a process that sometimes could be interrupted by unforeseen circumstances.
Circumstances like pneumonia, reactions to medications, and infections. Yes, since my two month assignment with Rose and her husband we have experienced many scary situations that required 911 calls, emergency room visits and hospital admissions. It has been a difficult and stressful road, but Rose has been there for her husband every step of the way. She feels that it is her duty.
Rose is a breast cancer survivor. Years ago her husband was by her side, caring for her, and nursing her back to health after her many chemotherapy treatments and surgeries. Today, Rose is cancer free and one the strongest 83 year old women I have ever met. I admire her greatly for her dedication and devotion to her husband.
I decided to pursue a career in the home care business because I was looking for the opportunity to help people. I never knew that caring for people like Rose and her husband would be a life changing experience for me. I have a new appreciation for love, life and family. I feel so blessed to have met Rose and her husband.
“My parents live independently at home, but I think they may need some assistance”
From our experience a comment like the above translates as, “My parents need help, NOW! And I do not know who to trust and where to turn for advice.” Digging for answers, we invariably find that there has been some type of physical or environmental change with their family member. This change was so out of character it warranted a phone call.
One of the most common physical changes is the once well-kept mom who now appears disheveled. You remember her dressed in impeccably matched outfits adorned with the appropriate matching accessories and jewelry. But lately, you find that her clothes are dirty, unmatched, and wearing Christmas sweaters in July. Some people might consider this a sign of aging and move on. But this could be a sign of a more serious situation. Could your loved one be depressed? Have there been signs of dementia? Have you noticed vision loss or other physical impairments?
Weight loss is another outwardly physical change that would cause concern. Losing weight without trying can mean many things in the elderly. Is it possible that they no longer have the energy to cook? Are they experiencing pain due to arthritis or other joint problems leaving them incapable of lifting heavy pans or using cooking utensils?
A diminished sense of taste or smell can also be another cause for weight loss. Losing the sense of taste and smell is part of the natural aging process, but it is also a side effect of many medications. Either way, food that doesn’t smell tantalizing or taste as good as it once did, is no longer enticing to eat.
Weight loss is also a sign of more serious issues like depression or an illness. If you notice any fluctuations in your loved ones weight please seek the advice of their physician.
Environmental changes are issues that occur in the home. For example you may find bills unpaid, moldy and outdated food in the refrigerator, piles of papers or magazines on the floor, dirty dishes in various places, heaps of clothing, etc. Remembering back to your childhood days, you realize these things are uncharacteristic of your loved ones.
Realizing that you parents need help is the first step. We are glad that you found Stay At Home and it would be an honor to talk with you about your aging parents.
As mentioned in our prior blog, we are going to focus on warning signs that your elderly loved ones may need assistance maintaining their independence at home. The biggest issue is safety. Are your elderly parents safe in their home? Can your parents safely maneuver the stairs? Is getting in and out of the bathtub difficult? Also, notice how your parents walk. Are they able to walk their usual distances or are they reluctant?
According to the CDC in 2010, 2.3 million non-fatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized. Falls are a real threat to our older population. Physical impairments increase a person’s risk of falling. Some of these impairments can include conditions related to balance or walking; vision; lack of sensation in the feet; muscle strength; cognition; heart condition and strokes; use of drugs that affect mental attention or lower blood pressure.
If your parents are unsteady on their feet, then they are at risk of falling. It is estimated that one in every three adults aged 65+ fall every year. And just the fear of falling can place a person in a higher risk category.
Here are some things that you can do immediately to make your elderly loved ones home safer:
- Say good-bye to thick or shag carpet and replace with low-pile, which is easier to maneuver. Remove rugs which can bunch and become tripping hazards.
- Clear tripping hazards, such as books, shoes, and magazines from pathways, stairways, and flooring. Tack all telephone and electrical cords to the walls.
- Mount grab bars next to the toilet and in the bathing area. Install a hand-held shower head and add a shower seat. Also, make sure that the bathing area is easy to enter and exit.
- As we age our eyes respond differently to various types of lighting. Glare in a sunlit room can be hazardous. Change curtains to filter the sunlight and add additional ambient lighting. Upgrade the wattage of lighting in areas where everyday tasks are being preformed, like the kitchen. Place nightlights in hallways, bathrooms, and other essential rooms of the home.
- Replace door knobs with lever handles which are easier to grip.
- Install railings in stairways and hallways.
As mentioned earlier the fear of falling is very real among the elderly; especially among those who have fallen in the past. This fear of falling can lead to lack of physical and social activities. They may stay at home and give up shopping, visiting friends, and cleaning. When people become less active, joints can become stiff and muscles can become weak. Stiff joints and weak muscles can further increase the risk of falling and make remaining active and independent more difficult. This fear manifests itself in a loss of mobility, coordination, balance and often is accompanied by a decline in overall physical fitness. This fear can even manifest itself into depression and emotional isolation.
The whole point of independent living is to do just that…Living. Doing what you enjoy and celebrating life’s ups and downs. If you have a concern about your elderly loved one’s ability to live safely and independently at home, then chances are your loved one does, too. Reach out and offer your parent some solutions. We would be more than happy to help you with all the options that are available to you in your area. Feel free to call us at the number listed above or fill-out the form on the sidebar.
The Stay At Home Team
Does my elderly loved one need assistance to live independently at home?
Living independently with dignity is something that everyone values. Most people would prefer to remain in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible versus relocating to a residential facility. But at what point do you say to your elderly loved one, “…it’s time for me to get the help you need, just so I know that you are safe.”
With the holidays comes the opportunity to re-connect with family. Along with the hubbub and frolicking, you may have noticed changes with elderly loved ones. For example…
The jovial, joke-cracking Uncle Ted has become more withdrawn and recluse - Your favorite Aunt seems confused and disoriented – Your grandmother is exhausted from taking care of your grandfather
Whatever the situation, the change is noticeably there and it caused the red flag of concern to rise.
Everyone treats these flags of concern differently. Some try to take over the situation with great intentions but are met by opposition. Some try to ignore the situation with the hopes that their loved one will get better. Whatever the tactic, know this; there are reasons for your concern.
According to the Administration on Aging a large percentage of adults 65 and older have some type of disability making it difficult to live independently at home. These disabilities may be loss of hearing, vision impairments, cognitive issues, ambulation, or self-care. In 2010, 37% of our older population (defined by the Administration on Aging as individuals 65 plus) in the US reported to have some type of disability which limited their ability to live independently at home. And as we age, the number of disabilities per person increases. Nearly 30% of the 80 plus population require some type of assistance to help them with every day activities; such as dressing, cooking, managing money; and driving.
This is the introduction to a four part series to help families recognize when and how to get help for their elderly loved ones. At the end of this series we will provide a free e-book of invaluable information for families who are caring for elderly loved ones. We welcome your thoughts, comments, and your personal stories throughout our series. We want this to be an invaluable forum for all. Our next post will be January 16 entitled, “Falls and Prevention Tips.”
People think of heroes as George Washington, Margaret Thatcher, and Paul Revere. At Stay At Home our heroes are the countless Americans who care for adult family members. Day in and day out, more than 65 million family caregivers in our country fill the vital role of caregiver for an elderly, ill or disabled loved one.
Being a caregiver is one of the hardest, most selfless jobs while receiving little to no acknowledgement for it. While the position is very rewarding, the impacts are emotionally, physically, and financially draining. So during this month of November, remember your friends and family members who are caring for loved ones. Reach out to these caregivers and encourage them to stay the course. Let them know that they are true heroes.
The kitchen is the heartbeat of any household. When friends and family come to visit the kitchen becomes the place where everyone congregates. However, for those who are chronically ill, disabled, and elderly the kitchen can become a hazardous place. We hear the same story often. “My Mom no longer likes to cook. At one time cooking was per passion.” There can be many reasons why someone no longer enjoys cooking but one of the common reasons is that physically the elder is incapable of using their kitchen due to a disability. Whether it is a mobility problem, vision impairment, or just the natural aging process, here are some to home care tips to make the kitchen more accessible for your loved to participate in cooking again.
Home Care Tips for the Kitchen:
- Make sure aisles are wide enough for two people to pass or for a wheelchair to turn around.
- Appliances, countertops, sinks and faucets should be within easy reach for someone in a sitting position.
- Use nonskid flooring and finishes and remove all throw rugs (tripping hazard).
- Create colored or raised markings on control knobs. This can be done with colored tape, puffy paint, or stick-on bumps
- Replace old kitchen tools with the more ergonomic versions. OXO tools offer easy-to-grip comfort handles
- Create a tight work triangle. The stove, sink and refrigerator should be in close proximity to each other with ample counter space in between. You want to limit the amount of moving space for carrying heavy and hot dishes.
- Replace round pull knobs with ‘C’ or ‘D’ shaped handles. This is especially helpful for those who have weak and arthritic hands.
- Contrast the colors on cabinets and countertops. This helps those who have vision problems decipher their space, for
- example, where the countertop ends.
- Contrast colors also on the table. Light colored dishes on dark placemats or visa-versa.
- Choose flatware with large easy to grip handles in a color that contrasts with the placemat or cloth.
- Use divided plates with non-slip bottoms to make eating easier for those with tremors or vision impairments.
- Place frequently used or heavy items in lower cabinets. Spring-assisted shelving is particularly helpful for heavy appliances like a mixer.
- A Lazy Susan or turntable in the refrigerator and pantry brings items to you rather than having to reach for them.
- Consider putting child safety locks on cabinets if your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Source: CareAdvantage Summer 2012 and the book, “Home Assessiblity: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier” (Demos Health 2012)
Stay At Home is dedicated to helping families and their loved ones enjoy their independence at home. We consider it an honor to provide compassionate home care services to the elderly, ill and disabled in every market that we serve.
September is national Healthy Aging month and it is designed to focus and celebrate the positive aspects of aging. Yes, there is a positive side to aging and here are some tips to encourage you to celebrate your senior years.
Go back to school. You’re never too old to develop a new career or enhance your skills. Choose an area that you are passionate about and delve into it. Check with your local community college and investigate online courses.
Take a volunteer vacation or join a mission trip. Rather than a self-indulgence trip, take a journey that satisfies your soul. Local churches offer mission trips throughout the year both internationally and within the US. There are also countless volunteer opportunities where lodging is included; Adventures in Preservation in Colorado, Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehab in NC, and the American Bear Association in Minnesota are just a few. Visit Volunteer Vacations Across America online and research the 200 plus opportunities available. By this time next year, you may just be in Hawaii helping the Pacific Whale Foundation.
Dance the night away. Older adults who partake in regular exercise are 60% less likely to get dementia. Dancing is a great exercise that not only strengthens your body but your brain as well.
Learn to paint. If the fine arts pique your interest, then try a painting class.
Try a new sport. It’s never too late to start. How about hiking, biking or even kayaking?
Eat fresh foods. Skip the process foods and make a commitment to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. Foods made from scratch are much healthier and taste better, too.
September is a good time to reflect on where you’ve been and where you want to be. Celebrate and enjoy your golden years. And, as Sophia Lauren says, “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
We consider it an honor to assist you and your family and wish you all the best.
From your trusted senior care source and #1 in the Compassionate In-Home Care provider!
The modern way of life has tried to change the woven intricacies of family. In the past relatives would come together to help those family members in need. Whether it was a job loss, illness, or other kind of problem, the Grandparents, brothers, sisters, and cousins would rally behind their loved ones. Today, the family unit is much smaller and relatives are more likely to be living many miles away.
Many aspects of family life have changed. We work more; plan on childbirth; and think nothing of moving across the country and beyond to advance our career paths. Life has become more complicated, but living is easy when we focus on our family members. Families are meant to be one unit; grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and children. Decisions and care are based on family needs and wishes. So in this complicated world, families have found new ways of caring for one another, whether they reside in the same city or not.
Stay At Home celebrates families in this complicated world by offering what we call our Total Family Care team. Whether a client needs railings installed in the bathroom or help navigating through legal affairs, we have a trusted, qualified professional on our referral team to assist them.
We realize that we can never take the place of family, but we are the next best thing.
Owner / Administrator
Andy Houck, owner of Stay At Home of Loudon, Blount, and Monroe, TN, was recently recognized in the Knoxville News Sentinel, his regional paper as the expert on Exercising Your Brain for building brain matter. As a public service the owners of Stay At Home present various topics including Neurobics: Exercising Your Brain to local and civic groups in their area. Follow the links to learn more about Neurobics and read Andy’s article.