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Long Term Care Planning Guide – It’s important for all seniors to plan for needing long-term care, but even more so for those with with disabilities. This guide is a great overview for how (and why) to make a plan.

http://www.altcp.org/long-term-care/long-term-care-planning/

 

 

 

4 Reasons Why Living at Home is Better than Assisted Living

 

 

As they age, many seniors must pursue a new living situations that accommodate daily challenges associated with aging. While an assisted living facility may be necessary in some situations, living at home, where seniors are surrounded by loved ones or assisted by caretaking services, is ideal. Consider these benefits of having your elderly loved one live at home, so you can make an informed decision.

 

  1. Helps Provide a Sense of Dignity and Independence

After decades of living independently, transitioning to an assisted living facility can be psychologically difficult. Although living at home alone is not always feasible for the elderly, living at home in the presence of family or professional caretakers can provide a comfortable, midway point between true independence and residing in an assisted living facility.

Familiar faces and environments in the home can ease feelings of stress and worry. Because negative emotions can manifest as health problems, living at home can be beneficial for both the mental and physical well-being of the elderly. Spending time with loved ones helps give seniors a sense of belonging and purpose, which can enhance their overall quality of life.

 

 

  1. Easier to Personally Monitor the Person’s Condition

In an assisted living situation, it can be difficult to monitor the ongoing condition of your loved one. Rather than requesting regular reports from a care facility, you can use home-based monitoring products to stay apprised of situations that threaten the person’s well-being in real-time.

 

For example, monitoring for fall prevention is critical, as even one fall can cause an elderly person to experience health problems that escalate, eventually leaving the person with no choice but to stay in an assisted living facility, where special medical care is readily available. When seniors live at home, it’s possible to implement a fall prevention system that may not be realistic — or even possible — to implement in an assisted living community.

 

 

  1. Commonly Cost Less Than Assisted Living Facilities

Many seniors own their home or live in a fixed-income apartment. These arrangements are often significantly less expensive than assisted living facility expenses, which cost approximately $3,600 monthly, according to the nationwide average. Cost varies by state — and in some states, the cost can be as high as $6,000 a month. When you compare these figures to the common cost of paying property taxes for a home or renting an apartment, the savings are obvious.

When it comes to your loved one’s well-being, money shouldn’t be the first concern. However, when you consider how money saved can be used to improve their quality of life, you start to see the benefits of being price-conscious about their living situation. That extra thousands of dollars a month can be spent on social outings and care products that make their life more enjoyable, as well as spent on treatments and care options that aren’t available in facilities.

 

  1. Eliminates Lax Care Due to an Understaffed Facility

 Most nursing homes and assisted living facilities are for-profit businesses. This means that they are prone to cut business expenses. For this reason, understaffing is a common problem at assisted living communities, which can result in a lower quality of care than a resident needs. Even the most well-intentioned caretakers are often overworked and spread too thin, which can mean that important details about your loved one’s health situation go overlooked.

Conclusion

Having your elderly loved one live at home lets you take a more direct, hands-on approach to their care. You can pay attention to details that may slip through the cracks at an understaffed assisted living facility, such as dietary needs, hygienic needs, and proper medication management. When you care for your loved one firsthand or with the help of caregivers, you can give them your full attention, ensuring that they are as comfortable and satisfied as possible.

 

About the Author:  Larry Hayman works as a PA at Duke University. On his days off, he enjoys researching new developments in the medical field. He enjoys sharing his findings in his position as a freelance writer.

5 Winter Hazards and How Seniors Can Avoid Them

Everyone is affected by the bitter cold weather that the winter season brings each year. But, for seniors in particular, this time presents many winter challenges and hazards.

Fortunately, with knowledge and planning, seniors can avoid them.

1. Cold, Ice and Snow

The most obvious perils of winter are from the weather itself:

  1. Driving: Ice and snow can present major dangers on the road. Seniors should avoid driving when road conditions are at their worst, and those who do drive should be prepared for the conditions. Drive slowly. Make sure snow-tires are installed when appropriate, and keep blankets and food in the car should the vehicle be stranded or disabled.
  2. Falls: Slips on ice are a major risk for seniors in winter, so it’s important to wear shoes with appropriate traction.
  3. Frostbite and Hypothermia: Cold temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia. According to Centers for Disease Control, more than half of hypothermia deaths are among seniors. Older adults who do venture outside in cold weather should make sure to dress warmly. Among some vulnerable seniors, hypothermia can even occur indoors if the air temperature in the home isn’t warm enough, so seniors should keep their thermostats above 65 degrees, and seek assistance if they lose heating in an emergency.

2. Decreased Daylight, Dementia and Sundowning

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia sometimes experience Sundowners Syndrome, which manifests itself as increased agitation, anger, confusion and memory loss during the evening hours. Sundowning is often exacerbated during the low light conditions of winter, because the season’s low light can disrupt our body’s internal day/night clock (known as circadian rhythms).

Quoted in an article about daylight saving time and sundowning, Dr. Lindsay Jones-Born says, “Seasonality can definitely impact symptoms, which is why it’s so important to maintain a regular schedule and do things to lessen the impact of loss of light for these individuals.” Our in-depth article on sundowners syndrome lists a number of steps that family caregivers can use to prevent or minimize sundowning, such as establishing a routing, letting light into the home, and promoting a relaxing environment in the evening (for example, by reducing noise).

3. Flu Season

With winter comes the flu, which seniors are especially susceptible to developing because of weakened immune systems. The flu causes a significant number of fatalities among seniors each year, and it can also lead to secondary infections such as pneumonia.

For our article about senior flu prevention, we got in touch with Dr. W. Paul McKinney, associate dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Louisville. McKinney told us, “They [seniors] should make every reasonable effort to get vaccinated early in flu season,” adding that even seniors who feel robust enough to fend off the flu should be vaccinated: “There is no reason a healthy senior should defer a vaccine,” McKinney says.

4. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or “the Wintertime Blues”

Many people experience a decrease in energy and mood during the winter, which is caused by decreased daytime light in winter. This phenomenon is known as “seasonal affective disorder” or “SAD.” Those who live in northern states (where daytime is shorter) are at highest risk. Open blinds and curtains during winter to let natural lighting in. Light therapy, using full-spectrum lights available at many box stores, can also be used to prevent or alleviate the wintertime blues. Seniors experiencing depression should talk to their doctors.

5. Social Isolation

The very hazards that we outlined above can lead to seniors becoming socially isolated. If your older loved one has been spending a lot of time alone at home due to inclement weather, try to spend extra time there. You can also arrange transportation to the local senior center, your loved one’s place of worship, and to other places where opportunities to socialize are available.

 

Posted On 10 Jan 2017 in a Place for Mom

Accommodating Elderly Loved Ones on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, and is often enjoyed in the company of family members. If you plan on hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, it is important to take into consideration the special needs of your elderly loved ones. With assistance from Alastar Family & Senior In-home Care, we offer some helpful tips to ensure your Thanksgiving gathering is enjoyable for everyone.

 

Cosy Thanksgiving dinner with the family

 

1. Develop a Schedule that Works for All – It is important to schedule your Thanksgiving gathering well in advance. Spontaneity is often more challenging for the elderly than for younger family members. A wheelchair bound elderly loved one may require special transportation that is unavailable at certain times, or a dinner that ends at 8 p.m. might be a strain on someone who typically prepares for bed around this part of the day. Avoid complications by factoring in the availability and needs of all your guests, particularly the elderly.

2. Be Conscious of Dietary Restrictions – For many, Thanksgiving is a time to indulge and shy away from their regular diet. However, certain dietary restrictions can impact how seniors enjoy Thanksgiving. For example, if someone has trouble chewing, make softer foods. Plan out meals that everyone in attendance can enjoy.

3. Keep Everyone Involved – Whether taking a group walk, watching a movie or playing a board game, it is important to incorporate activities that everyone can partake in. Aging is often accompanied by an increase in the appreciation of quality family time and Thanksgiving activities will not be nearly as enjoyable for your elderly loved ones if they find themselves unable to participate.

4. Take Time to Reminisce – With everyone gathered together, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on positive memories and bond as a family. Additionally, if your elderly loved one suffers from dementia, discuss older memories as short-term memory is usually impacted first.

5. Keep a Positive Attitude – Coordinating a Thanksgiving meal can be stressful, especially when it requires specific attention to the needs of an elderly loved one. Remember to remain positive and appreciate the moment. Life is finite, and succumbing to negative thoughts ultimately squanders the precious moments we have to share with our family.

6. Engage in Conversation – Seniors are a living treasure trove of experiences and knowledge that they are often more than happy to share. Ask questions that elicit conversation. You will be amazed to discover what you can learn from an elderly loved one and they will often be delighted to see you are interested.

7. Surpass Expectations – Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to go the extra mile. While it initially may seem like a nuisance to prepare a special dish or travel long distances, this extra effort will ultimately play a major role in ensuring your elderly loved ones experience a great Thanksgiving.

 

I attended a presentation given by Robin Lombardo of Music & Memory and was blown away by their program. If you have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia I highly recommend you look in to this.

Posted by Alastar Family & Senior In-home Care, LLC on Friday, November 20, 2015

Tiny Houses: The Next Big Thing for Seniors?

How to Prevent Senior Malnutrition

Not only do seniors have different nutritional needs than younger adults, they also take more medication, have higher rates of chronic medical conditions-such as diabetes and heart disease-and are more likely to live alone; all of which contribute to the rising numbers of older Americans who are seriously impacted by a deficient diet.

Know the signs and symptoms of senior malnourishment and how to protect your older loved ones from this preventable state.

Causes of Malnutrition in Seniors

  • Lack of interest in cooking
  • Living alone and eating for one
  • Changing taste buds
  • Medication side-effects that supress appetite or create bitter tastes
  • Restricted diets such as low sodium or low fat diets
  • Preferring to drink alcohol over eating
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Trouble chewing due to sore gums or poor dental health
  • Limited income to buy nutritious food
  • Expensive medications leave little room for food
  • Lack of mobility – unable to get to the store
  • Depression and dementia

Senior Malnutrition Prevention Checklist

  1. Check the refrigerator and observe eating habits
  2. Watch for health changes and fluctuation in weight
  3. Encourage foods rich in the 5 key vitamins and nutrients
  4. Boost hydration with 9 glasses of water a day
  5. Ask for help when you need it from sources like A Place for Mom

Top 5 Vitamins and Nutrients for Older Adults

  1. Folic Acid 400 mcg per day: Foods rich in Folic Acid: spinach, asparagus, breakfast cereal, lentils.
  2. B-12 2.4 mcg per day: Foods rich in B-12: turkey, salmon, crab, clams, mussels, chicken, beef, eggs, milk.
  3. Vitamin C 75-90 mg per day: Foods rich in Vitamin C: oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet red pepper, broccoli, potatoes.
  4. Vitamin D 600-800 IU per day: Foods rich in Vitamin D: canned salmon, sardines or mackerel, instant oatmeal, cereal, egg yolk, soy milk, cow’s milk or orange juice fortified with Vitamin D.
  5. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) Foods rich in EFAs: flaxseed oil, canned tuna, oysters, herring or sardines, salmon, trout, crab.

Ways to Help Seniors Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is one of the top 10 reasons seniors end up in the emergency room. A good guide for anyone over the age 65 is to drink 9 glasses of fluid a day. Water is best, but all liquid counts! It’s important to watch sugar intake and to discourage drinking alcohol.

  1. Soup – an excellent way to increase fluid and nutrients
  2. Coffee with milk
  3. Tea – caffeinated or herbal
  4. Iced tea – black tea or fruit-flavored herbal teas
  5. Popsicles – natural, all fruit are best
  6. Juice – 100% juice is best
  7. Smoothies – add protein powder, yogurt and vegetables for extra nutrition
  8. Coconut water – a good way to get natural electrolytes
  9. Milk – chilled soy milk, rice milk, goat or cow’s milk. You may also consider steaming milk and adding a squeeze of chocolate syrup or cinnamon.

 

senior malnutrition

Senior Nutrition Resources by A Place for Mom

Think Twice About Giving Elders Nutrition Drinks or Shakes

The elderly often loose interest in eating or are unable to eat as they always did. Should they be given a nutrition supplement drink to replace the meals they should be eating?

Elderly Weight Loss

Elderly Weight Loss

Specialists in treating the elderly, take weight loss among the elderly very seriously and caregivers should, too. However, some caregivers feel that feeding their elder a nutrition supplement drink, instead of a meal, ensures that their loved one is getting the nutrition they need. This just is not the case! Merely giving them a supplement for dinner isn’t enough. It is always better to try to use regular food to maintain a person’s weight.

There are several steps to take if nutrition and weight loss are a problem for the elder in your care:

Work with a doctor to determine your elder’s nutritional needs.
Evaluate any physical and psychological obstacles the elder has to eating (swallowing, chewing etc…)
Buy a blender and/or juicer. Any liquid supplements needed can be made with these appliances. These liquid meals are healthier, cheaper and more nutritious. For instance, your elder is missing their egg and toast breakfast as they are having trouble with their swallowing. Soft boil eggs, lightly toast bread, add butter salt and pepper and blend to the consistency required. It may not look appetizing but it tastes terrific. It contains complete protein, fibre, fat, carbohydrates and iodine. Sure it takes a little longer than opening a can, but you know that the elder in your care is receiving a tasty meal that is very nutritious.

Some Important Facts for Caregivers

Weight loss is a marker of frailty– it is not a normal part of aging. It needs to be addressed seriously and efficiently. Remember that the frail elderly have different nutrition requirements than the general population. They should not be on low-fat, low-calorie diets. The opposite is true. A 94-year-old person who is losing weight would be best to eat a bowl of ice cream, for the caloric intake!
Elders often can’t (or don’t want to) eat three large meals a day. Rather, encourage them to have smaller, more frequent meals, including snacks, even before bed.
Nutrition drinks and supplements can interact with medications the same way prescription drugs do. Always check with the doctor if you intend to give nutrition drinks to your elder.

The bottom line is that nutrition drinks are a not a magic fix for lack of eating or under-nutrition. With a bit of effort, nutritional and tasty shakes can be made in the blender.

Seniors, are you ready for an emergency?

Preparing makes sense for older Americans.

It’s important to have a plan of action.  As people age, their needs change and how they can respond changes as well.  While we think that a disaster will never happen to us; these items pertain to any season and situation of inclement weather such as a snow storm, hurricane, tornado, or a “simple” power outage.  Being prepared can assist in so many ways and create a much calmer approach to an unexpected situation in your home.  We strongly suggest you have an emergency plan in place.

Here’s what you need to do:

Identify the risks in the area where you live:

Is your region prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards, floods, heat waves, drought or other natural disasters? Is your area a likely target of a terrorist attack? You’ll need different plans for different situations.  The reality of a disaster situation is that you will likely not have access to everyday conveniences.  To plan in advance, thing through the details of your everyday life.

Make a plan for what you will do in an emergency:

  • Have a call tree – Who will check on you?  A neighbor? Family member?  Someone from out of town?  Keep a list of your support network as well as your medical providers in your emergency kit.  Make sure they know what your medical needs are and if there are any physical limitations.
  • Will you shelter in place or relocate?
  • Do you have pets to consider?

Have a record of important information and documents:

  • Have copies in your emergency kit such as family records, medical records, wills, deeds, social security number, bank and credit card account information and tax records.  Place them in a waterproof container.
  • If there is any information related to operating equipment or lifesaving devices that you rely on, include those in your emergency kit as well.
  • If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information list notes the best way to communicate with you.
emergency disaster plan kit

Emergency disaster kit contents

Prepare an Emergency Kit:

 

Disasters can happen at any moment.  By planning ahead you can avoid serious consequences that can be life-threatening.  Check your kit every six months or as your needs change.  Replace expired foods, batteries, water, etc.

Have a supply kit packed and ready in one place in an easy to carry container such as a backpack, duffel bag or rolling suitcase.  Be sure your bag has an ID tag; and you have identification for yourself.

 

At a minimum, you should have the basic supplies listed below:

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool (several tools that fold up into a pocket-sized unit)
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items (toilet paper, plastic garbage bags, hand sanitizer, moist wipes)
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area
  • Extra set of keys (car, house, etc.)

Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc)
    • Label any equipment, such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers, that you would need with your name, address and phone number.
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two-way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener

Additional supplies to keep at home or in your survival kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:

  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Pack of cards to provide entertainment and pass the time

Cold climate supplies:

  • Jacket or coat
  • Long pants and long-sleeve shirt
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Hat, mittens and scarf
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket

Supplies to keep in your vehicle:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries and extra bulbs
  • Sheltering
  • Maps
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Tire repair kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Small auto tool kit – tools like screwdrivers, pliers and a few wrenches, pocket-knife
  • Flares or reflective triangles
  • Bottled water (switch out frequently, particularly in warm weather
  • Non-perishable foods such as granola bars, energy bars, unsalted nuts
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items (toilet paper, plastic garbage bags, hand sanitizer, moist wipes)
  • Winter: Blanket, hat, mittens, shovel, sand, tire chains, windshield scraper, florescent distress flag
  • Summer: Sunscreen lotion SPF 15 or higher, personal shade item – hat, umbrella, etc., windshield sunshade

Establish escape routes and meeting places:

  • Plan the best and quickest escape routes out of your home and evacuation routes out of your neighborhood (consider handicapped family members best accessible routes)
  • Decide on a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home
  • Know the safe places within your home in case you need to shelter during extreme weather events

Preparation makes a difference

Take responsibility by planning now.  When your upset or confused, already having your disaster plan in place will allow you to do what needs to be done to take care of yourself.  It’s much easier to remain calm when you know what to do.