Tag Archive 'caregiver'

Dec 12 2009

Coping With the Stress of Senior Home Care

Thanks to Linda Dunkelberger for submitting this guest blog post to Florida Senior Living Advisor. She provided this post on behalf of Visiting Angels, a nationwide network of  senior home care providers that help seniors with everyday tasks, errands, meals, transportation, just to name a few services.  I think these tips are especially important to keep in mind during the holidays, when we are all busy with jam-packed “to-do lists,” in addition to whatever care we must provide to elderly family members.

Caring for aging parents or loved ones carries a lot of responsibility and a range of emotions.  No matter how much love in your heart, carrying the load of caring for your loved one will leave you drained physically, emotionally and possibly financially.  Coping with the stress of senior home care has to be managed or you will not be able to be an effective caregiver.

Managing the stress of senior home care is all about taking charge.  Take charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment and the way you deal with problems and unexpected situations.  The ultimate goal of coping with the stress of senior home care is to achieve a balanced life. 

How to reduce, prevent, and cope with the stress of senior home care:

  • Senior home care requires organization – Organize your time and your schedule.  Write everything down so that you or another family member has reference to phone numbers, doctors, medications, in-home senior care providers, important insurance and financial numbers.
  • Start a personal journal- Share your feelings about the stress of senior home care (either in hard copy or an online blog).  Writing down your thoughts will help you to take charge of your emotions. 
  • Prioritize your health and well-being.   Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.  Healthy ways to relax and recharge:   
     *Go for a walk 
     *Call a good friend 
     *Sweat out the tension with a good workout 
     *Write in your journal 
     *Curl up with a good book 
     *Take a long bath 
     *Eat healthy and exercise regularly 
     *Play with your pet
     *Work in your garden 
     *Listen to music 
     *Savor a cup of warm coffee or tea
  • Give yourself a break – Enlist the help of a professional senior home care provider. Senior home care providers such as Visiting Angels can provide daily or weekly help with everyday chores, errands, hygiene, meals or transportation needs, just to name a few.  Senior home care providers can also provide a respite to you with as little as 15 minute notice to avoid unnecessary stress if your schedule needs help.

Coping with the stress of senior home care is the only possible way to be an effective caregiver to your loved ones.  Your mental and physical health must take priority or you will not be able to manage what needs to be done.  Take advantage of these tips.  Organize yourself, express yourself, nurture yourself and help yourself by arranging for assistance with a senior home care provider.

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Aug 19 2009

Challenges Facing Aging Boomers

I came across an interesting article that I want to share with you. It comes from ww.medicalnewstoday.com, and I am using parts of it with the site’s permission. The article is titled  “Baby Boomers Face Down Aging: 10 Most Common Medical Challenges.” It offers a snapshot of the ten challenges that baby boomers will face in the coming years as more and more of them hit 65. And since the US Census Bureau estimates that nearly a quarter of the US population will be 65 or older by 2030 (today that group is around 13% of total), this means these are issues that will balloon in scope and impact in coming years.

Of course, these are also issues that today’s elderly population is dealing with. So whether you are caring for an elderly loved one right now, or looking toward your future as a senior citizen, I think this list provides some valuable information to keep in mind. It comes to use from researchers and clinicians in the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

10 Most Common Medical Challenges Facing Baby Boomers

1. Functional decline: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the body loses one percent of muscle mass a year beginning at age 45, which can result in sarcopenia as skeletal muscle is eventually replaced with fat and the body becomes weaker. Some research has linked protein deficiency with sarcopenia. For every week spent in the hospital, it takes an aging body a month to recover muscle strength with daily rehabilitation, says geriatrician Liliana Andrade, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the UT Medical School at Houston. Exercise, including resistance and strength training, is absolutely essential for retaining muscle mass and strength. “For balance, tai chi is good,” she says. “We also encourage patients to rent ’sit and be fit’ videos that use hand and leg weights.”

2. Depression: Considered as prevalent as the common cold in the elderly, depression can be the result of major life changes, including retirement, losing loved ones and loss of mobility and independence. It can show up differently in older people, says geriatrician Nasiya Ahmed, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the UT Medical School at Houston. “There’s not as much of a tendency toward tearfulness or feelings of hopelessness,” she says. “Instead they have vague somatic complaints, increased pain, not sleeping or eating well or general apathy.”

3. Disease: Chronic diseases associated with the aging process, including high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypothyroidism, constipation, incontinence and arthritis, can take their toll. Preventive measures taken now such as quitting smoking, eating healthy food and exercising are all important steps toward a better quality of life. “Even quitting smoking at age 60 is better than not quitting at all,” Andrade says.

4. Polypharmacy: A term geriatricians are using for the number of prescription and over-the-counter medications that elderly people are taking in alarming numbers is polypharmacy. “People go to five different doctors and none of the others know what is going on,” Ahmed says. In some cases, seniors who wind up in the hospital may be prescribed a different medication for an existing condition such as high blood pressure because the hospital doesn’t stock the particular one they’ve been taking in the past. The patient returns home with a new prescription from the hospital physician and continues taking the other medication as well, which can be deadly. “I’ve had patients come in who are taking 20 different medications,” Andrade says. “A lot of them also take vitamins and herbal supplements that they don’t need and that can interfere with medications.” The solution, they say, is to have a written record of all prescriptions, supplements and vitamins that they can bring to their appointments and have a family practitioner or geriatrician who can be the lead physician in managing their care.

5. Falls: Low blood pressure, which can be a result of poorly managed hypertension or dehydration, can lead to dizziness. That dizziness, combined with a decreased ability of the vascular system to compensate for changes in position such as standing up, is the largest cause of falls, they say. “So many patients have told me that they take blood pressure medication when they feel like it’s high instead of taking it as it is prescribed,” Ahmed says. “I ask them how they know it’s high and they give vague signs such as their nose tingles or their tremor worsening.” Taking medications for sleep can also be dangerous. “Some take Benadryl to help them sleep and as people get older, that’s not such a good thing because it causes confusion and they can fall because they’re sleepy,” Andrade says.

6. Abuse and neglect: These two problems, including self-neglect, will continue to afflict the elderly, says Carmel B. Dyer, M.D., professor and director of the geriatric and palliative medicine division at the UT Medical School at Houston and co-author of the book, “Elder Abuse Detection and Intervention.”

7. Financial exploitation: Vulnerable elderly people can easily become victims of family members or caregivers. “We see cases where grown children have moved back in with them and are depending on them financially. They use their resources, borrow the car, rely on them to baby sit, and it upsets the senior’s ability to function,” Ahmed says. “I had one patient in her early 80s whose leg had just been amputated and she was still babysitting her 11- and 12-year-old grandchildren, who were taunting her.”

8. Dementia: Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a gradual decline in a person’s mental functioning, and is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans over age 65, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia triple healthcare costs for people over 65. But education about dementia and possible treatments including medications is lacking, Ahmed and Andrade say. “There are now more medications that are helpful. They can’t cure it, but they can help,” Andrade says. “Unfortunately, a lot of people are in denial. I had a 78-year-old patient who I knew was suffering from dementia because of the way he was managing his medications and health. But his son got upset when I started talking about it and they left the room.”

9. Caregiver burnout: As baby boomers age, many will also be taking care of their own aging parents. That brings caregiver burden, which can lead to a higher risk for depression and other stress-related illnesses. Ahmed says caregivers should solicit health resources, such as daycares for seniors, to help them shoulder the stress. They should take advantage of support groups and ask social workers regularly about available community resources. Special units for acute care for the elderly (ACE units), can help make hospitalizations less stressful for the patient and family.

10. Death and dying: Baby boomers will have to decide how they want to live out the end of their lives and how they want to die. Cultural and religious beliefs will impact these decisions and physicians will need to be sensitive to that, Ahmed says. As patients age, the physician begins to play a larger role in a patient’s life and strong physician-patient relationships will be important in determining a patient’s wishes. People should make those wishes known to family members and caregivers and put them in writing.

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com

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Aug 04 2009

Abuse Charge at Ft. Lauderdale Nursing Home

I am trying to vary the topics for my Florida Senior Living Advisor blog, from the lighthearted to the more serious, but all with a focus on topics of interest or importance to senior citizens, their caregivers and family members. One topic I will always address is any instance of elder abuse that I hear about at a Florida senior living facility. And unfortunately, there seems to be plenty of material on this topic.

In the less than three months since I launched Florida Senior Living Advisor, this is now the fourth incidence of abuse that I am reporting. In this most recent case, a Broward County woman faces charges of abuse of an elderly person after she allegedly attacked a 65-year-old patient at the Manor Pines Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Fort Lauderdale. To make matters worse, the patient suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

Eronie Deverlus, 50, was arrested a few days ago by law enforcement officers with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. According to Sandi Copes, a spokeswoman for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, Deverlus was a nursing assistant at Manor Pines and While working at the center, she allegedly struck the female patient in the face after becoming angry with the woman.

Deverlus, who was fired shortly after the incident, is charged with one count of abuse of an elderly person, a third-degree felony. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

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Jul 31 2009

Friday’s Featured Facility: All One Family in Merritt Island

Confession time… I’m visiting family in Tennessee this week so I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties a bit. Late yesterday I remembered that I had not yet written this week’s “Friday’s Featured Facility.” (That’s the problem with starting a regular feature such as this – you create a natural deadline for yourself!) I decided I wanted to write about one of Florida’s adult day care centers, but which one? A quick search of my Florida Senior Living Advisor database lead me to All One Family Senior Day Programin Merritt Island. Two minutes into my conversation with owner Stephanie Licavoli, and I knew I had found a great senior facility to feature.

Stephanie explained that she and her sister-in-law Karen Wilkes decided to open their adult day care center after their family members had bad experiences in other facilities.

“They would come home with urine-soaked clothes,” Stephanie explained. “And she was left sitting in front of the TV all day and then be up all night when I got her home.” Those personal experiences have helped Stephanie and Karen create a facility that they say is “completely different from any other senior day care.”

According to Stephanie, Florida law only requires that an adult day care center keep its clients busy 60% of the day, so many only meet that minimum requirement. All One Family keeps its clients busy the entire day, alternating between physical exercise and mental stimulation.

“In many centers, all you see are recliners and television,” she explained. “We don’t have any recliners. We play games, we go outside and we have a Wii game that they love.” Stephanie said they also focus on treating clients with respect and dignity, regardless of their physical or mental limitations.

All One Family is open from 7:45am-4pm Monday-Friday, but Stephanie said they are very flexible because she knows from experience that caregivers have needs outside of those times. “If a caregiver wants to go out to dinner, or if you are running late, we don’t charge anything extra for that.” All One Family is licensed to care for 24 people. Their current average is 15-19 per day. The cost is $68 per day, but here again, Stephanie said they are flexible and will work with people who have financial limitations.

Adult day care can be a wonderful option for someone who wants to care for their elderly loved one in their own home, yet who has work or personal commitments during the day that get in the way. There are more than 150 licensed adult day care centers in Florida. It’s clear to me that All One Family is one that is setting a high standard for quality.

To learn more about All One Family, visit their website at www.allonefamilyseniordayprogram.com.

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Jul 28 2009

HBO Project Raises Awareness of Alzheimer’s

The more I learn about Alzheimer’s disease, the more I realize that it is one of those conditions that you really can’t understand unless you’ve dealt with it personally, caring for a friend or loved one. But I think the talented folks at HBO may have found a way to give all of us a deeper understanding of this debilitating brain disorder through their new effort – THE ALZHEIMER’S PROJECT.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, as many as 5.3 million people in the US are living with the disease; that’s one in every eight people over age 65. And those numbers will explode as baby boomers age. Every 70 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s, and it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the US. Yet a survey conducted as part of the HBO project found that a majority of Americans have a “poor understanding of the fatal and progressive brain disease and the extent of its impact on individuals and society.”

HBO’s THE ALZHEIMER’S PROJECT features a four-part documentary series, 15 short supplemental films, a comprehensive website and a nationwide community-based information and outreach campaign. Best of all, you can see the films even if you don’t subscribe to HBO. They will all stream free of charge on hbo.com.

The four feature films are: “The Memory Loss Tapes” – which provides an up-close and perosnal look at seven individuals living with Alzheimer’s, providing examples of the full spectrum of the progression of the disease. “Momentum in Science” is a two-part state-of-the-science film that takes viewers inside the labs and clinics of 25 leading scientists and physicians. “Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am’ with Maria Shriver” shows what it is like to be a child or grandchild of someone with Alzheimer’s; and “Caregivers” highlights the sacrifices and successes of people who care for a loved one with the disease.

THE ALZHEIMER’S PROJECT website also provides a wealth of information, including links to a 24-hour helpline, message boards and information on how to connect with clinical trials.

Maria Shriver served as executive producer of the series. Shriver’s 93-year-old father, Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps and 1972 Democratic vice presidential nominee, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003. THE ALZHEIMER’S PROJECT marks the third time HBO Documentary Films has made a focused attempt at public health education. In 2000, there was the Peabody Award-winning series “Cancer: Evolution to Revolution,” followed by the “Addiction” series in 2007.

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