Home Modification Solutions for Seniors with Limited Vision

Ergonomic Lever Door Handle

Age-related eye diseases that lead to vision loss are a common health problem among seniors. While vision loss can have a profound impact on your day-to-day life, it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your golden years. Low vision seniors can still live safely and independently at home with a few simple home modifications. Caregiver Corner offers plenty of useful resources that can help you cope with health changes like vision loss. Below, we’ve collected just a few home modification ideas to get you started.

Improve the Lighting in Your Home

To help prevent falls and injuries, make sure every room, staircase, and hallway in your home is brightly lit.

Use Contrast and Color to Enhance Accessibility

Mixing light and dark colors around your home can help you detect important objects like stairs, doorways, and furniture.

  • Apply contrast strips to stairs and thresholds.
  • Repaint door knobs in bright colors for greater visibility.
  • Choose high-contrast color schemes for your bedroom.
  • In the kitchen, use brightly colored dishes and high-contrast food preparation tools.

Reduce and Eliminate Fall Hazards

Low-vision seniors are more likely to suffer a fall at home, so take steps to mitigate your fall risk.

  • Remove trip hazards from around your home.
  • Remove area rugs that slide around or bunch up.
  • Install grab-bars and railings throughout your home.
  • Install non-slip flooring in your kitchen and bathroom.

Living with low vision isn’t always easy. As you adjust to this new challenge, make some modifications around your home so you can stay safe and comfortable. Through good lighting, high-contrast design, and a few home safety upgrades, you can live a happy, healthy and independent life!

Post contributed by Tanya Lee at AbilityVillage.org

Common Health and Aging Stressors Seniors Face as They Grow Older

Senior Man holding face

Photo by Pexels

As people grow older, they can face some expected — and unexpected — side effects of aging. These challenges can truly increase stress on a senior. A variety of stressors can arise, such as retirement or being a caregiver for a spouse or even grandchildren. These, as well as worrying about mental and physical health, can take a toll on older adults. Below are common health and aging stressors seniors and their loved ones should be aware of as people grow older.

Caring for Loved Ones

Seniors may take care of a spouse or grandchildren which can cause stress for them as caregivers. As people grow older, they need to pay attention to their own needs. Unfortunately, if they are taking care of a loved one, they can be more focused on others instead of themselves. According to Aging Care, seniors who are caregivers have a 63 percent higher mortality rate than seniors of the same age who are not caregivers. For those who take on kinship care, seniors who raise grandchildren can lose leisure time, traveling opportunities, and other areas of independence in exchange for taking grandchildren to school and sports lessons. Stress from being a caregiver can take the forms of withdrawal, insomnia, and even anger.

Retirement

As people work, many of them dream about the day they get to retire and travel the world with their spouse or buy the houseboat they’ve never been able to stop thinking about. Sadly, retirement is not always as happy-go-lucky as the TV commercials portray. According to Forbes, retirement is one of the most stressful events seniors go through because people retire or are forced to retire as other challenging events are happening, such as the death of a loved one or struggling with declining health. Retirement can also lead to financial concerns as well as relationship challenges, both of which can bring on even more stress. There may also be financial challenges with maintaining their home as well. And while many seniors find it beneficial to downsize, even then there’s the stress of moving and going through all their possessions.

Physical Challenges

As people grow older, it is natural for there to be physical decline, but that doesn’t mean people don’t stress about it. As physical challenges begin to increase, people can have a hard time adjusting. In turn, as seniors stress about their personal physical challenges, stress can spurn on new ones. Stress can result in heart problems, a lowered immune system, and even vision and hearing loss. This circular spiral can only make the concern for physical challenges increase. Some ways to battle stress to help stop this cycle can include practicing deep-breathing meditation and listening to music.

Mental Health Decline

A senior’s mental health is truly challenged as they grow older. This can result in diseases like dementia, but it can also include anxiety or depression. Anxiety and depression arise due to battling stress and constantly hearing and talking about the loss of loved ones and friends. Elderly depression can show itself in a variety of ways including consistent sadness, irritability, and changes in eating habits. Anxiety appears in ways such as uncontrollable worry, being tired around the clock, and very tense muscles.

As external stressors can increase mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression, seniors can find help by reaching out to a mental health professional. Medicare Part B can help cover the costs as it offers a range of mental health services including counseling and even a yearly depression screening.

Abuse From Caregivers or Family Members

As seniors face mental and physical decline, they often switch from being a caregiver to needing one. Unfortunately, many seniors face abuse from caregivers and even loved ones. It might just not be exploitation, as seen by the collection of assets and money, but seniors can be abused physically, sexually, and emotionally, as well as face neglect. Being abused — especially by someone the senior truly loves and trusts — can be deeply stressful and lead to anxiety and depression. If elder abuse is suspected, it’s important to reach out to the local adult protective services or law enforcement.

Growing older can be very stressful on people. Hitting a certain age once meant wisdom and living a life of relaxation through retirement, but as seniors face challenges and changes in their lives, it’s important to be aware of how this can impact them mentally and physically.

Post contributed by Kent Elliot at AtHomeAging.info

How to Help Your Patients Manage Their Medicine

Pill Box Container

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

By SingleCare

It’s not uncommon for a patient to be diagnosed with more than one health condition. In fact, two-thirds of older adults in the U.S. are living with multiple chronic illnesses. This can be burdensome on the patient and the caregiver. Treatment options can become overwhelming, as each health condition may require multiple medications. 

As a caregiver, you could be responsible for not just one patient with multiple diagnoses, but several. So, how do you keep track of it all? Refer to this senior’s guide to medication management for helpful strategies that could streamline the process.

  1. Stick to a schedule

The easiest way to remember to take (or administer) medication is to do it at the same time every day. SingleCare has a free medication schedule that you can download and fill out for each of your patients here.

Whether you follow SingleCare’s template or create your own version, you should include the name of each medication, the day and time it should be taken, and how much should be taken at a time. This daily medication schedule should be comprehensive of all medicines including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.

  1.  Be detail-oriented

Understanding prescriptions can be a challenge. There’s a lot of information on those tiny labels. Here are three steps to follow each time you pick up a new prescription for your patient. First, verify that the patient’s name, doctor, and pharmacy information is correct. Next, jot down the drug name, its strength, and administration instructions on that medication schedule we just talked about. Then, ask the pharmacist questions if anything is unclear or confusing to you. We’ll talk about this more in the next section.

  1. Speak up

Remember that you are an important member of your patient’s healthcare team. You should feel empowered to lean in by asking questions and providing feedback. To do so, make sure you take advantage of doctor’s appointments and pharmacy visits. 

One resource that you can benefit from is a medication review from a pharmacist. You can request an appointment with your patient and his or her pharmacist during which you all can sit down, review the patient’s list of medications, and ask questions. Don’t forget to bring that medication schedule we mentioned earlier. It may also be helpful to note the possible side effects of certain drugs, so you and your patient can be prepared. 

Many of us abide by doctor’s orders—no questions asked. And although it’s important to trust your doctor (or your patient’s doctor), you should also be an active participant in healthcare discussions. For example, two questions that seem obvious but are often overlooked are: 

  • How will this drug improve the patient’s health condition or symptom it has been prescribed for?
  • Are there any drugs that are no longer necessary for the patient to take?

The less medication your patient is prescribed, the lower chance there is for a medication mishap. Mistakes in medication management can be dangerous and sometimes fatal. It’s important that caregivers take the time to understand their patient’s treatment plan, get organized, and stay diligent.

Post contributed by Sarah Breckon at SingleCare

Choosing a Carer for Seniors

Caregiver with Senior in Wheelchair

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

If you’ve ever considered hiring someone to take care of an elderly relative, you will have realized that it can be a daunting task. Placing a loved one in a care home may not be the answer you are looking for, so finding someone to take care of them in their own home may be the best thing.

So, where do you start looking?

There are several levels of live-in care options and the type of carer you hire will greatly depend on the needs of your loved one.

Companion carers

This type of care offers only companionship. It does not include any medical assistance. Companion carers are there to offer friendship and company, they will help with light housework and things like shopping and collecting medication.

Personal carers

A personal carer will be able to help with bathing, dressing and toileting. They are always specially trained in administering medication. They will also be trained in using hoists and other equipment.

Home health and skilled nursing

Carers who work at this level have been trained to help with clients who have serious illnesses such as cancer. They also help with clients who are recovering from accidents or surgery. This level of carer often does not include any companion services such as shopping or housekeeping, they are there to ensure that your loved one stays on the road to recovery.

Many people who are looking for a live-in carer for a loved one need a carer who is in the ‘personal’ range of care giving.

What should you look for in a personal carer for your senior person?

Personality

Are they friendly and relatively outgoing? Do they seem easy to get along with? Ideally you should look for a person who seems to get along with most people and is comfortable talking to different people.

Their interests

Do their hobbies and interests have anything in common with your loved one? A suitable carer should be able to adapt a routine to include her client such as going for walks on sunny days rather than sitting in front of the TV.

Things in common

For a relationship to work, there needs to be some common ground, even if it is only one area such as reading or cooking. There needs to be something that your loved one and carer can chat about.

Tact and diplomacy

When you interview the potential carer, you should ask one or two questions which will need thoughtful answers. This will give you an idea of how tactful and diplomatic the person is. Senior people often need a person who can tell them something in a kind and pleasant way instead of being harsh and judgmental.

Handling difficult situations

Before you hire a carer for your senior, you have every right to ask them how they would handle certain situations. How would they handle it if your mom fell? What would they do if they could not wake her up? You need to be sure that the carer will not panic and will follow the protocols you have in place.

Sense of humor

Look for a person who can laugh at herself, not make fun of others. She will need an immense amount of patience at times, while still respecting your loved one.

Can she cook?

A personal carer needs to be able to cook meals that your loved one enjoys. She may be a gourmet cook in her own country, but many older people like to eat traditional foods. She should be able to handle this with ease.

Driving

Depending on circumstances you may or may not need a carer who can drive. If you do, she needs to be able to drive on the correct side of the road and possibly use the car you offer, whether it is manual or automatic. You may ask for a valid drivers license, but if she is driving a car you provide, she also needs to be added to your auto insurance policy beforehand.

And now for the ‘official’ questions

The CRB (background check)

The CRB (*available in the UK), must be in-date if you are to hire anyone to care for your loved one. You should be able to check this online to be sure that the potential carer is eligible to work with vulnerable people. Never be tempted to hire someone who does not have this, no matter how nice they seem to be.

Certification

The potential carer should be up to date on her training. Many agencies who place a carer insist that an annual update is done. This is to ensure that the carer is aware of any new developments in the care industry and the regulations that go with it. She will have received certificates showing what subjects were covered such as ‘Moving and Handling’ and ‘Medication’ and should be able to produce them for you.

References

Question the carer about previous employers and then follow up with a call to the past employers. Ask about competence and kindness. Check the reliability and bedside manner. Ask about honesty and trustworthiness. Never feel embarrassed about calling and asking about the carer as it is in your best interest to see how other employers have felt.

Right to work in the UK

Ask to see proof of this right to work. Again, do not be tempted to hire someone who cannot show you this proof.

To sum up

Look for a person who is warm and friendly, comfortable to be with and easy to talk to. Ideally you would like a person who takes his/her job – and all that goes with it – very seriously but can see the funny side of things. The ideal carer will be able to cook healthy and nutritious meals and keep the house neat and tidy. Driving may be an option, although this depends on circumstances.

The ideal carer to look after your senior is the one that you yourself feel at ease with. You should feel safe and assured that she is confident to handle any situation, and you should feel comfortable leaving her to look after your loved one.

Post Contributed by Valerie Holyoak for Live In Care Friends  – a free portal for service users in the UK to find private individual carers that will provide care in their homes. Valerie has been a live-in carer for 11 years. She works in the UK and has extensive knowledge of many medical conditions affecting older people. Before she became a live-in carer, she taught exercise classes and provided personal training for seniors with limited mobility and other disabilities.

Meditation for Caregivers

While in the midst of caring for a loved one, we can often lose our self. Whether it is the day-to-day of physically caring for our aging loved one, managing care logistics, or keeping up with our own needs, we often continue moving so fast, believing we must finish the ultimately never-ending stream of things to deal with, that we burn ourselves out.

It is imperative that each one of us takes time to care for our self. To quiet and replenish from within so that we have what to give to others. If we do not take the time to take care for our self first, we will have nothing to give to others. Often anxiety that begins in our body gets repeated over and over in our minds, leading to increased stress.

This relaxation visualization is designed to help slow you down, release tension and drift off into a deep rest. The rest need not be long, it is the act of letting go, relaxing your body and quieting your mind that helps heal and replenish. I hope you enjoy this and find it of benefit. The more you listen and practice it, the deeper and easier it will be to drop into relaxation and feel replenished.

Post contributed by Aaron L Cohen, who is trained as a psychotherapist and his work and writings draw upon 20+ years in the counseling profession. With a Masters degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy from Naropa University and training in Bio-Energy and Reflexology, Aaron has worked as a counselor and therapist in schools, healthcare facilities, and privately. His personal practice of Buddhist meditation, mindfulness, and Jewish mystical arts has informed his work with individuals, couples, and families. More meditations and articles on living mindfully can be found at www.aaronlcohen.com.

Tips for Caring for Bed-bound Patients

A bed-bound patient is usually an elderly who isn’t able to move or do any daily activities on their own. If they aren’t hospitalized, they may opt for external help due to their complex medical history.

Truth be told, most of the patients would rather be at home than in hospital where they run an every-day risk of being dismissed not yet fully recovered, because of the staff or money shortage. For those who can afford extra help, it is much better to know that they have a bed, and not worry when the state will decide they are “too much”- the high cost of hospital stay has never been a bigger issue!

For care providers, on the other hand, it is essential to know how to do it, especially for bed-bound patients. And not only physically, but emotionally as well. The dignity of those patients is really frail and you need to know how to really be there for them.

FOUR-FOLD CARE

Basically, there are four areas in which you as a caregiver need to excel: hygiene, bedsores and their prevention, moving, lifting and handling a person, and creating general comfort with a lot of patience.

Mind you, if any of these sounds overwhelming or your loved one needs professional care, consider hiring a personal assistant for elderly people or a live-in personal assistant, they know exactly how to care for bed-bound seniors’ particular, sensitive needs.

HYGIENE

Bathing- not only does it fight infections, but it also fosters self-worth and adds a “self-care” feeling to the recovery process. It may sound obvious, but it must feel soothing to know you are fresh and clean.

Moreover, it’s not just eliminating microbes and sweat, it’s also sort of a physical exercise for it activates circulation due to the body massage and toning. Make it a daily routine.

That said, there’s not just one type of bathing a bed-bound patient- it depends on a patient and their level of mobility.

Some are done in the bed a patient lies in- like sponge baths, while patients in wheelchairs may have a regular shower with the help of a bench.

You’ll need warm water and a large container, warm towels- one for soaping the other for rinsing, body wash, lamp (to inspect the skin for rashes, sores, swelling), a razor, comb, toothbrush, basin and their clothes, including incontinence panties.

Make sure you lock the door or drop the curtains around bed to allow some privacy. Don’t undress them all at once, for a) they don’t want that exposure and b) they may catch a cold.

When putting on clothes, be careful to dress the painful side first. When taking them off, the stronger side is the first to go.

Always follow the head-to-toe rule, and when it comes to the peri-care (involving the genitals), it’s front-to-back.

Extra tip: while this might be just another daily routine to a carer, it’s way more than that to the patients- it’s critical. Therefore, be mindful and try to perform it with as much dignity as possible.

BEDSORES

Decubitus, known as a bedsore is a pressure ulcer that starts off as a skin inflammation due to longer lying in the same position or improper lifting and turning because of which the skin tears. Lack of circulation leads to the death of the tissue (necrosis).

The most vulnerable patients are those who cannot feel the pressure and are immobile (due to stroke or paralysis).

It’s widespread and lethal at the same time- bacteria enter the blood system, and aside from exuding odor, it may lead to limb amputation or death. The number of people dying from it is growing.

So, how can you prevent these in bed-bound patients?

Extra-padded foam specialty mattress is the key, together with an adequate diet. Check the back zone and buttocks on a regular basis. Change the patient’s position often (every couple of hours), but make sure to use sheets to avoid friction.

Should a bedsore happen, ensure it’s uninfected, and treat it daily- use saline to clean it, change clothes and move the patient often. An infected tissue must be treated surgically. Don’t bathe too much or too often and don’t wipe the skin. Pat it instead and moisturize often.

Extra tip: take photos of the area to track progress or regress.

MOVING, LIFTING AND HANDLING A PERSON

As you’ve seen, this is utterly important in order to preserve the health and comfort of the elderly.

To avoid the risk of hurting yourself or a patient, up the height of the bed. Always bend your knees. Lift smoothly and only to your shoulder height, with stable feet. Also, the more you keep weight to your body, the easier it is on your back.

Furthermore, National Health Service compiled some practical tips- filed under the “Lifting checklist”. It says: “Before attempting to move someone, ask yourself:

  • do they need help to move?
  • do they require help or supervision?
  • have you told them you’re moving them?
  • how heavy are they?
  • are you healthy and strong enough to move them?
  • is there anyone who could help you?
  • how long will it take?
  • is there enough space around you?
  • are there any obstacles in the way?
  • are you wearing suitable clothing and shoes – for example, if you’re on a slippery or damp surface?”

For another detailed list on how to move a bed-bound patient, check here.

BED-BOUND YET COMFORTABLE

A lot goes into the formula of a human’s outlook, and a lot is out of the carer’s hands. But what you can control in order to offer an elderly bed-bound patient a comfortable and bearable life is a nice, clean environment and a lot of patience and genuine care.

It’s not just about changing catheters and taking care of oxygen machines, hydrating the patients and feeding them balanced diets.

Let the sunshine in. Declutter the room and air it properly. Listen to them. Read to them. Play some music. Or their favorite film. If appropriate, ask some meaningful questions: What do other people not understand about you? What do you worry about? Have you learned anything about yourself or other people amidst this situation?

On top of everything, understand the patient and their situation, empathize with their lack of movement, don’t get frustrated, it translates easily.

They already have a very hard time, try not to make it harder.

Conclusion

  • Being bed-ridden is a predicament.
  • Being bed-ridden in a familiar bed is a little better.
  • Seniors confined to their beds may require 24/7 care for their basic needs. Make sure it’s quality care since their quality of life depends on it.
  • And one more thing: “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

 AuthorBio: Anne Harris is an HR specialist working for londonlive-incare.com. She eagerly shares her knowledge with her audience on various blogs. When she isn’t writing or attending wellness conferences, she likes to pack her rucksack and ride her day away on her bike or spend time with her friends.

Helping Your Senior Loved One Through the Financial Impact of Losing a Spouse

Photo via Rawpixel

Losing a loved one is one of the most stressful and traumatic experiences in life. Unfortunately, we have to handle all kinds of difficult life decisions while we’re dealing with grief. The funeral and burial plans must be arranged, outstanding bills need to be paid, and the estate must be distributed. If your senior loved one just lost a spouse, you can be a great help to them during this rocky period. Here are some essential financial matters that should be tackled sooner rather than later.

Funeral Cost Planning

Planning for funeral costs is one of the most immediate tasks that need to be handled after a death. According to Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage, funeral expenses cost an average of $7,000 to $9,000. Cemeteries often have a separate set of costs for other essentials like a plot and headstone. Unless your loved one’s spouse had some form of life or burial insurance, covering these costs can be very stressful. Help your loved one shop around to avoid overspending on expenses like the casket or transportation. Contact several different funeral homes and compare their prices for services or items, so you can keep the funeral affordable.

Collecting Insurance Benefits

If the spouse had an insurance policy, help your senior loved one collect the payout. Investopedia recommends contacting the life insurance company as soon as possible, so your loved one can use the death benefit to pay for the funeral and any other immediate expenses—most companies will pay within 30 to 60 days of your claim. Keep in mind that your loved one has payout options. They can choose to receive the benefit as a lump-sum payment or as regular installments over time. If they choose installments, they may have to pay tax on any interest.

Transferring Assets

According to FreeAdvice Legal, certain assets aren’t passed on by will. These include real estate, cars, investments, and bank accounts held by more than one person. Most of these assets should automatically pass to your loved one, but they will need to update the title into their name. Make sure your loved one transfers these shared assets by filing the appropriate documents to the right offices and agencies. If your loved one’s name is not on these assets, they will have to go through the probate process to gain ownership.

Paying Debts

If the deceased spouse held debt, your senior loved one may be concerned about their liability. The good news is that most debts are not collected from the surviving spouse. However, your senior loved one will be responsible for making payments on any accounts that their name is on. If your loved one did not hold any joint accounts with their spouse, they may be pressured by collection agents to make a few payments which could make them legally responsible for the debt. Make sure your loved one doesn’t make any payments without talking to a lawyer.

New Financial Responsibilities

Many senior couples become accustomed to certain roles in their marriage. If financial matters previously fell on your loved one’s spouse, they may feel overwhelmed and lost by their new responsibilities. Help your loved one organize their financial obligations. Track down all of their bills and consider setting up automatic payments with their bank. You can also help them come up with a new budget to ensure they can maintain their lifestyle without financial help from their spouse. Your loved one may be eager to pay off their mortgage, downsize, or make other large changes to their financial situation. According to U.S. News, overspending and rushing to make financial decisions are common mistakes that people make after losing a spouse. Encourage your loved one to take some time to think before committing to anything major.

Getting life back in order after a loss can take a long time, so be patient and gentle with your senior loved one. Avoid pressuring them to make quick financial decisions. Although you have the best of intentions, your loved one may need time to heal before they can gain a clear understanding of their financial situation.

Post contributed by Lucille Rosetti at The Bereaved

5 Brain Stimulating Activities for Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that damages the nerve cells in the brain. It leads to a decline in cognitive abilities which in turn causes impaired judgment, confusion and memory lapses.

One of the ways to slow down the symptoms of AD is to keep the brain stimulated and involved. It can be done by getting involved in various activities like playing Sudoku, listening to music and cooking.

Listed below are a few fun activities that contribute to brain stimulation.

Listening to Music:

Music is a soothing activity for people with Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia. Music not only soothes them, it can also evoke nostalgia about a good time. For example, a senior may have trouble finding the right words to use, but be able to sing an entire song without interruption.

Music can also help manage symptoms of anxiety and loneliness. People with Alzheimer’s should be encouraged to get involved in music. It may be an area in when they can feel accomplishment and be encouraged by its melody.

Playing Games:

Several games like chess, Sudoku, and puzzles are proven to improve cognitive abilities. Putting together jigsaw puzzles can reinforce one’s problem-solving skills while daily crossword puzzles can be a low-stress workout for their brain.

The reason is pretty simple—games trigger mental stimulation that dementia patients need to stay engaged and alert while getting a good memory workout.

Playing games can also improve dexterity in seniors.

Keep these things in mind while choosing games for seniors with Alzheimer’s.

  • Games that promote hand-eye coordination through manipulation of various parts or pieces.
  • Games that improve mental retention through word-related activities.
  • Games that improve memory via pictures or verbal interaction.

Doing Household Chores:

The familiarity of being at one’s place gives a sense of stability and accomplishment, and for AD patients, this is important. Doing household chores like cooking, laundry and gardening can benefit them. According to a 2012 study published in the journal Neurology, even mundane or simple tasks can lower the risk of AD if they are performed frequently.

Opting for Art Therapy:

Art therapy is a useful practice for those suffering from degenerative diseases like  dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and depression.

Through this practice, patients are able to create an art piece that reconnects them with memory and lets them express themselves. Their artwork also serves as an effective tool to reassure their loved ones and caregivers that they still have the essence of the individual within them.

Art forms like painting, drawing, and modeling can boost self-esteem, increase attention span, recall memories, and enhance communication. This helps the patient honor their life story, while restoring and preserving their sense of self.

When integrated with reminiscence activities, art therapy shows the person that their story is engaging and valuable.

Making a Scrapbook:

Scrapbooking can be a highly enjoyable activity for elders with AD to do with their loved ones, and this hobby comes with several physical and mental benefits.

Putting together a scrapbook builds self-confidence as its easy, fun, and doesn’t require much assistance. Creating a project on their own helps them feel capable and accomplished.

Fun and creative activities like scrapbooking have been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate by distracting the mind and creating positive focus and calming thought flow. Scrapbooking also enhances dexterity, as it involves pasting, cutting and manipulation of the bits of fabric and paper.

We hope that you find these activity suggestions beneficial when sharing with and engaging your loved one. You can also consult their doctor, nurses, and caregivers for helpful suggestions in determining the right stimulating activities for your loved one.

Post contributed by Sofia Fox,  a passionate traveler, biker and an enthusiastic by heart. She is working with Affinity Home Care which provides in-home care services to aged group. She loves to write in her free time and chit chatting with like-minded people is her favorite pastime.

How to Provide Care From a Distance

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

According to a study conducted by the AARP, 15% of the nearly 34 million Americans who provide care to a loved one are caregiving from a distance of at least one hour or more. Caring for a loved one can be complicated as it is, but when you add distance into the mix, it can have an even greater effect on career, savings, and a caregiver’s emotional well-being. What works for one caregiver may not work for another, and with diseases like Parkinson’s, a caregiver’s role will change as the disease progresses, so the landscape is ever shifting. Keep reading for some starter tips on how to care for someone with a chronic condition from a distance.

Of course, the type of care provided depends on an individual’s health, so it pays to keep on top of any health changes. If you’re too far to visit more than a few times a year then try to call, email, or Skype as often as possible. With certain debilitating diseases, like Parkinson’s, writing an email or holding a telephone may be too difficult, so Skype is a great alternative as a way to check in. It serves two purposes: first it lets them know you’re there even if you’re physically far away, and second, it lets you see any health changes or declines as if you were actually there. If Skype is not an option, enlist the help of a nearby friend or neighbor and ask them if they notice any changes.

In the event there is a health change, the next step is contacting the physician for a formal diagnosis. Your role as caregiver will change as health declines after a diagnosis, such as Parkinsons. At some point your loved one may need professional assistance with most of their activities of daily living. In the event of a physical change, many times a person is still able to live at home, but their doctor might recommend more caregiving hours or further home-health services to assist with helping the patient get stronger. Home health can even include physical therapy. Likewise, there are also agencies that provide everything from companionship to help with groceries or light housecleaning.

If you do decide to hire professional care, keep your loved one’s health records on-hand and well organized. This should include doctors’ names/phone numbers, medications, and doctor’s visits (both past and future). Also, have advanced health directives ready in case of an emergency. If possible, try to schedule doctor’s appointments when you are in town in order to let the doctor know what you are seeing or hearing from caregivers. This can help the diagnostic process enormously since you will be advocating directly for your loved one’s health.

If there is a primary caregiver that lives with your family member, like a healthy spouse or an adult child, one of the most important things you can do is provide respite to them. Caregivers face burning out and sometimes have health problems of their own, so any respite you can provide will allow them to emotionally recharge. When you do get to visit your loved one and their primary caregiver, catch up on medical related issues, but also remember to talk about shared interests that aren’t related to disease or chronic conditions.

Written by Max Gottlieb for Senior Planning. Senior Planning is a one-stop shop for senior resources, health resources, and care resources.

 

5 Strategies for Maintaining Community Connections While Aging

Community Connections for Seniors

Image via Unsplash

Aging in place may satisfy a senior’s desire for independence, but if they don’t maintain community connections, staying home could do more harm than good. While some seniors enjoy active social lives, others develop a fear of falling that keeps them home-bound more often than not. Our communities also affect seniors’ ability to stay engaged, with seniors suffering greater isolation in areas with poor walkability and limited community resources.

Staying engaged becomes much more difficult as we grow older, but it’s not impossible. With these strategies, seniors and their caregivers can avoid the isolation that comes with aging in place and enjoy better health while aging.

Move Downtown

Rural seniors have it harder when it comes to staying engaged. Isolation hits especially hard when rural seniors lose the ability to drive and can no longer get to their favorite activities. While moving isn’t without challenges, it’s easier for seniors to stay physically and socially active when they live in dense, walkable neighborhoods where everything they need is nearby.

When seniors need to move, it’s always better to do it sooner rather than later. Moving early in the senior years gives older adults an opportunity to form relationships and routines before the challenges of age catch up to them.

Downsize the House to a Manageable Size

Mundane tasks like cleaning the house can take a lot of energy as we get older. It’s understandable that seniors want to stay in a familiar home, but most seniors benefit from a downsized house that’s easier to move around and maintain.

Downsizing also saves money on housing costs. Even if a senior’s home is paid off, selling and buying a less-expensive home will provide a lump sum that can be used for senior care, healthcare, and other expenses. However, downsizing may not save as much money as a senior expects. Before diving seriously into the home-buying process, research home prices to get a clear picture of what you can afford and avoid sticker shock. For example, the median list price of homes in Huntingdon Valley is approximately $396,000.

Save Money with Alternative Living Arrangements

If a senior’s heart is set on an area but homes are not affordable, consider alternative living arrangements like home sharing. Sharing a home with a roommate reduces housing costs and combats loneliness for independent seniors. In some cases, a roommate may offer housekeeping or companion services in exchange for reduced rent and board.

Senior co-housing and cooperatives are other options. These communities combine private living spaces with communal facilities where seniors can connect with their fellow community members. Unlike assisted living, co-housing and cooperative communities are owned by the residents and cater to independent seniors, although residents may hire their own caregivers.

Connect with a Village

Villages are membership-based volunteer organizations designed to meet the needs of local seniors through volunteer services, service coordination, and social opportunities. While only a few communities have established villages, seniors can search for a local village organization or learn how to start a village at the Village to Village Network.

Stay Physically Active

Exercise helps seniors maintain their physical health so it’s easier to get out and enjoy life. Getting active is also a smart way to meet new people. Whether it’s a neighborhood walking group, a Zumba class (which only cost around $5 to $20 per session), or pick-up games at the local senior center, exercise allows seniors to mingle in a low-pressure environment.

Staying active also enables seniors to continue living independently. Physical exercise is the most important thing people can do to prevent Sarcopenia, the gradual muscle loss associated with senior frailty, among other age-related disabilities.

Aging in place presents many challenges, from remodeling the house for senior living to coordinating in-home care. While the challenge of senior isolation is often overlooked, it has a big impact on a senior’s ability to age in good health. By taking a community-minded approach, seniors can stay engaged, active, and independent throughout the senior years.

Post contributed by Hazel Bridges, the creator of Aging Wellness, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.