National Caregivers Day

Celebrate National Caregivers Day

 

 

The third Friday in February is observed annually as National Caregivers Day. This special day was founded in 2015 by the Providers Association for Home Health & Hospice Agencies (PAHHHA). It honors the men and women who provide vital services to individuals and families around the country. Not only are caregivers an important part of the healthcare system, especially for patients who are in long-term or hospice care, but day in and day out, these dedicated individuals commit their lives to care for someone else’s needs.

 

Across the nation dedicated health care professionals serve those who require long-term or hospice care. National Caregivers Day honors those men and women dedicated to providing these vital services. Caregivers deliver a variety of services from personal care to medical services with compassion and professionalism. Their days may be long and demanding, but they provide support to those who need it most.

 

Honoring those individuals who aid your loved ones, especially the elderly who often require long-term care, is something we should celebrate year-round. Caregivers have that special kindness gene that enables them to care for people every day, and there are many ways we can show them how important they are in the lives of your loved ones. National Caregivers Day is just one of many ways to show appreciation for these individuals. This year, take time to thank a caregiver for their dedication and care of your loved ones.

 

National Caregivers Day is the perfect time to acknowledge the dedicated, compassionate people who work as caregivers, but it shouldn’t end there. Simply showing your appreciation throughout the year, even with just a simple ‘thank you,’ can help boost the spirit of these individuals who work tirelessly to provide high-quality care to the loved ones in your life.

 

 

 

Hiring an In-Home Caregiver

Caregiver

 

As an elderly loved one gets older, everyday life can become more and more challenging. Walking around can become tiresome. Missing a medication can become disastrous. At times, going to the bathroom and cleaning the dishes can become too much. Thankfully, there is an industry that’s entirely devoted to making lives easy for your elderly loved ones—home care for seniors. Hiring an in-home caregiver gives your elderly loved ones the luxury to remain as independent as possible while getting all the help they need.

 

However, with so many options available and several factors to take into account, finding the right in-home caregiver can become overwhelming. Get your search for the right in-home caregiver off to a great start by keeping in mind the following:

Caregiving is not a one-size-fits-all service

 

Determine the exact tasks your elderly loved ones need help with. Seniors have diverse needs. For instance, some only need help with household chores like cleaning, cooking, and doing the laundry. Others, on the other hand, might only need help with getting to appointments or running errands.

 

Is it also possible that your loved one may need assistance with ADLs (activities of daily living) like bathing, getting dressed, or getting in and out of bed. It is also possible that your loved one only needs someone qualified to provide therapies, care for wounds, or administer medications.

Talk to your loved ones about hiring an in-home caregiver

 

Understandably, many seniors are not comfortable with the idea of having a stranger in their homes. In line with this, it would be a good idea to talk to your loved ones about it. Talking to them can give them time to warm up to the idea of having a new person at home helping them out.

 

Another way to put your loved one at ease is by checking with the new caregiver now and then or until such time that the caregiver is accustomed to the role and your loved one is comfortable having someone new around. It would also help if you can educate the in-home caregiver about tasks your loved ones want done in a specific way.

Figure out how to pay for in-home care

 

The cost of in-home care can depend on the help your loved one needs. If your loved one has a life insurance policy or savings, it might be enough to help cover the cost. Ideally, your elderly loved one should have some kind of long-term care insurance. If not, check if Medicare, Medicaid, or other health insurance policies will cover the cost of in-home care.

 

It would also be a good idea to figure out ahead of time if you can contribute a specific amount to pay for their in-home care. You can also check with other family members if they can and would be willing to pitch in.

Determine the caregiving schedule your loved one will require

 

Before starting your actual search, it is recommended that you identify the kind of caregiving schedule your loved one needs. You also need to factor in other crucial elements like your budget. Additionally, you also need to identify which days you would need someone to provide care.

 

If you figure out your loved one will only need help a few hours each day, you can easily determine those times. For instance, if your loved one needs help with just bathing or dressing, you might find it ideal to have someone who’s available in the mornings.

You can hire an in-home caregiver on your own or through an agency

 

While hiring an in-home caregiver through an agency can be a bit costly, it is also more convenient as the agency takes care of the paperwork, payroll, and taxes. However, if you want to hire someone independently, you can start your search by asking for recommendations from medical staff, friends, or local senior organizations.

 

You also need to ensure that you hire someone with the proper license and insurance. Performing a background check and asking for references is also considered ideal. You also need to figure out ahead if you want to hire the caregiver as an employee or a contractor. To ensure you are covering all the financial and legal bases, it is recommended that you consult a lawyer or an accountant.

Staying involved is crucial

 

Ensuring there is excellent communication between you and the in-home caregiver can help warrant your loved one’s needs are satisfactorily met. It will also help if you schedule regular meetings so all the parties concerned will have a venue where everyone can voice out their questions or share their concerns.

 

It is also recommended that you keep the in-home caregiver informed about any changes in your loved one’s condition and if there are changes in their responsibilities so adjustments are made when necessary. In the same manner, it is also crucial to check with your loved one about the caregiver’s performance so you’ll know if everything is going well.

Final Thoughts

 

If your elderly loved one is no longer capable of living an independent and safe lifestyle, hiring an in-home caregiver is one of the best options you can look into. As long as you have all the crucial factors covered, you can rest assured your loved ones can live comfortably and get all the assistance they need.

 

 

About the Author:

 

Sarah Keller is the Content Marketing Strategist of A To Z Home Care, a team of professional home care providers based in Phoenix, Arizona that specializes in long-term care for your loved ones. She enjoys riding horses and camping with her friends and family in her spare time.

Age Safe® America Earns AOTA Approved Provider Status!

AOTA Approved Provider

 

The purpose of the AOTA Approved Provider Program (APP) is to promote high quality and relevant professional development activities for occupational therapy practitioners that support best practice services to consumers. By becoming an AOTA Approved Provider, Age Safe America has demonstrated the ability to comply with required systems, policies, procedures, and educational practices appropriate for occupational therapy practitioners in a manner that meets AOTA APP Criteria and Guidelines.

 

One of the online courses offered by Age Safe America is the Senior Home Safety Specialist™ certification which offers a holistic approach to home safety for seniors and their families, and has been taken by professionals throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The course empowers professionals with actionable ways to better help educate clients, older adults and their family members on the serious issues of home safety, fall prevention, financial exploitation and personal safety, as well as performing a comprehensive 240-point home safety assessment.

 

This coveted recognition by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) as an Approved Provider expands continuing education opportunities for their members and builds further credibility for Age Safe America as a training leader.

 

Occupational therapy professionals are vital contributors to the well-being and safety as clients recover from a fall or injury, cope with progressive conditions or simply need to learn easier, safer ways to remain independent in their homes. As we grow older, we start to lose strength and mobility. Tasks that were once easy become increasingly more difficult. It’s important that a home is accommodating of these changes. Occupational therapists are trained, professional advocates for aging at home.

 

Read More NEWS from Age Safe®

 

 

 

Dehydration is Serious for Older Adults

 

Anyone may become dehydrated, but the condition is especially dangerous for young children and older adults. Older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies, and may have conditions or take medications that increase the risk of dehydration. For seniors, being dehydrated could cause confusion and anxiety, as well as an increased risk of heart disease, infection and falls if not getting enough fluids.

 

Severe dehydration is serious, and even life threatening.

 

There are many reasons older adults do not drink enough water. One is that as we age we may lose our sense of thirst, so they may not seem thirsty. Also because of continence issues, frailty or forgetfulness. Below are tips for incorporating more liquids into your daily life for people of all ages.

 

Avoid soda, coffee, tea, and alcohol.

Your body needs fluids, but not all fluids are equally beneficial. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and some sodas have a dehydrating effect. The same is true for alcohol.

 

Keep a water bottle handy at all times.

Because seniors can have a diminished capacity to recognize thirst, and some seniors might have difficulty moving around, keeping a full water bottle with you will remind you to drink up each time you look at it.

 

Drink a full glass of water with any non-mealtime medication.

If you take non-mealtime medication three times a day, this will automatically get you three glasses of water.

 

Replace water lost through environmental factors and exercise.

Since water is lost through perspiration, keep a water bottle with you when you exercise and when you’re outside in warm weather.

 

If you hate the taste of water, add a little natural flavor.

There’s no need to pay for fancy water. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime, or orange to flavor your own water. For more variety, try putting some sliced melon or cucumber into a pitcher of water.

 

Eat foods with high water content.

Fresh fruits and veggies, along with broth, gelatin snacks, ice pops, and Italian ices contain lots of water — and they can help hydrate you.

 

If you start to feel sick, start sipping water immediately.

Vomiting and diarrhea can dehydrate you. If you can’t tolerate water, suck on crushed ice or an ice pop.

 

Use a straw or squeeze bottle.

Either method can help when you’re not up to sitting up and drinking directly from a glass.

 

Drink throughout the day.

Consistent hydration is better than flooding your system with a large quantity of water all at once. Independent seniors need to remind themselves about hydration, and setting alarms at intervals throughout the day can help. You can also leave sticky notes around your home to remind you to drink more water.

 

 

 

Age Safe® Live Well.

 

Cognitive Issues in Seniors: Everything You Need To Know

Cognitive Issues in Seniors

 

Aging. The five-letter word that scares us. Not just because of our physical appearance changing, but our health, especially our cognitive health, begins to deteriorate.

 

Thankfully there are signs to detect cognitive issues in seniors, as well as ways to prevent or slow down cognitive impairment, such as having a healthy planned lifestyle.

 

 The Warning Signs

 

We all experience those moments when we walk into a room and forget why we went there in the first place. Or forgetting what you were going to tell someone. However, for seniors, these experiences can be a tell-tale sign of a decline in cognitive skills. Making decisions, concentration and even learning can become harder.

 

These symptoms may be natural side effects of aging, but sometimes they can be an indication of more serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Due to the severity of these illnesses, you should seek medical advice for you or your loved one immediately to determine what is causing the cognitive distress.

 

Signs of Cognitive Issues

  • Mood Swings
  • Trouble recalling people, places, or memories
  • Repeating questions/stories
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor decision making/ judgment choices
  • Decline in vision
  • Struggling to find the “right words”
  • Misplace items on a regular basis
  • Having trouble processing things

 

Staying Active

Remaining active as a senior is imperative not only to physical health but also to cognitive health.

Stress can wreak havoc on our mental health by debilitating learning and memory functioning. Exercising releases endorphins, which helps improve mood and release stress.

Along with physical activities, mental activities help strengthen our brain’s functionality. Reading, taking adult education courses, playing sudoku or crossword puzzles are great ways to keep one’s mind challenged and working in order to help in preventing Alzheimer’s.

 

Eating Healthy

 

Having a healthy diet is not only important all the time, but even more essential for seniors. Healthy breakfasts consisting of eggs, yogurt, fruit, and cereal are a great start to a senior’s day.

 

Along with a nutritional breakfast, there are other foods that are good for cognitive health.

 

Greens

 

We’ve all been told to grow up to eat our veggies and for good reason! According to Harvard Health Publishing greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli have vitamin k, lutein, folate, and beta carotene- all of which are nutrients that promote brain health, even helping slow cognitive decline.

 

Fish

 

Who knew fatty fish could help with Alzheimer’s?! Fatty fish such as sardines,

Salmon and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have been related to lowering the blood levels of a protein that forms clumps in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s: beta-amyloid.

 

Berries

 

The natural plant tint that helps give berries their color, flavonoids, can help improve one’s memory!

 

Tea and Coffee

 

Harvard Health Publishing notes that in a study, those who had a higher caffeine intake scored better on tests of mental functions! Get concentration and mental function from a daily dose of caffeine.

 

Nuts

 

Nuts are a great source of protein and walnuts can be linked to the improvement of memory.

 

Social Interaction

 

As humans, we need social interaction to promote healthy cognitive health. This becomes even more important as we age.

 

According to the National Institute on Aging being socially active can be linked to low levels of interleukin-6: “…an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.”

 

There are many ways seniors can socialize. Visiting with family and friends is a great way to catch up and socialize with ones they love.

 

If your loved one is in an assisted living facility or nursing home, they can participate in group activities, such as game nights, classes and more. Sometimes these facilities may offer pet therapy which is a perfect way to socialize with four-legged companions.

 

Intergenerational programs are also a great source of socialization. Facilities or nursing homes may have partnerships with local schools and organizations, which allows seniors to bond with a younger group and learn from them and keep their minds active.

 

Cognitive issues are scary. But there are ways to prolong the severe effects. If you or your loved one are having trouble with memory or anything related, try some of the solutions above to help slow down cognitive decline.

 

 

About the Author

 

Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist for Paradise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and cousins.

 

 

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Senior Care

 

Finally, there is good news for seniors amid the global pandemic. Because aging Americans are one of the most vulnerable populations, they will also be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after its approval. Below are some COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Senior Care

 

The vaccine will be available to seniors residing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities first and to Americans 65 and up living at home shortly thereafter.

 

Just how effective is the vaccine? “Pfizer’s vaccine, produced in partnership with BioNTech, has an overall efficacy rate of 95% and efficacy of 94% in people 65 and older. Moderna’s overall efficacy is 94%, with 87% efficacy in preventing moderate disease in older adults,” CNN reports. Both vaccines may be approved in late December.

 

Currently, Pfizer and Moderna estimate that they will have 40 million doses to distribute before the end of the year. Each vaccine requires two doses. A COVID-19 panel hosted by the National Academy of Medicine and American Public Health Association (APHA) suggests that this will be enough to vaccinate all seniors in assisted living centers and nursing homes as well as frontline healthcare workers.

 

Even with a vaccine, it is absolutely critical for relatives, home care services, and medical personnel to treat the vulnerable senior population with extreme care and all due precautions. Here is what that looks like — down to the specifics. Use these frequently asked questions and examples of caregiving situations to navigate these tricky times.

 

Is it safe to visit seniors right now?

 

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Unless the visit is absolutely necessary, it is safest to avoid visiting seniors altogether, especially seniors who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. If you must visit, try to meet senior relatives outdoors and maintain safe social distancing or remain at least six feet apart. Should indoor visits be unavoidable, keep them short, and wear a mask at all times. In general, it is wise to practice frequent hand washing and avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes whether you visit senior relatives or not.

 

Keeping visits to an absolute minimum helps reduce exposure to the virus and that, in turn, reduces risks of transmission. See below for tips about reducing loneliness and maintaining strong connections during this time.

 

How can you limit transmission in seniors’ homes?

 

If you do enter seniors’ homes, living space, and/or bedrooms, what are the best ways to reduce the likelihood of infection?

 

In addition to wearing a mask, wash your hands every 30 to 60 minutes you spend inside their living space or home. Regularly clean phones with an alcohol-based wipe, containing at least 70% alcohol. Avoid anyone who is not wearing a mask, and limit physical contact.

 

Arrange your visits carefully. Make sure to schedule visits only when senior relatives or patients — and only seniors — are present. Avoid doubling up on visits. Keep your social circle small and avoid large gatherings when you are not visiting your senior loved one. If you are visiting seniors in a nursing home, try to avoid the most popular visiting hours.

 

Is it necessary to sanitize groceries, household supplies, medical supplies, and packages?

 

According to The New York Times, germs from the virus may live on plastic and steel surfaces for up to three days. As for packages, germs are likely to linger for hours — if at all.

 

While seniors are significantly less likely to catch the virus from surface transmission than physical contact or droplets, “it can’t hurt to wipe down non-porous containers like glass or cans with disinfectant wipes,” Consumer Reports suggests. Use sanitized carts while at the grocery store, and wash fruit with warm water (and scrub fruit with skin!) when you get home. This may help prevent the transmission of COVID-19, and it will definitely remove harmful pesticides.

 

The virus does not survive long on cardboard. Pack away cardboard food packages after a few hours and leave packages in a safe spot outdoors for a few hours to be extra safe. After a few hours, there is little need to sanitize them.

 

What are some safe ways to keep connections strong?

 

Keeping in-person visits to an absolute minimum does not mean unnecessarily isolating your loved ones or jeopardizing your relationship with them. Get creative. There are plenty of ways to ensure relationships stay just as strong as ever. Consider:

 

  • Scheduling video calls via computer or phone. Depending on how tech-savvy your senior relative may be, ask them to video chat with you using their computer or smartphone. Seeing your face often feels more personal than other methods of communication, like texting or emailing.
  • Sending care packages or dropping off essentials. Wash your hands, and drop off letters, postcards, care packages, or groceries for seniors. If you choose to send care packages or drop off groceries, take the extra step to sanitize any solid items just in case.
  • Talking on the phone. Many aging Americans are accustomed to using landlines and talking over the phone, so connecting this way will feel personal to them.

 

Can you catch the coronavirus from airborne particles?

 

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not entirely clear. “The virus does not linger in the air at high enough levels to be a risk to most people who are not physically near an infected person,” The New York Times writes. However, if your senior patient or loved one is bedbound or sitting in a chair, it may be possible for lower-level aerosols to be of concern.

 

To be as cautious as possible, limit in-person visits, visit outside, and/or keep any visits that are indoors short and sweet. If you must visit indoors, rooms with greater air circulation pose less risk. For example, a wide, open room with high ceilings is much safer than a cramped, enclosed elevator.

 

This may not be the primary means of infection or transmission, but it is always best to be as careful as possible around vulnerable populations, including aging Americans.

 

Yes, it is absolutely necessary to take extra precautions around seniors now and even for months after effective vaccines become available. Follow the guidelines above to keep your loved ones or patients safe.

For more information, visit Special Touch Home Care’s caregiver questions about coronavirus resource page. Special Touch Home Care is located in New York, offering home health aide services and access to the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) to ensure proper and safe home care for loved ones.