May is an exciting month for the Aging Life Care Association. This month we recognize those who lend their minds and hearts to the ever-growing field of caring for the aging. As we welcome the immense generation of baby boomers into senior citizen status, we celebrate those who dedicate their careers to supporting the needs of the aging.
Aging Life Care®, also known as geriatric care management, is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges. Aging Life Care Professionals® (also known as geriatric care managers) have varied educational and professional backgrounds with a specialized focus on issues associated with aging and disabilities. Working with families, the expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals provides the answers at a time of uncertainty. Through consultation, assessment, care coordination and advocacy, an Aging Life Care Professional works with clients and families to address these challenges.
Aging Life Care Professionals® are experts in the field of aging and disability. They help seniors and their families navigate the challenges of the healthcare system and aging in general. They are strategic planners and have a holistic approach to aging with key knowledge areas that include crisis intervention, housing, health and disability, advocacy, family legal, financial, and local resources.
The expertise of an Aging Life Care Professional® provides answers at a time of uncertainty. Their guidance leads families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress and time off of work for family caregivers through:
- Assessment and monitoring
- Planning and problem solving
- Education and advocacy
- Family caregiver coaching
The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) is an engaging, supportive network of individuals upholding the highest ethical, educational and professional standards. Members are from diverse backgrounds including social work, occupational therapy, nursing, human services, and case management. These professionals elect to invest in this association for its substantial educational and social support. VISIT THEM HERE:
Melissa Swiontek is the owner of Passionate Healthcare Advocacy & Wellness in Portland, Oregon- www.passionatehcw.com. She is an Occupational Therapist, Senior Home Safety Specialist™ and Aging Life Care Manager®. Melissa is passionate about helping seniors age in place, prevent falls, and live their best life. As a care manager for seniors, she focuses on helping adult children and spouses identify the optimal care needs for their loved ones. She specializes in caregiver training, medical equipment and problem solving to help seniors stay independent, safe, and follow their aging goals.
Cheers to National Aging Life Care Month! Thank you to all of my peers out there in this heartwarming field.
In 2009, I flew from New York to California to spend Mother’s Day with my mom. I was busy with a senior move management business at the time. I had learned from my senior clients that aging in place was often their first choice, not the move to assisted living for which they had hired me. So, with my mom’s low vision issues, a bit of vertigo but generally in good health, I knew that I should pay closer attention to her and her house on this trip.
Her master shower was about 3’ by 3’ (or at least, it felt that way) and did not have grab bars. I made a mental note and then, as vacations go, the time slipped away. I didn’t get that far from California, actually on the flight home, when I began to feel the guilt for not taking the action and getting grab bars installed. I could have had a professional or my brother, the contractor, do the work or I could have made the call and the appointment, at least.
Now, it’s July and I am back in California with mom. This trip I arranged for the grab bars to go into her shower. She was actually grateful and I was relieved. It was a small thing but I knew at the time, years before I was doing this as a professional, that it was the right thing and Mom would never have asked!
I offer this story as a reminder that when we take the action, it saves the angst and guilt and can save a fall, too!
By Fritzi Gros-Daillion, Director of Education for Age Safe America, LLC
Age Safe® America celebrates Occupational Therapy Month and the vital role played by occupational therapists in the lives of Americans of all ages. Their expertise and perspective bring important solutions to help people regain independence in their lives.
We don’t often consider just living and going about our daily routines that what we are doing is actually an occupation – the occupation of living. So the professionals who are trained to help us improve how we manage in our homes in all aspects from work or hobbies to activities of daily living such as getting dressed, cooking, eating and driving are occupational therapists.
Occupational therapists are trained to facilitate life skills for all ages. They can train workers to use the correct ergonomics, help people with low vision or other sensory challenges maintain their independence, make homes more safer and more accessible, evaluate and train older drivers and promote overall health and wellness. The assessment of the environment is baseline for recommendations and solutions. OTs work with older people in their homes or other settings such as nursing homes, to help them to recover from strokes or deal with Alzheimer’s disease. Others choose acute care or home settings to work with accident victims to regain needed skills or offer assistance to people with mental illness. They can work across the age spectrum to help children thrive in the occupation of childhood; they provide tools and skills to enhance learning, growing and play.
As an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant, you are part of a vitally important profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Your holistic and customized approach to evaluations, interventions, and outcomes help a child with disabilities participate in school and in social situations, assist a person recovering from injuries to regain skills, aid an older adult to stay as independent as possible, and offer the specialized support and services to people of all ages and in all circumstances that only occupational therapy can provide. Occupational Therapy Month began in 1980. It is in April to correspond with AOTA’s Annual Conference & Expo.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 are a great source of protein and walnuts can be linked to the improvement of memory.
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.