Why Check Ups Matter

Generally, people try to avoid going to the doctor as often as possible. No one can say they have fun or enjoy check ups. The whole process can discourage individuals. First you go to his/her office and you have to sit there - for who knows how long - reading years-old magazines or scrolling through old emails on your phone. Finally once the Doctor is ready to see you, you are led to another room and made to wait. Again. This does not even include the actual check-up! It is no wonder people don’t like going!

But you know what would be worse? Finding out that you have a condition that could have been prevented had you been seeing your doctor regularly.

So even though it can be an inconvenience, it is important to have regular checkups with your doctor. Here’s why:

1) Never under estimate the power of prevention. Preventing a health issue is always better than having to find a treatment or cure for one.

2) Regular Doctor visits is your first line of defense to prevent health issues. When you see your doctor there are a variety of screenings they can perform 

3) Constant dialogue with your doctor is critical. This allows them to know what your typical numbers are (blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate and any other testing they might do for you). Having a baseline of information as you go for a checkup year in and year out, your doctor can see your history and will easily be able to determine even the slightest changes.

4) Lastly, there are also the health costs to consider around yearly physicals. This argument is not helpful. Imagine what you will need to be spending if you have something major – medically speaking – go wrong.  The costs to deal with a health issue, the days - weeks off from work, or the terrible feelings, will far outweigh the small price for regular checkups with your doctor. 

No matter how you choose to look at regular or yearly checkups, they can make a positive difference in your future health and well-being.


Occupational Therapy: Its Importance and Quick Tips

Occupational Therapy Tips for Seniors

If a senior you love is preparing to begin occupational therapy, there are steps you can take to ensure the best possible outcome. Those include:

  • Set goals: Work with the therapist to set realistic goals. While the ultimate goal may be to drive a car again, it helps to break that goal down into smaller objectives. It might be to regain the range of motion necessary to look over their shoulder and merge in traffic. Another objective might be to master pulling the seat belt over their shoulder and locking it.
  • Encourage patience: Along these same lines is the need to be patient. One of the challenges seniors face as they begin their therapy is that it often takes time to make progress. Encourage your senior loved one to be patient and not be hard on themselves.
  • Dress comfortably: Therapy can be hard work! Dressing comfortably, including wearing comfortable shoes, can help make occupational therapy sessions a little easier.
  • Celebrate small victories: You can also help your loved one stay motivated by celebrating small victories with them. This is especially true if they have a long road ahead of them with regard to their recovery. It might be with lunch out, a bouquet of flowers or a milkshake from their favorite ice cream shop.

Seniors: Consider Rideshare - Uber, Lyft and Others

Driving can become a serious challenge for seniors as they age in place due to injury, disability or fear of getting behind the wheel.  Rideshare services, such as Uber, Lyft of Gett can support seniors in their transportation needs. This allows them to travel safely and securely without an problems. Senior are always hesitant of new technology or new forms of transportation, but as many young individuals know, rideshare services are great. 

There are unique challenges and needs of the elder population and utilizing every tool to enhance their independence and reduce isolation is important. At Elder Care we recommend Rideshare services as a cost effective solution for many families in need for transportation services. 


Caregiver Tips: Keep Seniors Active

As a professional or family caregiver, consistent daily activities are beneficial, but can become mundane and boring. Schedules are important, but you and the person you’re caring for may become less excited about your time together. We recommend 3 approaches:

1) Constantly ask questions. It is important to know the patients or family members interests. Although we may know our loved ones interests extremely well, interests change. They may have seen something on TV or prefer to do something else.

2) Be creative. If there’s an activity your client or family member can no longer do, think about other ways they could participate. For example, if your client loved to go fishing, suggest that they sign up to help teach a fly tying class. With technology today, there are many games on the iPad or systems one can buy to not only keep seniors active, but involved in their interests.

3) Keep in mind the client’s abilities. There could be physical and mental limitations that may cause agitation for your client or loved one when attempting certain activities. Be mindful of these limits and focus on things that they can do comfortably.

Some easy activities we recommend:

  • Word games
  • Puzzles

  • Going for walks

  • Baking

  • Gardening

  • Crafts

  • Attending sporting events

  • Social activities

As we mentioned, seniors are generally not technology proficient, but introducing an iPad and showing them how to use it can help significantly. Games such as Wii, that allow bowling, golf, tennis in the home can also help them participate in activities that might have been difficult with their limitations. Caring for loved ones or clients can be challenging, but there are many ways to improve the quality of care

5 Tips to Reduce Aging Parents Loneliness

Many seniors prefer to age in place, but one of the risks is lack of social interactions.  Even with a caregiver assisting a loved on, there is still a lack of fun, excitement and connection to peers. Family members living at a distance may feel also add to the difficulty of how to help.

1.  Maintain frequent contact.  If you're used to calling Mom or Dad on a monthly basis, it's time to increase the frequency.  Significant events also require additional contact. If they lost a spouse or can't drive any longer, they need more contact.  You don't need any speecific reason,  just make it consistent and call often. 

2.  Visit in person at regularly.  Personal interactions are important. Not only is it better than a call because you can see what is going on, it is best for the senior to see you, get a hug from you and feel that you care. If distance and time make this a challenge, consider using video to make contact and stay involved in their life.  

3.  Check out community resources for elders where your parent lives.  Most urban and suburban areas have senior centers with  good opportunities to connect and make friends. Various types of entertainment and games are offered throughout the week at these facilities. You can even accompany your loved one to an event, arrange transportation or otherwise facilitate the process.  Many centers offer transportation services and a number of other benefits such as yoga, arts and crafts, bingo and many more activities. Committing to making connections with some support may turn a shy/lonely senior into a happier one.

4. For distance caregivers, consider hiring a geriatric care manager to check in on your aging parent at regular intervals.  You don't have to have a housebound elder to use a geriatric care manager.  These professionals are often nurses or social workers, experienced in matching the elder's needs to community resources for improved socialization.  They can find the activities, work out the logistics and go with the elder in your place if you are far away.

5.  Consider teaching your loved one to use technology.  Connecting with others through facetime and other means can be extremely useful. A computer with a camera is a bridge to anyone in the family.  Even an aging parent who has never touched a computer before can learn if willing.   If you're not good at teaching, perhaps a kind grandchild will do the job or you can get grandma to attend a first timer's computer class.  The effort is so worth it!

Convincing a loved one to get Home Care

Surprisingly, many family members resist in home care. Frequently our aging parents refuse help, despite their desire to remain at home. Mom or Dad often express that outside help is not necessary and that they are capable of managing on their own. Hiring a caregiver is seen by many seniors as a threat to their independence and an invasion of privacy. Please see below for some suggestions on how to approach the subject with your loved ones.

1. Work with the more independent parent.

In most homes there is a more independent parent. When both parents live in the home together, it can be beneficial to advise that the other parents will benefit from this additional support (when in truth both will).  This can help alleviate some of the distress and influence the decision making process.

2. Get the caregiver's foot in the door.

Secondly, suggest hiring a caregiver to manage a few household chores and NOT actual hands-on care or personal assistance. This can be seen as minimal help and less threatening to independence. This entrance into the home can expand into other services. The emphasis on the household chores and cooking / food shopping is an easy discussion. Once they see the value add of this caregiver and build a trusting relationship, it will be easy to ensure they get the help they need.

3. Explain to your parent that you need help.

When a parent lives alone or with you, discuss how you need help and assistance in the home for peace of mind. Explain to your parent that it would not only reduce your concerns, but also alleviate some of the tasks you are required to do. An easy suggestion can be a housekeeper to reduce managing daily household chores (cleaning, shopping, meals, and laundry). Many times family members are working caregivers, so suggest that by having a companion stay or assist with these tasks would relieve your of worries.

4. Call a trusted professional.

Seeking help and advice is never a bad thing. Finding a  trusted professional that your parents respect may lead to them heading the advice. It might be surprising their willingness to accept the advice of a long time family physician, a former or current home health nurse, or a family friend in the medical field. This individual can be used to sway your parents opinions and relay your concerns.

5. Resistance is not Personal

In many families, your conflicting role as the child and caregiver hinder your well-meaning attempts at helping your parents. The basis for your actions should not be confused by misguided guilt. Therefore, do not take their rebuttals personally or offensively, but rather focus on a necessary means to an end.

6 Ways To Reduce Risk to Your Heart

Improving our health and reducing the risk of heart disease is extremely important. Adopting healthy habits will keep our loved ones hearts healthy.

Here are a few habits seniors and caregivers should learn:

  1. Be aware of warning signs of heart disease, (fatigue, short of breath, indigestion, sweating, irregular heart beat). These are indication that often appear before a heart attack occurs.
  2. Learn from your blood work so you know what lifestyle changes will improve your personal health. Be aware of your numbers
  3. Take any prescribed medication correctly, according to the doctor’s orders.
  4. Consistency is key. Become more active by participating/performing an activity you love and will do regularly.
  5. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. This includes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
  6. Stop smoking!

8 Ways to Stay Active

As our family members age it is always important to support them or encourage them to stay active. Below are 8 best activities we recommend

  1. Go for a walk. Keep a commitment to go for a walk a few times a week. Whether its to the park, down the block or in the back yard. Keeping the mind motivated and sharp is critical, and changing your environment as well as mentally pushing yourself to perform activities can make a significant difference.
  2. Schedule activities. Get your calendar out and choose 3-4 days that you (or your loved one) will feel comfortable performing an activity. Whether it be the advised physical therapy, additional walking or leg exercises, whatever it may be, make a goal and stick to it.
  3. Call or drop by your local Senior Center. Senior centers and local community centers have a variety of classes to participate in. Most offer daily exercise classes such as Yoga, Zumba, Water Aerobics, Muscle Conditioning, Line Dancing, Tai Chi and Meditation. Not only do we find group exercises help provide an additional place to stimulate the mind and body, but also as a great way to meet new friends.
  4. Go to the library. If you would rather exercise at home on your own time, visit your local library for exercise videos. Many libraries have large selections. If you have cable television, many on-demand features offer a variety of exercise shows.
  5. Spend time with family. Family time is critical and soothing. Making time for grandchildren and your family can help significantly. If you are the caregiver for a parent, make sure to bring your family and schedule time to see your loved one as often as you can.
  6. Workout any time. Strength exercises can be done any time. You can use household items to function as weights and do some repetitions while you watch TV or movie.
  7. Be realistic. Despite injury or limitation, there are a variety of options available. Chair-bound exercises are ideal for people with lower body injuries or disabilities, those with weight problems or diabetes, and elders looking to reduce their risk of falling. Any chair exercise can help alleviate body sores caused by sitting in the same position for long periods of time.
  8. Maintain the momentum. Don't keep it to yourself – talk to your friends, family and caregivers. Discussing your commitment will hold will increase your own commitment. Also communicating with friends and family may introduce you to new ideas, places, topics and hobbies that you may never have considered! Be open with your care team, they are here to help.

Care Giver To-Do List at Doctor Appointments

Whether you care for yourself or have a loved one acting as the primary care giver, it is important to follow these steps to ensure you get the most out of your Doctor's appointments. Being proactive with your health is critical.

  1. Make a list of your questions & concerns, and prioritize them. Be efficient with your time and jump directly into your questions.
  2. Be organized and take information with you. If you work with a Geriatric Care Manager, they will know every piece of information that is critical, but if you are on your own bring EVERYTHING. A list of everything you take, all your prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal remedies or supplements, names and phone numbers of other doctors you see, and your medical records(if the Doctor doesn’t have them)
  3. Recommend bringing a family member or friend.  Having an additional advocate and loved one with you can be extremely beneficial (and avoid anything slipping through the cracks).
  4. Update your doctor. When you schedule your appointment with your Doctor, discuss everything that has happened or changed since your last visit. Any significant changes to your health, mention these right away (emergency room visits, surgeries, etc). Also be sure to mention any changes appetite, weight, sleep or energy level. And lastly, discuss any changes in any medications you take or the effects they have had on you.