Winter Home Safety Tips For Seniors

The winter season can be one of the most beautiful times of year. But while the season and staying warm and cozy, you might also find yourself in a bit of trouble if you’re one of millions of older people living alone or with limited mobility.

Preparation is key for you, your family and friends to ensure you home is safe. Whether you have home care, a caregiver or a friend to assist you, below are 5 Tips for Seniors to ensure their homes are safe.

1) Shovel and salt your walkways. One of the biggest dangers for seniors is falling. Fall prevention should always be in the back of your mind. Injuries can have serious detriments to long term health. Have a friend or hire a service to come shovel and salt your walk ways.

2) Prepare for power outages. Flashlights, batteries, blankets, food, water and basic necessities should be stored in easy to access places.

3) Buy an Artificial Christmas Tree. Even when the holidays are over, the Christmas tree and lights can help raise your spirits when it is cold outside.

4) Arrange for In-Home Care during Weather Emergencies. Work with agencies to ensure your family member / Senior is safe during storms. It is beneficial to call them before storms. Better safe than sorry.

5) Keep a Fire Extinguisher in Your Home. This tip could mean life or death for you during the winter time (and really any time of the year). Most households have a fire extinguisher, but very few people actually know how to use it. 

As a family member, you should make sure your seniors have everything they need. As we mentioned preparation is key, so make sure your loved one has everything they need to stay safe.


New Year - Start the New Year Off Right!

New Years resolutions are important for everyone. Whether its your own personal priorities or business, we all have areas to improve.

Below are 3 ways to help your loved one improve.

1) Help in the home is critical. Whether its families helping, delivery services, neighbors or home care, it is critical to be prepared. Seniors need companionship and the appropriate risk management. Seniors may not NEED help, but at times it is important to provide support so emergencies do not happen.

People and especially seniors are quick not to be a nuisance to others, so they push themselves too hard rather than ask for help.

2) Make schedules. Staying organized is key to a healthy mind. Not only should you stay organized and schedule time to see your family, it is important to schedule activities, bills and other daily activities to keep your mind organized.

3) Find the right team. Whether its a physician, psychologist, specialists, home care agency, it is important to have the best possible team in place. People do not know, what they do not know. Having people who can ask the right questions and work together is critical to avoid preventable problems.

Make 2019 a time for change and focusing on what is important.

Always prepare!

Four Ways to Boost Brain Activity!

Brain Booster #1: Move!

Get moving! An active life style can help clear your brain of a protein fragment called amyloid, which is believed to accumulate in and “gunk up” the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. “There’s no drug available that can lower amyloid,” says Dr. Isaacson. “The only thing we know that can do it is exercise.”

Active people have a 35 percent lower risk of cognitive decline than sedentary ones.

So get moving! Walk; Aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes of purposeful activity most days of the week (that’s the stuff that gets your heart rate up a bit) plus two short sessions of resistance training—squats, lunges, and the like—per week.

Brain Booster #2: Challenge your mind

Research continuously shows that to lower your risk of dementia is to challenge your brain so it becomes more flexible. That doesn’t mean solving Sudoku; it means doing new activities to continually work different parts of your brain in order to build connections between them.

When you’re scrambling to remember a name, for instance, and your mind hits a “roadblock” of nonfunctioning nerve cells, you’ll come up with nothing. But if there are available detours, your brain will try them until it finds the name you’re looking for.

It’s hard to fire up your brain with new things when you’re just trying to get through the same daily rush-rush routine. Make it a priority to try out different activities.

Brain Booster #3: Sleep!

I know everyone is happy to hear this one. Get the much needed sleep your body deserves. Cheat on sleep, and you rob your mind of its potential.

Reframe sleep as a priority and a must-do, not as a weakness. To help yourself snooze, pay attention to what experts call sleep hygiene—in other words, bias your bedroom toward your getting good sleep. And stay off digital screens for at least a half hour to an hour before bed; the blue light they emit keeps you from producing melatonin, a sleepiness hormone that rises in your body at night.

Brain Booster #4: Eat smarter

While there’s no single food that can prevent or cure cognitive impairment, an overall healthy eating pattern can help.

She recommends eating more of these: antioxidant-rich berries, vegetables (especially leafy greens), fish (for its omega-3 fatty acids, which likely make it easier for the brain’s nerve cells to communicate with one another), and whole grains.

The foods to cut down on: those with saturated and trans fats, both of which are believed to damage your cardiovascular system and thus your brain health. That means less red meat, butter, margarine, pastries and other sweets, and fried or fast foods. In Morris’s research, she saw that older people who stuck to this style of eating over five years lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s by 35 to 53 percent. The longer people stayed on the diet, the more their odds improved.

Senior Activities - Halloween!

There are a number of fun holidays to celebrate as a senior, but Halloween can be one of the best. Many of us have fond memories of Halloween as a child, so the nostalgic aspect can be very healthy for seniors. Using Halloween for some holiday-themed activities is always fun. Whether you live at home, an assisted living community or with family, it can give everyone a chance to enjoy some spooky fun.

1. Decorate pumpkins: Many of us love to carve pumpkins. It is one of the best traditional crafts for Halloween time. If you’re not sure about handing all of your seniors sharp implements, you can paint the pumpkin. Either way, this is benefit as almost occupational therapy for many seniors.

2. Homemade pumpkin seeds: If you are considering carving pumpkins or find that process to difficult, scooping the inside and making home made pumpkin seeds is a great activity. Not to mention the health benefits of eating pumpkin seeds! The aroma of cooking and home made food has been proven to have positive impacts on the brain as well.

3. Make decorative spiderwebs: These are fun to put in your house, hang around the community or even give to family members.

4) Make spooky candles: Consider purchasing easy to make kits. These are a fun activity and great to get their apartment or home ready for the holiday.

5) Movie time! Grab some popcorn and watch your favorite scary movie.

6) Homemade costume contests can be a great way to put together a fun outfit. Let the creativity begin!

Don’t forget to prepare for Trick or Treaters as well!

Caregiver Shortage - How To Find Quality Care

How do Families find the best quality of care in an environment where there are limited caregivers.

There is no doubt that everyone knows baby boomers are getting older and the elderly are living longer. But many do not realize that the United States is facing a serious shortage of caregivers.

The Wall Street Journal recently came out with the Caregiver Shortage article that America is running out of family caregivers, just when it needs them most. Every day, 10,000 people turn 65. In 2020, there will be 56 million people 65 and older, up from 40 million in 2010.

The private sector isn’t an option for many older adults. Demand for private home health aides is expected to exceed supply by more than three million in the next decade. 

Vetting caregivers on your own can be difficult. Going by word of mouth can work many times, but even then finding a great caregiver that is available can be difficult. That does not take into account the liability of hiring an employee on your own. If something happens to them on your property, the liability is significant.

Choosing the right Home Care Agency has never been so critical. 

Ensuring an Agency, vets, trains, oversees and ensures the proper care continues is important. Follow Elder Care Homecare's guide to choosing a caregiver/agency.

 

Long Distance Caregiving

What is long distance caregiving?

Long-distance caregiving takes many forms—from helping manage the money to arranging in home care; manage medication or coordination care. Many long-distance caregivers act as information coordinators, helping aging parents understand the confusing maze of home health aides, insurance benefits, and durable medical equipment can be difficult.

Caregiving is often a long-term task. What may start out as an occasional social phone call to share family news can eventually turn into regular phone calls about managing health insurance claims, getting medical information, and arranging respite services. What begins as a monthly trip to check on Mom may turn into a larger project to move her to a nursing facility close to your home.

What You Should Do (or Think About Doing)

1) Seek out help from people in the community: the next door neighbor, an old friend, the doctor. Call them. Tell them what is going on. Make sure they know how to reach you.

2) Take steps to identify options to help the primary caregiver. He or she may not need the help now, but having plans and arrangements in place can make things easier if there is a crisis.

3) Try to find a directory of senior resources and services by checking with a library or senior center for lists of resources.

4) Become Healthcare  proxy or power of attorney.

5) Get organized with documentations (updated medication lists, doctors names and phone numbers, and other financial information if necessary)

How to Know if Help is Needed

Sometimes it is hard to know when is the right time. Sometimes our loved ones are stubborn and fight us even though we know they need a little extra help. When you live far away, you have to think carefully about possible signs when help is needed. You might want to use holiday trips home to take stock.

Some questions to answer during your visit include:

  • How many stairs are there?
  • Are the stairs manageable or is a ramp needed?
  • Are there any tripping hazards throughout the house? Carpets, floorboards or other impediments?
  • How is their health? Are they attending all their doctors appointments?
  • Are they taking several medications? If so, are they able to manage their medications? Medication management can be extremely difficult.
  • If a walker or wheelchair is needed, can the house be modified?
  • Is there food in the fridge? Are there staples in the cupboards? Do they have a way of getting food delivered?
  • Are bills being paid? Is mail piling up?
  • Is the house clean?
  • If your parents are still driving, should they be? Now might be a time to assess their driving.
  • What about mood: Does either parent seem depressed or anxious?

Long-distance caregivers can help arrange for professional caregivers, hiring home health and nursing aides, or locating assisted living and nursing home care.

Tips

Become knowledgeable. It is recommended recommend that you learn as much as you can about your parent's illness and treatment. Information can help you understand what is going on, anticipate the course of an illness, prevent crises, and assist in disease management. Learn as much as you can about the resources available. Make sure at least one family member has written permission to receive medical and financial information.

Planning your visits is important. When visiting your parent, you may feel that there is just too much to do in the time that you have. You can get more done and feel less stressed by talking to your parent ahead of time and finding out what he or she would like to do.

Remember to actually spend time with your loved one. Life can get in the way, but it is important to spend quality time with your parent. Do not spend the entire time dealing with medical issues and other planning crisis. Spend some time just catching up.

Stay in contact. Don't lose sight how beneficial it is to just check in once a week or more with a loved one. Include them in your life and activities. Update them on their grandchildren etc...

Hiring a Geriatric Care manager navigate this maze can sometimes relieve this burden. These are professionals who can sometimes act as the "daughter with knowledge".

Bronxville Library - Vitamin Therapy Seminar

Join Elder Care Home Care on July 15th at the Bronxville Library while we discuss daily Vitamin and Nutrition.

Vitamins and mineral needs change over time. More importantly, being aware of changes can reduce the impact and allow seniors to maintain optimal health. Please join while we discuss the various ways to improve our health and quality of life through simple everyday changes.

Long Term Care Insurance - Using Your Policy

"Long Term Care" refers to individuals that need help with an illnesses/condition that require daily assistance over an extended period of time. The type of help needed can range from assistance with simple activities (such as bathing, dressing and eating) to skilled care that's provided by nurses, therapists or other professionals.

Employer-based health coverage and Medicare will not pay for daily, extended care services. To help cover potential long-term care expenses, some people choose to buy long-term care insurance.

Qualifying for Benefits

"Benefit triggers" are the conditions that must occur before you start receiving your benefits. Most companies look to your inability to perform certain "activities of daily living" (ADLs) to figure out when you can start to receive benefits. Elder Care Homecare can help ensure patients and families understand these needs.

Generally, benefits begin when you need help with two or three ADLs.  You should be sure your policy includes bathing in the list of benefit triggers because this is often the first task that becomes impossible to do alone.

Pay close attention to what the policy uses as a trigger for paying benefits if you develop a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer's disease. This is because a person with Alzheimer's may be physically able to perform activities but is no longer capable of doing them without help. There are Mental-function tests are commonly substituted. 

Additionally there are generally qualifying periods. Many policies require families to utilize services prior to policies activation for 30, 60, 90 day periods. This is critical for families to know in advance.

For more information or help utilizing your policy, feel free to reach out to the Elder Care Homecare team.

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.