Your home is your safe haven, but for seniors, a house can all too easily turn into a maze of hazards. Fall-proof the space with these tips.
Your home is your safe haven, but for seniors, a house can too easily turn into a maze of hazards. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, 60 percent of falls occur at home, but these incidents may be preventable. If you're caring for an aging parent, there are steps you can take to create a sound living environment for your loved one. Use this checklist as your guide for making modifications for a happier, healthier home:
Ensure home has adequate lighting
No matter how good your eyesight is, maneuvering in the dark is next to impossible. Keep the senior safe by equipping the home with adequate lighting. Go around the house and check for burned-out bulbs and replace them as necessary.
Additionally, consider the overall lighting structure. Walk through the house at night with the lights on, and see where the home could use some brightness. Perhaps one hallways is particularly dark, or you have to walk upstairs before being able to turn on the second-level light. In this case, you might benefit from bringing in an electrician who can install light fixtures in these spaces.
Fall-proof the bathroom
The bathroom is one of the most common places for falls due to activities like climbing in and out of a tub and stepping on wet surfaces. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the older someone is when they slip in this room, the greater their risk for injury.
It only takes a few modifications to make the bathroom a little safer. Consumer Affairs advised installing grab bars near the tub and toilet. Remember, towel racks are not a replacement for grab bars, as they are not as sturdy and could easily dislodge from the wall under a person's weight.
To prevent falls in the shower itself, use non-slip bath mats or considering placing a shower chair in the tub. The latter option is especially beneficial for seniors who have trouble balancing.
This simple task holds a lot of importance. Straightening up a home by clearing clutter, tucking away electrical cords and bringing stools back next to the table they belong to can go a long way in reducing the risk of tripping. The National Safety Council also advised wiping up spills as soon as they occur to prevent the senior from slipping on a wet surface.
Throw rugs are also a common cause for falls, as seniors may trip over their raised edges. Make sure rugs stay flat to the ground, or get rid of them altogether. You can certainly make someone feel accepted in your home without a welcome mat!
Some seniors may need assistance with daily living tasks to stay safe at home, even with these modifications. In this case, considering hiring a home health aide who can assist with bathing, dressing, eating and other duties.Read in 2 minutes
Hiring a home health provider for your senior loved one can be an intimidating experience.
Hiring a home health provider for your senior loved one can be an intimidating experience. You want to ensure that you have the best person for the job, which means they need to meet certain qualifications. Beyond having the right credentials - that is, the appropriate education and certifications - they should also have the necessary skills and personality traits. Here are a few to look for during the hiring process:
How well does the candidate convey his or her ideas? If you find you're more confused after asking a question to the home health aide than you were beforehand, he or she may not be the best at effectively communicating. Don't overlook this detail - the home health aide may have to relay information to you or your loved one's doctor. Doing so in an effective manner can ensure the senior gets the best care possible.
For example, imagine if the home health aide didn't speak up about a concern regarding the senior's lack of appetite. You could go for far too long without realizing there was a problem!
You no doubt want the senior in your family to spend time with someone who shows empathy and emotional support, so don't hire a cynical home health aide! Consider the candidate's demeanor during your initial conversation. Does the individual smile and shake your hand? Did you two make small talk before diving into the interview? Those interpersonal skills are crucial for making the home health care experience positive for everyone involved.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, integrity is an important trait among home health providers. After all, these individuals are helping the senior with personal activities like dressing and bathing, and you want your loved one to feel comfortable during this process. Plus, you want peace of mind knowing you're leaving older adult with someone who will always be honest.
This trait can be hard to spot - everyone will say they're trustworthy, after all. To really evaluate whether candidates are the right fit, ask them to describe a situation in which they came to an ethical dilemma. How did they overcome the situation?
Able to work under pressure
While most shifts spent caring for your senior loved one may involve leisurely afternoons at the park or helping with daily living activities, others might not be as smooth sailing. Be sure that the home health aide you hire can work well under pressure so he or she will be ready to act in an emergency. Always ask what steps the individual would take if your loved one falls or becomes seriously ill. This will give you a more realistic picture.
As long as the home health provider's resume checks out and he or she has these traits, you should be in good shape!Read in 2 minutes
Saving money is an integral part of enjoying a comfortable lifestyle, but many seniors in retirement have gone far too long without doing this.
Saving money is an integral part of enjoying a comfortable lifestyle, but many seniors in retirement have gone far too long without doing this. In fact, this financial issue has become somewhat of a crisis in the U.S. According to a report from the National Institute on Retirement Security, the median savings for older adults on the cusp of retirement is only $12,000.
For those who haven't put away enough quite yet, there are still ways to get by later in life. This is even true when it comes to healthcare, which often comes with a hefty price tag. Check out these three money-saving tips for seniors:
1. Pick the right prescription drugs and pharmacy
You shouldn't have to choose between your medications and a meal, but for many seniors, that's a decision they face on a regular basis. According to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, 8 percent of older adults without any prescription drug coverage will skip doses or come off entirely. This, of course, can have serious ramifications for one's well-being.
Beyond reviewing your health insurance options, you can also use certain strategies to save on medications. For one, always opt for generic versions of drugs when possible. Making this simple request with your doctor can significantly cut healthcare costs. A report published by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association found that this alternative approach resulted in $92 billion in savings for seniors in 2014 alone.
Additionally, as you might have already discovered, the cost for prescriptions varies between pharmacies. This is due to differences in businesses expenses, like overhead costs and profit margins. To find the best deal, shop around at both your privately-owned local pharmacies and retail chains.
Get flu shots for free.
2. Know what you can get for free
You don't have to pay a single dime for certain components of your wellness plan. For example, did you know many preventative services are free with Medicare Part B? This includes some vaccines, like the flu, hepatitis and pneumococcal shots, in addition to various screenings such as those for cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.
Certainly, a free flu shot is cheaper than getting sick and paying for doctor's visits and hospital stays. In fact, a 2010 study published in the journal Health Affairs found that the increased use of preventative services in the U.S. can lead to an annual average savings of $3.7 billion!
"Preventative services can save $3.7 billion annually!"
3. Consider aging in place
Many seniors require long-term care, and there are plenty of options at their disposal. Those looking to remain cost-efficient might consider "aging in place," a phrase used to describe when older adults utilize home health services instead of assisted living communities. Not only does this allow you to remain in the comfort of your own house, but it can also save you a lot of money.
A semi-private room in a long-term care facility costs a monthly average of $6,235 while home health aides charge about $21 per hour, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Calling on these home health professionals for even eight hours each day would still cost less per month than seeking care elsewhere.
In addition to coming up with a wellness strategy that doesn't cause pain for your wallet, be frugal in all areas of life. That is, stick to a budget and cut out unnecessary expenditures to ensure you always have enough money to take care of your health.Read in about 3 minutes
For older adults and their caretakers, safety should be top-of-mind during summer.
Summer is here, which means it's time for fun in the sun and some much-needed relaxation. For older adults and their caretakers, safety should be top-of-mind as well. After all, depending on where you live, you could see temperatures skyrocket to well over 100 degrees!
According to the National Institutes of Health, seniors are especially prone to hyperthermia, which occurs when the body can't adequately respond to increases in temperature. This can result in conditions like heat exhaustion, fatigue and stroke. To ensure the season is enjoyable for folks of all ages, stay cool with these following tips:
1. Dress up in cool clothes
Many home health providers have to help their senior clients with getting dressed each day - an especially important task in the summer months. After all, an older adult who is not prepared to perform this daily task may end up in a sweater and coat when it's sweltering outside.
While tanks and capris are great for cooling off, they won't protect the senior from the sun. Ensure the individual is wearing sunscreen when you head outdoors, and consider having him or her wear a hat. The head wear will create a little bit of shade to help shield the body from harmful UV rays. Also, if it's cool in the morning, opt for layers so the senior can remove them throughout the day.
A hat can help protect the senior's skin from the sun.
2. Take water everywhere
Always have a cold bottle of water on hand, and keep track of how much fluid the senior consumes and with what frequency. This will help stave off dehydration, which can lead to anything from a minor headache to decreased blood pressure. The latter symptom should be considered a medical emergency, according to the Mayo Clinic, and it's best to avoid getting to that point altogether.
If the older adult is reluctant to sip on plain water, flavor the beverage with pieces of fruit. Just be sure to avoid alcoholic beverages, as this can increase the risk for dehydration.
3. Find fun indoor activities
The best way to beat the heat is to not go out at all. While caretakers should still spend time outdoors with the seniors during summer, indoor activities might be better on especially hot days. For example, check out the latest movie at the theater for a morning matinee. Otherwise, arrange a day to scrapbook and look through old pictures!
As a home health provider, it is important to keep your senior clients safe this summer. With these tips, you can help the client avoid heat-related illness while still enjoying the season.Read in 2 minutes
There may never be one defining event that alerts you to schedule a tour of an assisted living community, but there are often more subtle signs that can let you know you're heading in that direction.
In life, there really is no "ideal" time for what matters most. Whether you're trying to find the perfect moment to get married, have kids, relocate or switch jobs, there won't be some ringing alarm clock letting you know when to make your move.
The same concept applies to determining when to move a senior parent to assisted living. There may never be one defining event that alerts you to schedule a tour of the surrounding senior communities, but there are signs that can let you know you're heading in that direction. Here are a few to watch out for:
1. Your senior parent needs assistance with daily activities
If you've gone to your parent's house and realized he or she is still wearing pajamas at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, this is an indication that the senior needs help with daily living activities. As the National Institutes of Health explained, assisted living communities help residents with tasks like dressing, eating and bathing. However, the seniors still maintain some level of independence.
While wearing the same outfit twice in row isn't the end of the world, this habit has implications for the senior's hygiene and overall well-being. You want to ensure your parent has fresh clothes and bathes regularly to remain healthy. Additionally, being provided with monitored meals may allow your parent to eat more nutritional foods. According to the NIH, a well-balanced diet can help seniors stave off conditions like Type 2 diabetes, anemia, heart disease and bone loss.
"Falling is the No. 1 cause of traumatic brain injuries in seniors."
2. Your loved one has fallen
When kids fall, they may end up with scraped knees, but they can usually hop right back up. Older adults can't recovery quite as quickly, and taking a tumble comes with serious risks. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a serious injury, like head trauma, will occur in 1 in 5 senior falls. In fact, falling is the No. 1 cause of traumatic brain injuries in adults age 65 and older.
Falling doesn't only cause problems for a senior's well-being; it can also inhibit his or her lifestyle. As the CDC noted, older adults may be afraid to fall again, so they avoid remaining active, which can lead to further health decline.
Assisted living communities are built with seniors in mind. That means there will be less of a risk for tripping over clutter in the hallway, and bathrooms are often equipped with railings. Not only might this help prevent the issue from recurring, but it can also offer peace of mind. You certainly don't want your parent sitting inside all day out of fear of getting injured.
3. You've noticed the older adult may need memory care
Many assisted living communities offer memory care, which can be beneficial for seniors experiencing cognitive decline. Remember, serious forgetfulness is not a normal part of aging. That is, leaving their phone at home while running to the grocery might not be cause for concern for older adults, but repeatedly asking the same questions or inability to focus generally raise red flags.
Assisted living communities are beneficial because they can prevent the dangerous repercussions of some of dementia's side effects. For example, those with this condition may wander. The Alzheimer's Association advised families of at-risk individuals to keep a close eye on the senior or put devices on the doors that alert you when they are opened. Assisted living communities can provide both supervision and security.
4. The older adult wants more social opportunities
One of the greatest perks for residents of assisted living communities is the opportunity to socialize. Often, seniors at home are limited to whom they can interact with - perhaps a few friendly neighbors if they're lucky. Assisted living communities, on the other hand, organize exercise classes, outings and community events in addition to supplying a space for residents to hang out.
Spending time with friends and participating in fun activities don't just enhance a senior's quality of life but can also protect their well-being. According to the University of Rochester Medical School, staying social may reduce older adults' risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers.
5. You've become stressed as the caregiver
Your well-being is important, and being a stressed-out caregiver isn't doing your loved one any favors. You might have hesitations about putting your parent in an assisted living community. However, it's important to look at the big picture of the situation. Consider all the benefits your loved one gains by moving and how your family dynamic will change for the better.
You love your parent and want the best for him or her, and keeping all your options open will help you do just that. Assisted living communities provide the perfect balance of care and independence.Read in 4 minutes
Everyday occurrences can easily lead to everyday negativities. And everyday negativities can just as easily lead to unnecessary frustration for you and for the person in your care. Why not try speaking positively?
Caregivers, have you noticed how often what you say may be demeaning to the person in your care, even though you don’t mean to make them feel bad? Everyday occurrences can easily lead to everyday negativities. And everyday negativities can just as easily lead to unnecessary frustration for you and for the person in your care.
Here are some examples of how to incorporate Positive Speak into your daily conversation that will lift the spirits and self-esteem of the person in your care (or at least keep them from feeling bad):
It’s easy to refer to adult diapers by their brand names, or to actually call them diapers. Imagine how they feel about needing to wear them. Instead, try saying this:
The person in your care may not realize that their favorite clothes need washing. It’s possible that the exercise of changing their clothes can be taxing on them. Instead try saying this:
The person in your care may not be in the mood for what you served, or they may not really be hungry. Try asking them how you can get them to eat by saying this:
When someone is dependent upon you for their every need, they oftentimes cause a lot of clutter through no fault of their own.
The person in your care didn’t get to where he or she is overnight. Their current situation comes with their history, and it’s not hard to remind them of the negative aspects of their personality. Try to embrace their stubbornness by deflecting their behavior.
What other ways can you engage in positive speak with the person in your care to encourage a brighter situation?Read in about 3 minutes
Caregivers, if you live a short distance away from the person in your care and not under the same roof, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need to do and when to do it. You may also be confronted with resistance to your help by the person in your care.
Caregivers, if you live a short distance away from the person in your care and not under the same roof, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need to do and when to do it. You may also be confronted with resistance to your help by the person in your care.
To be sure you’re doing everything that person needs, take a moment to create a plan that will help both of you.
Chances are the person in your care is someone you dearly love, and it’s easy to overlook that fact when you’re rushing around perhaps stopping by after work or in between picking up the kids from school and getting them to music lessons to practice. Make the most of your visits by going beyond just dropping in from time to time. Instead, sit down and visit with them. Tell them how much you appreciate what they’ve done for you in the past. Describe events and moments where you felt your cup overflowing with their love. This exercise will be a reminder to you of the person he or she once was and, despite their situation, still is.
Be sure you have frequent conversations with the person in your care about what’s going on with them. Have there been any changes in their level of pain, emotional stability and medications? Ask them how these things are affecting them. Discuss options for easing pain, whether more frequent visits will help with emotional stability, or whether medication adjustments are necessary. If you find yourself arguing because they are resisting your suggestions, validate their feelings. Tell them that you understand how difficult their situation must be. Ask them what they think will help.
While you’re at it, talk about what’s going on with you. Let them know how you’re feeling both physically and emotionally. You’d be surprised at how much they care about you and welcome the opportunity to help ease some of your burdens.
Pay close attention to changes in the person in your care. Pick one day a week and write down your observations in a journal so that from week to week you can compare your notes to alert you to subtle changes that are occurring. Is it taking longer to eat, dress, or walk from one room to the other? Are they eating well? Is their hearing diminishing? Are they showing signs of memory loss?
If you determine the person in your care needs more help, make arrangements. Schedule doctor visits to address medical and emotional issues. Readjust your schedule or enlist the help of others to spend more time with them. Line up meal deliveries, visiting pets for “fur” therapy, physical therapy/massage appointments and visits by relatives and friends.Read in 2 minutes
It is important to understand home health care cost so you and your family can budget accordingly.
Many people benefit from home health services. This method of care allows seniors to spend their retirement years at home and for those facing disabilities to live a higher quality lifestyle. However, home health services come at a price, and it's important to understand cost so you and your family can budget accurately.
Generally speaking, this avenue of care is less expensive than long-term services from a medical facility. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one month of care in an assisted living community would cost about $3,293 for a one-bedroom unit. Meanwhile, rates for home health services fall far below that. Learn more about prices to determine which route is right for you:
"Patients typically pay $21 per hour for a home health aide."
Home health aide services
Home health aide services involve a caretaker coming to your home to help with a variety of daily living activities. As AARP explained, while these individuals haven't gone through medical school, they must have training and pass a competency test to serve in this position. As such, they can help with basic needs like administering medication and checking vital signs.
According to the HHS, patients typically pay $21 per hour for a home health aide, though this varies depending on the organization, where you live and the services required. Even if you used this service for four hours each day with the aforementioned rate, the monthly cost would still be less than that for assisted living. Additionally, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare may cover the cost of home health aides who provide intermittent or part-time services.
Hospice provides end-of-life care for individuals who have six or less months to live, focusing on symptom and pain management. According to a 2012 study published in the journal Health Affairs, this home service has a high price - costing more than $10,000 a month. However, under original Medicare, individuals pay nothing for this service, except for co-pays for prescription drugs.
In some regards, homemaker services that involve laundry, cooking and cleaning are related to a person's health and well-being. For instance, people with disabilities or arthritis may not be able to tackle these chores on their own. However, even under a doctor's recommendation, Medicare won't cover homemaker services. According to the Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey, customers pay $19 per hour.
These rates reflect averages, and what you pay depends on many factors. Thoroughly research your provider to ensure you get the best service at an optimal price.Read in 2 minutes
As a family caregiver, you may also hold another job outside of the home. Here are a few suggestions that may help you balance both jobs.
As a family caregiver, you may also hold another job outside of the home. And the threat of losing your job due to chronic tardiness or unforeseen absences can create a legitimate fear that adds yet one more level of stress to your already hectic life. Here are a few suggestions that may help you balance both jobs.
Keep communication lines open with your boss
Avoid complaining and talking about your loved one at work
Divvy up responsibilities with family and friends
Being a caregiver can be overwhelming, and worrying that you’re spending too much time away from work can make your caregiving responsibilities even more difficult. Think about what tasks you do that someone else might be able to do in your place. Make a list of what you do for your loved one and think about who might be able to take on those tasks for you. Here is a sample list you might consider:
Manage your time
Shorten the time you spend at the doctor’s office.
Start applying these tips today to help you remain gainfully employed while you are balancing your caregiver responsibilities.Read in 3 minutes
Does your senior parent need a home health aide? Here's what you can expect.
Many seniors are choosing to "age in place," or live at home during their retirement years. This popular option allows folks to remain involved in their communities and enjoy the comforts of their own homes. However, for some older adults, living independently has its challenges, so they often solicit home health services. If your parent is entertaining the idea of hiring a home health aide, here's what you can expect:
Overview of services
As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services explained, you need a doctor's approval to start home health services, so be sure you communicate with your parent's physicians about long-term care options. It's also important to have a thorough understanding of the type of services home health care staff provides. According to CMS, these professionals perform the following duties:
That said, the services provided vary depending on the client's needs. For instance, an older adult with limited mobility may receive help bathing and dressing. Meanwhile, home health aides may also assist with meal preparation and grocery shopping.
"Home health services vary depending on the client's needs."
The selection process
Once you, your parent and the overseeing physician have determined that home health services are the right fit, you'll need to select the right home health organization or aide. The doctor should provide a list of local home health services, but it's important to do some research of your own to find the best team or person possible.
Once you've narrowed down your selection, you and your parent should go through an interview process. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice advised care seekers read any literature about the organizations and their services, such as the providers' "Patient Bill of Rights," before conducting interviews. When you do have a sit-down with potential care takers, ask about rules on the family's involvement in decision-making, employee training, financing the service, what documentation aides take and emergency protocol.
An adjustment period
Bringing in a home health aide is a major transition. All of a sudden, your parent has a stranger in his or her home, helping the individual dress, bathe and eat. Ensuring you use the same home health aide each day will make the transition easier. It will also help the client and provider build that necessary trust for an effective relationship. Of course, this isn't always possible - home health aides may need time off - but you can voice your concerns about remaining consistent.
Listen to the senior's concerns and feedback to evaluate whether the caregiver is the right fit. Just keep in mind that it may take only a few days or as long as several weeks for your loved one to become comfortable with the home health aide.Read in 2 minutes