Palliative Care and Hospice Care

palliative care and hospice care

The terms palliative care and hospice care are often used interchangeably to describe end-of-life comfort care. This is a mistake. While there are similarities between the two, they are slightly different. Both describe a style of “whole patient” care, that uses a team of specialists that can extend beyond their physicians and specialists, to provide comfort in the face of a serious diagnosis.

The difference is that palliative care can also end up curing or significantly extending the life of the patient – and can be seen as a potential treatment. While, on the flip side, hospice is only provided when a patient has decided to stop actively treating the disease, preferring to accept an end-of-life diagnosis and receive hospice care to enjoy the highest level of comfort and quality of life as possible until the patient dies.

Palliative care and hospice care don’t provide full-time caregivers

Here is an important thing to note: neither palliative care and hospice care provide full-time care providers. These services include regular check-ins from licensed nurses and specialty care providers, advice, and recommendations, 24-hour support lines, access to certain prescriptions and refills as needed, etc. However, neither is a substitute for personal, part- or full-time caregivers.

Caregiver support is expected to come from partners, family members and/or professional in-home caregivers. Otherwise, the patient may require admission to an assisted living community or some other type of residential care. Contact a local in-home care provider to learn more about the way licensed care providers can be put in place to facilitate in-home palliative or hospice care.

What is palliative care?

First, let’s examine a precise definition of palliative care, courtesy of medlineplus.gov:

The goal of palliative care is to help people with serious illnesses feel better. It prevents or treats symptoms and side effects of disease and treatment. Palliative care also treats emotional, social, practical, and spiritual problems that illnesses can bring up. When the person feels better in these areas, they have an improved quality of life.

Palliative care can be given at the same time as treatments meant to cure or treat the disease. Palliative care may be given when the illness is diagnosed, throughout treatment, during follow-up, and at the end of life.

Like hospice care, palliative care provides comfort care for those diagnosed with a serious illness or progressive disease. If at some point down the line, the patient’s treatment is unsuccessful and/or the condition progresses, palliative care can continue until the end of their life.

The palliative care team will typically consist of the patient’s main health care providers and specialists, along with additional palliative care team members, like clergy, social workers, therapists, masseuses, etc.

What is hospice care?

For a detailed description, read our post titled, What is Hospice Care? to learn more about your options, payment, etc. Medlineplus.gov defines hospice care as:

Hospice care is end-of-life care. A team of health care professionals and volunteers provides it. They give medical, psychological, and spiritual support. The goal of the care is to help people who are dying have peace, comfort, and dignity. The caregivers try to control pain and other symptoms so a person can remain as alert and comfortable as possible. Hospice programs also provide services to support a patient’s family. Usually, a hospice patient is expected to live 6 months or less.

So, while comfort and quality of life are goals of both palliative and hospice care, the former is administered even amidst a patient’s treatment and curative prescriptions, while hospice care is only administered when a person ceases curative treatments and is at the end of their life.

Like palliative care, hospice provides support and resources for the family and caregiving team in addition to the patient, and these resources include spiritual counselors, therapists, and masseuses as well as musical and other therapeutic options.

How do I know which one is best for myself, a senior or a loved one?

Most simply put, if you, a senior or a loved one in your life is facing a serious medical diagnosis, and plan to pursue treatment for that condition, a palliative care team will be set in place. If the patient has a diagnosis that is so serious there is no cure, the treatment side-effects are more debilitating than the condition itself and/or a patient simply decides they’re not interested in treatment options, hospice is the best route to go.

If you are in doubt, your primary care provider or the medical facility’s social worker can assist you in figuring out which quality care plan is right for your particular situation. The good news is that both palliative care and hospice care are covered by most health insurance plans as well as MediCal and MediCare.

Senior Craft Projects For Fun With The Elderly

 

senior craft projects for fun with the elderly

You are never too old to enjoy making art and craft projects. Senior craft projects, art, and other activities can be very beneficial to seniors. The creativity stimulates their minds, improves their concentration and prevents depression. Working on crafts is also a great way to improve their cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination. You can plan a fun afternoon with your loved one by checking out the following craft projects for the elderly.

  • Create a Photo Collage: Putting together a photo collage is the perfect way to get their creative juices flowing. You are going to need magazines, glue sticks and construction paper or cardboard for this senior craft project. Your loved one may want to use a theme for their collage, such as their favorite animals or holidays. You can also provide copies of personal photographs to make a collage of their favorite memories.
  • Wooden Clothespin Snowman Ornament: You are going to need supplies such as wooden doll pins, acrylic paint, felt, ribbon and a Sharpie for this project. The first step is to paint the peg white. Once it dries, you can decorate it with more paint, the Sharpie and felt. You are going use a thin ribbon to tie on the hat, and you can use thicker ribbon or string to hang it up.
  • Painted Clay Flower Pots: This is a great craft project for seniors who enjoy gardening or want to dress their room up. Your loved one can start by painting the flower pot in their favorite color. Once the paint is dry, they can add their name, favorite pattern or quote to the pot. Paint pens are perfect for seniors who are only looking to paint certain areas of their pot.
  • Popsicle Stick Tree Ornament: Your loved one is going to start by painting three Popsicle sticks green. Once they are dry, they can use hot glue to create a triangle. Your loved one can use buttons as ornaments, yellow textured cardstock as the star and brown cardstock and chipboard as the trunk. Use a glue stick or hot glue to attach the pieces to the Popsicle stick tree. Your loved one can hang it up by hot gluing a hook to the back of the ornament.
  • Decorative Tin Cans: Tin cans are great for storing small items such as writing utensils, buttons, and spare change. Your loved one can start by wrapping the tin can in colorful yarn and using a bit of glue to hold the yarn in place. They can also glue colorful buttons to the yarn to create a fun vibe. Another option is to paint the tin can just as they would paint the clay flower pot.
  • Glass Gem Suncatchers: Your loved one can use glass gems, plastic lids, and clear glue to create their own beautiful suncatchers. The best part is they can come up with their own pattern using their favorite colors. Use fishing wire to hang the suncatchers in their window.
  • Tea Light Candle Holder: You are going to need empty, clean baby food jars or small jars for this project. Senior craft projects can include glass paint or glass paint markers to decorate the jar with a fun design. Place a flameless tea light candle inside the finished product, and your loved one can decorate with a homemade candle holder.

There are plenty of easy and fun senior craft projects for the elderly. Your loved one may need help with one or two steps, but it is important to let them do as much as possible. Working on crafts is good for their mental and physical health, and it is sure to put a smile on their face!

Getting Seniors Involved In Holiday Activities

 

getting seniors involved in holiday activities

The holidays are a joyous time, but they are also a nostalgic time. For seniors, this nostalgia and holiday activities can be tinged with a bit of loneliness, sadness and even grief for the ones they have lost thus making getting seniors involved in holiday activities all the more important. Even changes in the weather – clouds, cold and rain that may prevent them from their daily walk or outdoor activities, or that deprive them of much-needed sunshine, can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

We know this time of year is busy – or downright hectic – for the average household, but we recommend taking a little extra timeout to including your beloved senior(s) in holiday activities.

Tips For Getting Seniors Involved In Holiday Activities And Events

Here are some suggestions for how you can involve senior loved ones in holiday events. It can make all the difference in the way they feel this holiday season.

Have them over. A simple pick up and drop off is all that’s required to involve a senior in your holiday happenings. From sorting through ornament boxes and decorating the tree and house, to wrapping gifts or simply watching the hubbub from a quiet corner, the feeling of being included is often just enough to keep seniors feeling wanted and loved. And, don’t forget to head to their place to help with decorating there too. Managing holiday trees and decorations can be more than many seniors can handle on their own. They’ll appreciate your efforts to put up their favorite decorations – and then your willingness to take them back down again after New Year’s – so they can enjoy soaking up the season in all its glory.

Invite them to lead a cooking class. It’s inevitable that older holiday traditions will be phased out as new ones take their place, especially as families grow up and/or blend together in new family units. Some of these lost traditions, disappear by way of new recipe items. This holiday season, why not invite a grandparent over to share their favorite holiday recipes from when they were children. They can provide the ingredient list, you can do the shopping and then they can sit and watch as they teach you how to make the dish. It’s a special way to make memories and getting seniors involved in holiday activities honors the traditions of the past, and you all get to enjoy a delicious new menu item when all is said and done.

Have a gift-wrapping party. There’s nothing that robs us of our holiday cheer like pulling all-nighters wrapping gifts as the holiday’s approach. Instead, why not get a group together and have a gift-wrapping party? Or, bring some of your gifts and wrapping supplies to the senior’s home and wrap them together as you enjoy a little bonding time. While ribbons and bows may be difficult for arthritic hands, wrapping paper and tape will be easier to manage. Seniors can write the name of the recipient on the bottom of the wrapped gift and you can tie them up and label them as time permits when you return home.

Go caroling together. One of the most popular holiday “volunteer events” is to go caroling at nursing homes, hospitals, rehab centers and assisted living communities. Rather than have your favorite senior caroled to, why not bring them along on your own caroling party? If the senior is currently wheelchair bound, decorate it festively and wrap them up warm and cozy. If they don’t use mobility aids but might appreciate a little support, choose a preferred mobility aid for when they need a little help. If your loved one is beyond being able to carol, that’s okay too. They’ll still appreciate going along for the ride.

Make homemade gifts this year. Remember we talked about holiday traditions that have disappeared in the past? Only recently has the availability of credit made it possible for our culture to go gift shopping crazy. Not so long ago, presents were much more precious and were often made by hand especially for you. If you’d like to reign it in a bit this year, talk to your senior loved ones about the homemade and upcycled gifts of holiday’s past. Perhaps they’ll be able to teach you a new hobby, art or craft that will add heartfelt homemade gifts for the ones you love. It will be time well-spent.

Getting seniors involved in holiday activities is a win-win scenario for everyone. We’d love to hear how your family helps to keep seniors filled with holiday cheer. Leave us your ideas in the HomeAide Home Care comment box below.

The Benefits of Aging in Place

the benefits of aging in place

When parents and/or grandparents begin to show signs of aging, it’s smart to evaluate which changes – if any –need to take place so that aging in place can be done as safely and gracefully as possible. While retirement community brochures may depict the post-retirement years as a “dream come true,” many seniors find that this era brings the most physically and emotionally challenging years of their lives.

These include physical changes, like diminishing eyesight and hearing or increased difficulty getting around. It can include mental changes, like the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s’. Sometimes aging is harder on one partner than another, which turns a former life mate into a full-time caregiver. Seniors are more prone to experiencing the death of their life partner as well as the passing on of their peers, which can make them feel isolated and lonely.

For all of these reasons and more, aging-in-place can bring a tremendous amount of comfort and stability at a time when changes are entirely outside of an individual’s control.

The NIH Says There’s No Place Like Home…For Growing Old

The NIH’s National Institute on Aging has an entire PDF with strategies aimed at helping seniors age in place. From serious cost savings to the comfort and security of a familiar environment, remaining in place by providing loving and experienced caregivers into the home is often the most beneficial plan for seniors and their families.

Here are some of the reasons why it makes sense to accommodate aging in place for yourself or senior loved ones.

Greater Financial Security

Financial stability is key as seniors age, providing the resources they need to pay for additional services like shopping, meal preparation, bathing and dressing, memory care, medical care, driving and so on. What many people don’t realize is that the costs of in-home care services are typically much cheaper than the monthly cost of living in a retirement community. According to HudUser.gov, “From 2004 to 2007, in 2009 dollars, the median monthly payment for non-institutional long-term care was $928 compared with $5,243 for nursing homes.” That’s a huge difference. Especially when you consider that those cost savings are paired with other benefits, like familiarity, security, comfort and greater independence.

Even so, the same website observes that “…examining how to reduce costs are focusing on the wrong area; instead, they should be emphasizing the emotional, social, and health benefits of HCBS and aging in place.” We agree. The care providers at HomeAide Home Care witness over and over again how seniors with adequate in-home care fare significantly better in terms of emotional well-being than their facility-bound counterparts.

The Independence That Comes With Aging In Place

Seniors who are aging in place have an easier time maintaining their independence. The familiarity and comforts of home can help to minimize the impacts of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. By making the home senior-friendly, seniors have the ability to get around easier, access their own belongings and possessions, and they enjoy the luxury of maintaining ownership of their pets. Seniors can remain an active part of their neighborhood and community, and they still exercise control over household decisions to the best of their ability.

Preserving Valuable Multi-Generational Relationships

There is a certain romance and novelty to going to grandma and grandpa’s house. Even if one of the grandparents is no longer alive, their memories live longer and stronger in their home furnished with their furniture, photos and signature belongings. The fact of the matter is that visiting a room at a nursing home or retirement facility simply isn’t as comfortable and doesn’t have the same, homey feel as the traditional home environment. By allowing seniors to age in place, they retain a sense of elevated family status. They experience the joy of having family, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren – visit, stay over or participate with them in favorite past times such as gardening or taking daily walks, not to mention holidays and other traditional family occasions.

Are you in the process of determining whether a residential or in-home plan is best for yourself or a loved one? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care. We provide free, in-home consultations to create the best plan of action for today as well as the future. (510) 247-1200.

7 Reasons Seniors Benefit From Pet Adoption

7 reasons seniors benefit from pet adoption

Seniors face an array of challenges they may never have encountered before; perfectly healthy bodies can refuse to cooperate, vision and hearing dim, partners and peers may fade from their day-to-day lives as the result of moving into a retirement community or death. All of these challenges can begin to suck the joy out of living making understanding why seniors benefit from pet adoption all the more important.

In many cases, during our consultations with seniors and their families, we have an unexpected recommendation: adopt a pet.

7 Ways That Seniors Benefit From Pet Adoption And Improve Daily Life

The following are 7 ways that adopting a pet can improve daily life for your senior loved ones, adding a little more love and light in their life.

  1. They know they’ve made a difference. One of the most frustrating things about life after retirement, especially as the body begins to slow down or is compromised by progressive health conditions, is that seniors begin to feel their lives have no purpose. Adopting a pet provides a loving, safe and nourishing environment for a pet – often saving their life – and this makes seniors benefit from pet adoption and feel as if they have been able to make a difference in the life of another being.
  2. They feel wanted, needed and loved. Most families do their best to visit and touch in with parents, grandparents and other aging elders. However, as seniors watch and listen to the ways everyone’s lives are moving on around them, they can begin to feel as if they are a burden to the ones who love them most. When there is a happy four-legged critter to care for, that feeling does a 180°. All of a sudden the senior feels wanted, needed and loved – and that makes it more satisfying to get out of bed each morning.
  3. It inspires daily movement and recreation. Most pets need some kind of exercise or movement to stay healthy and entertained. This can get an otherwise homebound senior inspired to take daily walks again, to go outside and sit in the sunshine while throwing a ball, or moving the upper body to inspire their new kitty to get the toy mouse. Any amount of movement is good for physical and mental health.
  4. It can save their life. If you have a senior who has a serious medical condition, who is blind or has mobility issues – they may be a candidate for a service dog. These dogs provide a tremendous amount of value, including the ability to alert a senior before an epileptic seizure or when their blood sugar levels are out of whack. They can also be used to help the blind and deaf, as well as therapy dogs for seniors who’ve developed anxiety or depression.
  5. It eliminates loneliness. What a terrible feeling it is to be lonely. Even seniors who live in senior communities can feel isolated, especially if they aren’t able to get out and about without help, or if they have recently lost their spouse, partner or closest friends. A pet is a built-in, unconditionally loving family member or friend who can transform a lonely and depressed senior into a more outgoing, positive and active member of their community.
  6. Pets lower blood pressure and improve health. Studies have shown over and over that pet owners report feeling less stressed and have measurably lower blood pressure than their non-petted counterparts. In fact, pets are known to provide multiple health benefits to their owners, and some of these wind up reducing the risk of heart attack, strokes, and other debilitating or fatal conditions linked to heart disease and high blood pressure.
  7. They increase social interactions. There are two things in life that will draw strangers right towards you to engage in conversation – dogs and babies. Many seniors are amazed at the amount of attention they get while out walking their dogs or taking them out to dog parks. Even immobile seniors can enjoy these activities with their companion or home health care provider to accompany them along the way. Those daily chats and personal interactions stimulate the production of endorphins – “feel-good hormones” – and that is a win-win for all.

Have you noticed a dampening of a senior loved one’s inner light or connectedness to the world around them? Consider the reasons why seniors benefit from pet adoption and then go to one of the many Bay Area shelters. That once simple step can make a tremendous difference in the lives of both the pet and the owner.

Aging And Aphasia

 

aging and aphasia

You may have never heard of aphasia but, you know the feeling when you’re in the middle of a sentence and you just can’t think of the right word? Aging and aphasia often go hand-in-hand. It’s there somewhere; in fact, you may even make the comment that “it’s right at the tip of your tongue…”Aging and aphasia often go hand-in-hand. This is a very mild form of what some seniors experience on a regular basis.

When the loss of words, or the inability to retrieve words, begins to hinder a person’s conversations and daily routines on a regular basis, it is called aphasia.

Aphasia is Often a Symptom of Aging and Age-Related Conditions

Aphasia is a common symptom, and often a “primary” symptom of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related conditions. In addition to word loss, your aging relative or friend may notice they are more prone to getting lost, feeling confused, forgetting to pay bills or neglecting to recognize birthdays and special days that were once priorities on their calendar. These may indicate something more serious is at work.

There are several situations or conditions that can cause aphasia. These include:

  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Medications or changes in medication doses
  • Dehydration
  • Strokes
  • Hearing loss
  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease (medically referred to as “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” (ALS))
  • Parkinson’s disease

In many cases, the ability to speak disappears long before the ability to understand. As a result, the onset of aphasia can be extremely frustrating and frightening for seniors. This is especially true if they are treated like they have dementia or Alzheimer’s when in fact they still have many of their mental faculties intact.

For this reason, it’s important to schedule an appointment with the senior’s primary healthcare provider as soon as you notice aphasia has become an issue.

Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment ASAP if Seniors Have Difficulty Communicating.

Note: if the onset of aphasia seems extremely sudden, it could be that your loved one or client is having a stroke. In this case, it’s always better to call 9-1-1 or take the individual immediately to an ER. Often, a stroke caught early can be stopped in its tracks, before it causes more debilitating side effects. Please read, Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke, for more information about that topic.

Otherwise, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with the senior’s caregiver to identify the cause of the issue. In some cases, something as simple as drinking more water or taking an antibiotic for a urinary tract infection (UTI) may be the solution. Seniors are extremely vulnerable to dehydration as well as asymptomatic UTIs, both of which can cause dementia-like symptoms.

Other times, a new medication, combination of medications or a change in dosage can be enough to trigger mild or more moderate aphasia. Once the right prescription balance is restored, the aphasia may begin to resolve and normal language function will be restored.

If a more serious medication condition, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease is the cause, early detection is important in prolonging the progression of the disease. We are learning a great deal about how diet, lifestyle and activity levels help or harm a person’s long-term prognosis. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, certain medications work best at the disease’s onset rather than later on.

In the case of Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s, there are non-verbal therapies – like art or music therapy – that can help the individual find their community as well as involve other parts of the brain to help them become more functional when areas in charge of language or cognition become more faulty. Learning about adult day care options, community gardening opportunities, and other outlets can help to keep the senior more involved in the community so they don’t feel so isolated.

The senior’s healthcare provider will be able to provide a full physical assessment, and may also schedule more tests to determine the aphasia’s cause and to provide options and suggestions regarding treatment, therapy and/or lifestyle changes.

If it turns out that the aphasia is, indeed, caused by a progressive condition, this is the time to begin discussing long-term care options and what those options look like. Please feel free to contact us here at HomeAide Home Care to learn more about in-home and independent living options, or to schedule a free in-home consultation. There is never any obligation.

Common Skin Conditions That Affect The Elderly

common skin conditions that affect the elderly

Taking care of your skin is a lifelong endeavor, but it should be a particular focus for seniors and their caregivers in order to avoid some of the common skin conditions affecting seniors. As we age, the collagen in our skin is diminished, as is our protective layer of fat. This leads to thinner and less durable skin. Years of sun exposure takes its toll, as can the side effects of certain medications or dehydration. Even the sheer act of laying down or sitting too much in one position can cause serious skin discomfort and even open wounds.

Here are some of the most common skin conditions that affect the elderly, as well as how you can help to prevent them, treat them and/or provide some relief:

Dry and/or Itchy Skin

Not only will the skin feel dry and itchy for the senior, caregivers may notice patches of white, scaly or rougher skin – most notably on the arms and legs. Dry skin can be caused by a range of triggers, including dehydration, a dry interior climate, drinking and/or smoking, excess sun exposure, using soaps and body care products with fragrance. You can relieve dry skin by:

  • Applying a fragrance-free lotion, targeted for dry or extra-dry skin
  • Drinking plenty of water throughout the day
  • Minimizing sun exposure
  • Using a humidifier indoors
  • Taking cooler baths/showers (hot water contributes to dry skin)
  • Using mild soaps, shampoos and body washes

If dry skin becomes a problem, it’s worth having a conversation with the senior’s doctor to determine if there is something more going on, like a skin allergy or a reaction to a particular medication.

Bruising

Thin skin means greater vulnerability to bruising. Ouch! Even a simple knock against a table edge or counter corner can leave a frightening bruise behind. Also, older people take longer to heal, so bruises can seem to last an inordinately long time. While there isn’t anything that can be done, shy of keeping vulnerable areas clothed as an extra layer of padding, it is worth checking in with the doctor if bruising seems excessive or if the senior can’t remember how the bruises were formed.

Age Spots

Age spots, also called “liver spots” are larger than freckles, and appear as large, flat brown spots on the skin’s surface. Since they are actually caused by sun exposure, age spots are typically found on the head, face, hands/arms, and legs. They can’t be treated, and shouldn’t cause any pain or discomfort, but the use of a gentle sunscreen can prevent more age spots from developing

Skin Tags

Skin tags are a type of raised, flesh-colored mole that can sometimes grow quite pendulous. Women are more prone to developing skin tags than men, due to hormone differences, but anyone can get them. Skin tags are typically found on the eyelids and neck, as well as the folds of the body – the armpits, underneath the breasts, in the groin, etc. While usually painless, the tags can become irritated – especially if they are raised and get caught by clothing, nails or jewelry. If particular skin tags cause discomfort, they can be easily removed by a doctor or dermatologist.

Skin Cancer

One of the most common types of cancer, skin cancer is usually nothing to worry about – as long as it is caught soon enough. It’s a good idea to check the entire body once a month so you get used to the various moles and freckle formations found on the skin’s surface.

By performing a visual inspection each month, you’ll be more likely to notice if any of the moles change. You should also schedule an annual appointment with a doctor or dermatologist for a professional once-over.

Use your ABCDE’s when evaluating moles:

  1. Asymmetrical borders – one-half of the mole looks different than the other half.
  2. Borders that seem irregular.
  3. Color changes or more than one color, make a note if a mole seems to be darkening or changing colors from the last time you checked it.
  4. Diameter – the diameter of moles should be no bigger than a pencil eraser.
  5. Evolving – if the mole seems to be changing in terms of shape, color, size, pain or tenderness, from flat to raised, etc., it should be examined

If you notice any of these ABCDEs, schedule an appointment with the doctor.

Avoiding Common Skin Conditions

Does your senior loved one live alone? Is your parent or grandparent unable to take care of themselves the way they used to? Consider taking advantage of in-home senior healthcare. Even a visit or two a week can be enough to ensure that your loved one is safe, healthy, happy, and avoiding common skin conditions.

Contact HomeAide Home Care to learn more about our services or to schedule an in-home consultation.

Helping Seniors Feel Wanted, Needed And Loved

 

 

helping seniors feel wanted needed and loved

While a senior citizen’s body may seem to change – silver hair, wrinkled skin and changes in mobility, for example – their hearts and desires are the same as anyone else’s: the need for and how to help seniors feel wanted, loved and needed.

The problem is that some of those aforementioned physical changes can leave them feeling depressed, isolated and alone. As spouses and peers pass away or move to various retirement homes, seniors lose their social networks. When elderly adults relinquish their car keys, they surrender their independence and their ability to get out and about in the community. If they succumb to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, it becomes harder for family and friends to enjoy their company, which often translates to reduced visits and outings.

How To Help Seniors Feel Wanted

Get them volunteering. There is great benefit in being of service to others, and this is a benefit that many seniors lack once they lose their independence. In fact, when a senior requires in-home care or lives in an assisted living community, it can feel like they’re always “taking” rather than “giving,” and that is crushing to the ego and an individual’s sense of self-worth.

Look for opportunities for you and your senior family members to work together in acts of service. Is there a soup kitchen looking for volunteers? Does a local homeless shelter need someone to make and serve coffee in the mornings? Perhaps a local orphanage or children’s home could use someone to hold the babies or read to the older children. If you have the time, volunteer with your senior loved one. If not, see if different members of your family can take turns volunteering once a week or once a month. It’s a two-for-one benefit – more time with your loved one as well as a chance to give back to your community.

To start, visit HandsOn Bay Area or The Volunteer Center of the East Bay to explore possibilities in and around the Bay Area. You can also contact local churches and non-profits to see if they need extra hands or hearts in order to help seniors feel wanted.

Inspire Involvement in Local Clubs. Working adults have all kinds of plans for when they retire. However, the retirement years aren’t always as free as one may have imagined them to be. Then, as the social calendar clears and children/grandchildren get older – each day can feel like a void without any way to fill up the empty hours. This is where local clubs can be of assistance.

Ask senior loved ones about any prior or current hobbies and then find a local club or chapter that matches. Perhaps your grandmother used to love ballet, now she can enjoy a local ballroom dance group. Maybe your parents used to play bridge with neighbors; odds are there is a local bridge club looking for members and on-call extras. Seniors who love music may enjoy singing in a community choir or volunteering for the local orchestra or choir for their concerts and performances, while avid gardeners may enjoy volunteering in a community garden project. Joining a club helps to provide a sense of purpose and provide seniors with a sense of responsibility, “I can’t miss bridge on Tuesday, I’d let my partner (or the foursome) down…”.

Make Use of Their Skill Sets. Most seniors were taught skills that are “dying out” in our more disposable culture. Things like darning socks, mending clothes, knitting, refinishing, cooking homemade meals from scratch, basic woodworking and repairing – all of these are going by the wayside. However, as much as our culture has a reputation for purchasing disposable goods – it is becoming increasingly focused on reusing, recycling and repurposing.

This makes for a perfect opportunity for children and grandchildren to learn from their elders. In addition to acquiring important, basic life skills – a mix of generations makes for a synergistic experience – talking, sharing stories, hearing different perspectives and providing mutual love and support to one another.

Have you noticed a senior loved one is feeling a bit down, depressed or lonely lately? Is a parent or grandparent looking fragile than usual? Contact HomeAide Home Care and we’ll be happy to provide an in-home assessment. It might be that a little extra companionship or weekly transportation to social events and groups will help to renew their inner spark and help seniors feel wanted.

Arranging Breaks From Family Caregiving

 

arranging breaks from family caregiving

Caregivers spend the majority of their time ensuring that someone else’s needs are taken care of on a 24/7 basis. Family caregiving includes things like researching disease prevention and treatments, learning to identify the signs of depression in seniors or how to prepare meals that are both tasty and nutritious. Caregivers schedule and observe their loved one’s medical, dental and vision appointments and make sure prescriptions are filled on time.

The question quickly becomes, “Who is taking care of the caregiver?”

Respite Care Ensures the Caregivers Needs Are Taken Care of Too

Here at HomeAide Home Care, we specialize in home healthcare services for the senior population. While our team of licensed caregivers work both full- or part-time, we’re often hired to provide respite care services for spouses or family members who do the lion’s share of caregiving for senior loved one.

The irony is that many of the same symptoms full-time caregivers work to alleviate in their “patients,” wind up becoming their own symptoms if they aren’t careful. According to the Office of Women’s Health, the stress associated with caregiving can compromise a caregiver’s health.

Family Caregiving Stress and/or Burnout Contribute To:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • A weakened immune system
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Obesity
  • Higher risk of chronic diseases
  • Short-term memory loss and difficulty paying attention

If you are a caregiver and any of these symptoms resonate with you, it’s a sign you need a break.

Ideas For Getting a Break From Family Caregiving

The first step is to be willing to admit you need help. Another irony about caregiving is that full-time caregivers unknowingly become micro-managers (also known as “control freaks). They start to think that their way is the best way and that nobody else can take care of their loved one as well as they do.

While the latter may be true, it’s equally true that plenty of people are willing, able and more than qualified to take very good care of your loved one. It’s also a fact that your continued stress and burnout diminishes your caregiving ability, and then where will your loved one be? Therefore, take a deep breath and accept the fact that you could use a little help.

Contact a local senior or adult day care. Most communities have some type of adult and/or senior day care communities designed to help people just like you. In addition to providing safe, knowledgeable care for seniors and those with memory disorders, adult day care services also include things like healthy meals, fun and varied activities, exercise programs, games and so on. They can allow you to take a day off, take care of your own medical and self-care appointments or even get a part-time job so your life can achieve a sense of balance again. Visit Bay Area Community Services to learn more about adult day care programs here in the Bay Area.

Send out an email. So often, friends and loved ones say, “If there is anything I can do, just call…,” but nobody ever calls, and the well-meaning individual goes on with their life. Now’s the time to send out a mass email, or pick up the phone yourself, and get the word out that you would like a few hours off here and there. You may be surprised who responds, eager to spend some time with their loved one too or to express their thanks to you by relieving you of your duties. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Take advantage of respite care services. Almost any homecare service offers respite care as a part of their services menu. These licensed caregivers can be hired for a few hours, a few days or even a few weeks at a time. Ideally, caregivers should take advantage of respite care services on a weekly basis. If that isn’t possible, use them for weekends here and there so you don’t miss out on important family events, or hire them for a couple weeks so you can still take a restful summer vacation.

One of the benefits of hiring respite care services is that most in-home care providers offer a free consultation and in-home assessment, which can be a valuable resource for you and your family.

Are you feeling the pressures of the daily grind of family caregiving? Contact HomeAide Home Care so we can help you strike a healthier balance.

Seniors and Allergy Season

 

seniors and allergy season

The return of spring is a welcome change of seasons and an unwelcome allergy season. Seniors and allergy season can be a tough fight. Increased sunlight and warmer weather provide us all with more opportunities to be outside. This is particularly important for seniors and allergy season, for whom bed- and chair-bound winters can lead to stiffness, rapid loss of muscle tone and a lack of energy.

Of course, there is always a balance in life, so we trade all that rosy sunshine and an abundance seasonal allergies for a healthy dose of pollen and other allergens. What is typically a minor nuisance to the young and healthy can be a bit more threatening for the senior population.

Tips to Help Seniors and Allergy Season

For one thing, seniors often have pre-existing medical conditions that make it more difficult for them to cope with the respiratory problems that accompany allergies. Also, senior immune systems are often weaker than those of their younger counterparts, which can result in more intense allergy symptoms and discomforts and can also make seniors more prone to new allergies.

Signs of seasonal allergies include:

  • Runny nose
  • Itchy and/or watery eyes
  • Itchy and/or sore throats
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Congestion

Often, seniors are wary of accepting they have allergies because they’ve, “never had them before…” However the experts say that adult-onset allergies are on the rise, so any senior experiencing these symptoms for the first time should schedule a visit to the doctor.

Please Be Advised: DO NOT purchase over-the-counter allergy medications for seniors unless you have been advised to do so by their doctor. Seniors are more sensitive to the negative side-effects of antihistamines, the active ingredient in most allergy medications.

There are several things you can do to help lessen the side effects for seniors and allergy season.

  1. Schedule a visit to the doctor. Do schedule a visit with the doctor if it’s the first time a senior has experienced allergies to make sure you choose an allergy medication that works well with any other prescriptions they’re currently taking.
  2. Avoid over-the-counter medications. One of the most important reasons to go to the doctor, rather than the pharmacy, is that traditional over-the-counter allergy medications contain antihistamines. Not only can these cause seniors to become drowsy, foggy, forgetful and confused, they can also cause mood swings and dangerous interactions with other prescription medications. Often, doctors will prescribe nasal steroid sprays or other medications to assist with allergy symptoms.
  3. Check pollen counts. Look at local weather forecasts and schedule outdoor activities for days when the pollen count is lower.
  4. Wear protective clothing and gear. Wearing sunglasses, long sleeves, pants and a mask can protect sensitive seniors from excess pollen and airborne allergens. Once seniors are back inside, have them change clothes and wash their hands. Outdoor clothes should be placed directly in the washing machine. This will help to eliminate the transfer of allergens to the inside of the home.
  5. Change HVAC air filters. Sometimes, the level of dust mites, pollen, and dander inside the home are higher in concentration than those outside. This is because once allergens make their way in, they can have a hard time getting back out. Schedule an HVAC tune-up this time and year and have the technician replace the filters while he’s at it. Old HVAC ducts may need to be cleaned. Air filters are very affordable so, during allergy season, it may be worth it to change them every month to maintain healthy indoor air quality.
  6. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Some foods, like white, refined sugars, processed carbohydrates (like crackers and many snack foods), saturated fats and aspartame (a common sugar-free sweetener) actually increase inflammation in the body. Increased inflammation leads to a hyperactive immune system, and that will lead to more severe allergenic responses. A healthy, anti-inflammatory diet can reduce allergy symptoms as well as other conditions linked to inflammation such as arthritis. Focus on eating whole grains, lots of vegetables and fruits, lean proteins and minimal amounts of processed foods.

Feel like your senior loved one needs a little extra care this allergy season? Contact HomeAide Home Care. We can provide any level of home-based senior care you need, whether it be weekly check-ins and errand running to full-time or respite care services.