Hospice Care and Caregivers

Do you have a loved one who is about to go on Hospice Care? If so, it can raise many questions as to how your day-to-day life will progress. One of the most regular questions from caregivers is, “what do I do now?”. The best hospice-care-and-caregiversanswers to this question will unfold once Hospice Care is in place and you see how things progress. Caregivers still provide a vital role in their family member’s or client’s lives.

Here are some things to consider in regards to Hospice Care and caregiving.

Hospice Care is NOT a substitute for a caregiver. Many people mistakenly believe that once Hospice Care is initiated, there is no longer a role for the caregiver. Not only is this untrue, Hospice Care will not commence until the family has established that some form of caregiving service will be available 24-hours a day. Hospice is an amazing end-of-life service and will involve a network of people, including healthcare professionals, grief counselors, spiritual advisers, a social worker, etc. But these individuals come in, do their jobs and leave. A caregiver is still required to assist with the normal day-to-day chores and caregiving needs. These services can be provided by a spouse, family members, professional caregivers, or a combination of them all.

Hospice does not provide 24-hour medical care. In most cases, a home health nurse will be checking in daily once an individual is placed on Hospice. However, the nurse will train family members to take care of any daily medical tasks, certain injections, dressing changes, geriatric massage, etc., that may be required throughout the day or night. Hospice can also train family members on how to help your loved one turn over in bed, move from the bed to a chair or wheel chair, bathe, etc. If any of these tasks are too physically demanding, Hospice requires you to have a caregiver on hand who can help you with these tasks.

Caregiving tasks can be many and varied. Many of the services provided by caregivers during Hospice are dedicated to companionship, errand running, housekeeping, meal preparation and other tasks that may be too difficult for family members to tend to around their other family and work responsibilities. Hiring a professional caregiver, even if it is only a few days a week, allows loved ones to spend as much quality time as possible with each other, without having to divide themselves between the patient and mundane daily tasks.

You may decide caregiving services are required at night. Often, our clients have family members who take turns in shifts during the day, and use caregiving services for the later evening and nighttime hours. This can be of benefit for patients who require medications at night, or who suffer from insomnia and want to have company or be read to without disturbing their sleeping partners or family members. Overnight home care services can be invaluable because it allows you and other caregivers to get the rest you need without having to worry about the well-being of your loved one.

Respite caregiving services can be a lifesaver. Respite care services are one of the most underused services available from professional home care services. You can hire a caregiver to fill in for an hour, a day, a week or a month. This allows the regular caregivers to have time off to tend to their own needs, take a vacation, or to attend appointments and social gatherings.

Interested in learning more about how Hospice Care affects caregiving?Contact HomeAid Home Care.

7 Facts About Home Care

7-facts-about-home-care1. Home Care is Only for the Sick

While it is partially true that residential care is for a sickly or recovering individual, it is not always the case. There are four types of home care: home health care (provided by a licensed medical professional), non-medical care such as homemaker, personal care or companion. Home health care may be needed for such extremes as post-operation rehab, skilled assessments, teaching, speech therapy and other assistance. Non-medical care would involve daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, bathing and dressing.

2. It’s Permanent

Most individuals that need residential care usually assume that it is permanent and that they will lose their independence. A professional home care giver is responsible for being the individuals extra eyes and ears around the home. This helps prevent accidents such as falls, slips and spills that lead to serious injury. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the leading cause of injury related death is due to imbalance in individuals over age of 65.

3. It’s Costly

It is thought that home care isn’t affordable when in fact it is the most affordable option because of the flexible hourly service. In 2010, a survey showed that 22 percent of the networks employ home care service for only hours or less a week. Furthermore, 49 percent of family home caregivers overestimate the cost of non-medical related care but approximately $6.00 an hour.

4. No Control over Who Comes To My Home

For the most part, each home caregiver is matched with a client that has similar interests. A company’s home caregivers should always be screened, insured, trained and bonded. A reputable company should always offer background checks at the time of the meeting set up. They should also offer steady and reliable backups or replacements for emergency purposes.

5. Caregivers Don’t Care About Their Clients

A good residential care associate will take time to understand the client’s needs, listen thoroughly, establish a rapport and overall, make them feel at ease. To make it official, the agency should analyze the client’s needs to make sure that they are being placed correctly. If a client should feel that they are not being treated properly, the family needs to contact the agency immediately.

6. Only Old People Need Home Care

Again, individuals with chronic illness, recovering from surgery pr rehabilitation are welcome to and encouraged to rely on this kind of help. Even though home care is recognized but individuals over the age of 65, it is important that anyone in need of care should be able to get these services.

7. Basic Hygiene Clean Up Doesn’t Qualify

Whatever you may need that will be of help to you, you should be able to receive. Whether it is bathing or making the bed, it is best to find an agency that provides full service for all and any of your needs.

Should you need more information before making your decision, please visit us here

The Dangers of Dehydration

the-dangers-of-dehydrationDehydration is an elder care problem. In multiple studies of senior patients in long-term care facilities and those admitted to hospitals, as many as 40% of seniors were dehydrated. When left to their own devices, most seniors simply don’t drink enough water to remain properly hydrated, and this causes serious physical, mental and emotional side effects.

Understanding how dehydration affects the body as well as dehydration symptoms will improve a senior’s overall well-being.

Hydration is The Foundation of a Balanced and Healthy Body

Our bodies are predominantly comprised of water; it is responsible for balancing the body’s fluid levels, facilitating circulation, digestion, transportation and absorption of nutrients, etc. Water is also required for eliminating toxins, kidney health, energizing muscles and maintaining normal bowel function. A breakdown in any of these processes causes medical complications.

Before age 60, the average person is about 56% water, after age 60 this percentage decreases to around 49% due to lost muscle mass. That reduction means seniors are even more prone to the effects of dehydration and the symptoms can be more serious.

Causes and Symptoms of Senior Dehydration

Dehydration occurs for a variety of reasons:

  • Not drinking enough water or liquids
  • As a side effect of certain medications, especially diuretics
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes

Symptoms of dehydration comes in many forms. The following are some of the most common:

Mild dehydration

The first symptoms of dehydration are easy to miss.

  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Thick saliva
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dark colored urine, typically dark yellow, orange or even brown
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Headaches or mental fogginess
  • Cramping, especially in feet and legs
  • Fatigue, weakness or general malaise
  • Crying without tears or very few tears
  • Unusual sleepiness or irritability

Symptoms of more severe dehydration

By the time dehydration progresses from mild to severe, the senior will need immediate medical attention so s/he can be placed on intravenous fluids until stabilized. Signs of severe dehydration include:

  • Severe cramping in limbs, back and stomach
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Convulsions
  • Eyes appear dry and/or sunken
  • Little to no skin elasticity (if you gently pinch the skin on the back of the hands, it will remain in the pinched position and/or will retract very slowly)
  • Rapid breathing

If you notice any of these signs in a senior, call 911 or take them to the nearest urgent care facility immediately.

Simple Tips For Keeping Seniors Hydrated

While water is the best fluid of all, it’s not the only option for hydration. Here are some simple tips that can keep a senior better hydrated:

  1. Have a beverage (non-caffeinated is best) with every meal or snack
  2. Keep fresh water in a glass with a straw near the bed and chair-side tables at all times
  3. Eat an array of fruits and vegetables, which have naturally high water content
  4. Maintain an assortment of favorite beverages on hand to keep it interesting
  5. Try adding lemon, cucumber or strawberry slices to cold water to make it more palatable.

Adequate hydration is not just a warm weather issue. Focus on hydration year-round for optimal senior health.

8 Signs of Elder Abuse

8-signs-of-elder-abuseElder abuse can take place in many forms – physical, verbal, emotional and financial. While physical elder abuse can often be evidenced in person (although not always), verbal, emotional and financial elder abuse can happen insidiously and often goes undetected for long periods of time.

Whether you look in on a loved one on a regular basis, or live across the country and are only able to visit every once in a while, the following information can help you to determine whether or not your senior loved one is a victim of elder abuse. Never hesitate to begin an investigation the minute you suspect elder abuse.

8 Signs of Elder Abuse

  1. Constant and repeat bruising, injury or broken bones. True, senior citizens are more prone to bruising from even the mildest of bumps or knocks that occur in day-to-day activities. Yes, the elderly are also apt to lose their balance and/or fall more easily. But, if you feel like accidents occur more frequently than normal, it’s worth looking into.
  2. An unusual dynamic with a caretaker. Pay attention to his/her relationship with the caregiver(s). If your loved one seems afraid, tense, excessively argumentative or withdrawn around the caregiver, it can be a sign of abuse or mistreatment.
  3. Sudden financial difficultyFinancial elder abuse is one of the most common, and silent, forms of elder abuse. Sometimes it’s as simple as a caregiver or family member who keeps the change for grocery bills or writes frequent small checks to him/herself. In worst case scenarios, entire savings accounts can be drained, lines of credit can be taken out in the senior’s name and then maxed out, etc. The effects can be devastating. If you notice a sudden and unexplainable shift in a senior relative’s finances, take note. Try to keep personal/sensitive documentation out of caregiver’s hands and range of access.
  4. Unusual depression or sudden withdrawal. Verbal and/or emotional abuse is another silent from of elder abuse. Adults who are experiencing symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s, may not be able to communicate what is happening. In cases of sexual abuse, the individual is often too embarrassed or ashamed to come forward. If your loved one becomes unusually quiet, withdrawn or depressed - especially if it’s over a relatively short period of time, take time to investigate.
  5. Rapid weight loss or lack of energy. Sometimes, the abuse happens via neglect, rather than any physical or verbal impact. Sudden weight loss, dehydration, or a rapid decline in energy can be signs of malnourishment and neglect.
  6. Bed Sores. If the senior is bed-bound, it is imperative that he or she is moved on a regular basis to keep the blood flowing and the skin from becoming irritated. A neglected, bed-ridden senior will end up getting bed sores on the areas of the body that are in contact with the mattress.
  7. They are dirty and/or smell badly. A well-cared for senior should have their hygiene needs met on a daily basis. There is no excuse for being dirty, smelling bad, or having to wear soiled clothing. This is a sign of caregiver neglect.
  8. Poor living conditions. If your elderly relative is living in a senior care facility, the environment should be clean, orderly and aesthetically pleasing. Dirty, dingy, or facilities with old, malfunctioning equipment should be considered suspect.

Never ignore the signs of elder abuse – take action!

Before you sign the dotted line, make sure you hire a home healthcare provider who has an excellent reputation and reviews, and who screens caregivers thoroughly to help your senior loved ones get the attentive care they deserve.

Gardening with Seniors

Gardening is good for the mind, body and spirit, and these benefits can be even more dramatic for seniors. As seniors become more restricted in their daily activities, gardening offers a low impact way to connect with the earth and do something productive. Plus, gardening-with-seniorsthe results will yield healthy, organic produce that has added benefits for nutrition and health.

Are you looking for activities to engage senior loved ones in your life? Whether its a small window box, patio containers, or raised bed planters in the backyard, these facts, tips and safety recommendations can improve a senior’s well-being.

Gardening Can Improve the Quality of Life for Seniors

A recent study by Texas A&M found that older adults who spend regular time in their garden reported a higher-quality of life than their non-gardening counterparts. The researchers stated, “Gardening is one of the most popular home-based leisure activities in the United States and has been reported as the second most common leisure activity, after walking, of adults older than age 65 years.”

Benefits of Gardening with Seniors Include:

Increased movement. Many physical ailments suffered by adults 65 years and over are connected to decreased activity levels. This is why senior centers, senior living communities and in-home caregivers place such strong emphasis on regular, low-impact exercises such as yoga, walking, water exercise, etc. The activities involved in gardening also provide low-impact exercise. You’d be amazed how much bending, stretching, reaching, and weight resistance is experienced through the regular gardening routine.

Fresh air and sunshine. The best source of vitamin D comes straight from the sun. A little exposure to sun and fresh air, when paired with adequate sun protection and hydration, can help to improve nutrition and mindset. Natural light is a proven mood elevator so tending to a garden on a fairly regular basis keeps the body in touch with nature’s rhythms.

Improved nutrition. There’s nothing like growing your own vegetables to inspire you to eat them. Planning a garden with seniors is a fun way to grow their favorite fruits and vegetables, which can be eaten right off the vine, out of the ground, or used in recipes for nutritious meals.

Seeing the fruits (literally!) of your labor. Perhaps one of the most uplifting things about gardening is the feeling of being productive, essential, and needed in some way. These feelings and experiences can diminish for seniors who do not remain active, or for whom part-time jobs and volunteer opportunities have disappeared as the result of mobility issues. Tending a garden requires meticulous and regular care and day by day, older adults get to watch the fruits of their labor.

Tips For Maintaining a Safe Senior Garden

Gardening is low-impact but it also has its fair share of risks. The following tips can ensure a senior’s gardening activities remain as healthful and beneficial as possible.

  • Wear gloves and protective clothing. Thinner skin is more apt to bruise or become cut on branches, thorns and the edges and points of gardening tools. Gloves, long-sleeved shirts and pants will help to protect delicate skin.
  • Raise the beds. If seniors have a difficult time getting up and down, raise the gardening beds so they can be accessed in a wheelchair or while standing. You can buy accessible gardening products online or use containers on tabletops for easier access. Have a stool nearby for resting.
  • Cool gardening. Avoid full sun exposure by gardening in the earlier morning or later afternoon hours.

Spring is the season to start planting a garden with your senior and bring a little sunshine to their life.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is a bit of a mystery to many, but it is an underused – and undervalued – part of our healthcare system. It is not a place where people go, rather, it is a service that combines a multitude of different forms of care. In the case of senior hospice care, the overarching goal of hospice is to provide the highest level of comfort, basic medical care, and support as a loved one passes from life into death, allowing him/her to live their remaining days with as much dignity as possible.

In this blog, we will discuss some of the common questions and concerns surrounding hospice care for seniors.

what-is-hospice-care

What qualifies a senior for hospice care and how is it paid for?

In most cases, a doctor must certify that a patient has an end-of-life diagnosis and the prognosis is usually 6-months or less. When patients meet the qualifying criteria, hospice is covered by Medicare, Medi-cal, and most private health insurance policies. Once hospice care begins, the services run indefinitely, or until a doctor no longer feels the situation is terminal. If you or a loved one is considering enrolling in a hospice care program, contact your insurance providers to discuss the financial details so there are no surprises.

Please note: Hospice does not provide full-time care. It does provide daily check-ins from a medical professional and access to 24/7 hotlines. However, the bulk of the caregiving is expected to come from a spouse, family members or professional caregivers. In some cases, hospice programs will not enroll a patient without proof of full-time care provision.

Isn’t hospice care a death sentence, or a form of giving up?

No and no. Firstly, hospice care isn’t the cause of death. The conditions leading up to the end of one’s life can be very simple or very complex, ranging from an acute illness or a slow decline from Alzheimer’s disease. There are a multitude of treatments, medications, procedures and machines that can prolong an individual’s life, but there comes a point where the individual and/or family members must determine that the quality of life is now more valuable than the number of days remaining.

As soon as this point is reached, hospice is a wonderful option because it alleviates much of the stress of the clinical medical world, and prioritizes the comfort and desires of the patient. Although hospice usually is considered a form of palliative (end of life) care, there are situations where patients improve so much with hospice care that they are removed from hospice. However, this is less common in the case of senior hospice care.

Is hospice care always provided at home?

Hospice care is most commonly provided at home, as this is usually the patient’s preferred place to be. Seniors usually want to be surrounded by the ones they love, in the home they know,  with their favorite belongings, scenery and their beloved pets. However, senior hospice care can also be provided in a nursing home, retirement community, or the hospital.

What types of services does hospice provide?

Hospice care is provided by a team of professionals including:

  • Your primary physicians and medical specialists
  • Family, friends, and volunteer caregivers
  • Professional caregivers
  • Social worker
  • Spiritual/religious counsel
  • Bereavement counselors
  • Palliative care specialists
  • Physical therapists

Together, they form a strong support network for both the patient and the patient’s immediate family.

One of the largest complaints we hear from seniors and their families is that they didn’t enroll in hospice care soon enough. Contact HomeAide Home Care, Inc. to learn more about our home care services.

The Benefits of Geriatric Massage

Who doesn’t love a massage? It’s a way to step out of the world-as-we-know-it, free the mind of its ceaseless chatter, and enjoy the soothing and pleasurable feeling of having your tension erased from your physical body. However, massage is not just about the general satisfaction of physical pleasure, studies have shown that there are significant medical and health benefits to having a massage on a regular basis. This is especially true for the senior population.

Geriatric massage is a special niche, designed to provide a relaxing therapeutic treatment that has residual health benefits specifically targeting the physical and emotional ailments that can plague seniors.

the-benefits-of-geriatric-massage

What is geriatric massage?

The principles of geriatric massage – laying down and having a trained masseuse use lotion or oils to manipulate the muscles, connective tissues, and even the skeleton itself – are the same as traditional massage therapy. However, geriatric massage usually involves a lighter touch, to be sensitive to the thin skin and physical sensitivities that often increase with age.

If the client is wheelchair bound, or finds the massage chair uncomfortable, a geriatric massage can be performed while the patient is seated. Geriatric massage often spends a longer time on the hands and feet, in order to increase circulation, but can be adapted to meet the specific needs of the client. This may also include reflexology techniques, which stimulates specific pressure points on the hands and feet that coordinate to specific parts of the body. Reflexology has also been shown to provide natural pain relief.

What are some of the benefits of geriatric massage?

Similar to Yoga and other healing practices that focus on clearing the mind, relaxing the body, and gentle motion, massage has been shown to alleviate depression, improve circulation, and reduce pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints. Also, it can just plain feel good to be touched. Consider that many seniors, especially those whose spouses have died or whose loved ones live far away are without the regular comfort of human touch, hugs, or kisses that most of us enjoy on a semi-daily basis.

Massage enhances emotional well-being. At the bio-chemical level, massage stimulates the release of multiple “feel good” hormones, such as adrenaline and oxytocin. This is one of the reasons many people feel a sense of relaxed euphoria for a day or two following their massage. These chemicals help to relieve anxiety and depression. In fact, massage has been shown to help bereaved relatives cope with their grief

Improved circulation. This is a biggie. Our heart pumps blood for a reason – to feed our bodies cells with much needed oxygen, water, and nutrients. It is also required to eliminate the CO2 and toxins out of our cells and out of the body. When the circulatory system is ailing, the rest of the body is too. Massage can be especially helpful for seniors who have diabetes, certain heart conditions, or whose mobility limitations prevent them from being able to move comfortably or safely; all of these conditions contribute to poor circulation, which can snowball into other undesirable side effects.

Reduced pain and stiffness. It’s hard to find a senior citizen that doesn’t suffer from some amount of pain or stiffness. The same chemicals mentioned above, adrenaline, oxytocin and other “feel good” hormones also help to combat pain. As your lymph system is stimulated, inflammation will begin to decrease, which helps the joints move more comfortably.

So go ahead, treat yourself to a geriatric massage. You might even find it’s partially or fully covered by your healthcare insurance.

Everything You Need to Know About Sundowner’s Syndrome

everything-you-need-to-know-about-sundowners-syndromeSundowner’s Syndrome, also called Sundowning, is a clinical phenomena that occurs in approximately 20% of senior citizens with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It is a state of agitation or confusion that begins as the sun sets. For many patients, this upsetting state of mind will last through the night. While it is obviously disturbing for the person experiencing Sundowning, it can be equally or more disturbing for caregivers who have to watch a person they love in distress, and who become exhausted from lack of sleep and constant worry.

Unfortunately medical science does not know exactly what causes it. It is thought that the cognitive physiological changes that cause Alzheimer’s and dementia may also damage the area of the brain that controls our circadian rhythm – the internal clock each of us has that maintains a certain rhythm to our waking and sleeping cycles.

What are the symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome?

As the sun begins to set adults affected by Sundowning may become:

  • agitated
  • forgetful
  • confused
  • anxious
  • restless

As a result, they will have difficulty sleeping, which can further exacerbate their Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms during daytime hours. It can also cause them to wander, yell, become delirious, angry or combative.

There are also factors that seem to increase Sundowner’s symptoms. If a person is already tired or fatigued they can experience more dramatic Sundowning. Low-lighting, a disruptive or noisy sleeping environment, and poor nourishment are also factors. It has also been linked to certain medications, severe constipation, or a disruption in daily sleeping and waking patterns.

Is there a way to avoid or mitigate Sundowning Symptoms?

Because the exact cause of Sundowning has yet to be known, there isn’t a specific fix. However, there are things that can help to prevent it and/or ease the symptoms.

Adequate Lighting. Nighttime lighting is already important in senior housing as it improves sight for seniors with poor vision, and prevents trip and fall accidents. However, lighting is even more important for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Shadows and dark places can intensify their agitation and anxiety. The more you can prevent shadowing, the more it will help the senior feel secure.

A Healthy Diet. As mentioned above, malnutrition and constipation seem to trigger more Sundowner’s Symptoms. Make sure your senior loved one is eating a well-balanced diet to remain nourished. A high-fiber diet and adequate hydration will help as well. Have dinner early and then offer a light snack before bedtime. Limit caffeine and other stimulant intake during the afternoon and evening hours.

Be Active. Keep your senior busy and active during daylight hours so they begin to feel tired at night. A sedentary lifestyle causes sleep troubles at any age, but seniors and those with Alzheimer’s or dementia are especially prone. Daytime exercise, hobbies and mental stimulation will help to trigger a healthy sleep response.

Familiarity. Use night lights in the bathroom and bedroom at night so they can orient themselves when they wake up. If they are in the hospital or away from home, bring pictures as well as favorite and familiar objects that will lend a sense of security to a new location.

Melatonin. Ask the senior’s healthcare provider about melatonin supplements. Recent studies have shown low doses of melatonin can inhibit the development of Sundowner’s Syndrome, decrease its symptoms, and help patients sleep. In turn, this has seemed to slow down their general cognitive decline.

If your loved one is experiencing Sundowner’s Syndrome, speak to a healthcare professional immediately so you can begin to find what works for your client or loved one.

How to Help a Client or Loved One Avoid the Holiday Blues

While television ads and societal cues tell us the holidays are full of cheer, the reality is that depression rates increase this time of year. Senior citizens are especially prone to holiday blues. Whether your loved one lives alone, or in a senior living community, this season presents several depression triggers, ranging from the biological to psychological.

Decreased sunlight and shorter daylight hours can have a naturally depressive effect on the body. Combined with cabin fever, loneliness, and memories of days gone by, seniors can feel they are the only cheerless humans in a sea of holiday-crazed happy people.

how-to-help-a-client-or-loved-one-avoid-the-holiday-blues

The following tips can help prevent your senior client or loved one from succumbing to the holiday blues.

  1. Light therapy. The first step is to battle the biological triggers for depression that occur around the season and time changes. Our bodies can become depressed when deprived of natural sunlight. This condition has been given a name, Seasonal Affective Disorder, with an appropriate acronym – SAD. Light therapy has been proven to help combat SAD by triggering the same biochemical response caused by natural sunlight. A small light therapy box can sit on the table during breakfast, or while reading the paper. Just 15 to 30 minutes a day is usually sufficient. Talk to the senior’s healthcare provider before starting treatment.
  2. Diet and exercise. Make sure your senior client or loved one is eating well and getting enough exercise. If their exercise routine used to involve daily walks outside, start looking for indoor alternatives. Senior living communities usually offer exercise classes, dance classes, or indoor aquatic exercises. Otherwise, speak with your local senior center to inquire about other options.
  3. Ask and listen. The holidays can bring a mix of feelings for all of us. Many seniors hide their negative feelings because they don’t want to distress their family and friends. If you feel comfortable, ask the senior to share their feelings, sad or otherwise. Let them know you feel holiday nostalgia as well. Then patiently listen. The more you are willing to listen and support their feelings, the more comfortable they will feel opening up.
  4. Bring out the albums. Another way to help seniors process their feelings is to let them tell stories triggered by photos. Take an afternoon or evening to sit down and pour over old photo albums. It’s a wonderful opportunity to spend time outside of the holiday rush and learn more about your clients or relatives interesting lives. We all have stories to tell, and allowing seniors to share theirs can help them process sad or lonely feelings, while they are being kept in good company!
  5. Call more frequently. There is a good chance that you live far away from your aging relatives, in which case their loneliness may be more poignant. Make an effort to call more frequently, send card or flowers, or send your holiday gifts in small batches over the course of a few weeks. This can help them to feel more connected and cherished.
  6. Volunteer. We often think of volunteering for senior citizens. However, able-bodied senior citizens make wonderful volunteers in their own right. They have time on their hands, and there are plenty of community outlets that need help this time of year. Contact organizations like Senior Corps, homeless shelters, or local food banks where you and your senior loved one can lend a helping hand.

These tips can help seniors to remain in better spirits before, during, and after the holidays, allowing them to find the peace and joy this season is all about.

What You Need to Know About Advance Directives

Advance care planning is something that every adult should undertake, regardless of age. Unfortunately, too many adults put it off, assuming they can do it tomorrow, or next week, or in 10 years. The reality is that an unforeseen medical emergency, terminal health diagnosis, or an accident can occur at any time. Advance care planning, which includes an Advance Directive, is a vital step in protecting your family, as well as your own well-being should you become incapacitated or unable to speak for yourself.

what-you-need-to-know-about-advance-directives

Your own advance directive is a very personal and legally binding document (or set of documents) that is set in place to act as your voice when your voice can’t be heard. Situations considered and addressed in an advance directive include:

  • Whether or not you want to be resuscitated and by what means. This may include a form regarding which scenarios you want to be resuscitated, and in which scenarios you do not (requires a DNR order).
  • Do you give permission for your organs and tissue to be donated?
  • The types of life support you are or are not interested in using to sustain your life.
  • The length of time you would want extreme measures to be taken to sustain your life.
  • How you feel about blood transfusions or dialysis.
  • What is your stance on artificial nutrition and artificial hydration?
  • What do you want in terms of comfort care?
  • End-of-life care?
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia care?

While these scenarios are never easy to contemplate, it is significantly easier on your loved ones if you have made this choice before they are faced with very stressful decisions in the event that something should happen to you.

A second part of the advance directive is called a durable power of attorney. This document identifies one person whom you have decided to be your spokesperson at the point where the advance directive would come into play. Choose this person very carefully, and make sure she or he has assured you your wishes will be respected.

How do I create and advance directive?

The first step is to learn all you can about advance directives and the types of information you want included in yours. Once you have decided, it is important that you communicate your wishes with the ones closest to you, such as your spouse, children, and siblings, to ensure they are aware of your wishes and will (hopefully) agree to abide by them.

Once you are ready to draw up the legal advance directive, you can work with an attorney, paralegal, or you can fill out pre-printed advance directive forms yourself. Here is a link to the Advance Healthcare Directive Form for the State of California. When you have completed your advance directive forms, make multiple copies. Unfortunately, if you are in a car accident, medical personnel aren’t going to have access to your advance directive unless or until a loved one provides it. You may want to keep a copy in your glove compartment, purse, briefcase, etc. Also give one to your attorney, family members, and your primary healthcare providers.

If you are living in a retirement community of any kind, provide copies to the administration and/or management personnel. If you use the assistance of a home health care provider, it is a good idea for him or her to have a copy, as well as their employer.

The sooner you take the time to get your advanced care plans in order, the sooner you can rest assured that your wishes will be honored in the event of an unforeseen accident or medical crisis. It can provide peace of mind to you and the ones you love.