7 Signs Your Senior Loved One Requires Additional Help

7 signs your senior loved one requires additional help

Sometimes, seniors experience abrupt shifts that require the implantation of additional help or support – such as a broken hip or a major illness. Other times, the road from “completely independent” to “needing assistance” occurs so gradually, it’s easy to miss the key warning signs until you become a family in crisis.

The best long-term care plans are those that are set up to provide minimal or part-time assistance in the form of driving, errand running, housecleaning, etc., and then scale up as age/health requires it.

Read, Helping Independent Elderly Loved Ones Stay Independent, for more along those lines.

7 Signs It’s Time To Acquire Additional Help

In the meantime, here are 7 key indicators it’s time to rally the troops, bring in outside support and/or create a more focused long-term care plan.

S/he’s more forgetful than usual

At first, forgetfulness is blamed on “senior brain,” and of course, there is some logic to this. However, repeat missed appointments, birthdays, bill payments, prescription refills, hair appointments, etc. are signs that something more is going on.

In addition to pursuing dementia screening by a professional healthcare provider, these 7 signs indicate that someone else (or multiple people) need to be brought in to support and provide additional help with the daily ins-and-outs.

Notable weight loss

Often, elders (with or without dementia) simply stop eating like they used to. Those who live alone can find it laborious to prepare meals every day or may not be able to drive to – or navigate – grocery stores anymore. Sometimes, underlying depression or other health conditions cause a decrease in weight and/or an appetite. Try to identify the cause of the weight loss and then move forward from there.

If shopping or meal preparation is an issue, support can be brought in. If a relative or friend isn’t able to help out with grocery shopping, it might be time to enlist support from senior meal services or a home care provider who can prepare nutritious “ready to heat/eat” meals and snacks.

Visit, Preventing Malnutrition in the Elderly, for ideas on how to support healthy, senior nutrition.

The house is unclean and/or a flat-out disaster

Like meal preparation, housekeeping becomes laborious for those who are weaker, are experiencing vision loss, have mobility issues, are afraid to stand on stepladders, etc. Having a neat, clean and orderly home is essential to senior health. In addition to sanitation issues, a cluttered, messy and/or unmaintained home poses safety risks.

First, do all you can to make the home safer and more accessible for seniors, focusing on steps to make the bathroom safe (it’s the most dangerous room in the house!). Find a reputable housecleaner in the area and help seniors connect with licensed professionals who can perform automatic, routine home maintenance. If you feel cognition is an issue or sense this is the beginning of a decline, a part-time care provider can handle most basic housekeeping and maintenance tasks.

There are notable hygiene issues

Is your once well-coiffed mother now looking more unkempt? Do you notice unpleasant body or poor hygiene-related odors? Feel sure clothing hasn’t been laundered in weeks? Do bed linens and towels appear grungy?

These are all signs that something is amiss – and that “something” can range from general loneliness and depression to full-blown health and/or cognition issues. All are worth a gentle discussion and the sign to look for outside support, assistance, and additional assistance via their physician’s assessment and/or a consultation with a home care provider.

The fridge and pantry contents are minimal to nonexistent

Take a peek into the fridge and pantry contents. If you consistently notice a lack of the basics, fresh fruit, and veggies or tasty, nutritious drinks and snacks – take action. If friends and family aren’t able to do regular grocery runs – and/or you’ve assessed meal prep is an issue – a homecare provider can take up the slack by shopping and preparing meals.

Bills aren’t being paid and/or notable discrepancies in financial statements

Forgetting to pay bills on a consistent basis is a dangerous sign; so, too, are notable discrepancies on financial statements. The former is easy to prevent, establishing automatic bill pay, etc. The former is often a sign of financial elder abuse – ranging from scams to nefarious relatives and “friends.”

Read, Protecting Seniors From Financial Abuse, to learn more about how to prevent, detect and handle signs of financial abuse. Additionally, this is a good time for you and family members to discuss things like Power of Attorney options and advanced directives.

Inexplicable and/or repeat dings, dents and automobile scrapes

Oh, boy. This one is often the most difficult to navigate at all because giving up the keys can seem impossible for many seniors. That being said, their safety – and the safety of others – is a top priority. If you suspect your senior isn’t a safe driver – schedule an appointment with the optometrist. A new prescription may be all s/he needs. If, however, it’s time to give up the keys, visit our post titled, How to Convince a Senior to Give up Driving.

Let Us Supply The Additional Help

Having a difficult time discerning whether or not your parent or senior loved one needs support or additional help? Schedule a consultation with a local home care provider. These no-obligation consults are instrumental in providing experienced, professional assessment, much-needed advice or tips, as well as the creation of a thoughtful, long-term care plan.

Age in Place with a Universal Home Design

age in place with a universal home design

Are you or someone you love interested in aging-in-place. While “aging in place” seems like a contemporary trend, it’s actually a return to the way all of us aged, prior to the post-war era. In the past several decades, both seniors, their families, and their pocketbooks have realized that remaining in a comfortable home, surrounded by the things, people and pets you love most, is often the most desirable scenario for everyone involved. The best way to do this is to create a universal home design.

Not only is aging-in-place proven to improve healing rates, senior mental and emotional health – it’s also considerably more affordable than moving into an assisted living or nursing home facility. When you pair the choice to remain at home – and bring the care to you as needed – and the tenets of universal home design, you create a living space that is entirely dedicated to your safety, comfort, and ease of mobility.

For specific details about universal home design, we recommend visiting the AARP’s article on the subject.

What is a Universal Home Design?

As we mentioned before, the goal of a universal design is to promote safety, comfort, and ease of mobility. In some cases, very little to no construction is required to create a universal design. In others, you may find it’s worthwhile to build an accessibly designed remodel. The latter ensures fixtures and finishes are new, stylish and comply with ADA building codes, all of which can increase the value of the home when/if it is eventually sold down the road.

Also, baby boomers often find a universally-themed remodel allows them to have their parents move in, as well as their own aging-in-place later on, which can collectively save tens of thousands of dollars. You do this by:

Creating a beautiful lighting design

Yes! You might not think of lighting first but lighting designs are an integral part of a remodel and they need to be thought about beforehand to be installed artfully. This includes a range of different lighting types:

  • Windows and skylights for ample daylighting. Not only does this keep electrical costs down during the day, it also helps to preserve human circadian rhythm, which will help to ease the daily rhythms for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
  • Plenty of task-lights set on dimmers. Artificial lighting should be warm, bright and task-oriented to improve visibility for senior eyes once the sun goes down – and ambient light creates attractive night lighting in the bathrooms and kitchen.
  • Floodlights and outdoor lighting. All of the exterior entrances and immediate outdoor areas should be well-illuminated using floods and other outdoor lighting sources. Special emphasis should be placed on ramps, stairways, walkways, and paths.
  • Motion-sensitive lighting. Motion-sensitive lights are always a bonus, set at certain times to ensure lights turn on when a senior enters a room or opens an exterior door, even if s/he forgets to turn on the switch.

Grab bars at all toilets, bathroom and shower areas

Grab bars are a tenet of senior bathroom safety because the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house – it’s hard, slippery and provides minimal room for comfortable maneuvering. Grab bars should be installed next to the toilet and within easy reach of bath and shower areas, as well as inside the bath or shower.

Flooring that’s compatible with mobility aids

Almost all seniors wind up using some form of mobility aid as they age. For this reason, universal designs automatically focus on flooring that is easy for canes, walkers, and wheelchairs to traverse. Typically, this involves a combination of linoleum (which is softer than tile or hardwood but comes in amazing luxurious patterns these days) and low-profile carpet.

Room to move around

This includes doorways, hallways, the space between the kitchen island and perimeter cabinets, the tables, and chairs, inside the bathroom, etc. Most universal designs will allow at least 38-inches or more so those with a walker or wheelchair can easily get around without having to constantly shimmy, lift, squeeze or reshuffled chairs and other furnishings.

Cabinets, drawers, and faucets that are easy to operate

Small doors and handles that need to be gripped are more difficult to operate when hands are weak and/or arthritis. A universal design eliminates this risk by using bar-style pulls and handles, and easy-lever faucets (or touch-sensitive faucets) to ensure seniors never have a problem accessing their drawers, cupboards, sinks, baths/showers, etc.

Smartly designed storage

Universal designs are often referred to as “accessible.” Not surprisingly, storage areas in kitchens, baths, and hallways are often inaccessible – particularly if they require a fair amount of bending, getting down on hands and knees, getting onto stepladders and so on. Instead, functional storage puts the things you use most within easy reach and utilizes things like pull-out shelving, pull-down racks, and lazy Susans to make cupboards and storage closets safer and more efficient.

As we mentioned before, a simple home rearranging and a few accommodations may be all your home needs to be more accessible. Or, if more significant work is required (like the installation of ramps, railings, new flooring, etc.), it’s worth considering a full, universally designed remodel. The combination of funds saved by aging-in-place, and the increased resale value, will make your new, accessible home well-worth the investment.

Holiday Inspired Mocktail and Cocktail Recipes

Looking for some fun, holiday-inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes for your senior loved ones and/or other family members? Look no further. We have some recipes and references for the hosts/entertainers in the family.

Serve Delicious Mocktail and Cocktail Magic at Your Holiday Feast

There are plenty of reasons senior loved-ones may not be allowed to drink alcohol. From recovering alcoholics and those with dementia, to seniors with dietary restrictions that eliminate alcohol – it’s easy for loved ones and friends to feel left out during holiday toasts.

Fortunately, the following holiday-inspired cocktail recipes are easily converted into mocktails so nobody feels left out of the fun. Even the kids can enjoy their mocktails, without any of the alcohol.

 

Cranberry Margaritas

These cranberry margaritas from gimmesomeoven.com are a host(ess)’s dream. Not only can they be prepared in advance, you can mix whole pitchers at a time without the alcohol so guests can serve themselves. Those who want the alcoholic version can have a shot of the tequila and a splash of Triple Sec added and stirred into their cup.

The recipe includes:

  • Cranberries
  • Tequila
  • Fresh lime juice
  • An orange liqueur (like Triple Sec)
  • Fresh cranberries and lime wedges for garnish
  • Salt for the glass rims

For non-alcoholic batches simply leave out the Tequila and add a splash of fresh-squeezed orange or tangerine juice.

Once your guests arrive – salt the glass rims, fill them with ice, poor the mock/cocktails and garnish with cranberries to float on top and a slice of lime on the rim.

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

Apple Pie Punch (great iced or hot)

Here’s another one that can be mixed up ahead of time (yahoo!) and is easy to “sneak” as a mocktail. This recipe comes to us via thecookierookie.com.

You’ll need:

  • One ripe apple, sliced into thin, lengthwise slices
  • Apple cider
  • Pear nectar (cans of Kearns are typically on the juice aisles of the grocery store)
  • Ginger Ale
  • Apple Pie Vodka

Just like the Cranberry margaritas, this can be mixed ahead of time and single, 1.5 oz shots of the vodka can be added to those who want them. This punch can be served as an iced-beverage, with an apple slice on the edge, or as a hot punch (heated up on the stove in a pan and ladled) with a slice of apple in the mug.

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

Pumpkin Pie Martini (and guess what? They’re low-carb!)

What good would holiday-inspired mocktails be if we didn’t include a little pumpkin? Martinis are a favorite of the senior set, and these pumpkin pie flavored versions will be a hit with the millennials too!

We found this recipe on alldayidreamaboutfood.com and everyone will be a fan of their low-carb attributes – which are great for any diabetics in the group.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

Rimming sugar: finely ground pecans, Swerve sweetener, ground cinnamon

  • Vanilla Vodka (or a splash of vanilla for the mocktail crowd)
  • Soda water (for the mocktails)
  • Dark rum
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Heavy cream
  • Swerve sweetener
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground Ginger
  • Ground nutmeg

Each one is mixed in a cocktail mixer and shaken with ice, poured into a glass that’s pre-coated with the scrumptious Rimming Sugar. The mocktail versions are made using sparkling water to make up the vodka/rum difference – along with a splash of vanilla for extra flavor. Cheers!

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

The Perfect Holiday Drink that can be Made as a Mocktail and Cocktail

We’ll conclude with one of our staff favorites, called The Perfect Thanksgiving Drink, shared by ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com. In addition to ease, the most striking thing about this drink is that you can make it in your clear, party-sized, water/iced tea dispenser used to serve cold beverages during the summer months.

In this case, the jugs – one with alcohol and one without – can be set atop your buffet or island bar top for a beautiful, colorful, serve-yourself drink station.

For this one, you’ll need:

  • Your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine
  • Sparkling cider, for the non-alcoholic crowd
  • Your choice of fizzy, lemon-lime soda (Sprite, Sierra Mist, 7-Up, etc.)
  • Cans of frozen, cranberry concentrate
  • A bag of fresh cranberries

Once you’ve mixed the ingredients together, you can put them in your drink dispenser with plenty of ice and get ready for lots of compliments.

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

Does your senior loved one have a favorite cocktail they can no longer have as the result of their medical diagnosis, dementia or other health issue? You can easily make mocktail and cocktail beverages this holiday! The internet is a wonderful resource for finding non-alcoholic alternatives that can make all the difference in a senior’s ability to “maintain their preferred routine.”

The owners and staff at Bay Area-based HomeAide Home Care wish you and your family a wonderful holiday. Don’t hesitate to call us if you need respite care services over this upcoming holiday weekend or to learn more about the ways we can ensure your senior loved ones receive compassionate and experienced care while you’re out of town or away for a while.

The Benefits of Hiring a Licensed Home Care Agency

the benefits of hiring a licensed home care agency

Home care comes in a variety of forms – from spouses and family members, to friends or acquaintances looking for a way to make extra money, to both a unlicensed and licensed home care agency.

When your loved one requires home care, outside the realm of spouse and immediate family circle – whether that be for respite care, or on a more regular or day-to-day basis – it is always in your best interest to work with licensed home care providers.

What Does Licensed Home Care Agency Mean?

As a means of ensuring education, training and experience – as well as protecting clients from elder abuse – the state of California has created licensing and/or certification boards that govern the home care industry. The Home Care Bureau of California is one such example of this. Working with agencies registered with third-party, industry-recognized entities helps to validate that:

  • Home care providers are licensed
  • The individual caregivers are current in their education, training and industry best practices
  • That caregivers have been screened and passed complete background checks and DMV clearance
  • The any disputes against the agency have been investigated and settled
  • That you are protected and have a means of following through if care is negligible or lacking in any way
  • The agency and caregivers are subject to unannounced visits to ensure the environment they create and the care they provide meet or exceed state standards

When scheduling a consultation with a particular home care provider – whether private or working with an agency – ask for their license number and check it with the governing agency to verify it is both legitimate and current.

The Benefits of Working With a Licensed Home Care Agency

Above and beyond safety, professionalism and accountability – there are other benefits to working with a licensed home care agency:

Education paired with experience

The home care industry is attuned to the latest research and innovations when it comes to seniors and memory care. As a result, licensed agencies are more likely to keep on the latest research by attending and/or sending their employees to classes, conferences and training sessions to keep abreast of the latest-and-greatest caregiving techniques and information. This benefits clients and helps your loved one to receive the best, most relevant care for his/her situation.

You won’t be left in the lurch

If you hire a single, private home caregiver, you can wind up left in the lurch if s/he is sick, a child is sick or a family emergency arises. A  licensed home care agency has access to multiple, licensed care providers so you’ll never be left with an appointment to cancel, having to take additional time off work or with the stress that a long-distance parent or loved one is left without care.

Costs are more likely to be absorbed by Medicare and/or health insurance carriers

Did you know many aspects of home health care are covered by insurance companies, including Medicare, MediCal and/or the Veterans Affairs Administration, depending on the client’s diagnosis and prognosis?

If a client is unable to attend appointments or tend to their own care as a result of being home- or bed-bound – you may find certain aspects of their home care is partially- or fully subsidized. However, these insurance carriers almost always require care be provided by a licensed home care provider or agency.

Employee taxes, benefits and insurance are taken care of

Odds are your caregiver pays taxes and is interested in healthcare insurance, social security and/or some other type of retirement benefit. This can add several dollars per hour to the amount you pay each shift. A reputable licensed home care agency will build these benefits into their payroll so they take on these responsibilities without you having to worry about it. We have access to more affordable, shared-cost benefit options for small- and medium business owners that an individual hiring a caregiver would not have the ability to tap into.

Caregivers are available on short notice

Optimally, we prefer to meet for a full, in-home assessment and consultation before contracting with an individual client. However, life doesn’t always pan out “optimally.” Just as you’ll never be without care if your normal care provider isn’t available, a licensed home care agency has caregivers available on short-term notice if/when you find yourself needing a break or have another emergency that will take you away from your loved one for a day, a night, or even extended periods of time.

HomeAide Home Care, Inc. is a licensed home care agency servicing Alameda County and the surrounding Bay Area. Our team of licensed, experienced and compassionate caregivers have decades of experience and view their work as a joy and a calling. Contact us to learn more about our services or to schedule a consultation. We believe, “there’s no place like home,” and feel confident our loving caregivers are second to none.

Veterans Affairs Benefits Reduce Home Care Costs

veterans affairs benefits reduce home care costs

The good news is that home care costs are far less than the charges associated with assisted living or nursing home facilities. That being said, someone still has to foot the bill for high-quality home care– and that can be difficult for seniors living on a fixed income. Veterans Affairs benefits could be the untapped funding source you need to get the home care assistance you want.

After reviewing the following information, you can contact the Veterans Administration directly via their VA’s Caregiver Support Line —1-855-260-3274.

Veterans Affairs Benefits May Cover a Portion of Home Care Costs

The Veterans Affairs Administration (VA) offers a range of services for veterans with family caregivers. These services run the gamut from free or very low-cost adult day care agencies in your area to home-based care, depending on the individual’s needs.

If you prefer to receive care at home, helping senior loved ones remain more independent, the VA can help with that as well. Currently, some of the home care services supported by the VA include:

Home Care Aide & Housekeeping Services

Does your veteran senior loved one have a hard time keeping up with basic daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, housekeeping, meal preparation, etc.?  All of these services and more can be provided by a licensed home care aide.

In addition to these basic services, home care aides can also serve as:

  • Companions
  • Drivers
  • Errand runners
  • Medication reminders
  • Bill payers
  • Home organizers
  • Pet walkers and caregivers
  • And more

You can Click Here to read more about the typical services included in home care services.

Skilled Home Care

For some seniors, getting out of the home independently is impossible, not to mention exhausting. The alternative would be hospitalization or long-term rehabilitation, yet this takes individuals out of the comfort zone of their home, as well as away from the people and things they love most. As a result, both Medicare and the VA offer financial compensation for skilled care to be brought into the home.

Skilled home care is most often administered by CNAs, LVNs, and RNs and covers things like:

  • Intraperitoneal Nutrition (IPN)
  • Wound care
  • Catheter care
  • Administration of prescription medications
  • Injections
  • IV care
  • Assessment and management of health care plan

Often, skilled home care providers and home care aides work together to provide more comprehensive care for veterans with medical concerns that need to be treated on a regular basis.

Respite Care Services

In many case, the primary caregiver is a spouse or family member. Full-time caregiving is physically and emotionally demanding. If outside help is unavailable, primary family caregivers eventually burn out. In addition to compromising their own well-being, burned out caregivers are unable to provide quality care to their loved one. Respite care is the solution to this all-to-common problem.

Respite care can be offered on a one-time basis, or it can be provided on a weekly or daily basis to allow primary caregivers a chance to have some time off.  The service provides full-time caregivers the chance to attend important social, religious or family events, observe necessary medical appointments, take a little time for much-deserved self-care and so on.

Read, Arranging Breaks From Family Caregiving, to learn more about respite care services.

Home Hospice Care

Hospice care is an amazing service, allowing those with  a terminal diagnosis the ability to end their life at home or in a designated hospice care community, as comfortably and peacefully as possible. While hospice care is provided on a regular basis, it is not a full-time service. As a result, many families find it necessary to use a combination of hospice care, family caregivers and/or home care aides in order to take more comprehensive care of their loved one.

How Do We Qualify for Veterans Affairs Benefits?

All veterans qualify for these services. However, certain services may require the referral or “prescription” from the senior’s primary healthcare provider and/or a VA physician. We recommend contacting the Veterans Affairs benefits representatives to find out what is required for your specific situation.

Once you’ve found out what you qualify for, begin scheduling consultations with local, qualifying home care agencies. These consultations give you and the client a chance to get a feel for various approaches so you can select the home care providers you feel most comfortable with. Agency representatives can also provide assistance and insight as you work with the VA, Medicare and/or personal health insurance providers to help with the financial aspects of home care.

Interested in learning more about home care services in the Bay Area? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care. We’ve provided high-quality, licensed home care to seniors in and around the San Francisco and Oakland Bay areas for decades.

What is the Home Care Bureau of California?

what is the home care bureau of california

It’s not easy to choose the best home care provider for your loved one. There are many factors to consider, including cost, experience, the services required and – of course – the legitimacy of the care provided. The Home Care Services Bureau of California is a state-run agency, dedicated to ensuring professional home care agencies and providers are educated, trained and qualified to provide care. The bureau operates under the umbrella of CA’s Department of Social Services.

We recommend using their search registry to verify the licensing of any home care aide working on behalf of yourself or a senior loved one.

What does the Home Care Bureau of California Do?

In addition to verifying the qualifications and credentials of professional home health care aides, the Home Care Bureau of California:

  • Processes applications and administers licenses to home care agencies and caregivers.
  • Maintains the state’s home care aide registry.
  • Ensures licensees have completed the criminal background check process administered by the California Department of Social Services.
  • Requires re-registering every two years to ensure licensing and criminal background information is current.
  • Receives and responds to complaints from clients or other members of the public about home care aides and/or agencies.
  • Performs unannounced visits to ensure an agency and/or caregiver is in compliance with state codes and regulations.
  • Maintains records regarding complaints and violations for up to five years.

Use the Home Care Bureau’s Search Function to Verify the Legitimacy of Home Care Aides (HCA)

Before meeting with any home health care agency or home care aide for a consultation, we recommend getting his or her:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Personnel Identification Number

This information is required to access the Home Care Aid Registry Search Function. There is no use spending time interviewing, getting into contract with or creating a relationship with caregivers who do not meet the state’s criteria.

The Home Care Bureau Also Provides Resources and Support for both Caregivers, Clients and Family

In addition to promoting the professionalism, integrity and quality of home health care, the Home Care Bureau also provides a wealth of information, resources and support for both caregivers, their clients and/or client family members.

The Home Care Bureau of California offers links to:

  • Search the home care registry. As mentioned above, this search will let you know whether prospective caregiver(s) is licensed. It only costs $25 to apply to the registry, which shouldn’t prohibit any qualified representatives from becoming members of the registry. In most cases, legitimate home care agencies cover these costs for employees who pass their screening requirements.
  • Find licensed community care facilities. For seniors who require adult day care or memory care, community care facilities and home care organizations are lifesavers. These services are significantly more affordable than the costs associated with traditional assisted living or nursing home facilities.For example: Click Here to search for a home care organization in your area. Then search via county or zip code. To find HomeAide Home Care, you can simply select “Alameda” from the dropdown county list, and then click the “Search” tab. There you’ll find us – in alphabetical order – located on page 3. You can then click, “View” to the right of the organization for more information.In our case, you’ll see that we have zero citations and zero complaints – something we are very proud of.
  • The ability to contact a social services agency if needed. In most cases, this wouldn’t be necessary unless you are need to file a complaint or reporting suspected elder or client abuse. Just as the Child Protective Services investigates complaints of child abuse or neglect, the Adult Protective Services investigates cases where adult abuse and/or neglect is suspected.

Schedule a Consultation with an Agency Licensed with the Home Care Bureau of California

Are you interested in learning more about home care services for someone you love? Contact HomeAide Home Care to schedule a free, in home consultation and assessment. These are no-obligation visits, giving us a chance to speak with you about your concerns and how we can be of service. We are fully licensed and all of our caregivers have been thoroughly vetted via complete criminal background checks and DMV reports. We offer part-time, full-time and respite care services, and our compassionate touch can be a welcome augmentation to existing skilled nursing care.

We’re also happy to advise you as to lifestyle changes and basic home reorganization that will make your loved one’s living space safer and more accessible.

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.

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.

Helping Independent Elderly Loved Ones Stay Independent

 

helping independent elderly loved ones stay independent

While our culture celebrates the wisdom of our elders, their wisdom is often negated when they wind up feeling more like a child as the result of physical deficiencies or the loss of their independence. This loss of mobility, ability, friends and loved ones and a sense of autonomy often leads to depression, loneliness, and anxiety. And, who wants their independent elderly loved ones to feel that?

Independent Elderly Loved Ones Are Happier

So, the trick becomes coming up with health and safety-oriented changes that continue to foster a sense of autonomy and empowerment.

Here are five ways to help your independent elderly loved ones remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible:

  1. Let them stay at home. Unless the senior is voluntarily moving to a retirement or assisted living facility, trying to force their hand is a dangerous game. Take into consideration that the National Institute on Aging states, There is No Place Like Home – For Growing Old. Facilitating a safe way for seniors to age in place is one of the most cost-effective and emotionally rewarding things you can do for parents, grandparents and other seniors. According to Financial Advisor Magazine home-based care is more affordable than both nursing home and assisted living facility options.
  2. Create a safe living environment. Fall prevention is essential for a healthy senior life. Diminished vision, brittle bones and lack of balance are a recipe for trip-and-fall disasters, many of which lead to expensive and debilitating surgeries. If seniors live in a multi-story home, move their bedroom to the first floor so their life revolves around a safe, single level.
  3. Keep them mobile. As we age, balance becomes more of an issue. Eyesight and hearing start to diminish along with muscle mass and bone density. Regular exercise is instrumental in keeping seniors fit, active and as physically strong as possible. Studies also show that it is good for overall mental and emotional well-being. Senior centers, yoga studios and local gyms offer fitness programs and classes tailored to seniors. Visit these places with your loved one to find the right fit. Also, research and invest in the right mobility aid(s) before they are absolutely essential. The more familiar and comfortable a senior is with a cane, walker or another form of aid, the easier it will be to implement it into their life when needed.
  4. Invest in pre-made meals. Preparing and cooking food is no easy feat and the lack of good meals takes a disastrous toll on a senior’s physical and cognitive health. There are several options for seniors who no longer want to cook. Meal delivery services, like Schwans, offer door to door service, providing a wide range of tasty foods, meals, and desserts that are flash frozen and easily prepared. You can order food online to be delivered anywhere in the county. Meals on Wheels is another option, which delivers prepared foods once a day to the senior’s door. In-home care providers often offer meal preparation as a part of their service menu and this is a good way to have a homecare provider get their foot in the door – providing meals, light cleaning, transportation and so on, setting the stage for when more regular care and assistance might be required.
  5. Provide transportation. One of the greatest losses of independence occurs when a senior can no longer drive. For many, this is the beginning of a home-bound life that shouldn’t be! From transportation offered by local senior centers to public buses and dial-a-ride services, there are plenty of options. Again, many in-home care providers offer transportation as a service and a friendly caregiver can be scheduled as many times a week as senior clients like, ensuring they don’t miss out on favorite games, hobbies, movies, church services, restaurants and other social events.

Is it time to make a few changes that will establish a greater sense of independence in your elderly loved one’s life? Schedule a FREE in-home assessment with HomeAide Home Care. We’ve provided all manner of in-home caregiving services for independent elderly loved ones in the Bay Area for almost two decades.

Preventing Bedsores

preventing bedsores

Whether your senior loved one has recently experienced a trip and fall injury, is recovering from a lingering illness or has become more sedentary, preventing bedsores should be a top priority.

When seniors live on their own, without access to a caregiver or home healthcare provider, they are more at risk of developing bedsores that go unnoticed. Once established, these seemingly harmless sores can become quite serious and can lead to death.

Understanding what bedsores are and learning now to prevent and treat them is one of the best things you can do to keep your senior healthy and comfortable.

Know What To Look For: Preventing Bedsores And Treating Them

Many people are under the false assumption that bed sores, also called pressure ulcers or pressure sores, are only a threat for those who are bedridden. This is not the case. Anyone spending the majority of their time in a seated, reclined or prone position is at risk for developing bedsores.

Lack of mobility, depression, malnourishment, dehydration – all are common side effects of growing old, and all can lead to the sedentary lifestyle that eventually causes bedsores.

These pressure sores are caused when hidden pressure points – the base of the tailbone, spinal column, “sitting bones”, hips, ankles, and shoulders – make contact with a chair or bed. A caregiver can be oblivious to these ulcerations, even when they visit every day because bedsores are often covered by clothing, robes or dressing gowns.

Here are some facts you may not know about bedsores:

  • They are not a side effect of a hospital or nursing home stay. Bedsores can happen just as easily at home.
  • You don’t have to be completely bedbound- or chair-ridden to develop bedsores. Occasional mobility, even multiple trips to go to the bathroom or shower, is not enough to prevent their development.
  • Bedsores develop quickly. Regular checks are imperative to catch potential offenders as soon as possible.
  • In most cases, bedsores are NOT an indicator of negligent or abusive caregiving. If you notice bedsores on your watch, it’s a sign that you are doing your job.

A complaint about physical discomfort is often the first sign of bedsores. However, once bedsores are established, they damage nerve tissue and will no longer be felt.

When preventing bedsores make sure:

  • Seating and resting areas are well-padded.
  • If a senior is bedridden, use pressure relief mattresses or pads that protect pressure points from the continuous pressure that leads to bedsores.
  • Seniors change position on a regular basis and assist them if necessary.
  • Reduce the friction created during position changes.
  • They are wearing soft clothing and soft bedding
  • Seniors are eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water

There are four stages to bedsore development:

Stage 1. The area will feel sore and may appear pink or red. When you press the area, it will not lighten or blanch. Skin is still intact. At this stage, it’s important to relieve pressure entirely and keep a close watch. If it doesn’t improve in 24 to 48 hours, call a doctor.

Stage 2. The area may look blistered or skin may be missing or broken. Seek medical attention immediately.

Stage 3: By now, an ulcer has formed. It may look like a crater. You may notice yellow skin at the bottom and fatty tissue may be exposed. Seek medical attention immediately!

Stage 4. Dark tissue may be visible and sometimes bone and connective tissues are exposed. Seek medical attention immediately!

The cure for uninfected bedsores is as simple as position changes every 15-minutes while they heal. In more serious cases, you may need to clean them, provide fresh dressings and administer antibiotics. Of course, your senior loved one’s comfort and well-being is the top priority. If you are able to keep bedsores under control, you may want to work with a home healthcare provider and their doctor for further pain prevention and tips for keeping your loved one comfortable.