Protecting Seniors From Financial Abuse

protecting seniors from financial abuse

According to the American Banking Association, seniors control more than 70% of the nation’s wealth. Unfortunately, that statistic combined with the vulnerabilities inherent in the aging process (living alone, cognitive decline, inability to hear/understand things clearly, etc.), make the senior population particularly vulnerable to financial abuse.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to prevent this insidious form of elder abuse, to keep precious seniors and their financial assets safe, and protecting seniors from criminals.

Tips For Protecting Seniors Finances

Have conversations about finances, future plans, and financial fraud

For many households, the subject of finances is considered private or taboo. Unfortunately, keeping this subject in the dark makes it easier for senior financial abuse to take place without anyone being the wiser until it’s too late.

If you’re comfortable, have a family meeting with senior loved ones and broach this subject honestly and directly. Reviewing something like Investopedia’s 10 Tips to Avoid Common Financial Scams, is a general and safe place to start.

Since isolation and cognitive decline (dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.) make seniors more vulnerable, check in regularly or help out with tracing bill payments and pay attention to any “new” friends or companions that seem suspicious.

You can also read, Difficult Topics with Family Members, for tips on protecting seniors and addressing the spectrum of things that come up as our loved one’s age.

Provide financial planners and brokers with a trusted contact

The bulk of many seniors’ retirement accounts and financial assets are held or monitored by their financial planners or brokers. That’s why the new Finra rule, requiring brokers to get the name of a “trusted contact” is a smart move and one that should help to stop financial elder abuse – or at least red flag it – before it has dramatic consequences.

This law ensures that any unusual or dramatic financial moves made by a client (either a fraud acting as the client OR the client acting in compliance with a financial criminal) are brought to the attention of the “trusted contact” for evaluation and assessment.

Make sure all of your senior’s accounts have a “trusted contact” named on them to protect their interests.

Never provide SS# or sensitive information over the phone or online

There is only one time where seniors can provide their SS# or sensitive, financial information over the phone – if THEY initiated the call. If anyone ever calls and asks for that type of information over the phone, regardless of how credible the caller seems, the senior should politely hang up and then call their bank, credit card company (or whichever company said they called) to speak to a representative and verify the information requested originated from them, and not a fraud.

Have seniors choose a power of attorney

Having a Power of Attorney (POA) in place is an immediate advantage if you suspect or detect financial abuse has occurred. POAs are also helpful for communicating with your parent’s doctor or scenarios where medical directives need to be implemented.

Take advantage of free credit checks

Free credit checks are available annually (freecreditcheck.com) as well as through most banking and credit card agencies. Take advantage of this easy opportunity to see if any unusual or unfamiliar activity has taken place so it can be addressed.

Trust your instincts and verify information from trusted loved ones

Some of the most successful scams out there rely on tugging on heartstrings (a grandson in jail requiring bail or a favorite niece needing money because she’s stranded on a vacation) and wiring money that becomes untraceable. For this reason, seniors should always trust their instincts and tell the caller they need to verify information – asking them for a return number. In real life, this is reasonable; in fraud life, they’ll be told it isn’t possible to call them back or the caller will become high-pressure or belligerent – all signs the caller is a criminal.

By taking a moment to verify facts and check in with a trusted family member, elders are less likely to be taken advantage of.

Never hire unlicensed home care aids or agencies

Unfortunately, financial abuse is most likely to come from those who have close contact and proximity with a vulnerable senior. Only hire licensed caregivers and agencies, preferably working for a licensed, experienced, reputable agency. Make sure they have passed background checks and check in regularly so you’re able to suss out if anything unusual or suspicious is going on.

Warning Signs Of Financial Fraud Against Seniors

Some of the warning signs seniors are being abused financially or are at higher risk of becoming victims of financial fraud include:

  • Mental or financial frailty (this puts them at major risk)
  • Living alone
  • A relative or new friend appears out of the woodwork and is suspiciously invested in taking care of or spending time with your loved one.
  • Increased mail or calls requesting donations for organizations you’re not familiar with or have never heard them speak about in the past (can indicate they’ve donated money and are now on a shared list)
  • Their bank account is overdrawn and/or credit cards are maxed out for no obvious reason

Any one of these is cause for alarm and for further investigation.

Worried your loved one may be vulnerable or lacks the cognitive ability to manage his/her own finances and daily responsibilities? HomeAide Home Care is a licensed, homecare agency, specializing in protecting seniors and keeping them in the comfort of their home. Contact us for a free, in-home consultation and we’ll help you create a safe and secure long-term plan for your loved one.

Seniors Should Have Fun In The Sun…Safely

seniors should have fun in the sun safely

As seniors age, lifestyles can become more sedentary and this isn’t good for the body or the brain. Getting outside and having fun in the sun is a healthy way for seniors to be active, enjoy natural daylighting to keep their circadian rhythm in sync, and to get a natural dose of vitamin D.

5 Safety Tips To Enjoy Outdoor Life With Senior Loved Ones

That being said, a few safety tips are worth noting to prevent heat stress, sunburn, dehydration and other scenarios that take the fun right out of the sun if you’re not careful.

Keep indoors during peak sun time

The UV rays are strongest between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. In general, it’s best to be outdoors before or after those hours to minimize the risk of sunburn or heat-related illness. If your area tends to be hotter in the later afternoon, it’s worth it to stay indoors until things cool off a bit.

If it’s too difficult to get outside during heatwaves, open the blinds and shades a bit to fill living spaces with natural light (important for keeping circadian rhythms in sync and to improve nighttime sleep habits) and create an indoor exercise routine that recreates the same level of physical activity would have experienced if you were outdoors.

Use sun protection

When you do spend time outside, try to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. It only takes about 10 minutes or so of direct natural sunlight to catalyze Vitamin D synthesis. This is easy to achieve – even in dappled shade. So, as much as possible – use sun protection in the form of:

  • Avoiding peak sun hours
  • Hats
  • Full-coverage sunglasses to protect the eyes
  • Loose, light-colored, light-material long-sleeve shirts and pants
  • Sunscreen (being careful to avoid allergic reactions on seniors’ sensitive skin)
  • Keeping mostly to covered and shaded area

Sun protection minimizes the chances of heatstroke and also reduces the risk of dehydration so you are able to have fun in the sun.

Bring plenty of water or other chilled beverages

Seniors are particularly prone to dehydration for multiple reasons, including medication side effects as well as decreased thirst signaling from the brain. Bring plenty of cool water (including a slice of lemon, cucumber and/or mint makes it more appealing) or another favorite, chilled beverage to have on hand. Encourage occasional sips to prevent the risk of dehydration. Read our post, Encouraging Fluids… for tips on that topic.

Keep a first-aid kit handy

Our skin becomes thin once we’re older, and certain prescription medications and health conditions also contribute to thinning or more sensitive skin. As a result, seniors are particularly prone to cuts, scrapes, and bruises from direct contact objects that wouldn’t have any negative effect on you or a younger caregiver or companion.

Even a small first-aid kit will ensure you have what you need if an arm scrapes against the side of a fence, or the back of a hand is cut while smelling the neighbor’s roses. Keep a few Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, and a small packet of anti-bacterial ointment in your backpack or small purse. You can purchase small-ready made first-aid kits at most drugstores or online.

Know the signs of heat illness

Seniors are less likely to show signs of heat illness until it’s too late because they are more immune to the symptoms of overheating or may not sweat as profusely. Any sign of heat illness means you should get the senior indoors, in a cool space and assess the situation. If you aren’t sure how severe it is, call 9-1-1 or drive him/her immediately to urgent care for professional medical evaluation.

Signs of heat illness include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps

More severe heat illness leads to:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Lack of sweat
  • Chills

Fun In The Sun Is Possible

Again, avoiding the hottest times of the day, using adequate sun protection and keeping seniors hydrated is the best way to eliminate the risk of heat illness.

Are you afraid your senior loved one spends too much time indoors, and not enough time having fun in the sun? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care and schedule a free consultation. Our companion and home care aides are happy to come by as little or as much as you like to accompany your loved one outdoors, on walks or to favorite outings – while ensuring they’re kept safe, hydrated and well-nourished.

Encouraging Fluids To Prevent Dehydration

encouraging fluids to prevent dehydration

Prevent dehydration by encouraging fluid intake and finding delicious water-only alternatives is a great way to give a little extra TLC to senior loved ones in your life. Senior dehydration is a common health issue, particularly during the summer months when hotter temperatures lead to more sweating and moisture loss. And heat-related illnesses and fatalities are most likely to occur for those 65-years and older.

Dehydration is also one of the top reasons seniors are admitted to the hospital each year and can contribute to urinary tract infections, which are often asymptomatic in the senior population and can show up with dementia-like symptoms that are worrisome for all involved.

Prevent Dehydration In Seniors

In addition to sedentary lifestyles or conditions like dementia, which trick the body’s natural “thirst” urges, many of the medications taken by seniors compound the issue.

Additional reasons seniors are more prone to dehydration include:

  • The older we get, the ability for our bodies to recognize heat changes diminishes
  • Certain health conditions, including the inability to communicate or incontinence, lead to more severe dehydration
  • Body water content decreases with age
  • Elderly individuals seem to experience diminished thirst, even though they may need even more water than when they were younger
  • Underlying health conditions can make seniors less heat tolerant

The more you can do to get seniors to intake fluids, the better off they will be.

Tips For Getting Seniors To Consume More Fluids

Loved ones and caregivers should use some of the following tips to increase fluid intake and prevent dehydration for their senior loved ones.

Address any existing incontinence issues

Seniors struggling to acknowledge incontinence issues may intentionally avoid drinking in order to avoid embarrassing accidents. Adult disposable underwear/briefs have come a long way in the past couple of decades and can’t be detected underneath clothing. Have a courageous conversation and purchase a few sample products to help your loved one find the adult disposable underwear that is the most comfortable for him/her. The ability to remain confident about toileting makes it possible to drink without fear or embarrassment.

Use a timer app on your smartphone or gadget

Use the timer app on a smartphone or gadget, set to go off at particular intervals during the day – perhaps every 30-minutes to an hour. When the timer goes off, it’s time to sip some water, drink a cup of tea or enjoy a smoothie or a glass of sparkling juice.

NOTE: Smoothies are easy to make (Ensures are good too) and, in addition to providing hydration, they also provide loads of healthy vitamins and minerals for seniors who don’t have an appetite or who eat on the lighter side.

Prevent dehydration with delicious drink options readily available

For some of us, water is manna from heaven when we’re thirsty – but that’s not the case for all. Keep plenty of drink options on hand so you can offer something appealing. And, don’t forget that a wedge of lemon or lime, a slice or two of cucumber, a small chunk of watermelon or a sprig of fresh mint can add a nice pop to a plain glass of ice water.

Other examples include:

  • Sparkling water (both plain and flavored)
  • Flavored Iced Teas (decaffeinated if caffeine is a no-no)
  • Chocolate milk (with fat content selected depending on the senior’s recommended diet)
  • Fresh fruit juice (add sparkling water to make a healthy version of a flavored soda)
  • Sports drinks (use in moderation to minimize sugar intake)

Read, Holiday Inspired Mocktails and Cocktails for more ideas to serve delicious, non-alcoholic drinks that are cool and refreshing.

Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Fluids come in all different forms, not just in a glass but also in fruits and vegetables. Fruit popsicles are so delicious and appealing in the summer months, especially for seniors who take medications known to cause dry mouth or persistent thirst. On the flip side, seniors who prefer savory to sweet may appreciate sipping a cup of broth – veggie, beef or chicken – which also offers protein and nutrients.

Have beverages at the ready

The to-go cup market has made it easier than ever for seniors and their caregivers to have insulated hot and/or cold beverages at the ready. Better yet, with the “sippy cup” and straw options most of these cups utilize, the cups also minimize spills and make it easier for seniors to sip.

Put them around the house – on the nightstand by the bed, on the side table next to a favorite chair or couch spot, on the kitchen table, loaded and ready to go in the fridge, etc. The more accessible the beverages are, the more likely seniors are to sip regularly, without the hassle of needing to get up or prepare anything.

Experiment with temperatures

Finally, sensitivity to cold and hot beverages changes with age. You may find iced beverages are too cold for comfort or that hot beverages need to cool for longer than they used to in order for your loved one to find drinks palatable. Room temperature beverages may now be a preference. Experiment with a variety of beverages at different temperatures (maybe even warming fruit juice a bit!) to see if that makes seniors more eager to drink.

Worried about a senior loved one who lives alone and may not be able to take of him/herself as well as s/he used to? Contact HomeAide Home Care to schedule a free consultation. Even something as simple as a regular check-in from one of our licensed home care aides can ensure your loved one has access to plenty of tasty fluids as well as nourishing foods on hand in order to prevent dehydration.

How to Convince a Senior to Give Up Driving

how to convince a senior to give up driving

Relinquishing the car keys is understandably one of the hardest things a senior ever has to do. It is at once an acknowledgment and acceptance that life is no longer the same, and that an individual no longer has complete control over his/her life.

As hard as the decision may be, it is ultimately better to come to an agreement with a senior that it’s time to give up driving than it is for them to have an accident that forces the hand for them – often at the expense of their own/others’ welfare.

5 Strategies for Convincing a Senior it’s Time to Give Up Driving

Over the many years we’ve worked with seniors and their caregivers and/or families, we’ve learned a handful of strategies that can ease the challenging transition from “driver to passenger.”

Keep a discreet list of your concerns

First and foremost, it’s important to be clear about why you think it’s time for a senior to put down their keys for good. Age, alone, is not a good reason to stop driving, so you’ll need to calmly and rationally explain your concerns. Take drives with them along their normal trajectory and keep a discreet list of things you notice or that worried you. This will help to direct the conversation and give you concrete points to address – and for the senior to ponder.

Enlist the help of their primary care provider(s)

If you don’t have a relationship with your elderly parents or loved one’s doctor, now’s the time to establish one. Based on vision tests, medical diagnoses and general observations, your doctor’s wise input can be a tremendous asset when it comes to the driving discussion. This step is particularly poignant if your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s, a diagnosis which should automatically trigger a no-driving lifestyle.

In almost all cases, seniors know deep down it’s time to give up driving, but they are understandably reluctant and may err on the side of defensive and combative when the topic is brought up by a loved one. However, seniors may take the information/recommendations much more graciously when it’s presented by their trusted healthcare provider, and backed up by black-and-white facts and statistics.

Read, Communicating with Your Elderly Parent’s Doctor, for more information.

Schedule an eye exam ASAP

Is it the senior’s vision that’s causing the most concern? For a while, prescription lenses will be enough. However, conditions like macular degeneration or cataracts will progress to a point where even glasses aren’t enough to pass the DMV’s eye exam.

Optimized vision is crucial for an independent lifestyle so seniors should already be prioritizing bi-annual exams with their optometrist. If you feel their vision is impeding their driving, or they’ve recently been involved in an accident, let the optometrist know and s/he can have an equally compelling conversation with your senior loved one about driving privileges.

Create alternative transportation options

Sure, giving up the keys means sacrificing autonomy. However, more importantly, it translates to a loss of social contact and the ability to get around where you want, when you want. Your loved one may take your concerns and advice to heart if they know there are alternative transportation options in place.

Examples include things like:

  • Rides from family/friends attending similar events
  • Volunteer drivers from local churches, religious communities, senior centers, etc.
  • Using Uber or Lyft
  • Public transportation, which offers affordable senior rates
  • Senior-specific Public transportation options

This may also be a good time to get in contact with a licensed home care agency to schedule a free assessment. Home care providers always offer transportation and/or errand running as a service option. Creating a relationship now – when rides are the only thing required – makes it easier to increase support as needed down the road, adding services like companion services, meal preparation, housekeeping, and so on.

Treat the subject with respect, and expect it to take time

Unless the senior is very accepting or is so concerned him/herself that your conversation comes as a relief – you will be met with resistance. You may also be greeted with a very strong emotional response when confronted with the idea to give up driving, whether anger, sadness, grief, frustration, or all of the above.

For that reason, treat the subject (and your loved one) with the respect it deserves. Honor how difficult this is and how hard it would be for you to be in the reverse position. Remain calm and put a pause on the conversation if it gets heated, agreeing to come back to it at a scheduled time in the very near future.

Are you interested in working with a senior home care agency that offers driving and errand running services? Contact the team here at HomeAide Home Care to schedule a consultation or learn more about our senior-specific services.

Senior Prescription Medications: Hoarding, Borrowing & Sharing

senior prescription medications hoarding borrowing & sharing

There’s a reason why prescription medications reminders are one of the most sought-after senior services for home care providers. Even without dementia or dementia-related diagnosis, seniors often have so many meds to take that it becomes difficult for them to track what to take, when.

Money-conscious seniors may find it difficult to dispose of “perfectly good” expired meds and opt to continue taking them, allowing their new meds to accumulate. Other times, unsuspecting seniors wind up “sharing” strong pain meds or other medications with relatives to take them directly from their medicine cabinets. These are all examples of why medication management is so important for seniors and their loved ones.

If your parents or grandparents have medicine cabinets chock-full of prescription medications and other pill bottles, take the time to organize them, secure them in a restricted access container or location, and determine best-practices for keeping both your loved ones safe.

Prescription Medications Management for Seniors

Medication management for seniors ensure medications are taken as prescribed, are not expired, and don’t find their way into the wrong hands.

Prevent medication hoarding

Hoarding takes place in multiple ways. Sometimes, it’s the inadvertent hoarding that occurs when seniors neglect to safely dispose of old and/or expired medications causing them to accumulate en masse. Other times, it happens because seniors find great deals online and can’t resist “bargain bin” prices offered online or on TV ads (both of which are suspect).

In addition to clutter, medication hoarding increases the chances of a senior taking the wrong medicine by mistake or someone else illegally getting their hands on a prescription medication that is addictive or can be sold on the black market. Either scenario is a recipe for serious harm.

To prevent medication hoarding:

  • Routinely go through medicine cabinets, drawers, closets and cupboards, safely eliminating any medications that are expired or outdated.
  • Make sure prescriptions are clearly labeled, which may mean creating brighter labels with larger print for ease of reading.
  • Remain in touch with your senior’s physician so you can keep up communication as needed around new medications, any undesirable side-effects and/or the senior’s resistance to taking a medication. You should also let the physician know if the patient is insisting on taking old meds so the doctor can speak to them about it and advise against it.

Prevent medication borrowing and sharing

Often, medical conditions create a fair amount of pain or discomfort for seniors, which paves the way for prescriptions to serious pain medications. Heavy medications, like opiates and antianxiety meds, are commonly included as part of hospice or palliative care, and they require careful monitoring to ensure they’re being used as directed, and only by the patient for whom they were prescribed.

Unfortunately, prescription opiate and pill addictions are at an all-time high so it’s important that you monitor the senior’s pain medication intake, taking them only as prescribed, while restricting others’ access.

To prevent medications from being borrowed or shared by others:

  • Keep medications locked up or in a safe. Any prescription medications – narcotics or otherwise – should be kept in a safe or in a locked medicine cabinet. The combinations or keys to the cabinet should only be given to seniors and their immediate caregivers. If a senior has dementia, the combination should be changed. Inventory should be done regularly to ensure medications are being taken as prescribed.
  • Immediately investigate missing medications. If you notice medications are missing, begin investigating immediately. If you suspect the senior is taking more than prescribed, or that cognitive decline is causing them to unwittingly overdose on meds, consider working with licensed home care professionals who can provide medication reminders as well as other services that increase support so the individual can continue to age in place.
  • Complete POA and Advanced medical directives. If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to complete a Power-of-Attorney (POA) and an advanced medical directive. This helps to prevent seniors with dementia or cognitive decline from harming themselves by retaining full control of their medication prescriptions when they’re no longer able to make healthy choices. If you notice your loved one is taking old medications, is suffering negative side effects from a current medication or is not taking their medication as prescribed, a POA can be your greatest ally as you work with their physician to come up with solutions.

Read Guide for Managing Medications and Prescriptions for more tips on how to keep seniors and your loved ones safe.

Do you worry a senior loved one isn’t taking their meds as prescribed, or that they may be abusing prescription medications without realizing it? Contact us here at Home Aide Home Care. Often, daily check-ins from a licensed home care provider is exactly what’s needed to ensure medications are taken as prescribed and to keep seniors eating well, active and socially engaged – a recipe for a longer, healthier and more independent senior life.

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.

Making A Senior Friendly Home

making a senior friendly home

Creating a safe and senior friendly home and environment is one of the most important steps in helping seniors to age place. Typically, this involves things like being proactive in terms of fall prevention, moving seniors from an upstairs bedroom to a first-floor room and making the home as accessible as possible for mobility aids.

Considering A Senior Friendly Home

However, unless a senior is bedbound, odds are they are spending time in your home or the homes of close friends and family members in addition to their own. In this case, it’s important that all homes are as senior friendly as possible. In fact, this tenet is becoming so widespread that many contractors and remodeling professionals are advocating “livable” home designs – interior designs that are safe and accessible for all.

If you happen to be planning a kitchen or bathroom remodel, talk to the design-build team about accessible or universal design changes that will adapt your kitchen for seniors, children or adults with mobility aids. In addition to making your home safer for senior friends and relatives, you also benefit from a safer and more occupant-friendly environment as well as wider resale appeal.

Things to consider include:

Minimal stairs and easy-access-entryways.

Even the slightest of injuries, like a sprained ankle, can make it tricky to navigate stairs. So, imagine what it’s like when you are weaker, suffer from arthritis or have to use a cane or walker on a regular basis. Stairs are in impossibility for those in a wheelchair. For these reasons, accessible homes include at least one, single-level entryway or a gently sloped ramp so access in and out of the home is both safe and comfortable.

Wider doorways and hallways.

Again, mobility aids make it challenging to navigate narrow hallways and doorways. Even access around the dining room tables, kitchen islands, perimeter countertops, and living room furniture can be a problem. When arranging furniture or designing permanent features, try to keep a width of at least 32-inches between objects so individuals with walkers, crutches or wheelchairs can maneuver without a struggle.

Slip-free floors.

Here’s another area where livable designs make for all-around safer homes. Hard surface flooring can be dangerous for adults and children if they aren’t made using slip-proof materials. This is especially true for kitchens and bathrooms, where wet floors are more common. That being said, hard-surfaces and low-profile carpets are the easiest for the elderly and those with mobility aids to navigate, so be thoughtful of that when choosing flooring surfaces.

Downstairs bedrooms.

Even if stairs aren’t impossible to navigate, they can exacerbate latent physical issues – like arthritic knees and hips, weaker muscles or equilibrium challenges. Stairs also make for a much more dangerous fall if seniors lose their balance. If at all possible, senior guests should have access to a downstairs bedroom, even if that means temporarily converting a den, office or child’s room into a guest room.

Re-organize cabinet spaces.

If a senior will be staying with you for more than a day or two, or if a senior relative will be moving in, you may need to re-organize your cabinets. Keep everyday dishware, mugs and cooking utensils in easy-to-reach places. Typically, this includes the upper shelving in bottom cabinets and lower shelving in the upper cabinets. The same goes for the bathroom. The ideas are to eliminate as bending/crouching- or requiring a step stool – as much as possible. If you’ are considering a remodel, look into cabinetry with pull-out shelving, which makes storage even more convenient.

Need help making your home a senior friendly home? Consider a consultation with HomeAide Home Care. Our consultations are always free and we’ll leave you with tips and recommendations on simple changes that will make your home more safe and accessible for all of its occupants.

The Right Type of Cane or Walker for You or Someone You Love

 

the right type of cane or walker for you or someone you love

Mobility aids can completely transform a senior’s life. The most basic level cane or walker can provide the stability and balance necessary to prevent falls. In some cases, they make a chair-bound senior free again – able to take walks around the block, visit a corner grocery store or to bet able to get outside and garden again without fear.

The key is to choose the right cane or walker for the elderly person’s needs and to make sure the equipment is a good fit for the person’s height and weight. Failure to select the right type of walker, or to ensure a good fit, can cause discomfort and will compromise their safety.

A Guide to Selecting a Cane or Walker For the Elderly

The first step is to make an appointment with a healthcare provider. Let the doctor know you’re interested in using a cane or walker and he can assist you in selecting the right one.

The following are basic guidelines for selecting the right type of mobility aids for your needs.

Determine the amount of support you need

Canes can support as much as 25% of your body weight, while certain walkers can support up to 50% of your body weight. You want to choose the type of aid that will provide the most support for where you are at today – taking into consideration that the need for more support will increase as you age.

Many seniors opt to get one of each and use them in different scenarios. Perhaps a cane will be used around the house, to putter in the yard, or to make short trips to doctors or friends’ homes. A walker may be used for longer jaunts or to take advantage of the basket option if you will be carrying or purchasing small items.

What is the main reason you’ll be using the device?

Typically, canes are used for:

  • Arthritis in the knees and hips.
  • Minor issues with balance, especially on stairs or uneven ground.
  • An injury to the foot, ankle or leg.

Walkers are recommended for:

  • Arthritis pain in the knees and hips is more severe.
  • Moderate to severe balance problems or more serious issues with gait.
  • More generalized weakness in the knees, hips or legs.

Things to Look For in a Cane

Canes are typically made from wood or metal, aluminum being the most common. They come with single, triple or quad-feet – the latter two providing the most stability. The bottom should always have a rubber non-skid tip to prevent slipping. Handle options are curved, rounded or gripped and it’s important to try out different types to see what feels the most comfortable.

Things to Look for in a Walker

Most walkers are made from aluminum to ensure they are light weight. There are generally three types of walkers:

  1. Standard, pick-up walkers.
  2. Walkers with wheels on the front and feet on the back (the feet should have rubber, non-slip tips).
  3. Rolling walkers, which have 4-wheels, hand-brakes and come with or without a seat/basket attachment.

Most seniors find that the rolling walkers with the seat/basket option make the most sense. Not only do they provide support, but the built-in seat provides a place to rest comfortably on a longer walk or while cooking or cleaning. The basket allows seniors to get the mail, carry a purse, or pick a few things up from a nearby store without having to carry the bags.

A proper fit is important for an elderly person’s ergonomic health, safety and comfort. Your healthcare provider can help you order the right size and ensure a proper fit.

The Importance Of Staying Hydrated

 

the importance of staying hydrated

Everyone knows staying hydrated is important. What many don’t realize is that dehydration can happen very quickly and seniors are especially susceptible to the condition. Not only that, seniors have side-effects that are more dramatic than those in a younger person, including behaviors that mimic dementia. Keeping the elderly population hydrated is one of the simplest things you can do when it comes to supporting their health.

Dehydration Is a Serious Problem For Seniors

There are several reasons why dehydration occurs more quickly in seniors. For one thing, “thirst receptors” become less acute, which means a senior won’t feel thirsty the same way a younger person would. The older we get, the less our bodies are able to retain water or to regulate body temperature. Plus, many seniors are on medications that have a diuretic effect, which causes their body to lose even more water. Thus, staying hydrated and maintaining regular water and fluid intake is very important – especially when the weather warms up.

A dehydrated senior is more prone to slips and falls due to dizziness and lack of balance and can also begin to display memory lapses or confusion. This mental confusion can seem like the signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s but is, in fact, simply a lack of water. By knowing the signs and symptoms of dehydration, you can help senior loved ones get the necessary amount of fluids he or she needs to remain balanced, healthy and cool.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

The first signs of dehydration include:

As dehydration becomes more severe, the symptoms will progress to:

  • Extremely dry mouth, mucous membranes, and skin (if you gently pinch skin on the top of the hands, it will remain slightly folded rather than immediately returning to normal)
  • Brown urine or no urine
  • Sunken eyes
  • Rapid breathing or heartbeat
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Delirium or loss of consciousness

At the first signs of dehydration, simply administering water or other low-sugar fluids should be enough to reverse the condition. If the symptoms have already moved into the severe category, begin administering fluids and call a healthcare professional to see if more direct medical attention is required.

Tips for Seniors Staying Hydrated

There are things you can do to keep seniors hydrated around the clock. This is especially important during the summer months. In addition to being hotter, air conditioning creates a dryer environment and dehydration will compound the difficulties an elderly body has regulating its core temperature.

Add a straw. Simply adding a straw to glasses of water, juice or iced tea will encourage a senior to drink more, especially bed-bound seniors who may have a harder time sipping from the edge of a cup when their body is at an elevated angle.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Plants contain lots of water so eating fruits and vegetables will also increase a senior’s overall water intake. Plus, they contribute to a healthy senior diet.

Minimize caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, which causes the body to evacuate more water. For this reason, try to make the switch to decaffeinated coffee and tea if possible, or at least minimize the amount of total caffeine that is consumed.

Keep beverages handy. Keep water bottles or favorite beverages by the bed, on side tables, on the kitchen counter and other places where seniors will remember to take a sip or two, even if they aren’t feeling thirsty.

As with many health-related tenets, prevention is the key. Staying hydrated is always easier than treating dehydration.

Adjusting to Life Without Driving

adjusting to life without driving

Imagine the thrill of the open road, a clear schedule and the freedom of driving anywhere you choose, whenever you choose. Even the opportunity to drive short distances here and there, running errands, visiting friends, attending social functions, etc., all of these are signs of autonomy and independence. Now imagine life without driving. When age-related side effects force seniors to give up the keys, this sense of autonomy and independence simply disappears.

The loss of driving privileges can be one of the most devastating experiences for seniors. Never mind the health problems that have plagued them along the way. Forget about minor losses in mobility or memory; those are often taken in stride or with only minor complaint. However, the loss of a driver’s license and the right to drive a car strikes at the heart of a senior’s sense of identity, and this can have serious consequences.

6 Tips to Help Seniors Adjust to Life Without Driving

  1. Start the conversation early. The sooner you begin having conversations with your loved ones about driving and the aging process, the better. The important thing to stress is that safety is the top priority; the safety of the senior you love as well as the safety of other drivers and pedestrians on the road. Spend time reviewing the Senior Driving Website. It’s a wonderful resource and conversation starter for senior drivers and their families.
  2. Register for a senior driving assessment. Don’t make yourself the bad guy. Put it in objective hands. Contact the DMV or the AAA club in your area and ask about senior driver’s assessments. These assessments are designed to evaluate a senior’s driving skills, response times, vision, etc., to determine whether or not they are safe to drive. Sometimes, the senior is given the green light, sometimes they are given tips and recommendations and/or are referred to a refresher course, and other times it is determined the senior should no longer sit behind the wheel. A professional driving assessment puts the onus of judgment in professional hands, which can take the pressure off you.
  3. Let them remain in control of the situation. If it’s decided that a senior is better off being a passenger, he/she should still have control of the situation. Ask what your senior prefers: to keep the car and hire a driver, sell the car and pay for a driver who has his/her own car, rely on public transportation, or any combination of the options. The point is that life without driving feels like a loss of control and independence, so allowing the senior to have control over the solution is important.
  4. Research public transportation options. Do a thorough study of public transportation options in your area. Sometimes, the idea of taking a bus or a van is preferable to having a driver because the senior can maintain a sense of autonomy and privacy that is sacrificed when a driver knows everywhere you go and everything you do.
  5. Maintain their regular schedule. Another way to foster a sense of independence and autonomy is to ensure that seniors are able to maintain their regular schedule. Taking away their keys should not mean they are homebound and no longer able to participate in the activities they love. Find a way to accommodate their exercise classes, religious observations, clubs, meetings, etc. This includes an emphasis on their social outings and events. Keeping active will make the loss of the driver’s seat much less painful.

HomeAide Home Care is happy to assist you in finding a driver with a clean driving record and background check. Life without driving doesn’t have to be impossible. Contact us to get started.