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Elderly Care and the Healing Process After A Stroke

  
  
  

People are now living longer than ever before, including those who have suffered from strokes. It is becoming increasingly common for individuals to make significant recoveries and rediscover the normal aspects of everyday life.

The vast majority of strokes happen to those over the age of 65 who are currently living with pre-existing health conditions. Anyone who has suffered a stroke, or helped care for someone who has, knows that the recovery can be an extremely long process; in fact, according to the National Stroke Association’s website, it is a lifelong process.

Recovery can be daunting requiring rehabilitation, finding care and understanding the long road ahead. This article can help you during your recovery process, providing professional rehabilitation advice from our expert guest blogger.

Be Prepared for Set Backs

Even after weeks of things seeming to improve, it’s possible that one day will come along when you feel as though you’re right back at square one. While this may seem as though you are recovering in reverse, you should know that this is normal. The best thing you can do for yourself or your loved one in this situation is to remain patient and maintain a positive mental attitude.

Work Together

When recovering from a stroke, the importance of surrounding yourself with caring relatives, friends and professionals cannot be underestimated. Everyone must work together to create an environment of emotional and physical support to ensure the healing process goes as smoothly as possible. As long as a wide network of positive and determined people support those during their recovery, they are in the best position to enjoy life after a stroke.

Think Holistically

The smaller things are often the things that have the biggest negative impact on stroke victims, even though this is easily avoidable. Here are a few “unconventional” things to keep in mind when caring for someone who is recovering from a stroke:

  • Keep an active social life: Although the familiar surroundings of their home will provide comfort when it is most needed, regular visits from friends and family will help ensure their mood is kept positive. Additionally, external community and support groups ensure a wide range of support for those who have suffered from strokes.
  • Good mental health is just as crucial as physical: Loneliness, boredom and isolation are as equally important to consider as physical symptoms when it comes to long-term recover.
  • Schedule regular check-ups for them: Of course, regularly checking blood pressure to help prevent any further strokes is incredibly important; however there are other health aspects to regularly check as well. Checking in on hearing and vision, the two areas most affected by a stroke, and even things which may seem insignificant such as monitoring dental hygiene and finger and toe nail length will make a bigger difference than you may originally think.

 

Know Your Home Care Options

Each stroke case is varied and specific to the individual, and as a result, there are great benefits in exploring the option of an in-home support worker. Care management agencies such as SeniorBridge supply care workers to provide post-stroke treatment and care tailored specifically to the needs of the individual. By keeping the approach to recovery flexible, there is minimal upheaval and unnecessary change, while simultaneously adding an extra layer of support on the long road to recovery.

About the Author: Camille Leavold works as Managing Director at a UK based Home Care Agency, engaged in providing health care assistants for people with dementia, learning disability and care for the elderly. Contact them for care service at: info@pa-care.co.uk

Cultivating Growth for Body and Soul

  
  
  

By: Madison Hill

Last year, I was really struggling with the hardships that came along with the responsibility of being a caregiver to my mom. I began searching for validation online when I came across a blog that addressed the challenges of family caregiving, and how to overcome the significant challenges. I realized that I needed to find a way to avoid becoming burnt out, as well as find a healthy activity that my mother is able to do, more or less, entirely on her own.

My mom has always loved her gardens, and her passion translated into years of beautiful blooms and delectable produce. As she has aged, and subsequently developed Alzheimer’s requiring me to become her caregiver, her ability to seamlessly nurture life from miniscule seeds has changed dramatically. With a couple of smart adjustments, however, I think we have found some solutions worth sharing that will help perpetuate gardening for years to come.

With the offial start of Spring just passing last week, we’ve collected a list of tips from our guest blogger, with a self-diagnosed sunflower obsession, on how to use gardening to enhance your mental and physical wellbeing.

Make sure plant/planter choices are appropriate

When mom was in her gardening prime, she could easily have handled caring for a million different types of plants. Now, we select our seeds with a little more caution. I stay away from anything that we would eventually need a step-ladder to reach, and we now garden in raised beds.

If a plant is going to grow taller than my mom can reach, requires too many special care instructions, or is otherwise difficult to maintain, it is no longer an option. Instead, we have become quite fond of onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and golden zucchini.

Raised beds serve as a double benefit for us for a couple reasons. Firstly, they create nice, open walkways, and secondly, they negate the need for as much bending/kneeling -you can find some beautiful raised beds at any number of locations online. We also got my mother a chair that she can sit in to pick produce or prune dead-heads so she doesn’t have to stoop or stand for longer than comfort allows.

Make the switch to Senior-friendly tools

There is a plethora of ergonomic gardening tools available for purchase, and I’d recommend investing in at least a few. I’ve listed out mom’s favorites below.

  • Bionic Gardening Gloves: Mom loves the padding and extra grip these give her.
  • Fist Grip Garden Tools: The optional arm support cuff has come in handy for us more than once and the bright colors promise us that we will never again lose a tool.
  • Mini-Reel Hose: Light-years better than lugging around heavier hoses, and it winds up without a fuss

Enjoy time spent together

I don’t always garden with mom; I often let her just have time alone surrounded by something that’s always brought her joy. When I do join her, though, I soak up every minute. It’s moments like these that nurture my heart and grow my soul.

Madison Hill is a freelance writer who enjoys spening time with her mother in their garden. When she’s not busy making homemade kreplach, you can find her dead-heading and writing about caregiving.

How to Get Your Loved One The Care They Need

  
  
  

By: Kimberly Fore, RN

Do you regularly take a family member or friend to his or her doctor appointments and look after their health? Then you have likely felt the stress of trying to get your loved one the best possible care.

Here are 5 things you need to know to give medical professionals the best information to make medical decisions and for you to succeed as a patient advocate.

Medication List

You know Mom is taking a heart pill, a pill for high blood pressure, insulin and eye drops. You may even know the dose and what time of day she takes them. But without the actual names of the medications, Mom’s doctor can’t determine if drugs he may prescribes will interact.

You can find a free medication list worksheet atwww.safemedication.com as well as useful information about medications. Additional resources are available at http://seniorbridge.com/Resources/ToolsforCaregivers.aspx

Know Mom’s Medical Team

Maybe the person you are caring for has three or four doctors, all for different reasons. A cardiologist looks after her congestive heart failure and peripheral vascular disease. An endocrinologist oversees her diabetes progress. The eye doctor manages her glaucoma. Keep a list of physician names and specialties, phone numbers, fax numbers and after hours phone numbers.

Record Her Medical History

Most physician appointments ask for complete medical history including medication history, allergies, and past surgeries. Here’s what you need to include: any surgery (no matter how minor) that has ever been performed, all diagnoses, all medications (including vitamins, supplements and over the counter drugs, any allergies – including medication, food, dander, pollen, etc., and what the allergic reaction was.

If the person you are caring for has had side effects from a medication in the past, such as nausea, include that as well.

Hire a Care Manager

Whether it be collaborating with physicians, pharmacies, therapists or nutritionists; feeling unequipped to make medical decisions for your loved ones, needing to identify community resources; navigating family dynamics; or needing to find a solution to stay at home, a care manager can be your advocate in navigating the health care system. It’s a good idea to find a care manager to conduct an assessment and develop a care plan.

Qualify Your Home Care Options

If your parent is being discharged from the hospital but is weak or otherwise needs help at home, it is likely the physician will recommend home care. Be methodical in your approach to choosing the one that meets your needs. What did the last audit from the state regulatory board say? Are the caregivers drug tested? Do they have qualified staff? Are they going to be able to work around your schedule?

A care manager is a good resource in making this decision as well as staying on board to supervise the process. Usually a national home care agency with adequate liability insurance and professional supervision is ideal.

Ask Questions

Physicians and nurses taking care of people in the hospital have information to give you. Often all you need to do is ask. Know the meds. Know the diagnoses. Know what they are for. Ask questions. Ask why. Be an advocate.

Being an advocate is being prepared, with a list of diagnoses, a list of physicians and phone numbers, and a list of medications ready for any and all providers to see. Whether you do this yourself or hire a care manager, the role is paramount to keeping your loved one safe and ensuring optimal health care.

Kimberly Fore, RN is a director of client services at SeniorBridge and has been a nurse for more than 20 years in the home health and hospital settings.

Addressing Mental Health Concerns with Seniors

  
  
  

Initiating the Conversation and Seeking Care

By Timothy Leadem
 

If you have noticed changes in a loved one’s mood, behavior, or thinking, it may be time to have a conversation about mental health. Mental health professionals have devised a wealth of strategies and tips for successfully starting this conversation. Research has shown that seeking treatment early leads to better outcomes down the road.

Talk About Your Concerns

If your loved one is having trouble understanding your concerns, pointing out examples from your daily interactions that illustrate your concerns may be effective: “When we were in line at the grocery store this morning, I felt that you were really anxious to check out. Is that how you felt?”

By offering emotional support, listening closely, and demonstrating that you value their feelings, you can take big steps toward helping your loved one continue the conversation with the doctor.

Leave the Diagnosing to the Professionals

While it may be useful to research the symptoms you are observing, it’s generally best to avoid using clinical terms or attempting to make a diagnosis – leave that to the doctor or a mental health professional.

Empower your loved one to seek treatment

Many people might be reluctant to admit they have a mental health condition that needs treatment for fear of being “labeled" with a mental illness. They may have the mistaken belief that their condition is a sign of weakness, that they are somehow at fault, or that seeking treatment confirms that one is “crazy.”

Those misperceptions may lead someone to believe they can't improve their situation. It is important to emphasize that you are coming from a place of concerned compassion. Explain that changes in mental health are as natural as changes in physical health as we get older, but that persistent feelings of depression or anxiety are not a normal part of the aging process. If you need help, consider hiring a professional care manager to help overcome resistance to seeking care. 

Agree to Book an Appointment

Once the person you care about is ready to talk with a professional, offer to help schedule the appointment and ask if you can accompany them. It’s generally best to make an initial appointment with a primary care physician (or “family doctor”).

Prepare for the appointment.

Work together on a list of questions and concerns and bring the list to the appointment. Make notes about changes in eating or sleeping habits. Let the doctor know about any recent life events, such as the loss of a partner or change in living situation.

It is vital to bring a complete list of medications (including dosages), as well as any vitamins, herbal supplements, or over the counter medications being taken. Older adults should always undergo a thorough physical examination before starting any psychiatric medication.

Mentally Prepare for a Possible Referral.

Many patients suffering from mental health disorders are successfully treated by their primary care physicians, but there may be times when the doctor needs to make a referral for more specialized care - just as they would for a physical condition. Those specialists could include a psychiatrist (or “geriatric psychiatrist” who has training specific to working with older adults), a psychologist, a clinical social worker, or a nurse practitioner.

Follow through with treatment plans.

Finally, whether working with a family doctor or specialist, it is important to talk about treatment goals, develop a plan, and keep track of progress.

If medications are prescribed, find out how long it typically takes for them to have a full effect and notify the treatment provider if the medications seem ineffective.  Antidepressants must typically be taken for at least four to six weeks before they have a full effect and should be continued even if the patient feels better, as the depression can return. Medication should only be stopped under a doctor’s supervision.

Take advantage of community resources.

There are many types of treatment and care currently available to older adults with mental health issues and new treatment models are being researched every day. Both the National Institute of Mental Health (a federal research institute) and the National Association on Mental Illness (commonly known as “NAMI”, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization) are comprehensive resources with websites and helplines offering caregivers support and guidance.

Many insurance plans and Employee Assistance programs offer a care manager to help you navigate the mental health landscape. For example, Humana has several programs for members to be connected with their own personal care manager through Humana Cares / SeniorBridge. Talk to your HR department or contact a national agency such as SeniorBridge, or The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, to find a care manager.

 
About the Author: Timothy Leadem, MSW, is a social worker and care manager with Humana in the organization known as Humana Cares / SeniorBridge.  He helps families navigate medical, financial, and emotional issues relating to healthcare. 

The Miracle Mineral That Helps Prevent and Treat Heart Disease

  
  
  
Heart disease is currently one of the leading causes of death in the western world, despite the fact that it is also one of the most easily preventable and reversible conditions. It's a shame that more people don't know about the heart-healthy benefits of proper diet, regular exercise, and the correct nutritional supplementation. Many lives could be saved each year if more people knew and cared enough to treat their bodies correctly.

Much has been written on diet and lifestyle changes that can increase heart health, however not as much has been written about supplementation; this is why so few people know that magnesium is one of the best things to take for a healthier heart. Plenty of scientific studies have proven this, so it's a wonder that doctors don't recommend it to their patients more often.

And yet, the benefits of magnesium supplements are numerous:
  • It can help control high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease.
    Many people who have high blood pressure are deficient in their levels of this of magnesium, and thus increasing intake can help lower blood pressure.

  • It helps keep the levels of it in the body high, since blood pressure medications often flush it out.
    Taking magnesium supplements ensures it stays in the body, where it can work its wonders.

  • It can help prevent and treat atherosclerosis.
    Atherosclerosis is commonly known as "hardening of the arteries." This occurs when plaque accumulates on the walls of the arteries and impedes the circulation of blood. This can lead to heart disease, dementia, and other nasty health conditions. Magnesium's beneficial properties prevent plaque from forming in the arteries and allows the free flow of blood. This dramatically reduces one's risk of heart attack, heart disease, and many other things.

Keeping blood pressure in check and preventing atherosclerosis can keep the heart healthy for years, maybe even indefinitely. Because so many people with heart disease have been shown in medical studies over the years to be deficient in magnesium, that's a really strong reason to add it to your diet. Just a little supplementation a day will do, and you'll be dramatically more healthy for it.

 

About the Author: Peter Ochsenham’s(N.D,D.B.M,Dip.Hom) mission is to provide a platform for “patients” to be given self empowering options and messages for their healthcare. He is a member of the Magnesium Advisory Board Australia.

How to Handle a Heart Attack If You’re Home Alone

  
  
  

By Meggie Haneckow

A large number of people suffer from heart attacks every single year; in fact, heart attacks have become the leading cause of death among Americans, despite the fact that they are oftentimes avoidable.

A heart attack appears when the heart is cut off from its supply of the blood, resulting in the death of the cells of the heart. In order to avoid a heart attack, one must first be aware of the causes, and how they can alter their lifestyle to better avoid the risk.

Below you can find a round up of some useful tips and tricks to help you tweak the way you live your life to be better equipped should you suffer from a heart attack, or, even better, how to avoid them all together

Know the symptoms

While the most common symptom is chest pain, there are numerous other sings you should be aware of. These include:

  1. Nausea/vomiting
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Pain or discomfort in arms, neck, and legs
  4. Heavy sweating 
  5. Sudden feeling of illness 
  6. Rapid heartbeat or palpitations

Take the professional’s advice

Doctors are professionals, and will be able to best determine how you can avoid the risks than you.

However, a doctor is not the only professional you can consult. A professional care manager can aid you in managing medications and understanding, holistically, the lifestyle that you lead. SeniorBridge even has a Heart Health Program, which you can contact us to find out more.

Make Necessary Life Style Changes

This includes: 

  1. Partake in regular exercise
  2. Follow a healthy diet
  3. Avoid smoking

 

Be Prepared

You can purchase a life alert unit, or another sort of device that can be used to link you to the hospital personnel or rescue team, so that they may be alerted should anything happen.

Each patient should be in possession, at all times, of a card that lists all the medications they are currently on, and any medications to which they are allergic. This can help medical professionals effectively and safely treat you for any condition you may find yourself in. Keep an emergency contact name and number along side your medical card.

Always Keep medications for any heart problems you may have within your immediate reach, so that in case of emergency you could easily back with the prescription drugs.

Remain Calm

Always remain as calm as you can. In the case that you are calm, you should remember to never try to drive yourself, regardless of the distance. 

 


Meggie Haneckow is a professional at OnlineRxMedicines, a leading provider of medicines. To learn more about the medications and resources provided, you can call 1(646) 681 4902 or write to us at onlinerxmedicines@gmail.com. We will see to it that the medicines reach to you in time.

Celebrate this Holiday with Professional Care Management

  
  
  

With love in the air for Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to remember all the things that your significant other has done for you over the years. What we tend to forget about, however, is how trained professionals can help you reach your greatest potentials within your relationships. A wonderful example of this is how care managers are able to keep elderly couples together, regardless of their health. Below are two case stories of how professional care managers at SeniorBridge helped couples to achieve just that.

Chicago

When Carol Harris in Chicago was put on the case to care for Betty and Mark almost 10 years ago, she had many issues to take into consideration in regards to the health status of the two clients. Although Mark had limited mobility, Betty* had an inoperable hernia, and needed 24 hour care in order for her to be able to stay in her home – she needed help with mobility, cooking, cleaning, shopping and every other aspect of her everyday life. When Carol stepped in, Betty was more or less living in her local emergency room.

The couple was lucky to have their one of two daughters close by who was able to help with the continuous changes to the couple’s physical health. However, she was not a professional, and was quickly in over her head. Betty and Mark had been together for over 70 years, and had no intentions of separation for a minute longer than they had to; having been high school sweethearts and married not long after, Carol strongly believes that they would not have survived as long as they did without each other’s support. “They were inseparable; absolutely joined at the hip, and still 100% devout to each other, even after all those years,” Carol stated.

Carol knew that the couple would not be the same without each other, and she and the two daughters quickly went to advocating for the clients. Speaking to other family members, personal care physicians, and SeniorBridge caregivers, Carol got round-the-clock care for Betty and Mark. When a serious infection set in, after an ER visit for initial antibiotic, Betty wanted to go home. Carol helped the family arrange for in-home IV medications and appropriate in-home care to help Betty stay at home for the two weeks of treatment.  

Although the couple has now passed, both stayed together for much longer than they thought able, and the two daughters are incredibly thankful to Carol and SeniorBridge for allowing their parents to remain together and happy for as long as possible.

Naples

The next example is not un-similar, but it is equally as heart warming. Roberta Marganti and Lara Daoud of the SeniorBridge branch located in Naples Florida had a difficult case on their handing when taking on clients Harriet and Hank, a couple was best friends in addition to being married.

When Roberta and Lara stepped in, Harriet was post-operation for cancer, and living in hospice. Although the two were incredibly active in their community, with Hank golfing with his friends on a weekly basis up until two months ago, the two did not have their children near by to help them cope with their deteriorating health. Harriet had very limited mobility, and was hard of hearing; although Henry was aging quickly, his health issues were not as pressing as his wife’s.

The couple spent every moment together that they could; after 72 years of marriage, they still shared a bed together every night, ate all of their meals together at their dining room table, and spent hours watching TV and gabbing together. Upon assessing the relationship of the couple, as well as the health of Harriet, Roberta and Lara noticed that she was becoming hard of hearing. They ensured that the couple would not be without their loving banter at all hours of the day by getting Harriet, who was becoming hard of hearing, a set of hearing aids to listen to everything that Hank had to say.

After multiple transient ischemic attacks and an incredibly rapid decline, Hank passed away after one week in a hospice hospital almost a month ago. Although Harriet was distraught, she was happy to see her husband and best friend to be released of his pain. She currently still lives at home, with 24-hour SeniorBridge caregivers by her side to aid with her mobility and still-active social life. Without Hank, Harriet is happy to have the familiar faces of her SeniorBridge caregivers around on a daily basis, to help her ease into her life without her husband.

*name has been changed to keep the identity of our clients anonymous

Do you have a SeniorBridge client story that you would like to share? We’d love to hear it! Contact MarCom@seniorbridge.com to get heard today!

Renee Hoskin  is a professional at SeniorBridge.

Travel Tips for Seniors

  
  
  

You’ve put in time and hard work throughout your life, and you should be rewarded with an adventurous retirement - but travelling is now a little more difficult than it once was.

First, you need to come to terms with the fact that your vacation will be different than before, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be exactly what you need. Let’s explore some tips to make vacationing easier for the mature traveler.

Location, Location, Location

The first thing to do is plan the type of vacation you want to take. You may not be up for hiking Mt. Everest, but still want something a little more adventurous. There are plenty of options, no matter what you’re looking for.

One option is a guided tour overseas. The beauty of this option is that the majority of the trip is planned for you, so once you are on your vacation you can just relax and enjoy. Make sure you ask about the amount of walking, if that is an issue for you, or any other preferences you may have. With the wide variety of touring companies available, it will be no trouble finding one that fits your every need.

Another option is to take a cruise.  With everything contained on one boat, this is the perfect way to explore without having to do a great deal of traditional travel, and cruises include many activities; from games to shows, you’ll never have time to get bored. There are also cruises and tours that cater to seniors, so you aren’t stuck on a pool deck with drunken 20-somethings.

Do you want to stay in one location during your vacation? Ranked as one of the top destinations for seniors by Senior Travel, Branson, Missouri is worth looking into. This location has everything conveniently located, with a wide variety of things to do, from museums and shows, to shopping and golf. Branson is especially popular during the holidays due to its spectacular celebration, which may be a great time to travel there. Other top locations include Las Vegas and Washington, DC.

Do Your Research

Before you travel, make sure you read up on your travel brochures and information prior signing anything. Be caution of scams and make sure you do some comparison shopping. If you aren’t restricted to dates you must travel, you’ll have much more opportunity for deals offered for travel at specific times.

If you are past roughing it on your vacations but interested in being on the go, there are options that cater to your needs and preferences, all you need to do to find them is your research.

Special Equipment and Needs

Before you travel, consider special planning necessary, for guide dogs , wheel chairs or even just special seating.  If you require something on your vacation, make sure that you contact all the places you will be staying to ensure that tours and rooms meet your requirements.

If you will be travelling with your portable oxygen concentrator, there are a few steps you must make sure you take:

·         Book a non-stop flight and avoid boarding multiples times with your concentrator

·         Contact the airline a few weeks before your travel to check on any guidelines they may have for your concentrator

·         Prepare for the entire flight; FAA regulations say that you must have 150% charge prior to boarding the flight. As a precaution make sure you also have an extra battery or two just in case

·         Once on the plane, ask a flight attendant if there is a place you could charge your concentrator. This way you are all charged up and free to enjoy your in-flight beverage.

·         Be sure to check off all the steps on your portable oxygen travel checklist before you head out.

Packing Your Medicine

Along with your required accommodations, make a checklist of medicines you will need to keep with you. It is a good idea to bring extra medication in case something unexpected happens.

If you are taking a carry-on and checking a bag, carry your medication with you in your carry on in case your luggage is lost. You should also keep your back-up medicine in a separate place than your primary location - this could be in a travel companion’s carry-on or, in your checked bag to ensure you have your medications readily available no matter what.

Check the Weather and Dress Accordingly

If you are travelling to a warm climate, bring shorts, but pack for colder weather too.  Weather patterns can change and sometimes weather in a different part of the world isn’t what you’d expect. Your immune system will already be compromised from the travel, so lowering it even more with improper preparation could result in a lot of time in your hotel room recovering. Research the weather where you are travelling and how it can fluctuate that time of the year.

Make a List

You are almost ready to take flight. Before your departure, make a list of everything you think you may need while on vacation. This may sound silly, but with all of the extra accommodations and plans, it is easy to forget even the basics.  This will force yourself to think of the things you always need, and save you lots of store visits at your destination.

Consider Hiring Help

A geriatric care manager can help you develop a personalized plan for your travels including identifying potential challenges and options to make the best of your travels – even with medical and functional challenges. For example, a care manager can help connect you with a companion, special equipment, ensure you have appropriate documentation and accommodations and more. To get a free consultation  about how a care manager can help your situation, click here.

Enjoy!

Finally, don’t forget to have the time of your life. Safe travels!

 

Article by Scott Ridl; Scott has been with Oxygen Concentrator Store since 2008 and is passionate about topics relating oxygen and oxygen therapy. He enjoys sharing his knowledge about oxygen to help educate patients on the options they have.

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Will You Recognize Signs of Dementia This Thanksgiving?

  
  
  
Thanksgiving travel and cooking can be stressful enough. If your plans also include seeing aging family members, you might anticipate noticing slips in their metal health since your last visit. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates the number of calls to their National Helpline increased by 13% last Thanksgiving.
Here are a few tips to help you differentiate between normal aging and potential signs of dementia. If you are concerned about a family member, consider a free consultation with a care manager by accessing this link.

Normal vs. Abnormal Changes

Most of us have experienced laps in memory and temporary confusion.  In observing your family members, consider whether your loved one has always been forgetful or is experiencing a decline. 
  • Forgetting how to do something that has been done hundreds of times, such as folding laundry or cooking carrots could be a sign of dementia. Forgetting what you are doing mid-job is relatively normal.
  • Increasingly struggling to follow step-by-step instructions could be a red flag for Alzheimer’s.  Getting confused when, say, trying to balance a checkbook, is common.
  • Making bad decisions occasionally is normal. Repeatedly showing poor judgment, however, could be a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
  • It’s common to get confused about the day of the week, and then remember it later. If your loved one gets confused about the seasons, month, or year, and is unable to realize the mistake at a later time consider an evaluation with a professional.
  • Worsening vision or the development of cataracts is normal. Having trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships, however, can be a sign of early dementia or Alzheimer’s.
  • Everyone can have trouble finding the right word sometimes – but what could be a tip off to Alzheimer’s disease is having new trouble with words, either written or spoken. People living with Alzheimer’s may stop talking mid conversation, begin calling things by the wrong name, or start repeating themselves.
  • Feeling weary of work or social life happens to all of us from time-to-time, but look out for signals that a loved one has completely withdrawn from their daily tasks or social lives, which could be sign of dementia.
  • Frequent mood changes or overall altered personalities could be a sign of dementia. Keep an eye out for overly anxious or stressed parents, or parents who simply aren’t the way you remembered them to be. 

Now vs Later

The earlier signs of dementia are addressed, the faster the quality of life of the whole family can be improved.  If you notice a change you think could be a sign of dementia, don’t wait until you and your siblings are shocked out of sleep by late-night calls carrying news of a crisis. Don’t force yourself to book last minute, high-cost flights, and gather in scary, sterile hospital rooms with family members you haven’t seen in years. Don’t wait until you have to face doctors and social workers asking the family to make difficult decisions about Mom and Dad.
If you are concerned about a loved one, consider a free consultation with a care manager by accessing this link. You will be thankful you did.

Eileen Zenker, LCSW

Signs of Dementia vs Normal Aging by Eileen Zenker resized 600Eileen Zenker, LCSW has nearly three decades of experience as a social work administrator and health care planner. She oversees care management in our SeniorBridge retail office in New York, as well as teaching Ethics and serving as a Mentor to Social Work fellows at New York University.

How to Get Your Loved One The Senior Care They Need

  
  
  

by: Kimberly Fore, RN

Do you regularly take a family member or friend to his or her doctor appointments and look after their health?    Then you have likely felt the stress of trying to get your loved one the best possible care.

Here are 5 things you need to know to give  medical professionals  the best information to make medical decisions and for you to succeed as a patient advocate.

Medication List

You know Mom is taking a heart pill, a pill for high blood pressure, insulin and eye drops.  You may even know the dose and what time of day she takes them.  But without the ACTUAL names of the medications, Mom’s doctor can’t determine if drugs he may prescribes will interact.    You can find a free medication list worksheet  at www.safemedication.com as well as useful information about medications.  Additional resources are available at http://seniorbridge.com/Resources/ToolsforCaregivers.aspx

Know Their Medical Team

Maybe the person you are caring for has three or four doctors, all for different reasons.  A cardiologist looks after her congestive heart failure and peripheral vascular disease.  An  endocrinologist oversees her diabetes progress. The eye doctor manages her glaucoma .  Keep a list of physician names and specialties , phone numbers, fax numbers and after hours phone numbers.

Record Her Medical History

Most physician appointments ask for complete medical history including: medication history, allergies, and past surgeries.  Here’s what you need to include:  Any surgery (no matter how minor) that has ever been performed, all diagnoses, all medications (including vitamins, supplements and over the counter drugs, any allergies – including medication, food, dander, pollen, etc., and what the allergic reaction was.  If the person you are caring for has had side effects from a medication in the past, such as nausea, include that as well.

Hire a Care Manager

Whether it be collaborating with physicians, pharmacies, therapists or nutritionists; feeling unequipped to make medical decisions for your loved ones, needing to identify community resources; navigating family dynamics; or needing to find a solution to stay at home, a care manager can be your advocate in navigating the health care system..  It’s a good idea to find a care manager to conduct an assessment and develop a care plan. 

Qualify Your Home Care Options

If your parent is being discharged from the hospital but is weak or otherwise needs help at home, it is likely the physician will recommend home care.  Be methodical in your approach to choosing the one that meets your needs.   What did the last audit from the state regulatory board say?  Are the caregivers drug tested?  Do they have qualified staff?  Are they going to be able to work around your schedule?  A care manager is a good resource in making this decision as well as staying on board to supervise the process.  Usually a national home care agency with adequate liability insurance and professional supervision is ideal.  For a check list of questions to ask, check out this booklet. 

Ask Questions.

Physicians and nurses taking care of people in the hospital have information to give you.  Often all you need to do is ask.  Know the meds.  Know the diagnoses.  Know what they are for.  Ask questions.  Ask why.  Be an advocate.

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Being an advocate is being prepared, with a list of diagnoses, a list of physicians and phone numbers, and a list of medications ready for any and all providers to see.  Whether you do this yourself or hire a care manager, the role is paramount to keeping your loved one  safe and ensuring optimal health care. 

Kimberly Fore, RN is a director of client services at SeniorBridge and has been a nurse for more than 20 years in the home health and hospital settings.  

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