Helpful tips for family caregivers
December 2014 / January 2015
This holiday season it's a worthy exercise to reflect on the importance of personal choice (the "dignity of risk") and the importance of leisure and play. It's also good, with New Years around the corner, to think literally about exercise. It's a good habit to catch! Pass this newsletter along to a caregiving friend.
"Dignity of risk"
One of the most challenging dilemmas in caring for an aging parent is figuring out how to balance their preference for independence with your concern for their safety.
If you have noticed lapses in cleanliness, meals, bill payment, or other areas, you may be worried that your parent is not able to safely live alone. Your loved one, however, may refuse assistance, not recognizing there is a problem.
Research suggests that as many as 1 in 10 elders make healthcare and lifestyle choices that put their safety and well-being at risk. Scary as that may sound, they are adults and need to be afforded the "dignity of risk." The following may help.
Accept some risk. Get a professional evaluation of your loved one's ability to make decisions clearly. A geriatric care manager can help you with this. Even if your parent has mild memory loss or early dementia, he or she is still legally entitled to make personal decisions. We all have the right to make "bad" choices.
Clarify his or her long-term priorities. Become an ally. Discuss what's most important, then work toward that goal together. "Mom, I also want you to be able to live out your days right here, just as you say. Let's see what we can come up with together to make sure that happens."
Act on what's acceptable. Adopt an attitude of curiosity and a willingness to pursue change slowly. If dad won't give up driving, will he accept rides at night? Look for options that add to safety while you support your loved one's long-term goals.
Get direction for the future. Talk with your parent now about worst-case scenarios on a "what if" basis. Emphasize that you want things to unfold to your parent's liking as much as possible.
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Seniors having fun online
When you read about "successful aging," the focus is often how well an elder has maintained physical health. How mentally sharp he or she has remained. How much he or she has stayed socially engaged. Without doubt, studies link seniors' quality of life with physical, mental, and social activity.
But what happens when your loved one loses the ability to pursue physical exercise? When social options are limited by lack of transportation? When memory problems make it harder to engage with favorite hobbies or interests?
New research is showing that time spent on the Internet can overcome some of the losses and limitations of aging. Online communities cannot replace "real relationships." But they do provide meaningful outlets of expression. And they counteract the loneliness and isolation felt by so many elders.
Studies show that older adults frequently turn to the Internet to research the family tree or meet with others involved in a particular hobby. Some use the Web to assemble photo albums. Others play games. Still others enjoy posting stories and sharing jokes and riddles.
If you think your loved one might benefit from online fun but is stymied by new technology, consider these learning resources:
- A search engine that uses a larger font size, www.Good50.com, relies on Google's smarts but makes screen viewing easier.
- A set of free lessons on the basics of computer use can be found at www.skillfulsenior.com. Interactive lessons teach skills such as right clicking, left clicking, and drag-and-drop.
- A collection of free tutorials at www.gcflearnfree.org/technology covers everything from Internet safety to email basics or the use of an iPad or iPhone.
And when your family member is ready for some online play, check out the Games Site at AARP. The options range from solitaire to "Ice Cream Blast." Anyone up for a game of Internet mahjong?(Return to top)
Starting an exercise routine
Senior citizens might have restricted mobility and cash, but that doesn't mean they can't enjoy and benefit from exercises and games. It's important for seniors to keep their bodies and minds active. Doing so will keep them healthy longer and combat a range of illnesses, such as heart disease. Exercises and games are also social and can boost a senior citizen's self-esteem.
Begin by getting your doctors approval for exercising. Hearing directly from the doctor that exercising is a good idea may help your relative get moving. Even short 10 minute exercise sessions are beneficial.
Chair exercises are an ideal physical activity for older people or those with limited mobility. The exercises facilitate movement at an appropriate level to increase fitness without adding the unnecessary risk that can arise during higher intensity, higher impact activity. Chair exercises focus on functional fitness and improve participants' ability to perform the standard activities of daily living.
Chair exercises are used to strengthen muscles and can also provide cardiovascular benefit. Overhead reaches, arm raises, pass-the-ball, elbow-to-knee and arm circles work the upper body and core. Leg extensions, leg raises and calf raises work the lower body. Elevating the arms overhead and alternating sitting and standing can raise the heart rate for a more aerobic workout. The chair can also be utilized for balance if participants hold it while performing standing side leg lifts and standing on one leg with the eyes closed. Stretches for the arms and legs are incorporated into exercises to increase flexibility. The low-impact movements are easy on the joints, and seated positions provide a safe environment for a population who often struggle with balance and may be at risk for fracture from falling.
Ideally, see if you can find a companion, such as a home care aide, or group for your relative. Especially for people who are not use to exercise, it’s more fun when it’s part of a social activity(Return to top)
Senior Solutions: Providing Healthcare Guidance To Families For Over 24 Years
Navigating the complex maze of lifestyle and health care options and decisions facing seniors today can be overwhelming. Where do you turn when an aging parent, spouse, or loved one is in need of assistance? There is a multitude of options out there but which one is the most appropriate and affordable? And how do you know which choice is the right one for you and your family?
According to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) families require guidance that leads to actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress and time off work for family caregivers. In addition families require assistance with the two most common causes of senior hospitalizations; Falling and Medication Mismanagement.
How does a family know that they need the services of a Professionally Certified Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) and how does the family find a GCM to guide their loved one that resides in the Lehigh Valley? The answer; when caring for an aging family member becomes overwhelming or if:
The person you are caring for has limited or no family support
You have recently become involved with helping the person & you need direction about services
The person you are caring for has multiple medical or psychological issues
The person you are assisting is unable to live safely in their current environment
Your family is either “burned out” or confused about care solutions
Your family has limited time and/or expertise in dealing with your loved ones chronic care needs
Your family is fighting about what care decisions should be chosen
Your loved one is not pleased with the current care provider and requires advocacy & advice
Your loved one is confused about their own financial and/or legal documentation
Your family needs education and/or direction dealing with behaviors associated with dementia
Finding a GCM is as easy as going to www.caremanager.org and typing in your loved ones zip code and when you do, your search will reveal that Senior Solutions of Allentown and Palmer Township PA not only has the most and the most experienced GCM’s but Senior Solutions introduced the Lehigh Valley to the concept of Geriatric Care Management in 1990.. Wanting only to be associated with the highest level of competency in elder care, Senior Solutions became early members of the then newly established NAPGCM. Senior Solutions 4 GCM’s hold themselves to that same standard to this day with 2 Registered Nurse GCM’s and 2 Master Level Certified GCM’s, including an MSW. As such the Senior Solutions GCM’s are continuing their tradition of excellence as NAPGCM members.
So what exactly can one expect from a Senior Solutions GCM or care manager? Senior Solutions founders’ would described themselves as “surrogate daughters” qualified to provide services for beloved seniors such as ASSESSMENTS– evaluating them in their home environment – CRISIS INTERVENTION – responding to unexpected crisis situations – MONITORING – visiting seniors in their home or their community to maintain ongoing contact and medication management – TRANSPORTATION & ADVOCACY – arranging and accompanying seniors to doctors’ appointments, etc. - CARE PLAN DEVELOPMENT & PLACEMENT – providing a plan to provide the highest possible quality of life and evaluating alternative living options such as independent living, etc. HOME CARE ASISTANCE – assessing needs for homecare and assisting seniors in finding the right personal or companion care.
And although it is not always the case, many times Senior Solutions GCM’s do not have to look very far to find a non-medical home care provider as Senior Solutions has been providing home care since 1992. Non-medical home care is care provided in ones’ home or a senior living community, where the caregiver is not required to do medical procedures such as giving injections, treating an open wound, or administering intravenous medications, etc. however a Senior Solutions a caregiver can provide companionship, assistance with bathing, dressing, walking, wheelchair assistance, cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping, and transportation to friends, family, church, shopping, hair dresser, and physician appointments. In addition Senior Solutions caregivers are specially trained in doing activities with loved ones who are dealing with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other specific diagnosis. Also Senior Solutions employees are fully bonded and insured and pass a physical, criminal, and drug test.
What separates Senior Solutions from other non-medical providers are a number of very important factors: 1. Senior Solutions provides FREE in home assessments by a Registered Nurse (RN)
2. Senior Solutions caregivers are trained and supervised by an RN
3. Senior Solutions has been providing home care to families in the Lehigh Valley for over 22 yrs
4. Senior Solutions can serve the entire Lehigh Valley with locations in Allentown and Easton, PA
Therefore if you are looking for a healthcare professional who can act as a points of contact for out-of-town relatives, team with physicians, attorneys and facilities for coordinated care, assist with discharge planning after a hospitalization, provide nutritional assistance, facilitate socialization programs, act as mediators and even arrange for financial and legal planning, or are simply looking for companionship and assistance for your loved one in their home Senior Solutions Certified Care Managers and Home Care Services is your # 1 choice in the Lehigh Valley as we are your partner in caring for those you care about.
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Please Note: Senior Solutions does not specifically endorse the activities of any organizations mentioned here, but offers their information as a sample of the kinds of materials and services that are available.
"I worry about my uncle. He needs his independence. At the same time, he's not as steady as he used to be."