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Helpful tips for family caregivers

May/June 2015

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Life is full of uncertainties! That's not always easy. At least with this issue you will gain certain knowledge about coping with unknowns, taking good care of your loved one's false teeth, and learning more about professionals who can help you on the elder care journey. Pass it forward.

What is a care manager?

Conflicting demands on your heart, time, and energy can make it hard to care for an aging relative. If this sounds familiar, you could benefit from the services of a care manager.

 

A care manager provides relief. They work with you and your family member to develop a realistic care plan. The goal of the plan is to maximize your loved one's independence, safety, and quality of life. A solid care plan addresses family resources. This includes making sure you are not called upon to do more than you are able.

 

A care manager is a guide and an advocate. These experts are typically trained in the health professions or social work. Many have specialties in elder care. They bring to their role an understanding of the

  • local healthcare system;
  • emotional and physical challenges of aging and/or disability;
  • difficulties of adult children juggling work and family;
  • common legal and financial issues that arise in later life;
  • local housing options and other senior or disabled services.

 

Care managers use a holistic approach. They begin with a thorough assessment of needs and capabilities. They can often resolve uncertainties and dispel family disagreements. Their emotional support may help your loved one come to terms with this new phase of life.

 

A care manager's input may save you time and money. After looking at money and other family resources, they can recommend appropriate housing situations. They can identify veteran assistance and other benefits. They can avoid duplication of medical services and potentially catch problems before a crisis blooms. They can also monitor the quality of care.

 

A care manager works independently as the client's advocate. They are not paid through referral fees. Nor are they employees of hospitals or insurance companies. In some cases, their services can be reimbursed by long-term care insurance.

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Living with uncertainty

If you are supporting a seriously ill family member, your relative's condition and needs could change at any time. Such uncertainty creates practical problems. (You may suddenly need to leave work to take him or her to the doctor.) It also comes with an emotional cost.

 

Doubts and the unpredictable can be hard to bear. You may put off decisions because you are not sure exactly how things will turn out. You may even find yourself wishing for something to happen right now, just to end the uncertainty.

 

Worrying about a problem may seem like it will eventually produce useful ideas and create certainty. But habitual worry itself causes stress. Check out our earlier newsletter article about how to keep worry in balance.

 

Another strategy is to learn to feel more comfortable with uncertainty. Use these questions to recognize and challenge your "need" for certainty:

  • Is it possible to be 100% certain about everything?
  • In what ways has your need for certainty been helpful to you? Are there ways it has been unhelpful?
  • Do your predictions focus mostly on bad things happening? Can you imagine other possible outcomes?
  • When you think about your life, are there uncertainties that you currently tolerate well? What helps make that possible?

 

You may find that your responses indicate you can, and are, coping with more uncertainty than you had realized.

To further support your acceptance of uncertainty, try this:

  • When your thoughts involve a lot of worries and "what ifs," take a moment to notice them. Remind yourself, "Oh, there's my desire for certainty again. That's a preference, not a life requirement."
  • Take a slow, deep breath, exhale, and visualize your need for certainty wafting away.
  • Refocus yourself on the here and now. Pay attention to the sights and sounds around you and to your present task. 

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Dealing with denture care

Dentures need the same level of care and attention as natural teeth do. Bacteria and fungi that grow on teeth can also infect a dental appliance. Pressure spots on the gums can lead to pain and potential infection. Poor denture care can also result in stains and bad breath.

 

Encourage your family member to develop a solid routine.

  • After eating. Remove and rinse dentures to clean off any remaining bits of food. Also rinse mouth.
  • Twice a day. Brush the dentures using a soft-bristle brush and nonabrasive cleaner. Brush the teeth and areas that are in contact with the gums or where a dental fixative is applied.
  • At bedtime. Remove dentures and soak them overnight in a denture cleaning solution. In the morning, rinse the dentures before putting them back in the mouth. Empty and dry the soaking container. Leave it open for the day.
  • Yearly. See the dentist at least every 12 months. He or she can assess mouth health, check denture fit, and clean the dentures professionally.

 

Keep in mind that dentures are delicate.

  • Clean or handle them over a basin that is filled with water or lined with a soft cloth in case they are dropped.
  • Use cool or warm water. Water that is too hot can warp dentures.
  • Ask your dental hygienist to recommend brushes and cleaners. Regular toothbrushes are too harsh.
  • Most dentures should not be allowed to sit in the air and dry out completely.

 

Call the dentist if your relative complains of pain or has difficulty wearing dentures. There may be a sore on the gums or the dentures may need to be adjusted because of changing weight, etc.

 

Continue to schedule regular exams. With proper care, dentures can last five to ten years.

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About Us

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.

 

cameo testimonial image

"After mother's stroke, a care manager helped me sort through all my questions about what to do next. She not only developed a comprehensive care plan for mother, but helped us coordinate her move ."



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