Monday, November 20, 2017

Guest Post: Love Your Heart, Stay Healthy [Infographic]

By Aris Grigoriou

Heart disease is a major killer and claims 17.7 million lives every year. This infographic from Study Medicine Europe takes you through the amazing workings of the heart and provides insight on what can be done to protect it.

In just one day, your heart pumps 2,000 gallons of oxygenated blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels. When working perfectly, it’s incredible. Unfortunately, your heart can run into problems as you age. If you suffer a cardiac arrest, could die within a few minutes if treatment is not received promptly.

The responsibility really does fall on each of us to care for our own heart. While there are no quick fixes for heart issues, your best bet is to get active while you're young and your heart is strong. But it’s never too late to change your habits.

As you get older, it’s likely that you may be diagnosed with a condition that increases your risk of a heart attack. If you’re under a doctor's care, do your best to take their recommendations "to heart."

Aris Grigoriou serves as the Student Recruitment Manager at Study Medicine Europe, which represents leading medical, dental and veterinary schools in the European Union.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Guest Post: Remarkable Late-in-Life Achievements [Infographic]

By Michael Leavy

The International Day of Older Persons was celebrated on October 1, with this year’s theme being "Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons."

The contributions of senior citizens to their communities, and indeed to the wider world, can often be overlooked, yet there are so many seniors who make a massive impact on the world around them. This infographic from Home Healthcare Adaptations highlights some of the most noteworthy feats that have been achieved by people in their senior years. These encompass everything from running marathons and writing books to setting up businesses and even falling in love all over again!

You might be led to believe that once people hit their 60s, they’ve lived their life and just want to spend the rest of their days in the slow lane. Try telling that to the remarkable folks profiled below, people whose drive and determination to achieve great things did not subside.

These are the people who have remained forever young, the people whose age inspires rather than inhibits them. These are the people who have shown that it really is never too late to make an extraordinary impact on the world at large, or even on a local scale!

Home Health Care Adaptations, based in Dublin, Ireland, is a family-run company focused on making life easier for those wanting to age-in-place.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Guest Post: Recognizing Depression in Older People [Infographic]

By Alice Lucey

Depression in teenagers and young adults has been a hot topic of discussion in the mainstream media over the last few years. It’s certainly an issue that impacts a large portion of America’s senior citizens. While young people with depression are becoming more outspoken in admitting to its presence, those of an older age tend to be far less expressive about living with this debilitating condition.

This infographic, provided by Be Independent Home Care, hopes to offer insight into recognizing warning signs of elderly depression. Many senior citizens do not have anyone in whom they can confide or tend to keep their feelings to themselves, unwilling to share their emotional burden with loved ones.

Sometimes, depression in older people is misinterpreted as dementia. The two conditions share many similarities, but there are several differences that are worth noting. A person with dementia experiences a gradual mental decline and often has no awareness of his or her environment. With depression, mental decline is quite rapid and the person is acutely aware of any such difficulties.

We should always be vigilant as to possible signs of depression in older people, especially if they seem reluctant to acknowledge it outwardly. It can be extremely challenging to have a heart-to-heart talk with them about depression, so you might find it more helpful to make yourself available for them as much as you can. Giving them your time and attention is so easy to do, and yet could make such a profound difference their lives.

Alice Lucey serves as Director of Care for Be Independent Home Care. The company, based in Ireland, specializes in one-to-one assistance and support to elderly clients in their own homes, allowing them to maintain their independence and individuality.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Guest Post: A Few Legal Considerations When Caring for Your Elderly Parents

By Chris Palmer

Caring for an elderly parent is not just about fulfilling their daily wants and needs. You have to be sure you’ve sorted out certain details, which include a few legal matters. Since they’re your parents, you hopefully have a strong connection with them, and they’ll be comfortable discussing the following issues with you. The key is doing so while they’re still healthy.

Talk to them and try to understand their perspective. You may discuss the items they want you or your siblings to inherit, e.g., personal property, land or any business holdings. The subject of inheritance is a very sensitive one and requires everyone’s complete attention.

Health Insurance
You may never know what life has waiting for you or your parents, so always plan ahead. Getting your mother or father a supplemental insurance plan might be the best thing you can do! Without one, your family could be responsible for hundreds, or even thousands of dollars of medical expenses not covered by Medicare. Prescription costs alone make this kind of plan an essential for nearly every senior or disabled person.

Do your parents have any income other than Social Security? If one or both of your parents have a retirement pension, know the value and whether it will be enough to cover their living expenses.

Taxes are another inevitability. Are your parents filing their taxes annually or do they owe any back taxes? Be sure they’re filing on time and tracking any deductible expenses. Medical costs can add up quickly, and could reduce your parents’ overall taxes owed if high enough.

If your parents have any credit cards or loans in their name, you’ll want to be sure they’re keeping up with the monthly payments. The same goes for everyday utilities, such as a cell phone. If not, find out where they stand and if steps need to be taken to negotiate a reduced payment schedule. Constantly calling creditors can spoil your loved one’s quality of life… and potentially ruin their ability to get much-needed services, transportation or even housing, down the road.

Strive to avoid confrontation and offer concrete strategies if the money situation isn’t what you expected. It’s all about making your loved one feel a little more safe and secure.

With a clear understanding of everything from insurance to an attendance allowance (if you live in the UK), you’ll be better able to help your elderly parents with their day-to-day lives. After all, putting the “house in order” today will reduce stress and worry for everyone tomorrow.

Chris Palmer regularly shares advice on dementia and supporting your elderly parent. You can find more by Chris by visiting

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Guest Post: How to Decide What Kind of Elder Care Your Loved One Needs

By Kathleen Webb
HomeWork Solutions, Inc.

There are a myriad of factors to consider when the time comes for you to provide additional support to an elderly loved one. Elder care comes in many different forms, with more options available now than ever before, but that doesn’t mean the decision will be any easier or quicker to make.

The right kind of care will make all the difference to your loved one and the rest of your family. It’s important to begin the decision-making process as an open-ended conversation, preferably before the need for care is acute. Read on to discover helpful ways to approach the issue, as well as the different options to consider.

Conducting a Needs Assessment
Begin your journey by doing a needs assessment with your loved one. A needs assessment will help you get a clear picture of their current requirements and desires. Some of the primary areas to consider include physical, emotional, medical, financial and social needs.

Rather than just assuming the reasons for your loved one’s struggles, encourage them to help you understand the underlying problems of the symptoms. Perhaps you’ve noticed your mother has become more agitated as her dementia has progressed. Make space for an open and judgment-free conversation about this frustration. You may discover that it isn’t only the dementia that is provoking the reaction, but also a lack of healthy social connection with peers. This new information may change your approach to looking for elder care, as social programming and day outings become prioritized to meet your mother’s needs.

What Kind of Care?
Once you’ve carried out your needs assessment, you should have a better idea about the kind of care that your loved one would like, and the kind of care that he or she needs. Their medical requirements will determine the amount of training and skill required of your caregiver.

Elder care is offered by both custodial and skilled workers. Although custodial caregivers are able to support your loved one with day-to-day activities like bathing, eating and dressing, they are unable to provide any clinical support, such as checking on vitals and assisting with medical equipment. If your loved one requires clinical care, at-home healthcare will be a better match.

If you’re still unsure about the kind of support that would best suit your loved one, you can speak with a geriatric care manager, who can be accessed through either public or private means.

There are also digital marketplaces that can put you in touch with a care manager. Care managers, or case managers, as they’re known in the public sector, will assist your family in coming up with an individualized care plan. They can offer the option of arranging and monitoring care services, too.

Working with a care manager can save you time and money, as they’re already familiar with elderly needs and caregiving options. You won’t need to wade through masses of information on your own, and you won’t opt for elder care services that aren’t yet necessary for your loved one. After choosing the kind of care you want for your family member, you will have to decide whether you will hire through an agency or use the services of a private caregiver.

Using an Agency
Hiring through an agency is the least complex of the options, but it also comes with the highest price tag. An agency caregiver will cost you $25-40 per hour, depending on the agency and the part of the country. Usually, agency caregivers have already been run through a police check, and have all the required skills and training to qualify them for their role. What’s more, because the agency is their employer, you are not responsible for payroll, taxes, insurance and maybe even scheduling.

Working with an agency can offer greater convenience, but there are certain restrictions to bear in mind. You may be limited in terms of choice when selecting your caregiver, or you may be given an automatic replacement if your caregiver calls in sick. You may also be locked into a contract with an agency, and have less flexibility with scheduling.

Privately Hiring a Caregiver

If you want a privately hired caregiver to look after your loved one, you will enjoy a larger pool of candidates to choose from, so there’s a better chance of finding your perfect match. Private care also boasts more flexibility when it comes to scheduling, and lower hourly rates of $12-20 per hour.

You’re not limited to an agency’s existing employee base, either. That means you can advertise and seek out a candidate whose skills and training are tailored to your loved one’s needs. Some private caregivers may also offer mobile care, which would allow the caregiver to accompany your family on vacation or help out while you’re away.

New digital marketplaces are making it easier to find the right caregiver, by using robust algorithmic matching abilities. They also offer services similar to that of a geriatric care manager, to ensure you’re matching with the correct caregiver.

Privately hiring a caregiver also comes with unique responsibilities, relative to that of an agency. Because you hire the caregiver directly, you become that worker’s employer. Remember to factor in the costs of payroll taxes and insurance, which is roughly 12-15%. It is also recommended that you provide an employment contract, and negotiate all terms of service, including sick days and back up coverage.

Be Patient
The most important thing to remember is that there is no one solution that works for all older adults. Often a process of trial and error is necessary when looking for a good match, so don’t be discouraged. Be patient with yourself and your loved one as you navigate this new season of life together. Involve them as regularly as possible in all decisions, and give them the opportunity to try things out and change their mind.

Elder care is a shifting series of needs, and though you may find a caregiver who is a perfect fit for a certain period, be prepared to reconsider your care as time goes on. Stay attentive and responsive to your loved one's changing requirements, mobility, and desires. Ultimately, you want what’s best for that family member so they can live life to its fullest.

Additional Resources
HomeWork Solutions Knowledge Base

Long-Term Care

Elder Care Options

Kathleen Webb co-founded HomeWork Solutions, Inc. in 1993 to provide payroll and tax services to families employing household workers. Webb has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, and Congressional Quarterly. She also consulted with Senate staffers in the drafting of the 1994 Nanny Tax Law. She is the former President of the International Nanny Association, the leading professional association in the in-home childcare industry. You can contact HomeWork Solutions directly via Twitter (@4NannyTaxes).

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Guest Post: Caregiving for Loved Ones with Mesothelioma 

By Katherine Keys

A mesothelioma diagnosis can be difficult for everyone involved. This is particularly true for caregivers, who are bound to face challenges while providing a priceless service for their loved one. Being the primary caregiver for someone with cancer, particularly mesothelioma, is not an easy task and can take its toll, so caregivers should prepare themselves for what lies ahead.

Mesothelioma is a unique type of cancer. It is rare and much more aggressive than other types of cancer; veterans are believed to make up approximately 30 percent of those diagnosed. The most common form, pleural mesothelioma, attacks the tissue surrounding the lungs, and this leads to symptoms like shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and a persistent cough. As mesothelioma develops and spreads, which happens rapidly, these symptoms quickly get worse. They can severely limit mobility, requiring a great deal of physical work on the part of the caregiver. Someone in the later stages of mesothelioma may need help getting around, bathing, and even just getting out of bed.

The daily tasks associated with caring for someone who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma can be overwhelming. Along with the day-to-day scheduling of appointments, managing medications, personal care and nutritional needs, caregivers must deal with the patient’s financial and legal affairs. The amount of paperwork can be daunting. And knowing that a loved one faces a poor prognosis can place a tremendous strain on a caregiver’s physical and emotional health. It’s completely normal for the caregiver to occasionally feel frustrated, exhausted or depressed.

Caregivers must learn to take care of themselves. One of the common mistakes that caregivers make is to skimp on the time required for their own personal needs. While it may seem selfish, it is critical that caregivers stay as healthy as possible. The reason is that the level of care they provide is often in direct proportion to how well the caregiver feels. Restful sleep is an essential element to staying healthy and alert. Eating a well-balanced diet provides the vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that help ward off illness. Caregivers can also combat stress with regular exercise.

Caregivers should not be afraid to ask for help and take advantage of any available programs. These include the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, which provides certain caregivers up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for loved ones without the fear of losing their job. If finances are tight, they may be eligible for benefits from asbestos trust funds that have been established.

These trust funds are designed to provide just compensation for sufferers of mesothelioma. Support groups have also been created to help relieve some of the pressure. Home health agencies, such as Visiting Nurses, can provide much-needed support to caregivers who feel overextended.

State and local governments usually have elder care advocacy agencies, as well. It is vital that caregivers make the time to support themselves and take care of their own needs as they attempt to care for their loved one.

When someone is diagnosed with any kind of cancer, providing care often falls on the shoulders of a family member or a close friend. Reaching out for help when needed goes a long way to ensuring that the patient and the caregiver have the best quality of life possible.

Katherine Keys is an Outreach Specialist with the Mesothelioma Lawyer Center. The Houston, Texas-based organization provides advocacy and resources to those facing the disease.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Guest Post: Facing the Challenges of Alzheimer's Disease

Samantha Stein

Alzheimer’s disease has the power to alter the dynamics of the family. As the progressive brain
disorder targets memory, thinking and behavior, this condition can change the roles within the family quickly. Adult children become the primary caretaker of their parents and spouses shift to caregivers instead of partners. These unplanned role reversals can take a drastic toll on all involved.
As family members assume the role of caregivers, they begin to take responsibility for the financial, physical, emotional and mental well-being of their loved ones—while simultaneously trying to maintain their own. And trying to do both requires herculean strength.
Many caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s are at a higher risk of depression. Moreover, if we take a look at the cost of long-term care by state, we can easily see how their finances can also take a huge hit.
Anyone can see how overwhelming the responsibility is. As shown in 18 Enlightening Facts about Caregivers, these individuals sacrifice so much, and they should be appreciated and supported more. It can be emotionally, physically, and emotionally taxing for anyone. Add the various symptoms of Alzheimer’s into the mix, and the situation can turn disastrous.

My Mom, My Shadow
Many caregivers find it especially difficult to cope with shadowing, one of the more pronounced
symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The stories vary: caregivers share how terrifying it was to wake up in the middle of the night to find their loved one inches away from their faces, with eyes bulging as they watch their caregivers sleep. Others feel suffocated and frustrated to find their loved one following them at every turn.
Typically, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease shadow their caregivers because of anxiety and uncertainty. It is a fear-driven act, where they feel that their caregivers are the safe and known aspect of their lives. As they increasingly become disoriented, they may cling to what is only familiar and safe to them and that often means trying to stick like glue to their caregivers.

Dealing with Shadowing
The first step that caregivers need to take? Understanding and acceptance. Remember that reality is a gray area for individuals with Alzheimer’s, and it can be a terrifying situation for them. How a caregiver interprets this behavior can make a big difference. Recognize the reason behind the act, and know that it is not an action done to annoy anyone purposely.
Often, caregivers simply must take a much-needed break and collect their thoughts. Yes, the shadowing makes it challenging to do so, and can leave the caregiver feeling guilty for wanting to make an escape. Caregivers may have to ask for help from other trusted family members or friends. Additionally, they can incorporate engaging activities into the daily routine, designed to capture the attention of their loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Care for the Caregiver
Caregivers should remember to make their well-being a priority, no matter how impossible it may seem. The quality of care depends on the how healthy and happy the caregiver is, and that’s why they must take measures to secure their present and future. That could mean considering long-term care planning for themselves. After all, no one needs and deserves financial security more than these unsung heroes.

Samantha Stein is an online content manager for Association for Long Term Care Planning. Her works focus on long-term care information that covers long-term care insurance, financial planning, elder care and retirement. In line with the organization’s goal, Samantha creates content that helps raise awareness on the importance of having a comprehensive long-term care plan not just for the good of the individual but for the safety of the entire family.