Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Guest Post: The Modern Senior Center

By Kristen Heller

Caregiving a much-loved senior is a special calling that brings both joy and sacrifice. Certainly, additional time spent with a loved one as perhaps the years are fading is an opportunity to make memories otherwise not possible. Then again, the constant demands of caring for another and the fear that any lapse of supervision could cause irreparable harm weigh heavily. For many, respite care provides the temporary break one needs, but this is used sparingly.

Fortunately, in most communities, a resource exists that can benefit the senior and the caregiver. If you find yourself burdened by the heavy demands of caregiving, consider taking the time to explore your local senior center.

The Modern Senior Center
It is entirely common for older persons to avoid senior centers due to the stigma associated with them. A frequent misperception? Senior centers resemble a geriatric unit at a hospital or neglected retirement community. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The modern senior center is full of life. They can be thought of less like a destination and more like Grand Central Station. These vibrant locations frequently offer card games, dominos, regular lunches and even travel. From day trips like happy hours and dinner clubs to excursions all over the region, senior centers are for the active, and that’s precisely how they can help both the senior and the caregiver.

Joy for All
All too often, the senior feels guilty for needing their caregiver’s time and energy. And, the senior is typically not able to drive themselves to the senior center for peer interaction. Yet, when the caregiver takes their loved one to a senior center, a whole new world of opportunities can open up.

The senior can interact with their peers, while the caregiver can participate in activities right alongside. In many cases, the caregiver could be a senior themselves, caring for a more elderly parent. The chance for a caregiver in their 60s to participate in a ball game or evening out with their parent in their 80s can be a genuine bonding experience.

Beyond the Senior Center
Caregiving is not always easy, but it can be a deeply rewarding time for caregiver and care receiver alike. Caregivers may also want to explore resources besides their local senior center, which will help them provide the best care possible for their elderly loved one.

Kristen Heller is a passionate writer, teacher, and mother to a wonderful son. When free time presents itself, you can find her tackling her lifelong goal of learning the piano.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Guest Post: Benefits of Massage Therapy in Reducing Dementia

By Sara Rasheed

Dementia is a collective term, which describes several symptoms of cognitive decline. If someone finds difficulty in memorizing something, notices an increase in forgetfulness, a decrease in cognitive skills, difficulty in thinking and in performing daily tasks, as well as problems with communicating, a visit with a doctor is recommended.

While many of these issues come with aging, further testing can help determine if this is normal, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or actual dementia. Whether or not there is a formal diagnosis, it’s never too early to take steps to feel better. People have been using massage for decades to enhance both physical and mental well-being.

Inducing Relaxation
Massage therapy provides multiple benefits. It is one of the best ways to reduce pain and induce relaxation throughout the body. It reduces stress and can facilitate more restful sleep. Those suffering from dementia can become agitated and anxious. Massage can help calm body and mind almost instantly.

Slow Down of Mental Deterioration
Some believe that over time, massage can play a significant role in decreasing memory loss. By relaxing the muscles of the body, massage may have the ability to slow down the rate of dementia. Frequent, even weekly massages, promote healing by regenerating dying and damaged brain cells or neurons, and creating a sense a calm from head to toe.

Increases the Production of Endorphins
Time and again, studies have shown that massage therapy is key to increasing endorphins in the body. Endorphins, also known as happy hormones, are beneficial in balancing the immune system and staying healthy. And, who doesn't want to feel stronger?

The Power of Touch
Many older people and frail elderly suffer from a lack of touch. Massage provides the human and physical interaction so needed, making them feel better physically and psychologically.

Human touch, regardless of whether in the form of regular massage therapy or by using a massage chair, can lead to an overall drop in stress and anxiety even for those in a state of serious cognitive decline.

Increased Communication
A trained massage therapist knows to ask about any discomfort or problem areas of the body, so the recipient gets the most benefit out of the massage session. A licensed professional will also encourage open communication from beginning to end, which can help make an older person apt to share health or personal concerns.

Inhibiting the Production of Stress Hormones
Massage can be especially helpful in inhibiting the production of stress hormones, which increase anxiety and stress levels in the body. As a result, a quality massage can make someone suffering from mild to severe dementia feel better for hours and days after the massage is over.

Sara Rasheed is a psychologist by profession, who enjoys home-based work and travel. She is passionate about the benefits of massage, massage chairs and other relaxation techniques. She regularly posts on mymassagechairs.com

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.

Inheritance
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.

Pension
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
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.

Loans
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 https://www.agespace.org/.

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).