Five Simple Steps to Elderly Care
by Chris Palmer, AgeSpace
Caring for an elderly person can be a difficult task if you do not have the skills up your sleeves. They can have mood swings, health issues and erratic behavior which can prove to be a major hindrance and cause a communication gap. I’m going to explain to you five simple steps through which you can take care of your beloved elderly parent and make them happier. So let’s begin!
1. Talk to them:
Before you embark on the journey of elderly caregiving, you need to communicate with your parent about their needs and expectations. Both you and your parent need to be prepared for what’s coming ahead. You should expect a drastic lifestyle change and your parent might expect a lowered level of autonomous decision-making. Communicate about the best methods of caregiving, and decide whether they want to be taken care of by a geriatric specialist or their own family. This primarily depends on their individual health condition, as well.
2. Discuss the Finances
Probably one of the most important topics that you’ll need to take care of before you begin the caregiving is sorting out the financial matters. You need to discuss with your elderly parent and their attorney (preferable) about the property they hold, the insurance matters and their pension (if any). If their needs will be catered from their own money and they have no pension, consider Equity Release. Get a financial adviser if you think you need help with important decisions.
3. Get Help
You don’t have to do the caregiving all by yourself. Try getting help from your friends and family. Involve your siblings in the process. Have your kids take care of their grandparents. There’s nothing more fulfilling for a grandparent than getting to spend time with their grandkids. Consider getting respite are every now and then. It is good for both the caregiver and the elderly. Preparing meals at home can be very time-taking. Consider contacting meal services to save time.
4. Make Necessary Changes
If you have your elders brought in to your home, you might need to make necessary changes to your living space in order to make it more comfortable for your elderly parents. You should make sure you have smoke detectors installed and working just fine. Install grab bars and anti-skid pads in the bathroom to provide support and avoid falling. Make sure the lighting is enough for both day and night. Light up the hallway outside their room, the kitchen and their bathroom. Preferably, install an alarm in their room. Get them a cell phone so they may call you when needed.
5. Check Up With the Doctor
Make sure to stay in touch with your parent’s doctor. Check up on their medicines regularly and see if they doses are available. It is preferable to keep them stacked. Always get their medicines from authentic and reputable pharmacies. If you can, do visit the doctor with them and discuss with him the health issues of your parent along with their solutions. Keep a track of their nutritional details.
With a few simple steps, you can successfully take care of your elderly parent and you’ll enjoy it much more.
This article was written by Chris Palmer who regularly shares advice on elderly care, in particular dementia and supporting your elderly parent. You can find more by Chris on: https://www.agespace.org/
Disconnecting airbags is often a topic of discussion among senior citizens, particularly those of smaller height. Depending on the individual, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may recommend small and elderly adults to disconnect the airbags but not always. There are several factors to consider, as well as alternatives to try, before resorting to disconnecting the airbags.
When a senior citizen is riding or driving in a car, the first thing to check in regards to the airbag is the seatbelt. Is the belt fastened correctly? Is the positioning done accurately? The seatbelt should come just over the shoulder, not against or across the neck. According to ConsumerAffairs.com, using a seatbelt and keeping the breastbone of the senior driver or passenger at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel or dashboard will reduce the risk of a serious head injury in an accident by up to 85 percent. If the seatbelt is going across the neck instead of the shoulder, sitting on a cushion could help position it properly, as can moving the seat as far back as possible, while still being able to effectively make use of the gas and brake pedals.
Proper positioning is the key safety factor in a vehicle that contains airbags. If the seatbelt is not positioned correctly, the senior citizen should ride in the back seat instead. If the senior citizen is the driver, the solution may be to disconnect the airbags, but only if certain conditions apply. There are only a handful of conditions that are recommended by the NHTSA for disconnection of a vehicle's airbags and even then, approval is required.
Medical conditions approved by the NHTSA include, in certain instances, scoliosis, achondroplasia, and atlantoaxial instability. Medical conditions and situations that are not approved reasons to disconnect the airbags include advanced age, angina, arthritis, asthma, breast reconstruction, back or neck surgery, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, eyeglasses, facial injury or reconstructive surgery, hyperacusis, median sternotomy, mastectomy, opthalmologic surgery, osteogenesis imperfecta, osteoporosis, pacemakers, pregnancy, scoliosis, supplemental oxygen and tinnitus.
Also approved as a safety reason to disconnect the airbags is if the proper 10 inch positioning between the breastbone and steering wheel or dashboard cannot be obtained, even through alternative methods, such as using a cushion and moving the seat's position.
Overall, it is safest to use an air bag with proper seatbelt positioning for the best protection in an automobile accident. Only in special situations and for certain conditions should the on-off switch be used to disconnect the airbags. It is generally safer to travel in a vehicle that has working airbags.
While it may, at first, seem logical to immediately disconnect the airbags for elderly or small adults that may not always be the safest decision. Air bags play an important role in protecting accident victims from more serious injuries and even death.
Before making the decision to disconnect the airbag for safety reasons, senior citizens should seek the help and advice of a licensed medical professional. A licensed professional will be better able to evaluate the medical risk factors and make an informed recommendation. For more information on disconnecting airbags for small adults or senior citizens, try your local Department of Motor Vehicle office. Many have brochures and other pertinent information, should you have a medical condition that warrants disconnecting your vehicle's air bags.
More Traffic Safety Resources:
Federal Highway Administration
As people age, they sometimes lose the ability to do things they once were able to do with ease. Driving can be one of those things. It's often hard for senior citizens to admit when they can no longer drive. They may feel as though giving up driving is like giving up their independence. It is difficult to tell someone you know and care about that their driving may not be up to par. Unfortunately, while difficult, it may become a necessary and unavoidable task.
There are many ways to initiate a discussion about driving with an elderly person that you are close to or a caregiver for. No matter which method is chosen, it should be done as delicately as possible, so as not to place blame on the senior citizen or offend them. Some may wish to casually bring up the topic. Others may wish to call a family meeting or schedule a doctor appointment, and allow the doctor to make the recommendation.
If you are the bearer of news, there are a few things you can do to help ease the situation. At the same time, make sure that the older driver you are talking to takes you seriously. An example of a bad thing to say would be "Mom, you are driving really badly lately. You shouldn't be driving anymore." In this scenario, the mother could be easily upset or offended, which could have the opposite effect of what you are looking for.
An example of a better way to approach the situation might be: "Mom, did you know that the new medication you're taking has recently been in the news for effecting driving skills? Have you noticed anything?" In the second scenario, the caregiver is informing the senior without placing any blame while expressing that there could be a problem. Also, the question leaves room for the senior citizen driver to think about the situation and a possible solution.
If this type of discussion is not leading anywhere, you or another family member may need to be more direct and provide recent examples to the older driver. One scenario could start with "Dad, that was pretty scary the other day when you ran that traffic light at that busy intersection, wasn't it? Do you think it's time for a check up with the eye doctor? I know it's hard for me to see those lights whenever I need new glasses." Statements like this should lead into discussing the issue further with the senior.
If the issue is still being avoided or denied, a senior's caregiver can also try making more blunt statements, such as "You know, I've been real nervous when I ride in the car with you lately, and I'm afraid to let the kids go anywhere when you're driving. You seem to be having a little trouble with driving, and I'm afraid for your safety and the safety of others. What do you think we should do to change that?"
It is also a good idea to provide a variety of resources during the discussion. Many websites, such as AAA and AARP provide downloadable pamphlets or files. The solution may not always lie in taking away the keys or having the license revoked. With a little help from the right people and resources, some drivers can re-sharpen the skills they are struggling with. Sometimes all it takes is a pair of glasses or a specialty driving course. Ultimately, the main goal is to get the older driver to realize there are some problems with their driving skills and improve those skills or stop driving altogether. To allow someone who cannot drive properly to remain on the road is not fair to that person or others.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
If your parents haven't been the best drivers lately, you may be thinking, "Should I talk to my parents about driving?" The answer to this is yes. If you have any question about an elderly person's driving skills, it is best to address your concerns as soon as possible. Not doing so could be unsafe for that person, as well as pedestrians and others on the road. Your concerns could prove to be nothing, but when safety is concerned, it is better to be overly prepared.
The focus of the conversation will depend largely on the situation at hand. You may need to observe your elderly parents driving before you have a talk with them to get an idea of what you will need to deal with. For some, the talk will consist of a recommendation to get eyeglasses. For others, it may be more or less serious.
If you suspect one or both of your parents have a vision problem, a driving talk may consist of making sure they have scheduled an appointment with an eye doctor. If they have not, you may need to stress how important it is during the conversation. Be sure to do this without saying something that is likely to offend.
If one of your parents is doing things like stopping in the middle of traffic, getting lost in places that should be familiar or having delayed responses, there may be a medical reason behind the poor driving habits. In this type of situation, this could be very dangerous and the senior citizen should not drive at all until a doctor or other medical professional has given them clearance to do so. Another thing to consider is physical or mental disabilities. These also can fall under the medical category, depending on their severity. A talk with your parents in this driving situation could consist of recommendation to see a doctor, as well as a discussion of medical symptoms that could be causing the driving difficulties.
"The Family Conversations" brochure, offered as a free senior resource from TheHartford.com, advises observing the driving of the individual over time and keeping a record of the data collected. Consumers who download the Family Conversations will be able to print a worksheet that is for this purpose. Some other things that can be found in the free brochure are observation tips, behavior warning signs, questions to consider if driving needs to be stopped and more.
When confronted with the evidence, combined with the concerns of loved ones, it may be easier for senior citizen drivers to accept the situation. A gentle, but firm approach is best. The point is to make it clear that there may be some issues with driving, but you do not want to anger, offend or place blame on your parents.
A sentence such as "Dad, you drive horrible. You need to get off the road!" is not ideal. More ideal, would be something like, "Dad, I noticed when you drove to the store today that you passed up a couple stop signs. That isn't like you. Is something wrong?" In the second statement, there is room for the senior driver to open up and talk about the situation. Yet, in the first, there is likely just room for arguments and hurt feelings.
Talking to your parents about driving is not always an easy thing to do, but it may become a necessary one. When having the driving talk with elderly parents, it is easier if you come prepared with questions, concerns and even observation data that you have collected.
Hurricane Effects on Seniors
As seniors learned from hurricanes like Katrina and Ike, a hurricane can cause great damage in no time at all. They also can have lasting effects on seniors in terms of financial stress, health concerns, the loss of property and more.
Special Needs for Evacuation
First, some seniors may require special transportation services to vacate an area afflicted by a natural disaster. Improving alert systems could help solve part of the complications that seniors face with this issue. Oftentimes, seniors end up remaining in the path of an oncoming storm simply because they either are not alerted in time or cannot gain access to transportation. This can be dangerous because if flood waters threaten their homes, they can drown. Instances of this happened during Katrina and other recent hurricanes.
Loss of Material Goods and Intangibles
It is important that seniors understand the importance of having an insurance policy in the event of a natural disaster. When a storm strikes, it often is not feasible to take all of your belongings with you and out of harm's way. Because of this, many seniors end up with damage and loss when it comes to material items. Seniors can prevent some of this financial loss by keeping their insurance policies up-to-date.
Property Loss or Damage
Perhaps the worst thing that can happen to seniors during a hurricane, besides death or injury, is the loss of or damage to their homes and property. The direct and indirect effects of a hurricane can bring about various types of damage such as structural damage, flood damage, fire and smoke damage and more. Seniors should be sure that home insurance is kept up-to-date, including insurance against natural disasters such as flooding.
Possibility of Moving or Starting Over
Sometimes once the storm is over, seniors may relocate or start over by rebuilding. This can be either by personal choice or out of circumstance. The costs associated with moving or rebuilding in the current location can put a financial strain on seniors. Many seniors are living off of Social Security payments and may not have extra money stored away for such an added expense.
Effects on Health
According to the Houston Chronicle, during Hurricane Ike, many senior citizens wondered if they could survive through the mass power outage that occurred as a result. In Ike's aftermath, one senior citizen, 62-year-old Alvin Fowler, remarked "I'm sickly as a dog. Everything is wrong with me." The unfortunate reality is that until there are more resources directed toward helping them, seniors will face situations like this during a storm. Southeast Texas recognizes the need for aid to seniors and has a hurricane task force available to assist them. This is good news. However, more still needs to be done to protect seniors during and after hurricanes.
Geriatric Care Managers
As loved ones age, their families are faced with making sure their needs are met through geriatric care. This can be especially true when those loved ones have mental or medical conditions. Sometimes it can be stressful, as well as confusing and overwhelming, to figure out what to do when an aging loved one needs geriatric care.
What are Geriatric Care Managers?
Family and friends often are delegated as caregivers to aging loved ones without really knowing what is best for their long term geriatric care. Geriatric care managers can take over the responsibility of figuring out and managing those difficult tasks.
Geriatric Care Management vs. Family Care Management
No one solution is the magic one for all families. Each individual situation is different. In geriatric care management, geriatric care managers are assigned to be sure that loved ones are properly cared for at home, as well as in healthcare facilities. Family care management is when this responsibility is solely the responsibility of the loved one's family.
What do Geriatric Care Managers do?
Geriatric Care Managers perform various tasks to ensure that aged loved ones will get the care they require. This will be done according to the aging loved one's individual situation. Geriatric care managers will do this by visiting the home or long term care facility. They will meet with family members and staff to ensure that a loved one is receiving proper care. Things that might be checked upon are medicine frequency, proper hygiene, proper diet and any medical needs.
How to Choose a Geriatric Care Manager
When researching geriatric care managers, it is very important to look into multiple geriatric care managers. Your loved one's health and well being will be put into someone else's hand. Therefore, a wise choice is important. Ask as many questions about geriatric care as possible. Find out what types of services your loved one may need at any point in time.
Make a list and be sure to cover questions on those items with each of the geriatric care managers you speak with. Also ask each to explain what they do on a daily basis for the typical client's geriatric care. Some may even allow you to observe some of their daily tasks as a geriatric care manager. The most important thing to remember in the process of choosing between geriatric care managers is the wants and needs of your loved one.
Caregivers of adults with disabilities deserve a special voice to show the public all they do and Family Caregiver Alliance is helping to provide that. The first organization formed to address friend and family caregivers providing long-term care, FCA has been around since 1977. What started out as a small group of caregivers and community leaders over 30 years ago has grown significantly.
FCA has helped countless families in a number of different ways over the years, providing various resources and assistance to those offering disability care. Most recently, the FCA has developed the Family Care Navigator, which is a state by state resource for caregivers of those with disabilities.
At the Family Care Alliance website, the Family Care Navigator is easily accessible. A caregiver searching for information on government, nonprofit or private programs need only click on the state of residence right on the home page. If it is services that are needed, that information is also available on the Family Care Navigator.
General information and resources are also available. A list of some of the most common questions is prominently displayed for easy access. For further research and information, check the free fact sheets and publications Family Care Alliance displays on the website. Printable versions are available.
Because providing long-term care in a family caregiver situation can sometimes be difficult, frustrating or otherwise straining, there is also access to support groups and organizations for long-term family caregivers from the FCA website.
Family Caregiver Alliance has received various awards and grants. The organization's website is extensive and has been called an invaluable resource for long-term caregivers of adults with disabilities.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Taking on the caregiving role for a family member who is aging with a disability is a loving decision and can be very rewarding. A caregiver of this person might spend the majority of his or her time caring for their loved one. Because of this, the primary caregiver may need some rest or some time to do something special for themselves. That is where respite care comes in.
What is Respite Care?
Respite care is when someone other than the primary caregiver takes on the caregiving responsibilities. Respite care is designed for aging individuals who may or may not have a disability. Respite care could be for a short period of time to allow for a break. It could also be for a longer period of time if the primary caregiver has decided to take a vacation or take care of other matters for an extended period of time. Respite care can be given by a family member, a friend or a licensed professional. It can occur at the patient's residence or a respite care center. Respite care for someone aging with a disability can be scheduled or unscheduled.
Who Does Respite Care Help and Why Should it Be Used?
Respite care can help both the patient with the disability and the primary caregiver. Caregiving is sometimes time consuming. Caring for an aging person with a disability sometimes takes up a large time slot. The primary caregiver can receive a break or simply get time to run errands through respite care. The patient benefits because when the primary caregiver leaves, there is still someone there to care for him or her. If the reason for the respite care is to give the primary caregiver some rest, the patient could benefit from having a well rested caregiver when that person returns to their caregiving duties.
How to Find Respite Care
Your state's local bureau on aging can provide you with information on local respite care centers, as well as other information and resources, such as what respite care Medicaid and Medicare may cover. Churches and other religious organizations may also be able to help locate respite care for someone aging with a disability. Some may even provide it.
Others that can help locate respite care for those aging with a disability are the local Alzheimer's Association, social services department, Easter Seals, or a mental health agency. Also, of course, there are family members and friends that you may be able to enlist help from. If you cannot afford to pay for respite care, there may be a friend or family member who will do it for no cost, simply because they care.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Senior Drivers: Taking The Keys Away
When a parent or loved one reaches a certain age, there comes a point when their driving may not be the best. At times, they do not realize it or want to admit it. At this point, it may be necessary to take away the keys to that person's car. It is vital to do this in the most sensitive way as possible. After all, this is a person you love and care about. This is why you are taking the keys away, to protect that person's safety, as well as the safety of other citizens.
However, the senior citizen who is driving may not share your opinion. This person may believe you are trying to control their life for them and will likely think they are perfectly capable of making their own decision regarding driving. If you know that this same person cannot drive well enough to operate a vehicle, but the senior citizen is not willing to admit it or stop driving, this is where you will need to step in. Doing so can be very difficult and stressful for both parties involved.
A senior citizen who has their keys taken away in order to stop driving may be trying to hold onto their independence. As people age, some tend to fear that they will not be able to take care of themselves. In their eyes, if they cannot drive, this may look as though they are no longer capable of caring for themselves. That thought is difficult to face for any adult. For senior citizen drivers, it can sometimes be worse because they may view this as a sign of old age, which some don't like to face.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, many cities around the U.S. are doing things to help make driving safer so that senior citizens who are still driving don't always have to get the keys taken away. In Troy, Mich., for instance, crash instances for senior citizen drivers were reduced by 42 percent when clearance intervals for yellow and red signals were modified. Interventions like this, and other traffic safety changes, could keep some senior citizen drivers on the road longer.
Unfortunately, there are still cases in which allowing your beloved senior citizen to keep driving is not always possible. If you or a loved one has to face this difficult driving decision, think about safety first. If a person cannot see properly or there are other factors that make it difficult to drive, driving is not safe for this senior citizen or other drivers or pedestrians. Know when taking the keys is appropriate and necessary by observing his or her driving habits. That said, taking the keys is sometimes easier said than done. Aside from the fact that the senior citizen driver may be attempting to hold onto their independence, there are other reasons one may not want to stop driving. A person does not always want to admit they cannot do something or, at times, may not even realize it.
Driving is something people spend a good portion of their lives doing. When they can no longer do it as well as they once could, they may not even realize it. In this case, there are services, such as the one offered at AAA in California, for taking a senior citizen to have their driving capabilities tested. This is more than just a standard driver test. These kind of services will test coordination, eyesight, reaction time and other factors that often contribute to poor driving by senior citizens.
Some people actually prefer to have a middleman, such as a driving coach or someone from the Department of Motor Vehicles, perform the task of taking away the keys from the senior citizen driver. It may be better received from a knowledgeable source, and it takes the blame away from the loved one. Another option to consider is having a family meeting where everyone states their feelings. Hearing it from more than one close relative can be more convincing than just one person's thoughts.
More On Senior Driving:
U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
National Transportation Library
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Getting Paid to Care for Your Loved One
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
If you have a friend or family member in need of a caregiver, you are likely considering many options. You may be wondering if you can provide that care yourself. If so, you may also wonder if you can get paid to be a family caregiver. Is it possible to make a liveable wage caring for your own family member?
Can I Get Paid to be a Family Caregiver?
If you have a friend or loved one who is ill, you could have hopes of caring for them yourself instead of hiring someone. Can you get paid to do so? The short answer to this is yes, it is possible to become a caregiver for your own family member and get paid for doing so. However, depending on your area, the methods to do so may vary.
Can I Make a Liveable Wage as a Family Caregiver?
Making a liveable wage caring for your own family member is possible, but not likely for most. It will depend on how much you need for living expenses, as well as the method in which you go about establishing the caregiving. It will also depend on where you live, as some states allow for this and some do not. Also, if you are the person paying for your loved ones other expenses (such as a mortgage, prescriptions, and household supplies), will the money you make from caring for them cover that? In many cases, it will not. Even those in the nurse aid field sometimes do not make a liveable wage themselves. Most people who take on this responsibility for family members are doing so more out of love than for the possible income. However, many would appreciate it if they could get paid for their efforts.
How Can I Become a Family Caregiver?
One way to become a family caregiver is by contacting Medicaid. This differs from Medicare, which will not usually pay a family member who acts as caregiver. They will be looking to pay someone who is a professional in the field of caregiving. Other great sources to contact for information include local senior services, social services, and the county health department.
Benefits of a Family Member as Caregiver
Having a family member as a caregiver can be more comforting to a loved one. They may already be used to this person helping them. Therefore, when the situation gets to a point when they need more active care, it could reduce their discomfort surrounding it. It's hard for some people when they learn they will need someone to take care of their needs for them. It may be an easier transition when a family member is the one providing the care. Also, a family member will have the benefit of knowing personal needs and wants. They will also likely have more love for the patient than someone who is not a family member.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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