HomeLife Senior News

Care for Terminally Ill Seniors

When a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or “failure to thrive,” consider seeking help from a hospice agency to assist with improving your loved one’s quality of life. Typically, hospice is available to people who are expected to live 6 months or less due to an incurable disease. Failure to thrive is defined as a patient who’s health has declined because of weight loss due to lack of appetite, depression and refusal of medical treatment. The patient may be giving up and feels there’s no reason to go on, or they may have recently had a stroke or other illness that has left them with complications. The purpose of hospice is to provide comfort care through pain management and symptom control. Hospice also provides medical equipment, medication and supplies, all which are covered through Medicare. Hospice does not treat the disease; rather, they focus on the patient’s quality of life, helping them to live fully, with dignity, surrounded by their loved ones.   Some families are concerned that by accepting hospice care they are giving up hope that their loved one will get better; however, if the patient’s condition improves, he or she will be taken off the program until such time is needed in the future. Hospice patients receive such excellent care that many times the response is dramatic and the TLC they receive provides an extra boost to their health which extends their life. Hospice also provides bereavement support for one year to the family after experiencing a loss.

By Amber Triebull

Social Activities Promote Senior Health

If you are age 50 or older and interested in community activities, consider checking out your local senior center. Senior centers offer an array of classes and activities to meet all kinds of interests. Get active in ballroom dancing or yoga, or learn something new in a cooking or Spanish class. Join the bridge club or book club to socialize with other seniors in your community, or relax while knitting or painting amidst good company. Many senior centers also offer senior health and nutritional classes to provide education about issues relevant to you. If getting involved in a weekly class isn’t your thing, most senior centers offer monthly or annual events such as luncheons, holiday celebrations, special outings or trips, amongst other special affairs. Socializing with others is good for your emotional health and joining a group offers an opportunity to make new friends and experience new things.   Contact your local senior center for more information about the classes and activities offered in your area.


By Amber Triebull

Relief for Caregivers Through Respite Care

What Is Respite Care?

Respite care for the elderly is any service that supports and maintains the primary caregiving relationship by providing temporary care to an aging parent or loved one.

If you’re the primary caregiver for an aging loved one, you may be experiencing some form of stress or burnout. It’s natural for caregivers to become so involved in taking care of someone else that they tend to allow their own needs to get put aside.

This is why respite care is so important for caregivers. As the number of caregivers increases—and there are already an estimated 50 million caregivers in the country today—the number of people suffering from exhaustion, stress, isolation, depression and physical ailments is also on the rise. This is no coincidence. Caregivers need to recognize that they deserve a break from their responsibilities to take care of themselves, too. And taking some time away from caregiving duties will make the person a better caregiver in the long run.

Many caregivers feel guilty at the thought of seeking respite services for their loved ones. A recent survey of caregivers by the National Family Caregivers Association showed that it’s especially difficult for spouse caregivers to acknowledge that their role of caregiver is different and separate from their role as spouse.  Caregivers need to acknowledge that caregiving plays a totally separate part in their lives, and that the job of long-term caregiving can be too big for just one person to handle.

Finding Relief in Respite Care

The benefits of respite care are numerous for caregivers. Taking time away from caregiving demands will leave a caregiver refreshed and renewed, allowing them the opportunity to re-energize to be a more effective caregiver. Caregivers deserve time for activities they enjoy, whether it be reading, gardening, taking a walk, taking in a movie or museum, or whatever relaxes and eases the caregiver’s spirit. It’s also important for caregivers to maintain social relationships with friends and other family members to avoid isolation and depression. And caregivers may just need time to take care of personal errands such as seeing their own doctor, or possibly attending a support group with other caregivers.

Ideally caregivers will have regularly scheduled breaks that can be provided by help from friends or family members. However, if that support is not available to the caregiver, there are a variety of respite care options available. Respite care services are offered through community agencies, home health care companies and residential care facilities.

A good place to start in the U.S. is the Eldercare Locator, a free nationwide toll-free service designed to assist older adults and their caregivers to find services in their community. Additional resources are local senior centers, Area Agencies on Aging, and the Family Caregiver Alliance.

It is also ideal for caregivers to create space in their home that is solely for the caregiver, whether that be a reading nook or an extra bedroom. Caregivers are advised to designate time every day, such as while the care receiver is taking a nap or when they first go to bed, that is just for the caregiver.

Before planning respite care, caregivers should talk with their loved one about it, so that he or she understands the benefit to both.

Remember that respite care should not be considered a luxury, but a necessity for the well-being of both the caregivers and their aging loved ones.


By Caren Parnes, Contributor for The Senior’s Choice



Getting Educated About Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, irreversible disorder of the brain and the most common form of dementia. The disease affects the cognitive parts of the brain that are involved in thinking, remembering, and using language. It can severely impair a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

The Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Dementia isn’t a specific disease, but rather a general term to describe any loss or decline in brain function that affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior, and is serious enough to interfere with daily functions. There are numerous types of dementia, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases.

Alzheimer’s Statistics

Alzheimer’s disease typically affects people when they’re age 60 or older, and your risk of developing the disease doubles every five years after the age of 65. An estimated 5.2 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s, as of a 2014 report released by the Alzheimer’s Association. About 5 million of these people are over the age of 65. According to the CDC, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death in people age 65 and older.

Alzheimer’s Disease Causes and Risk Factors

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the excessive shrinking of certain brain tissues, which occurs when neurons stop functioning, lose connections with other neurons, and eventually die. It’s not known how this process begins, but the brains of people with Alzheimer’s contain amyloid plaques (which are abnormal protein deposits between neurons) and neurofibrillary tangles (twisted strands of a protein called tau) that likely affect neurons. Research suggests that the genes you inherit may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s. Other possible risk factors for Alzheimer’s include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

Preventing Alzheimer’s

Making healthy life choices may help prevent or slow the onset of Alzheimer’s. These preventive measures include eating a healthy diet, drinking alcohol moderately, maintaining an active lifestyle, getting adequate sleep, keeping your mind active and engaged and forming lasting and healthy social connections.

The Alzheimer’s Association has developed a checklist of common symptoms to help you recognize the difference between normal age-related memory changes and possible warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s always a good idea to check with a doctor if a person’s level of function seems to be changing. The Alzheimer’s Association stresses that it is critical for people diagnosed with dementia and their families to receive information, care and support as early as possible.

Early Warning Signs

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • New problems with writing or speaking
  • Confusion with time and place
  • Poor or decreased judgment
  • Problems with abstract thinking
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • Withdrawing from social activities

To view the full checklist, visit http://www.alz.org/10-signs-symptoms-alzheimers-dementia.asp.


By Caren Parnes, Contributor for The Senior’s Choice

How Geriatric Care Managers Can Help

You have a crisis with your elderly parent or relative. The crisis might involve your mom or dad falling and breaking a hip, getting pneumonia, or wandering away and, this time, can’t find their way home. How do you take time away from your job or taking care of your own children? Don’t get frustrated or overwhelmed; get help to deal with this new complex situation. With more than 80% of elder care provided by family members, an emerging field of geriatric experts known as geriatric care managers has sprung up to help.

A Professional Perspective

When faced with helping your aging parents make decisions about their future, getting an outside perspective from a geriatric care manager can help assess your parent’s needs, identify things you may not have considered and create a care plan with options and recommendations. As specialists with extensive education and experience in elder care, geriatric care managers are skilled at assessing the level of help seniors need, changes that should be implemented now or in the future, and scheduling needed care services. Care managers can also identify helpful community resources, monitor needs and be an ongoing source of information.

Handling Family Dynamics

If you’re finding it a frustrating task to talk to your parent about closing off the upstairs of their home to prevent falls, installing bath safety equipment, giving up the car keys, or wearing an ID bracelet for those walks around the block, you’re not alone. Elderly parents often find it humiliating to transition to receiving advice, direction or physical care from their own children. But in the same arena, a professional outsider can step up to the plate and do it with panache.

A professional starts with a level playing field that creates a feeling of equality for the elder. Your parent may feel more comfortable speaking of sensitive areas with someone outside the family dynamics. At the very least, the elder is more likely to accept suggestions from a third party with a listening ear. The geriatric care manager will present a view to your parent that is unbiased by your personal stress, emotionally-charged worry, and any unconscious agendas.

Delegate to the Experts

With a geriatric care manager, you’ll get inside knowledge on everything from local facilities, in-home services, and where to find medical equipment and supplies, to unadvertised benefits offered by various associations. Most of all, their encouraging support will allow you to continue the routine of your daily life while staying fully involved with your parents’ lives. With a geriatric care manager, your time with mom or dad becomes bonding time, not time trying to haggle over what to do next.

Contact a geriatric care manager to help you set up a strategic plan organizing and implementing the care your parent needs. They will help you fulfill your own needs to be involved as closely as possible while maintaining your own personal and professional obligations. Whether you need help for a day, a few months or for years, let decisions about the care of the people you love most be guided by someone who’s been there before.

In the U.S., visit the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers website www.caremanager.org for a searchable database of reputable national care managers.


By Cheryl Smith, MA


4 Ways to Get Free or Low-Cost Financial Advice

Not every retiree can hire a financial planner, nor is every person in retirement savvy about managing their finances and investments. But it turns out there are a lot of free and low-cost ways seniors can get help. From banks to libraries and even on the internet, here’s a look at four ways retirees can get financial advice without spending a lot of money.

Some Banks Have No Fee Financial Advisors

Take your local bank for starters. A lot of financial institutions will provide their customers with financial advisors that don’t charge you anything. These individuals make money from the commissions they get for selling you products, but they also go over your current and past financial situation, taking into account your goals for the future. Sure, they may try to steer you into specific products, but you don’t have to purchase them. What’s more, they usually have your best interests in mind since they make money off of growing your nest egg.

AARP Provides Free Tax Preparation for Seniors

Managing money in retirement also means retirees have to be mindful of the tax consequences of their investments and drawdowns, making preparing taxes each year a bit more complicated. A tax preparer well versed in retirement issues may cost a lot, but AARP has a free service for anyone 50 and older who can’t afford to pay someone to do their taxes. Called the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, AARP sets up in more than 5,000 locations in neighborhood libraries, malls, banks, community centers and senior centers. Through this service retirees get their taxes done for free and don’t have to worry about a sales pitch in the process.

Library Seminars and Events Can Help Seniors with Finances

For many seniors, particularly ones on a budget, the local library, senior center or community center can be a treasure trove of free financial advice. Many libraries around the country host seminars for seniors focused on financial topics, whether it’s retirement planning or tax preparation. Those events are often free or low-cost events, providing seniors with tips and advice to manage their finances.

Websites Offer Low-Cost Advice

The internet has changed the way we do pretty much everything, and that is also true of financial advice. Thanks to robo-advisors and low-cost online financial advisors, seniors can get access to customized retirement plans, investment strategies and advice without paying a lot for it. Some examples: LearnVest, the New York-based online financial planner charges a one-time setup fee of $299 and then $19 a month. In return, seniors get a dedicated financial planner available 24/7, a customized financial plan and online tools and classes to help customers with their financial questions. Betterment, also out of New York, is another online financial advisor who charges competitive prices for advice. For example, seniors with account balances of $10,000 or less pay 0.35% a month with a minimum $100 deposit each month and $3 a month without the deposit. The fee decrease to 0.25% for account balances between $10,000 and $100,000 and 0.15% for balances over $100,000. Meanwhile, Investopedia has its new Advisor Insights platform, which is a network of financial advisors who answer questions from the online community for free.

The Bottom Line

Investing can seem scary, especially for people in retirement. And while financial planners have long been reserved for the wealthy that is no longer the case. There is a lot of free and low-cost help retirees can tap whether they prefer to receive it in-person or online.


By Donna Fuscaldo


Caregiver of the Season, Spring 2017


We wish to congratulate our Caregiver of the Season, Bonnie Cosby!

Bonnie Cosby has been a caregiver with HomeLife Senior Care since October of 2015 and has been a pleasure to work with since joining the HomeLife team! Bonnie is reliable, dependable and gets along well with everyone she works with. Her genuine personality and the compassion she has for the client she serves shines through in the quality care she provides.

Bonnie has great communication skills and she is wonderful at keeping in contact with the office regarding client and schedule updates, something very much valued by the HomeLife staff as well as the client’s family members. It’s clear that Bonnie truly has the client’s best interest at heart.

Bonnie typically works three, eight hour shifts with a client who has Alzheimer’s and this, at times, can take a lot of patience and adaptability. Bonnie has attended in-office trainings on her days off to learn more about this disease and to better familiarize herself with the client’s circumstances, demonstrating her genuine regard for the client’s wellbeing and a desire to provide the best care possible. Bonnie is dedicated, patient and compassionate.  The HomeLife staff, the client to whom she cares for, and their family cannot say enough good things about Bonnie.

We are fortunate and proud that Bonnie is a part of our HomeLife Senior Care family! Thank you for all your hard work, Bonnie, and for being a shining example for our other caregivers!


Felicia Buack, Human Resources Administrator


Is it Grief or Depression?

It’s inevitable; the longer we live, the more loss we will experience.  It could be the loss of loved ones, the loss of health, independence, or the loss of a feeling of purpose in life.  Grieving over these losses is completely healthy and normal.  The symptoms of grief can be described in five stages, the first being denial, disbelief or numbness.  The second, anger and blaming others.  The third, bargaining.  For example, “If I am cured of this cancer, I will never smoke again.”  The fourth is a depressed mood, sadness and crying.  The final stage is acceptance and coming to terms with the loss.  Not everyone experiences all these emotions when coping with loss, and it’s possible for the stages of grief to last a year or more.  But when a person has lost all hope and joy in life, they may be suffering from clinical depression.

It can be difficult to recognize the signs of depression amongst the elderly because symptoms of grief, side effects of medications, and symptoms of chronic illnesses can all resemble the symptoms of depression, causing depression to go unnoticed and untreated.  Assuming depressive symptoms are caused by another underlying problem can be detrimental to your loved one’s health.  Depression can increase a person’s risk of cardiac disease and their risk of death following a heart attack.  Depression also reduces a person’s ability to rehabilitate and can impact their sleep, energy and appetite.

Overcoming depression can involve finding new things to enjoy, staying physically and socially active and feeling connected to loved ones.  Medication and/or counseling may also be helpful.  As a caregiver, family member or friend of a depressed senior, consider scheduling regular social activities for them, take them out to do things they enjoy, prepare them healthy meals, be emotionally supportive by listening to them with compassion and without judgment, and encourage the person to follow through with treatment.

Although depression amongst the elderly is common, it is not normal.  If you believe you or your loved one is suffering with depression, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.  Several web-sites offer on-line depression screening tests, one being www.depression-screening.org provided by the National Mental Health Association.  Take this test with you to your doctor to begin the conversation about your concerns.


By Amber Triebull

Use It Or Lose It

Robert Butler, the first director of the National Institute on Aging, says “If exercise could be packed into a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.”

It’s a fact that most adults don’t get enough exercise. With few exceptions, nearly everyone can participate in some sort of activity that leads to improvement in health if performed in the correct intensity and frequency, no matter your age. No group in our population benefits more from exercise than seniors. Exercise improves mood and relieves depression and can lessen the symptoms of certain underlying diseases and disabilities. Staying physically active on a regular, permanent, basis improves cardiovascular fitness, reduces susceptibility to heart attacks and strokes, enhances metabolism, delays age related deterioration of some muscles and bones, and improves brain function. According to the National Institute on Aging, each year, more than 2 million older Americans go to the emergency room because of fall related injuries. Balance and stretching exercises can help prevent falls and avoid a disability that can result from a fall.

Remember the old saying “Use it or lose it”? If muscles aren’t used, they waste away. Humans lose 20 to 40 percent of their muscles as they age. Studies show that having muscle mass may mean the difference between a senior’s ability to get up from a chair, or needing someone there to help them get up. Strong muscles reduce the risk of serious falls that cause broken hips and other disabilities. Tufts University conducted a study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, showing that gradual loss of muscle results in seniors burning fewer calories while at rest which can lead to weight gain. This study suggests that seniors can regain some of their more youthful resting metabolic rate and help avoid obesity with regular muscle-building exercises.

If you’re interested in improving your health through increased physical activity and diet, there’s a great website I want to recommend dedicated to exercise programs specifically designed for seniors. The name of the program is Go4Life and it’s made available through the National Institute on Aging. The Go4Life program focuses on four key exercise categories; Endurance, Strength, Balance and Flexibility. You don’t necessarily have to engage in all four categories to receive benefits from their program. For example, maybe balance and flexibility are of most interest to you. You can work on only those two categories of exercise. I encourage you to visit their website. You’ll find downloadable worksheets and tip sheets, visual examples of every exercise, goal setting and tracking sheets, tools and tips for healthy eating and more. The best part is, it’s all free! You don’t need any special equipment, you can get started today!

Visit: https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/

By Vinny DiNicola

Be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.


Vinny DiNicola is a Certified Senior Advisor® and owner of HomeLife Senior Care with wife Angela. Email: vinny@homelifesc.com

Preparing for the Future

Before starting my business caring for seniors, I knew very little about long-term care insurance.  I believed that as long as you were “saving for a rainy day” all would be well.  I soon found reality is very different!  None of us know what the future holds. Nothing is more disturbing than to see a senior who needs help but is unable to afford it.  Many I’ve talked to believe Medicare will take care of the cost. Medicare offers coverage for a very limited time and offers no coverage for non-medical, in-home care.  Long-term care insurance is an insurance policy which pays a set amount for the cost of care when an individual needs help with activities of daily living due to declining health or cognitive impairment.  The daily amount usually ranges from $100 to $200 per day for a designated time frame, often times 3 years, depending on the policy.  This differs from medical insurance because, while medical insurance will help cover the cost of immediate medical expenses such as doctors bills, it will not cover the cost of care required for the daily help a person will need if they are living with chronic illness or disabilities.   With the right policy, long-term care insurance will cover the costs of home care, assisted living, nursing homes, adult day care and respite care. The relief our clients and their families feel in knowing they’re able to receive the care they need without financial worries is priceless. For many, the amount of the policy is secondary to the peace of mind it offers for those fearful of becoming a burden to their family or depleting their retirement funds.

Policy costs vary depending on the age of the person when they purchase a long-term care policy and the length and amount of coverage.  According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, a 60-year-old healthy couple can expect to pay an average of $3,335 a year for a plan that pays out $150 per day for three years.  Once a policy is purchased, it is usually guaranteed renewable for life and cannot be cancelled by the insurance company for health reasons. Once a policy is activated, there are no monthly payments that have to be made.


By Angela DiNicola

2015 Study on Family Caregivers: Who They Are and What They Do


Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 is a joint study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute that provides recent insight into the state of family caregivers in the U.S. According to this study, nearly 44 million adults in the U.S. are now providing personalassistance for family members with disabilities or other care needs. That’s more than one out of every six adults. More than 34 million care for frail elders and nearly 4 million help children with disabilities. About 6.5 million care for both.
The typical family caregiver is a 49 -year-old woman who is assisting a parent or in-law and working at a paid job. She provides about 24 hours-a-week of personal assistance such as bathing or dressing orhelping with activities such as shopping or rides. Almost six in 10 perform nursing or other complex care tasks, such as giving oral medicines or injections, wound care, or operating medical equipment. The typical caregiver has been helping a parent or spouse for four years.
Most work full-time but six in 10 report that caregiving has affected their ability to do their jobs. About half say they’ve had to take 2015 Study on Family Caregivers: Who They Are and What They Do occasional time off, 15 percent have taken leaves of absences, and 14 percent have had to reduce work hours or change jobs as a result of their caregiving.
About half of all those caring for adults say they get help from other relatives or friends. But only about one-third say their loved ones have aides, housekeepers, or other paid assistance (some report both paid and unpaid help). A third of family caregivers say they do it alone—they get no help from anyone.
The typical care recipient is a 69-year-old woman, though nearly half of caregivers say they are aiding a loved one who is 75 or older. Half live in their own home and a third live in their caregiver’s homes. Only 5 percent lived in nursing homes and 3 percent in assisted living. About 60 percent have some long-term physical condition, one-third have a short-term acute illness or injury, and almost one-quarter have memory problems. About half were hospitalized in the past year.
While the “typical” profile was a 49-year-old daughter in this study, there were notable differences among those supporting their relatives. For instance, 40 percent of caregivers were men. And while caregivers spend an average of about 24 hours-a-week helping relatives or friends, nearly one-quarter say they provide more than 40 hours-a-week of care. Those doing the most hours reported higher levels of financial, physical, and emotional stress, and were more likely to cut back on their own paid work.
Older adults caring for spouses or partners face the biggest caregiving burden. They provide an average of nearly 45 hours-a-week of care, nearly twice the average. Caregivers who are themselves 75 or older are less likely to have paid help, more likely to act as medical advocates, and more likely to be managing their family finances than younger caregivers.
This report provides a valuable resource in understanding the burden that caregiving imposes on families, where the vast majority of people with functional limitations live at home, and nearly all of them rely on family members and friends for support.
Study statistics compiled by Caren Parnes for the Senior’s Choice
Get the report at:

Creating a Legacy for your Parent

A common regret of adult children who have lost their parents is the wish that they had asked and understood more about their own family history. This is particularly true for family caregivers, whose focus on the present is necessitated by the practical concerns of getting through the day. Taking time to learn more about the past seems like a luxury for many caregivers.
But taking that time may be beneficial to those we love and care for and provide an important opportunity to redefine and enhance our familial connections. An essential challenge for our loved ones as they approach old age is to relinquish the need to exert control and to harvest the meaning of their lives through imparting legacy. Part of facilitating this important life review is to bear witness to memories, which form the very foundation of identity and can serve as an intangible link in a powerful chain that connects us to generations that came before us.
As our parents struggle to come to terms with their losses, to recapture fragments of memory and to hold on to what remains, they are engaged in an effort to shape and understand their legacy — to reflect on the meaning of their lives and the memories that will live on with future generations after they die.
Helping a parent reflect on their life story can be a tremendously healing process. As we all must eventually confront our own mortality, may we do so with the comfort that perhaps our children will take the time to learn our stories, pass on our history, and continue our legacy through honoring and understanding the past. Here are four tips to help the senior in your life create their own legacy:
Film Their Stories.
Use a digital recorder to record a parent’s advice, memories, playful moments or laughter. Upload them and share with the whole family. Get your social – savvy generation to comment and ask more questions online. Share all the feedback with your parent so he or she feels the love.

Tell a Love Story.
Sort through Mom’s handwritten keepsakes and piece together the love notes, birthday cards and photos that tell her story. Paste them into a large coffee-table type scrapbook to make your whole family swoon.
Frame Their Phrases.
Sort through the saved notes, emails, birthday cards and letters your parents have sent you, your siblings and each grandchild. Make a photocopy of each and physically cut and paste favorite phrases into a book or on a collage. Compile with some of your favorite images and display.
Transcribe Their Memories.
Sit down with a computer and ask your parents all the questions you can think of. Start with Mom’s childhood or how Dad first asked her out. Ask Dad about his first car or the lessons he learned from his own father. Type with no agenda—just let it all unfold. Consider using a Dictaphone for better backup. Make sure to ask your family for the questions they’d love to know. Don’t worry about publishing the content, just make sure you have it saved.

Have Great Posture As You Age


Having good posture minimizes stress onyour back by keeping your muscles and bones in their natural positions as well as making your movements more fluid and efficient. Poor posture, on the other hand, can create a variety of health problems. It can impede breathing, blood circulation, digestion, organ functions and overall alertness. Slouching creates 10 to 15 times extra pressure on the spinal cord. It can generate neck pain, headaches and limited joint movement. Problems may even result in the legs and feet. Here are 8 helpful tips to keep you standing tall at any age.
1.Open up
Now that many of us spend our days hunched in front of a computer, “it’s very important for us to be able to stretch and open up and improve our range of motion,” says Jonathan F. Bean, MD, MS, MPH, an assistant professor in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
2. Easy exercises
To stay limber, try to get up for a couple minutes every half hour and stretch, walk, or stand. Try this exercise: Lie down on the floor and make slow “snow angels” with your arms for two or three minutes. For an extra challenge, roll up a towel and put it on the floor underneath your spine. Many gyms have half foam rollers — a tube cut in half lengthwise — that you can use for even more of a stretch. Do these stretches slowly and stop if you feel anything more than mild discomfort or pain, says Dr. Bean.
3.Sit straight
When you do have to work at a desk, “sitting up with good, tall posture and your shoulders dropped is a good habit to get into,” says Rebecca Seguin, PhD, an exercise physiologist and nutritionist in Seattle. This can take some getting used to; exercise disciplines that focus on body awareness, such as Pilates and yoga, can help you to stay sitting straight, Seguin says. Make sure your workstation is set up to promote proper posture.
4. Strengthen your core
Pilates and yoga are great ways to build up the strength of your “core” — the muscles of your abdomen and pelvic area. These muscles form the foundation of good posture, and a strong core can have many other benefits, from improving your athletic performance to preventing urinary incontinence.
5. Support your spine
After menopause, women may have more weakening in the muscles aroundthe spine than a ging men do, Dr. Bean says. Exercises targeting the back extensors, neck flexors, pelvic muscles, and side muscles are crucial. Trainers at gyms can help; there are even special machines that target these muscles. Endurance in the spine and trunk muscle groups is important too, according to Dr. Bean; “that’s what allows us to stand up for long periods of time without our back hurting us.”
6.Lift weights
The vertebral compression fractures that subtract from our height — and can lead to the “dowager’s hump” in the upper back that’s a hallmark of old age — are due to the bone – thinning disease osteoporosis. We can prevent these changes with weight – bearing exercises, like walking, stair climbing, and weight lifting. “People who walk regularly through their whole lives tend to have better bone density than sedentary people,” Seguin explains.
7. Vitamins and Minerals
A healthy diet is essential for providing strong bones and muscles that allow for ideal posture. In particular for bone health, getting the optimal da  ily dosage of Vitamin D and calcium is essential. The recommended dietary intake for vitamin D is 600 IU a day for women up to age 70 and 800 IU for women older than 70. For calcium, Women 19 to 50 years old should take 1,000 milligrams daily. Women over 50 should take 1,200 milligrams.

8.Consider medication
Your doctor will be able to tell you whether you need a bone mineral density scan to detect osteopenia or osteoporosis. Although Seguin says that activities like progressive resistance training can halt or reverse bone loss in some cases, medications may also help. These include bisphosphonates like Boniva, Reclast, and Fosamax. (Although safe, such drugs can increase the risk of rare fractures.) Hormone -based medications that can help build bone den sity include Evista (raloxifene), calcitonin, and parathyroid hormone.
by Anne Harding, www.health.com

The Benefits of Social Media for Seniors (and their Families)


Seniors are jumping on board Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more as they realize it is fun and provides real benefits. Are your senior loved ones participating? Here are five ways social media is beneficial for seniors.
1.Social Media Keeps Families Close
“I wish I heard more often from my children/grandchildren” is a common refrain of seniors. You’d think that with seemingly everyone carrying their own phone, calls to senior loved ones would be more common than ever. However, those phones are used less for making phone calls than for connecting by other means, particularly social media. More and more seniors are realizing that going where their family members are going, most frequently Facebook, makes it easier to link up and keep up with what is going on in the lives of loved ones. It also makes for more frequent and comfortable conversations between generations than most would experience through calls.
2. Family Photo and Video Sharing
With the overwhelming majority of photographs now digital, sharing of memories is now easier than ever through social media. Increasingly, pictures are shared every day by users of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social media sites. Grandparents can go online now and see pictures taken just moments before by their grandchildren, creating a feeling of closeness that was never possible with mailed photos. Home movies have always brought family memories to life even more than photos, but video sharing took effort and saw delays, even with video cameras and VCRs. With many phones now coming with a video camera, even more videos are being taken by family members and, like pictures, being quickly posted online. Seniors are now getting fresh “home movies” on YouTube, Facebook and other sites.
3. Online Coupons & Other Discounts
Everyone likes saving money, not just seniors, though for many older Americans on fixed incomes getting a deal is essential and not just a fun thing to do. Social media provides access to many opportunities to save money, whether we’re seeking discount offerings by companies on their Facebook pages, coupons shared between Twitter users, or the deals offered in many communities on Groupon and like sites, just to name a few. Not only can going social be fun for our senior loved ones, but provide savings as well!
4. Family Peace of Mind
Seniors and their families often live far apart today, which can lead to anxiety on both sides, particularly when the elder family members are living on their own. Social media gives seniors and their family caregivers a convenient way to check in daily, or on whatever frequency is desired, creating peace of mind on both ends of the communications.
5. Community Engagement and Belonging
The importance of so cializing as part of a community cannot be overstated, particularly for seniors spending much of their time living isolated at home. It can be critical for those unable to get out of the house to be with others. Social media provides the opportunity to have and be a friend, to congregate without leaving the house, to never be alone, even when you are the only one in the house. Just Scratching the Surface There are even more reasons if those five are not enough for you to get your senior loved ones engaged with social networks and the world available to them there. What are YOUR reasons for being on social media, if you are? If you’re not, you might just find there are benefits for you as well as your loved ones! Let’s keep helping our senior loved ones get connected, too!
by Barry Birkett

Summer Caregiver of the Quarter


We wish to congratulate our Caregiver of the Quarter, Margarita Vasquez!


Margarita Vasquez has been a caregiver with HomeLife Senior Care since October 28th, 2013 and has been a pleasure to work with since joining the HomeLife team! Margarita has a compassionate heart for caregiving and shows this by her commitment to her client. She has a genuine personality and great communication skills. Margarita is always in excellent contact with the office staff and is quick to update us so that the care team she is a part of is well informed. She familiarizes herself with her clients’ circumstances so that she can provide the best care. She is very reliable and dependable and gets along well with everyone she works with. Margarita typically works twenty-four hour shifts which often times requires a caregiver to have a lot of patience and adaptability. It is not easy to leave one’s own family for long hours and put another before herself but she does this without complaint and has done so for several years now. Margarita proactively and regularly participates in caregiving trainings to further develop her caregiving skills and to increase her understanding of the ailments affecting the seniors in her care. The HomeLife staff and Margarita’s clients cannot say enough good things about her! We are fortunate and proud that Margarita is a part of our HomeLife family!

—Felicia Buack
Human Resources Administrator

Help a Senior: Get Shopping!

Grocery shopping can be a difficult task for a senior who has limited mobility and decreased physical strength.  Navigating the isles of the grocery store, reaching for high objects and reading labels and price tags can make grocery shopping a daunting chore, so much so, that a senior may jeopardize their nutrition by eating only frozen, microwavable foods, or not eating at all, to avoid the grocery store.  A caregiver can ensure their senior friend or family member gets the nutrition they need by accompanying them to the store or doing the shopping for them.   Consider these tips to help you make the most of your shopping trip:

  • When shopping with a senior, try not to take charge. Let them make decisions for themselves regarding the types of items/brands they want to buy.  Remain patient and be prepared for your shopping trip to take longer than usual.
  • When checking out, stay in the background so that the other person can converse with the cashier and pay for the groceries. As seniors age and find themselves needing to rely more and more on others for help with daily tasks, it is important to recognize their need for independence too.  Treat the person with the dignity you would expect if you were in their situation.
  • Create a master grocery list on the computer listing every item he/she needs wants, including details such as specific brands and flavors, etc. Print this list each week and leave it in an obvious place for your friend to check off items as he/she runs out, creating a grocery list.
  • When shopping without your senior friend, keep in mind any limitations your friend may have. Purchase smaller containers that are easy to lift when buying items such as milk and detergent.  Also, select products that are easy to open, such as pop top cans and non-child proof medications.
  • Buy smaller portion sizes to avoid wasting money on foods that will spoil before they are eaten since many seniors find their appetites diminishing.
  • Check in regularly with your senior friend to make sure you are buying what he/she wants and needs or if there are any changes that need to be made.
  • When putting the groceries away at their house, keep in mind your friend’s preferences for how he/she would like the items stored. Don’t reorganize their kitchen unless they ask you to do this.  Some people have over 50 years of routines that matter to them and it’s important to keep items where he/she will be able to find them.  Be respectful of your friend’s choices and organization.


By Amber Triebull

Care Benefits for Veterans

For qualifying veterans and surviving spouses, the Aid and Attendance (A&A) Pension provides funds to pay for in-home care when a veteran, or surviving spouse, is in need of assistance for daily living activities such as dressing, eating, cooking, bathing and toileting.  The veteran does NOT need to require assistance with all of these things to qualify.  It also pays for the care of veterans who are blind, are a patient in a nursing home, or for assisted care in an assisted living facility.  A&A can also help with care for a veteran’s sick spouse when the veteran is still independent if the spouse’s medical expenses reach an amount that depletes their monthly income.

In order for a veteran to qualify for the A&A benefit, a doctor needs to determine that the veteran cannot completely function on their own and is in need of the assistance of another person.  This other person does not need to be a licensed health aid, it can be anyone hired to provide care for the veteran.  These benefits are available to any War-Time Veteran with 90 days of active duty, or their surviving spouse, and meet the medical and financial requirements.*

It may take four months or more for an application to be processed and eligibility to be determined.   The good news is that all benefits are retro-dated back to the original filing date.  It may take the veteran or family member some time to locate all the required paperwork needed to make a claim, but the process can be started by submitting a one page form, VA Form 21-4138 (Statement in Support of Claim) which will get the claim into the system.  Once this form has been submitted, the veteran will have one year to file the packet and supporting documents.  Please visit www.veteranaid.org for more information about the Aid and Attendance Pension or contact the local Contra Costa VA office at (925) 313-1490.  The VA administration can assist in completing and submitting the needed forms.

By Amber Triebull

*Information in this article was provided by www.veteranaid.org  

Engaging Activities for Seniors Living with Dementia

Participating in activities can promote a sense of accomplishment, independence and overall happiness for a person with dementia.  It is important to remember that people with dementia are “people first,” and need to feel part of the world around them.  It may be challenging for a family member or other caregiver to think of activities to engage a person with dementia, so I have compiled a list I hope you will find helpful.  Pick activities the person can succeed in, keep directions simple and be flexible and encouraging!

  1. Play a game; change the rules to make them simpler if necessary.
  2. Garden together.
  3. Prepare meals together. Give the person a specific task such as washing the lettuce or mixing ingredients.
  4. Listen to music they used to enjoy. Sing together.
  5. Read short stories aloud.
  6. Look through old picture albums; encourage the person to reminisce.
  7. Share stories about the “good old days.”
  8. Complete art projects such as painting, scrapbooking, wood building, knitting or quilting.
  9. Exercise! Take a daily walk together or encourage participation in a senior’s exercise class.
  10. Plan outings to museums, parks, church, coffee or ice cream shops, places the person used to enjoy visiting.
  11. Sorting projects; paper, work related items, coins.
  12. Encourage participation in housekeeping such as dusting, wiping counters or folding laundry.
  13. Do hair and nails together.
  14. Care for a pet by grooming, feeding or walking.
  15. Puzzles and crossword puzzles.
  16. Watch classic movies together.

Find activities you both enjoy doing together while keeping the mind and body of your loved one living with dementia active!


By Amber Triebull

Welcome to the Spring 2016 HomeLife Connection

Quincy Kaisa has been a caregiver with HomeLife Senior Care since June 10th, 2015 and has been a pleasure to work with since joining the HomeLife team! Quincy demonstrates a heart for caregiving by his compassionate example and character. His client’s needs are his top priority. He graciously accommodates last minute schedule changes and is prompt in reporting any changes or concerns he has regarding his clients’ conditions to the appropriate personnel, illustrating his genuine regard for his clients’ well being. He familiarizes himself with his clients’ circumstances to ensure he is well informed on how to interact and care for the person in his charge. In addition, Quincy is very polite and respectful toward his clients and coworkers and gets along well with both. Quincy typically works twenty-four hour shifts which often times requires a caregiver to have a lot of patience and adaptability. Quincy has experienced his share of oppositional behavior from his clients and has been able to maintain his composure and handle these situations with the professionalism and kindness you would hope from a person caring for your loved one.
The HomeLife staff and Quincy’s clients cannot say enough good things about him! We are fortunate and proud that Quincy is part of our HomeLife family!
Felicia Buack
Human Resources Administrator

Laughter is the Best Medicine

We’ve heard this saying a million times, but do you really know all the ways laughter can improve your health? Let’s start with the more obvious reasons: laughter relaxes the body, relieves stress and anxiety, and provides an overall sense of well being. It’s difficult to feel angry, anxious or sad when you’re laughing! It feels good to laugh, and those good feelings remain with you, keeping you positive, boosting your outlook on life by helping you see life’s daily problems in a more realistic, less serious light. Now, here are some facts about laughter you may not have known: according to Psychology Today, laughter boosts the immune system by releasing infection-fighting antibodies, improving your resistance to disease. It reduces blood sugar levels which increases glucose tolerance in diabetics. Laughter also improves the function of blood vessels by causing them to relax and expand, increasing blood flow which is beneficial to the heart and brain. Laughter can also temporarily relieve chronic pain. Here are some ways to incorporate humor into your daily life:

• Read the funny pages or a funny book
• Watch a funny TV show or movie
• Play games with friends
• Spend time around children
• Hang out with funny people
• Go to a comedy show
• Play with a pet
• Tell funny stories or jokes
• Be playful, do something silly
• Try to find the humor in tough situations
• Laugh at yourself – lighten up!

In case you haven’t had a good laugh today, here are a couple jokes to boost your mood!

An 85-year-old widow went on a blind date with a 90-year-old man.
When she returned to her daughter’s house later that night, she seemed upset.
“What happened, Mother?” the daughter asked.
“I had to slap his face three times!”
“You mean he got fresh?”
“No,” she answered. “I thought he was dead!”

Three sisters, ages 92, 94, and 96, live together. One night the 96-year-old draws a bath. She puts one foot in and pauses, “Was I getting in the tub or out?” she yells.
The 94-year-old hollers back, “I don’t know, I’ll come up to see.” She starts up the stairs and stops. She shouts, “Was I going up or going down?”
The 92-year-old is sitting at the kitchen table having tea, listening to her sisters. She shakes her head and says, “I sure hope I never get that forgetful,” and knocks on wood for good measure. Then she yells, “I’ll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who’s at the door.”

An old man is afraid that his wife is losing her hearing. So, he walks up right to her ear and asks, “Can you hear me?” She didn’t answer. He walks up closer and asks again, but there was no answer. Finally he asks her one more time really loud and his wife says, “For the third time yes!!!”

There once was an old man who was about to die. He told his wife to put a bag of money in the attic. “When I die I’ll get it on my way up,” chuckled the old man. Well when the old man died the wife went up to the attic and found that the bag of money was still there. “I knew I should have put that money in the cellar!” said the old woman.

By Amber Triebull

HomeLife Senior Care is an award winning, professional agency providing clients with exceptional in-home care. Call today for a no obligation assessment: 925-240-5770. “Our Family Helping Yours.” www.HomeLifeSeniorCare.com