Create Your All-Star Care Team in 5 Steps

What family caregivers often need most is sound advice, regular respite and an extra set of hands.

Friends may scatter when one becomes the primary caregiver for a spouse or parent, and not everyone has siblings or other family members they can depend on to share the load. A carefully selected care team is a necessary complement to a loved one’s detailed care plan.

Step 1: Draft a list of prospective team members

Write down the name of each family member, friend or neighbor with whom you regularly interact. Forego any initial judgements or doubts about their usefulness in your care plan—just let the ideas flow.

Step 2: Assess each individual’s strengths

Assess the strong suit of each person on your list. Is your best friend financially savvy? Can your cousin listen to you vent for as long as you need to without interrupting or casting judgement? Does your neighbor offer to help keep an eye on Mom when she’s tinkering outside in the garden? Each of these people have specific talents or capabilities that can help you execute your care plan. However, be sure to factor in each person’s attitude before making them a part of your care team. Your sister may have plenty of free time to help drive Dad to and from doctor’s appointments, but if she brings negativity or criticism to your regular routine, then the drawbacks may outweigh the benefits of her contribution.

Step 3: Create your all-star care team

Revise your remaining list to create a foolproof roster of people who will assist you with caregiving and day to day tasks. Do not include anyone who may make your duties more difficult or complicated. This is your go-to tool for getting outside help whether it is planned well in advance or needed last-minute due to an urgent situation. Include each person’s contact information and, if possible, an outline of their weekly schedule. This will help you quickly reference when a team member is available to pitch in.

Step 4: Assign roles for each member

Now identify specific tasks in your care plan that would be a good fit for each team member. It is best for caregivers to be very specific about what kinds of assistance they would appreciate. For example, if your son lives nearby, ask if he can tend to yardwork or any home maintenance projects once or twice each month. If you struggle to prepare dinner on Wednesdays, (your busiest day of the week) see if Mom’s friend from church can pick her up for a weekly dinner date. The goal of creating this team is to be able to meet your loved one’s needs (as well as your own) without every single responsibility falling solely on your shoulders.

Step 5: Add some pros to your team

Relatives and friends aren’t the only people a caregiver should have on their care team. There are a number of specialists who can help you make caregiving go as smoothly as possible. without running yourself into the ground.

A reputable financial planner can assist with complicated fiscal decisions, an elder law attorney can ensure that you and your loved one are legally prepared for the road ahead, and a geriatric care manager can coordinate and advocate for the care your loved one deserves.

Furthermore, any remaining gaps in your care plan can also be filled by paid caregivers and other services. If you decide to return to the workforce, but have no one to supervise your loved one during the day, opt for home care or adult day care services. If housekeeping rarely fits into your daily or weekly routine, then arrange to have these tasks added to your home care professional’s responsibilities, or hire a cleaning service. Healthy meal delivery, pre-sorted prescription medications, and transportation services can all help to simplify your schedule.

A comprehensive care team not only assists a caregiver in executing their duties, it also helps to ensure that, should something happen to them, there is a safety net in place to continue providing care for their loved one. The more support a caregiver has, the less likely they are to experience burnout and the more sustainable their care plan will be.


By Ashley Huntsberry-Lett

First Aid Kit for Seniors Living at Home

First aid is an important consideration when caring for an elderly person at home. It is important to know that seniors are more vulnerable to accidents and injuries since they often lack strength, flexibility and can have brittle bones.  Also, their sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste may have declined, making them more vulnerable to accidents. It is very important that the elderly take care of their skin as well, because they are more susceptible to skin infections and disease due to natural changes in aging skin. These changes make the skin less elastic, thinner and dryer allowing more injures while also being slow to heal.

What to Put in Your First Aid Kit

It is important to keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand. You can purchase a kit or create one of your own. You can create one using a portable file box that can be found at any office supply store or large discount store. Be sure to keep your first aid kit someplace where it can be located quickly and be sure to give it a regular check up by replacing expired items and updating informational lists.

Creating a list of insurance information, medical contacts, and medications could prove to be a very helpful addition to your first aid kit. We often have trouble trying to remember things in the event of an emergency, which is why adding procedures for specific conditions would also be a great asset to your first aid kit.

In being prepared for emergencies let’s take a look at what a first aid kit should have in it:

  • Thermometer
  • Antiseptic solution or wipes, such as hydrogen peroxide, povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Calamine lotion for stings or poison ivy
  • Hydrocortisone cream or ointment
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • Band-Aids in assorted sizes including knee and elbow sizes
  • Latex gloves (these should be worn any time you may be at risk of contact with blood or body fluid of any type)
  • Triangular bandages for wrapping injuries and making arm slings
  • Thermal patches
  • Instant cold pack
  • Gauze tape, and Ace bandages
  • Hand sanitizer or soap
  • Tweezers, scissors, safety pins and needle
  • Eye goggles and sterile eyewash such as a saline solution
  • Pain and fever medicines, such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Decongestants to treat nasal congestion
  • Anti-nausea medicine to treat motion sickness and other types of nausea
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine
  • Antacid to treat upset stomach
  • Laxative to treat constipation
  • First aid manual
  • The Senior’s medication list with dosage and times taken
  • Phone numbers for emergency contact, doctors, pharmacy, and insurance information.
  • If needed: blood pressure monitor, oximeter, blood sugar meter and/or AED (Automated External Defibrillator.
  • Medical forms such as living will, DNR, or advance directives.  When traveling, take the kit with you. You may want to add a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, medical consent forms, and a medical history form. For specific medical conditions, be sure to include any necessary equipment and instructional information. If you elect to keep a separate travel first aid kit, be sure to copy and include all medical information.

Purchasing a First Aid Kit

The American Red Cross and many drugstores sell first aid kits with many of these items. Remember, for the kit to be useful, you need to know how to use it. You may want to take a Red Cross first aid course or at least purchase a first aid manual to learn first aid basics.


By Caren Parnes

Contributor for The Senior’s Choice

Summer Activities for Seniors & Caregivers

Enjoying the warm summer temperatures doesn’t have to be a distant memory for elders and caregivers. Finding an interesting activity that is suitable for a senior’s abilities may take some creativity and planning, but it is well worth switching up the routine and getting out of the house.

The Benefits of Getting Outside. A main advantage of heading outdoors, even for a short period of time, is being able to soak up some sunlight. Sun exposure generates vitamin D, which is necessary for a healthy brain, bones and muscles. Getting out also enables elders to socialize with new people, and be stimulated by new experiences and environments.

Ideas for Outdoor Activities. When selecting activities to do with your loved one, focus on hobbies and interests that they used to enjoy. What is something they always wanted to try? Don’t be afraid to ask what they miss doing or what they’d like to revisit. Have a couple of suggestions prepared to choose from and head outside to enjoy the day together.

Catch a sporting event. Attending a grandchild’s soccer game or a professional baseball game can be an action-packed way for your loved one to reconnect with a favorite pastime.

Fish for fun. You can cast a rod from a dock, pier, or other location, even if someone has mobility problems or uses a wheelchair. Check your state’s or province’s tourism websites to see if they provide listings of accessible fishing locations.

Be a tourist. If you live in a city, take an open-air bus or trolley tour to see the local sights. Another option could be a boat tour, depending on what type of equipment an elder needs to take with them. A Sunday drive around town can also allow a senior to check out happenings in the community that interest them. This could be a neighborhood rummage sale, farmers market, community event or even just blooming flowers and trees.

Take a dip. If a senior is willing and able, spending some time in a pool is an excellent way for them to incorporate some physical activity into their routine that seems more like relaxing than a workout.

Stroll around. If a walk is possible, start slow and work up to longer outings. Either keep the first few walks short, or bring along a walker or wheelchair in case your loved one gets tired and needs to rest along the way or requires help getting back.

Be an animal lover. This could be as simple as encouraging a loved one to sit outside and enjoy the sights and sounds, or could mean an outing to the zoo or local dog park. There are plenty of options for seniors who enjoy animals to get outside and either interact with or observe nature.

Picnic outdoors. Picnics are another flexible activity that you can plan at a park, in your own backyard, or on the surrounding grounds of a long-term care facility. At the park, seniors can watch children run around and enjoy the buzz of outdoor activity. Make sure to locate an area with comfortable seating and plenty of shade in advance, or remember to bring your own.

Go out for a treat. Most seniors have a favorite place to eat that picks their spirits right up. Instead of limiting this indulgence to special occasions or the post-doctor’s appointment routine, make an outing out of it “just because.” This could consist of a coffee and pastry from a favorite breakfast spot, or a lunch special from the diner around the corner. If the weather is nice, enjoy your goodies at a patio table.

Older bodies don’t adjust to temperature changes or perceive thirst as well as younger ones. With each of these activities, be sure to watch your loved one for signs of fatigue, thirst, sunburn, and overheating that could signal it’s time to leave, perhaps with a promise to return at another time.


—By Caren Parnes

Contributor for The Senior’s Choice

Crime & The Elderly

Older people are often targets for robbery, purse snatching, pick-pocketing, car theft, or a number of scams. During a crime, an older person is more likely to be seriously hurt than someone who is younger. But, even though there are risks, don’t let the fear of crime stop you from enjoying life. Be careful and be aware of your surroundings. Here are some “do’s and don’ts” that can help you fight crime and stay safe.

Be Safe at Home

  • Do try to make sure that your locks, doors, and windows are strong and cannot be broken easily. Consider a good alarm system. Make sure they are locked—both when you are in the house and when you’re away.
  • Do make a list of your expensive belongings. You might even take pictures of the most valuable items. Store these papers in a safe place.
  • Don’t open your door before you know who’s there. Look through the peephole or a safe window first. Ask any stranger for proof of identity before opening the door. Remember, you don’t have to open the door if you feel uneasy.
  • Don’t keep large amounts of money in the house.
  • Do get to know your neighbors. Join a Neighborhood Watch Program if your community has one.

Be Street Smart

  • Do try to stay alert. Walk with a friend. Stay away from unsafe places like dark parking lots or alleys.
  • Do keep your car doors locked at all times and park in well-lit areas.
  • Don’t open your car door or roll down your window for strangers.
  • Do carry your purse close to your body with the strap over your shoulder and across your chest.
  • Don’t resist a robber. Hand over your cash right away if confronted.

Be Safe with Your Money

  • Do have your monthly pension or Social Security checks sent right to the bank for direct deposit.
  • Don’t carry a lot of cash. Put your wallet, money, or credit cards in an inside pocket.
  • Don’t keep your check book and credit cards together. A thief could use the card to forge your signature on checks.

Fight Fraud

Older people may be victims of frauds like con games and insurance, home repair, telephone, or internet scams. The following tips may help:

  • Don’t be afraid to hang up on telephone salespeople. You aren’t being impolite. You are taking care of yourself! Remember, you can say no to any offer.
  • Don’t give any personal information, including your credit card number or bank account, over the phone unless you were the one who made the call.
  • Don’t be fooled by deals that seem too good to be true. They probably are. Beware of deals that ask for a lot of money up front and promise you more money later. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to get more information about the record of any company before doing business with them.

Avoid Identity Theft

How can someone steal your identity? Using your name, Social Security number, or credit card without your okay is called identity theft and it’s a serious crime. Be sure to protect yourself:

  • Do keep information about your checking account private. Put all new and cancelled checks in a safe place, report any stolen checks right away, and carefully look at your monthly bank account statement.
  • Do shred everything that has personal information about you written on it.
  • Do be very careful when buying things online. Websites without security may not protect your credit card or bank account information. Look for information saying that a website has a secure server before buying anything online (it will have https://, not http:// in front of it).
  • Do check with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to find out how to protect yourself from common online scams that can trick you into revealing your personal or financial information.


By National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Health

Caregiver of the Season, Summer 2017


We wish to congratulate our Caregiver of the Season, Shawnalee Hummell!

Shawnalee Hummell has been a caregiver with HomeLife Senior Care since December 1st, 2015 and has been a terrific addition ever since joining the HomeLife team!

Shawnalee Hummell has been a caregiver with HomeLife Senior Care since December 1st, 2015 and has been a terrific addition ever since joining the HomeLife team! Shawnalee has a compassionate heart for caregiving which she demonstrates through her commitment to her client. She has been one of the primary care providers for one of our 24/7 care clients for almost a year now. Shawnalee regularly works around-the-clock shifts with this client. Long shifts of this nature require patience, adaptability and dedication. In addition, dependability is of utmost importance due to the difficulties involved with finding last minute care for a 24-hour shift when another caregiver calls in sick. Shawnalee is not only a very consistent and reliable caregiver, she has also happily volunteered on numerous occasions to cover shifts for other caregivers.

Shawnalee is excellent at notifying the office anytime there is an update with her client’s care, ensuring the care team she is part of is well informed. She also proactively pursues further education and training related to her client’s condition, with special consideration to the safety of her client, as well as her own safety, while performing her caregiving duties.

The HomeLife staff is proud of Shawnalee’s admirable example and her clients have only wonderful things to say about her! We are fortunate Shawnalee is part of our HomeLife family!


– Felicia Buack, Human Resources Administrator





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


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 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


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,,,20446224,00.html

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

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