HomeLife Senior News

6 Tips to Prevent Senior Falls


Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. As you get older, physical changes and health conditions—and medications used to treat those conditions—may make falls more likely. Consider six simple fall-prevention strategies.

1. Make an appointment with your doctor

Be prepared to answer questions such as:

  • What medications are you taking? Make a list of your medications and supplements, and review with your doctor for side effects that may increase your risk of falling.
  • Have you fallen before? Write down the details, including when, where and how you fell. The details may help your doctor identify specific fall-prevention strategies.
  • Could your health conditions cause a fall? Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk—for example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, shortness of breath, or numbness in your feet and legs when you walk? Your doctor may evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as well.

2. Keep moving

Physical activity is important for fall prevention. With your doctor’s approval, consider activities such as walking or water workouts or a home exercise routine. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, coordination and flexibility. If you have specific concerns about your risk for falling, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist who can create a custom exercise program aimed at improving your balance, flexibility, muscle strength and gait.

3. Wear sensible shoes

Evaluate your footwear as part of your fall- prevention plan. Wear properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles. Sensible shoes may also reduce joint pain.

4. Remove home hazards

Take a look around your home. Your living areas may be filled with hazards. To make your home safer:

  • Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
  • Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
  • Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing—or remove loose rugs from your home all together.
  • Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting.
  • Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
  • Immediately clean spilled liquids or food.

5. Light up your living space

Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. Also:

  • Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
  • Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
  • Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.

    6. Use assistive devices

    Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices can help, too. For example:

    • Hand rails for both sides of stairways
    • Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps
    • Nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower.
    • A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
    • Grab bars for the shower or tub
    • A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub — plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down

    If necessary, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist. He or she can help you brainstorm other fall-prevention strategies. Some solutions are easily installed and relatively inexpensive. Others may require professional help or a larger investment. If you’re concerned about the cost, remember that an investment in fall prevention is an investment in your independence.


    By Mayo Clinic Staff

    https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/ healthy-aging/in-depth/fall-prevention/art-20047358?pg=2

Improving Senior Financial Literacy

In 2004, the American Society on Aging sponsored a study to evaluate the financial knowledge of Americans age 50+ which included a survey of three simple yes/no questions that assessed the knowledge of the respondents on concepts such as inflation, risk diversification and interest rates.* At that time only one third of respondents could answer all three questions correctly. Since 2009, broader studies have been made within the wider population and the results were similarly dismal, but there was a clear correlation between age and a failure to understand some basic financial concepts that make up financial literacy. This is especially worrisome given that money and debt management issues are most consequential to this most vulnerable population.

This may seem an overwhelming topic to tackle, certainly for a senior at such a late stage in life, but also for their families. And while getting sound financial advice is one of the first things most money professionals recommend, that can be easier said than done. Many older adults rely on the advice of relatives, friends or neighbors, which is a strategy that as many as 70 percent of fraud victims report having used. In the end, becoming as informed as possible yourself, and then considering getting further educated by an accredited and referred professional Financial Advisor are the best first steps to improve one’s financial literacy. One online resource for understanding some of the basics is ConsumerCredit.com (http:/ /www.consumercredit.com/financial-education/55plus/resources/. This site offers useful tools designed for the 50+ population

To get the ball rolling, here are several topics which seniors and their families may wish to consider when evaluating their financial health.

Know where your money’s going. Based on a 2014 survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, over 60% of Americans don’t have a budget. This is the first place to start in developing financial literacy. You can’t make informed choices about your money if you don’t know where it is going.

Address your debt. Now that you know where your money is going, if you carry significant debt, it’s time to develop a strategy to start eliminating it. For most seniors on a fixed budget, this means identifying expenses in your budget that you can trim, and developing strategies to change your spending habits.

Check your credit report. Because these days your credit report can impact not just your ability to get a loan, but to rent an apartment or land a job, it is critical that you check your credit report at least once a year and understand the factors that effect it. If your score is low, there are many agencies available to help you start improving it.

Understand your retirement portfolio. For those seniors with retirement portfolios, it is important to understand your risk and regularly evaluate your investment choices. While the safety of bonds has always been attractive to seniors, a perfect storm may be upon the bond market in the form of anticipated increases in interest rates, tax cuts and a ballooning national debt which will all impact the value of bonds. If your portfolio heavily favors bonds, it may be time to consider a more diversified financial plan, and evaluate whether your total living expenses could ride out a drop in value.

Be prepared. We’ve all heard the rule— you should have three to six months of expenses on hand for an emergency or change in life circumstances. If you don’t think you can get there, start somewhere. Target at least a thousand dollars to set aside so if you have an accident or car trouble you have something to fall back on.

* For more information on this study, and a more in-depth discussion on the topic of financial literacy, go to http:// www.asaging.org/ blog/financial-literacy-and-financial-decision-making-older-adults.

—By Caren Parnes

Contributor for The Senior’s Choice

Caregiver of the Season, Winter 2017

We wish to congratulate our Caregiver of the Season, Pamela Dale!

Pamela has been a caregiver with us since July 24, 2015 and has done an outstanding job from the beginning!  Pam was working two jobs when she first began her employment with HomeLife and she did a wonderful job balancing the two. She made sure she was on time to her clients’ homes and worked the days she had promised us. Pamela’s exceptional dependability gives the scheduling department confidence that she will go to great lengths to ensure a client has care, even working on days she is not truly available or walking to her client’s home when her car would not start!

Pamela has worked with many clients over the past few years.  She has several permanent clients, as well as assists in filling in last minute when needed.  Whether she is with a client on a regular basis or has just met them, she makes sure to provide the office with the client’s most updated health information, voicing concerns when something seems off.

Pamela has been with a few challenging clients that needed extra time and patience.  She handled these difficult situations with grace and kindness. Her calm demeanor offers her clients the security they need.

Pamela has taken it upon herself to become more educated about her client’s health issues by attending trainings offered at the office, as well as completing numerous online courses. Now that Pamela works only for HomeLife, she has filled up every day of her calendar with shifts and I can assure you that our clients and the scheduling department are extremely thankful for her dedication!

Pamela is an exemplary employee and we are grateful she became a part of our spectacular caregiving team!  She is making a positive difference in the lives of our seniors and we are excited to see how many more lives she will touch!


– Felicia Buack, HomeCare Aid Director

Care Plans: The Secret to Confident Caregiving

Whatever your specific situation, be aware that the nature of providing care for someone can change in an instant. Therefore it can be especially beneficial to organize your myriad caregiver tasks into an plan of action. Then, should anything change, you will have a list of available resources ready to help you meet new and emerging needs. A care plan can be a casual organization tool, an informal or verbal agreement with a loved one, or a formal contract used to coordinate payment for care services. Plans can vary from daily to-do lists to detailed weekly accounts of amounts and types of care provided. The following steps can help you create your very first care plan or reevaluate your current plan.

Assess the situation

The first step in the process is an assessment of your loved one’s home environment, activities of daily living (ADLs), medical and legal documents, and financial situation, to see what is working well and what is not.

Identify needs and set goals

Based on the results of the care assessment, make a list of all concerns with the highest priorities at the top. Your loved one’s immediate health and wellbeing are the top priority, so for example if they are losing weight, this problems must be dealt with first.

Next, setting goals for their wellbeing will provide a proactive approach to ensuring their quality of life. A care plan is an ideal approach to longer-term objectives like financial, advance care, estate and funeral planning. These preparations are extremely important, so they should be a top priority to address. Your loved one’s participation in this process is paramount, as long as they are still competent to make these decisions.

Create a well-rounded care team

A caregiver shouldn’t have to coordinate and execute all of these tasks unaided. Embarking on this journey alone frequently leads to damaging caregiver burnout. The purpose of creating a care team is to gather all resources at your disposal and encourage cooperation amongst all those willing to participate in your loved one’s care. Friends, family, neighbors, and other community members are the first tier of support. The more complex medical, legal and financial aspects of a care plan are then best handled by elder care professionals such as in-home or respite care services, elder law attorneys, therapists, benefits counselors, certified public accountants (CPAs), financial advisors, social workers, and geriatric care managers, who can be valuable additions to your care team.

Match team members with solutions

Some team member’s specific tasks will be obvious. An elder law attorney will handle drafting POA and advance directive documents, whereas a financial advisor can assist with money management strategies. Assigning specific tasks to friends and family members can be a little more challenging. Make a list of possible solutions for each need in your care plan. For example, to help Dad eat healthier meals more frequently, your sister who lives nearby could provide some pre-made meals or invite him over for dinner on a regular basis, and siblings who live far away could contribute to a food delivery service to make up the difference. Try to identify each person’s abilities, and match them with feasible solutions. These can include proximity to the care recipient, free time in their schedule, monetary contributions, and skills like cooking, cleaning, and communicating.

Put your plan into action

The ultimate goal of having a care plan and care team in place is to promote communication and unified efforts for the welfare of care recipient and caregiver. Keep in mind that a care plan is an ever-evolving tool. Finding proper solutions may take some trial and error, and your loved one’s needs are likely to increase over the long term. Even if your loved one does not currently need a care plan, beginning to put these pieces of the puzzle into place early can help you avoid a great deal of stress later on. Having them keep an updated file with financial and medical records including medications, health information, and legal documents can be vital in the event of an emergency. Should something happen, you will have the fundamental materials needed to make any decisions quickly and confidently.



Urinary Tract Infections in the Elderly

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) aren’t just a nuisance in the elderly—they can cause serious health problems. A UTI happens when bacteria in the urethra, bladder or kidneys multiplies in the urine. If left untreated, a UTI can lead to acute or chronic kidney infections, which could permanently damage these vital organs and even lead to kidney failure. These common infections are also a leading cause of sepsis, a potentially life-threatening infection of the bloodstream.

Seniors Are Prone to UTIs

The population most likely to experience UTIs is the elderly. Older individuals are more vulnerable for many reasons, including their overall susceptibility to infections due to a weakened immune system. Elderly men and women also experience a weakening of the muscles of the bladder and pelvic floor, which can lead to increased urine retention (incomplete emptying of the bladder) and incontinence. These things all contribute to infection.

Typical Symptoms of UTIs are as follows: Frequent or urgent need to urinate; pain or burning during urination; urine that appears cloudy or dark; bloody urine; strong or foul-smelling urine; feelings of pressure in the lower pelvis; low-grade fever; night sweats, shaking or chills.

Lesser-Known UTI Symptoms in Seniors

Older individuals with UTIs may not exhibit any of the hallmark signs listed above because their immune systems are unable to mount a significant response to the infection. On top of the lack of noticeable symptoms, many seniors cannot express their discomfort to their caregivers.

Since aging adults’ bodies respond differently to infection, it is important to look for different signs and symptoms. One symptom of UTIs in the elderly is often mistaken for the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH). Indicators of infection in seniors include the following: Confusion or delirium; agitation; hallucinations; poor motor skills or loss of coordination; dizziness; falling; and other atypical behavior.

These are often the only symptoms that present in the elderly, so it is crucial to keep an eye out for these sudden changes in behavior and mental state.

Diagnosis & Treatment

In most cases, diagnosing and treating an elderly urinary tract infection is relatively straightforward: a simple urinalysis can confirm the infection’s presence and, for someone in good health, antibiotics are the first choice of treatment. UTIs often clear up in only a few days. But depending on the age and health of the patient—and the severity of the infection—the course of treatment can take weeks and perhaps involve hospitalization for the administration of intravenous antibiotics.

Risk Factors & Prevention

Older adults at greater risk for getting a UTI include: Those who require a catheter in the urethra and bladder; those who are diabetic; anyone with kidney stones; and, women who’ve gone through menopause.

After menopause, women produce less estrogen, which helps protect against UTIs. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or a topical estrogen cream can help protect post-menopausal women from UTIs. However HRT may increase other health risks, so may not be appropriate for all women. About 20 percent of women who’ve had a UTI will experience a second one, and 30 percent of those women will get third.

Other steps to take to reduce the risk of UTIs:

  • Drink plenty of fluids (Older adults should drink four to six 8-ounce glasses of water a day).
  • Drink cranberry juice (without added sugar) or D-Mannose tablets (which is the glucose-like compound in cranberry juice that help reduce the occurrence of UTIs.)
  • Avoid or at least limit caffeine and alcohol intake, which irritates the bladder.
  • Do not douche or use other feminine hygiene products.
  • Always wipe from front to back (for women).
  • Wear breathable cotton underwear and change them at least once a day.
  • Take showers instead of baths.

By Caren Parnes

Contributor for The Senior’s Choice

The New Senior Transportation: Ride-Sharing Services

It’s a too-common scenario for seniors: Places to go, things to see, and a life to lead—but limited mobility or the inability to drive prevents them from getting out. Fortunately, ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber—and a new service tailored to the needs of seniors called SilverRide (which has launched in San Francisco, CA but is planning expansion in the US)—are all addressing senior transportation with new initiatives.

The Community Transportation Association estimates that 26 million older Americans rely on others for their transportation. With the elderly population growing, this number will only increase in coming years. Not being able to drive can affect more than just self-esteem. It can take a toll on physical health as well. In fact, a 2004 report found that seniors who don’t drive make 15% fewer trips to the doctor than their driving counterparts.

Ride sharing services could close that gap. How? With a little technology, senior housing partnerships, and special services for the mobility-impaired.

How to Use Lyft and Uber

Lyft and Uber are operated via drivers using their personal vehicles. They originally gained popularity among young urban dwellers as a safe option for those who have had too much to drink. However, these personal ride sharing options expanded very quickly in geographical range and popularity of use. While these services do require a little bit of tech savvy, that shouldn’t deter seniors from taking advantage of these services. All you need to catch a ride is a smartphone with the Lyft or Uber apps. Ask your children, grandchildren or a tech-savvy friend if you need a little help downloading and setting up the app.

Once a phone is equipped with the app, Lyft and Uber are easy to use. Provide a payment method (usually a credit card or PayPal) and then just type in the address of where you want to go. The app will automatically calculate the rate for the ride, so the cost is known upfront. A driver’s description and car model will be provided, as well as the estimated time of arrival.

For more cost savings, you can take advantage of Lyft’s Lyft Line, in which you carpool with other consumers riding the same route to split the tab. Uber’s version of that option is uberPOOL.

Once at your destination, just say thank you and goodbye. The cost will be charged to your credit card. The entire transaction is handled online, so there is no need to exchange cash or give a tip (unless you want to). Ready to come home? Just perform the same action in reverse, using your home address.

Special Services for Senior Transportation

For seniors who need extra assistance, Uber offers uberASSIST. This service uses drivers who are trained to help riders get into and out of the vehicle and can accommodate folding wheelchairs, walkers and scooters.

Given that seniors with limited transportation options might need to use ride-hailing often, Lyft and Uber have both been working to develop partnerships with local senior advocates, organizations, local retirement communities and municipalities around the country with the goal of increasing affordability. In many cities, programs are being tested in which seniors can get discounted—or even free—rides due to city support. Some of these initiatives also address ride-hailing options for seniors without smartphones. Check in your area for specific options.

by Mark Edelen


Personal Care Agreements

Many families reach a point when they recognize that an ill or older relative needs more than occasional assistance—they need full-time care. But who will provide that care? The answer is usually close to home: an adult child. A child might be the default choice, or is selected because he or she lives closer or has fewer family responsibilities.

The person providing care for a loved one may make a significant sacrifice: giving up a job and employment benefits. A formal agreement among family members can provide a way to compensate a person providing care if he or she is no longer able to hold other employment. While most family members may wish to help care for a loved one, it is a job with heavy time commitments and responsibilities. One way of protecting the caregiver as well as the person receiving care is by putting the care relationship in writing. This binding agreement is most often referred to as a “personal care agreement.”

What Is a Personal Care Agreement?

The agreement is a contract, typically between a family member who agrees to provide caregiver services for a disabled or aging relative and the person receiving care. The personal care agreement is most commonly between an adult child and his/her parent, but other relatives may be involved, such as an adult grandchild caring for a grandparent.

Drawing up an agreement clarifies for a family what tasks are expected in return for a stated compensation. It can help avoid family conflicts about who will provide care and how much money will change hands. For this reason, the agreement should be discussed with other family members to resolve any concerns before an agreement is drafted.

When contracting with a family member, it is wise to treat the agreement as a legal document. If your relative is receiving state supported in-home care, the agreement will show the state where the money is going and for what kind of services. In addition, a caregiver agreement can offset potential confusion among family members concerned about bequests to heirs, and avoid misunderstandings later over the reduction of the amount of money that may be inherited.

Components of a Personal Care


A personal care agreement has three basic requirements for a person to pay a family member for care:

  1. The agreement must be in writing.
  2. The payment must be for care provided  in the future (not for services already performed).
  3. Compensation for care must be reasonable. This means tasks performed should match “reasonable”or “customary”fees typically paid to a third party for the same care in your geographic area.

A properly drafted personal care agreement will contain the following information: Date the care begins; detailed description of services to be provided, for example, “transportation and errands” (driving to medical, dental, adult day care, and other appointments) or “food preparation”; how often services will be provided (allow for flexibility in care needs by using language such as, “no less than 20 hours a week” or “up to 80 hours a month”); how much and when the caregiver will be compensated (weekly or biweekly); how long the agreement is to be in effect (the agreement should set time, such as a year or two years, or even over a person’s lifetime); a statement that the terms of the agreement can be modified only by mutual agreement of the parties in writing,; and, the location where services are to be provided (home of elder/adult with disabilities, caregiver’s own home, other location)–allow for the location of the care to change in response to increasing care receiver needs); signatures by the parties; and date of the agreement

Do I Need a Lawyer?

You don’t necessarily need to hire an attorney, but it may be advisable when entering into a contractual relationship. It depends on how complex an agreement your family requires.

A legal agreement template is available through nolo.com: https://store.nolo.com/ products/elder-care/elder-care-agreements

This article was reworked from a more extensive discussion of the topic at the Caregiver’s Alliance:

https://www. caregiver.org/personal-care-agreements

Caregiver of the Season, Fall 2017

We wish to congratulate our Caregiver of the Season, Talitha Bertrand!

Talitha moved to California from Louisiana with her husband and three kids last summer. Shortly after settling into her new home, she became a caregiver at HomeLife. Talitha has made a huge impression on our clients and staff over the course of her year with us!

Talitha’s passion for caregiving began when she became the caregiver for a member of her own family. She decided she wanted to help others by providing care for the elderly in her community. Upon our first meeting with Talitha, we recognized her compassion and love for seniors and appreciated the skills she had to offer, all of which became even more apparent when she began working with our clients.

Clients and their families request her by name and praise her for the level of care she provides! She is also excellent at staying in contact with the office regarding concerns or client updates.

Talitha just recently went back to school and even though she had to make adjustments to her availability, she arranged her schedule around her clients’ schedules so she could continue caring for them. She also fills-in for other clients whenever she is able. The scheduling department knows they can count on her to help out in a pinch!

We are very thankful Talitha has become part of our wonderful caregiving team and we are excited to see the impact she will have on senior’s lives in the future!


Felicia Buack, Home Care Aide Director


The Number One Killer of Americans

Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? Many think its cancer, but it’s not. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is number one, followed by cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, accidents, and then Alzheimer’s disease. I discovered this surprising fact after being prompted to learn more about heart disease after my aunt experienced a serious heart attack recently. Thankfully she is going to be ok, but she will have to make some serious lifestyle changes to decrease her chances of experiencing another heart attack in the future.

My aunt is only 50 years old and there is no history of heart disease in the family. I have learned, besides family history, other risk factors include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, lack of exercise, and stress. These factors contribute to the buildup of plaque within the arteries of the heart. According to WebMed.com, the most common cause of heart attack occurs when blood platelets stick to tears in the plaque and form a blood clot that blocks the blood from flowing to the heart for a long enough time that part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies. The heart of a heart attack survivor will heal within about eight weeks, but a scar will form in the damaged area. The new scar tissue will not contract, so the heart’s pumping ability is compromised. The amount of lost pumping ability depends on the size and location of the scar.

The most important thing I have learned is that it is imperative to get immediate medical treatment at the first sign of a heart attack. This could mean the difference between life and death. Many people do not recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and wait too long to call 911, causing fatal damage to their heart. Symptoms of a heart attack include:


  • Chest pain which may feel like discomfort, pressure or heaviness and may move from your chest to our arms (usually the left), your jaw, neck, belly or back.
  • Fullness, indigestion or a choking feeling.
  • Sweating, nausea, vomiting or dizziness.
  • Extreme weakness, anxiety, shortness of breath or palpitations.


Symptoms usually last 30 minutes or longer and do not go away with rest. The pain can be severe or mild. Women, the elderly, and people with diabetes are less likely to experience chest pain during a heart attack, making them less likely to recognize the signs and call for help. “Silent heart attacks” can also occur and have no symptoms.

After a heart attack, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions to prevent another attack. Treatment will likely include medication, a heart healthy diet, exercise, quitting smoking, controlling stress and instructions on what to do if you experience symptoms again.   Heart disease is something everyone should take seriously and educate themselves about, especially those over the age of 50. Ultimately, the best prevention you have against a heart attack is taking care of your body by eating healthy and exercising. The best defense against a heart attack fatality is educating yourself about the symptoms so you will recognize the signs and get immediate help if one does occur.


By Amber Triebull

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





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
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