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In-Home Care for Seniors

Caring for the Senior Demographic

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The elderly population is growing, and this demographic change has important implications for in-home caregiving. According to a report published by the Family Caregiver Alliance, “the aging population will more than double between the years 2000 and 2030, increasing to 71.5 million from 35.1 million in 2000.” While the number of older people is rising sharply, the corresponding number of informal family caregivers will likely be unable to keep pace. The AARP suggests that the number of available family caregivers will shrink by more than half by 2050. The calculations published by the AARP demonstrate a widening care gap, and the organization recommends urgent policy action that “call[s] for new solutions to the financing and delivery of long-term support services.”

What Types of Services Are Needed?

The AARP also finds that 80 to 90 percent of elderly people prefer staying in their own homes over moving to a care facility. The decreasing number of family members available to provide senior care to this growing segment of the population means that there will be an ever-greater need for professional in-home care providers. Many seniors require little in the way of direct health care in their homes in order to preserve their independence. Often, they simply need minimal assistance with the tasks of daily living. There are several activities where a helping hand can enable them to continue living independently. These include:

  • Meal preparation
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Hair and beauty
  • Laundry
  • Shopping
  • Transportation to daily activities and medical appointments
  • Medication reminders

In-Home Care Is Efficient

According to Social Work Today, in-home care is expected to become an increasingly popular option as the baby boomer generation ages. The journal article recommends policy and public funding changes that make it easier for older adults to remain in their homes. Too often, seniors and their family members are unaware of this alternative and opt for an expensive and unnecessary move to an institutional setting. Forest Hong, PhD, chair of the Aging Practice Section of the National Association of Social Workers, states: “Several factors may cause seniors to be inappropriately placed or driven into nursing home care. Lack of accurate information and assistance in decision making can result in inappropriate nursing home placement.” For many of today’s seniors, in-home care does the best job of meeting day-to-day and long-term needs.

Psychological Benefits

Kathy Black, PhD, MSW, assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of South Florida says:

“You simply cannot put a price on being able to remain in the home … especially those who have lived in their homes for many, many years … The ‘sentiment of home’ is significant and defining for most people, and it signifies independence to many.”

She points out that physical health is improved by the greater sense of personal well-being that results from being able to stay in one’s own home. Further research cited in the article points out that elderly people heal faster, sleep better, and maintain independence longer in the familiar setting of their own home. Freed from the stress and learning curve associated with moving somewhere entirely new, older people are able to navigate all aspects of their lives with more confidence when they remain at home.

The Immeasurable Benefits of Companionship

Friendship is one of the most important human needs. In-home care providers have the time to develop warm relationships with the people they assist, providing company and conversation as well as help with running the household. In-home elderly care has evolved in recent years, so what was once a simple meals-and-housecleaning job has transformed into one of a much wider scope, involving nurturing and independent living support. In some cases, companions accompany elders to theater performances, concerts, or religious events.

Economic Advantages of in-Home Care

The cost of nursing homes varies widely, but standard costs average well over $60,000 per year. The cost of in-home care involving assistance with a few daily tasks is far lower. Light task assistance or meal preparation can often be accomplished in a relatively brief daily encounter, providing the sense of a helpful friend stopping in for a visit.

According to a New York Times article, “Many elders living independently need outside help long before they require round-the-clock care.” A single illness may cause a temporary period during which assistance is required. In-home care can easily be arranged to cover such needs without the disruption of relocation. In light of today’s lengthened life spans and the expectation of continued activity in the senior years, seeking in-home care is the most effective way of sustaining an elderly person’s independent lifestyle for as long as possible.

Know the Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s

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alzheimer's careAlzheimer’s disease and dementia affect millions of American seniors. For some seniors, these conditions slowly develop over time, while in others they appear to have a rapid onset. Knowing the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia can help seniors alert senior care givers about symptoms that can be diagnosed and treated early, improving the senior’s long term quality of life.

Age is the most common risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. The vast majority of people with Alzheimer’s are over the age of 65. In fact, the older one gets, the greater the chance of developing the condition. Medical experts says the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every five years after a person reaches age 65. By the time a man or woman is 85, he or she has a 50 percent chance of developing the illness.

Family history is another strong predictor of Alzheimer’s disease. People who have had parents or siblings with the illness are at elevated risk to develop it themselves. Certain genes have been identified as potential risk factors for the disease. For example apolipoprotein (APOE-e4) has been identified as a risk gene and may be a factor in nearly a quarter of Alzheimer’s cases.

Head trauma may also be a risk factor with regard to Alzheimer’s. Seniors can ward off this risk by fall-proofing their homes and wearing a helmet while bicycling.

Seniors who are at elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s should be focused on healthy living and mental exercise to help stave off the development of the illness. Senior care professionals in home care and other settings can help seniors with memory games and activities to keep their minds sharp.

Always Best Care helps connect seniors and their families with highly qualified, affordable in-home care and assisted living communities. To learn more, call 1-855-470-CARE.

Healthy Aging Strategies

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home care helps with healthy agingWhile we can’t stop growing old, we can work to minimize age-related declines in health. Eating right, exercising, and staying intellectually active can help us enjoy good health and mental condition well into old age. Senior care professionals can work with seniors develop plans for healthy living as part of their in-home care treatment.

One of the best things seniors can do to improve their health is to stop smoking. Smokers are at elevated risk for heart disease and stroke, and the toll smoking takes robs seniors of energy, vitality, and resistance to illness. Giving up cigarettes can go a long way to improving quality of life into old age.

Regular exercise is also important to senior health. A stronger body will be more resistant to injury and disease. Working with a physician and senior care professionals, older people can find an exercise regimen appropriate for them. Exercise can also provide an important social outlet for seniors. In general, seniors should get at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate exercise per week.

Eating right is also key to maintaining senior health. Elder care professionals should help ensure that seniors in their care eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and reduce consumption of red meat and unhealthy foods.

Seniors who practice these three basic health strategies should have a better chance of avoiding illness and injury. They’ll also feel much better and have more energy.

Always Best Care helps connect seniors and their families with highly qualified, affordable in-home care and assisted living communities. To learn more, call 1-855-470-CARE.

Seniors & Volunteering

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senior volunteers Many seniors struggle with moving away from homes where they have spent decades. However, getting involved in their community can help seniors feel more connected. Senior care professionals can help by providing outlets for their seniors to get active.

There are a variety of volunteer activities seniors can do, including:

  • Political campaigning – Seniors are often ideal to staff phone banks and make calls for candidates and causes. For seniors who want to make a difference, this is an ideal opportunity.
  • Mentoring – Seniors can connect to the younger generation by participating in programs where they read to children or help them with school work. Being around children can help seniors feel younger themselves.
  • Collection drives – Seniors can socialize with others while working at charities to sort donated items and other goods.
  • Craft-based volunteer work – Cooking, sewing, or gardening for the community will put seniors’ bodies and minds to work. This will help improve mental and physical health, as activity is key to staying physically and mentally sound. These activities provide social interaction as seniors work together.
  • Charity walks – Seniors can get a little exercise and do some good by participating in charity walk pledge drives. These events collect money based on pledges by sponsors to donate a certain amount per mile walked.

Always Best Care helps connect seniors and their families with highly qualified, affordable in-home care and assisted living communities. To learn more, call 1-855-470-CARE.

Wearable Technology Makes Staying Home an Option for More Seniors

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wearable technology for seniorsStaying at home or entering a residential care facility is a big decision for seniors. For many, residential care is a must, as they are unable to meet their own self-care needs. Technology is making staying at home an option for more seniors, as wearable technology is making it easier for home care workers to monitor and intervene to provide senior care services.

Public policy and economic necessity is driving a move to have more seniors receive home care services rather than go to a nursing home. The growing ranks of Americans age 65 and older is putting increased pressure on programs for seniors, as well as individual family budgets. Staying at home is a popular option among seniors, as they enjoy staying in familiar surroundings and keeping their independence. It’s also far less expensive than a nursing home or other residential care facility.

Wearable technology that monitors biometrics, such as heart rate, calories burned, etc., is a valuable tool for home care workers. Using these devices, in-home care workers and physicians can gather more accurate information concerning their clients’ health.

With wearable technology, caregivers get a better window into how their clients are doing. They also can use this information to craft better, more individualized meal and exercise plans. The better that home health providers are able to give quality service at home, the less likely it will be that seniors need to go to a nursing home.

Always Best Care helps connect seniors and their families with highly qualified, affordable in-home care and assisted living communities. To learn more, call 1-855-470-CARE.

 

 

Caring for Seniors with Special Needs

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passionate home careSeniors with special needs are often an overlooked segment of the population. When it comes to providing senior care in a home care setting, non-medical home care providers need to be aware of seniors’ special needs and to develop individualized care for their needs.

Seniors with disabilities make up about 72 percent of the population of people over the age of 80 in the U.S. Some of these disabilities may be lifelong issues, such as intellectual or physical disabilities they’ve had from birth. Others may be the result of illness or injury, while others are related to advanced age. Home care and assisted living care providers need to be aware of seniors’ disabilities and how to accommodate them:

  • Discuss their senior’s condition with the senior’s physician to determine how best to meet his or her needs.
  • Have the same discussion with the senior’s family to learn how they’ve cared for the senior over the years. Find out what works and what doesn’t, and what the senior is accustomed to.
  • Develop an individualized care plan for that senior that addresses his or her individual rehabilitation or maintenance needs.
  • Work to include the senior in activities and social events as much as possible. Adults with disabilities often feel excluded, and this feeling often compounds as they age and the limitations of growing old cause further isolation.

Always Best Care helps connect seniors and their families with highly qualified, affordable in-home care and assisted living communities. To learn more, call 1-855-470-CARE.

Breast Cancer & Seniors

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seniors with breast cancer get  non-medical home care help

Breast cancer mortality risk increases with age, according to recent findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Senior care providers should be aware of the threat posed by breast cancer, and encourage their seniors to have regular screenings and seek treatment if necessary.

According to research, seniors who are diagnosed with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer run an increased chance of death from the illness, as well as a relapse, even if the cancer is successfully treated. A study was conducted of about 10,000 women. Study results found that:

  • Breast cancer mortality rates were 7.3 percent in women younger than 65.
  • Breast cancer mortality rates were 11.2 percent in women between 65 and 74.
  • Breast cancer mortality rates were 22.9 percent in women older than 75.

About 41 percent of all women diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. are over the age of 65.

Researchers suggested that under-treatment may play a role in the higher mortality rate among older women. The study concluded that more research into breast cancer and aging was needed.

Professional home care provides settings that can help influence women through care to avoid illnesses like breast cancer by emphasizing the need for medical checkups and treatment. Senior care providers often occupy a position of trust with their charges and may be able to convince them to take better care of their health.

Always Best Care helps connect seniors and their families with highly qualified, affordable in-home care and assisted living communities. To learn more, call 1-855-470-CARE.

Sleep Essential to Senior Health

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sleep scheduling with in-home care

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aging can have an impact on sleep patterns, causing people to get sleepier earlier, sleep fewer hours, or sleep more lightly than they once did. Sometimes older men and women can experience significant disturbances in their sleep cycles. This can be very detrimental to their mental and physical health. Senior care professionals can help their seniors enjoy better rest with these tips:

  • Identify underlying problems such as stress, medication, health problems, etc. that may impact sleep. Elder care professionals can consult with seniors’ physicians and family to see if there are any issues that may be causing sleep problems.
  • Set a regular sleep schedule and routine. By encouraging seniors to have a set time for sleep and a regular night time routine, elder care providers can promote better sleeping habits.
  • Limit caffeine consumption. Caffeine can contribute to problems with sleep. By limiting caffeine consumption, particularly at night, seniors may rest easier.
  • Encourage exercise. Regular exercise can help seniors enjoy better rest. Physical activity can release endorphins that alleviate stress that can result in sleep problems. Exercise also helps seniors expend excess energy that may cause them to struggle in getting to sleep.
  • Get a little sun. Sunlight will help regulate melatonin levels in the body and reaffirm day/night cycles. Open curtains or get outside for a few hours each day to promote better sleep.

Always Best Care helps connect seniors and their families with highly qualified, affordable in-home care and assisted living communities. To learn more, call 1-855-470-CARE.

Obesity and Senior Health

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senior exercise and home careObesity can increase significantly after the age of 65. Obesity puts seniors at risk, as it elevates their risk of heart disease, stroke, and other illnesses. Senior care providers can help mitigate the risk by encouraging healthier habits.

Obesity rates among all ages have climbed in recent years, and the elderly are no exception. According to the American Nurses Association, more than 15 percent of the older adult population is obese. Older Americans are already at greater risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and hypertension, because of their age. Adding obesity to the mix only increases their risk of illness and death.

Hormonal changes and decreased activity are key causes of obesity in older persons. While little can be done about age-related physiological changes, caregivers of older adults can influence their physical activity.

Elder care professionals can help ward off obesity and its related health problems by encouraging seniors to exercise and eat healthy. There are appropriate physical activities for seniors of just about every fitness level. Non-medical home care professionals can work with their seniors’ doctors to find exercises that will help them maintain a healthy weight. They can also work to encourage seniors to eat healthfully.

With a little understanding about the risks of obesity in seniors, and with practical, achievable exercise and dietary goals, seniors can avoid the obesity epidemic and related illnesses.

Always Best Care helps connect seniors and their families with highly qualified, affordable in-home care and assisted living communities. To learn more, call 1-855-470-CARE.

Alzheimer’s and Other Forms of Dementia

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Alzheimer’s disease and dementia affect a large segment of the elderly population, making providing care for them challenging for family members. Many families are turning to home care services to help shoulder the burden of dementia care; home care services are cost effective and can be a lifeline for families struggling to care for elderly loved ones.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Seniors on a couchAlzheimer’s & the Forms of Dementia

Many people use the terms Alzheimer’s disease and dementia interchangeably, but these conditions have significant differences.

Dementia is a term used to describe many symptoms that include cognitive and memory impairments associated with aging. Alzheimer’s can contribute to dementia, as can a variety of other illnesses including Parkinson’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Huntington’s. Depression, substance abuse and nutritional issues can also contribute to dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 70 percent of all cases of dementia, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In Alzheimer’s disease, abnormal plaques and obstructions form in the brain, causing important cell connections to be damaged and lost. Autopsies of Alzheimer’s patients often show significant deterioration of the brain, including shrinkage.

While some forms of dementia caused by drug interactions or nutritional deficiencies can be reversed, Alzheimer’s disease cannot, though it can be slowed.

Categorizing Different Forms of Dementia

Physicians typically categorize dementia into two groups based on the affected area of the brain, cortical dementia and subcortical dementia.

Cortical dementias are caused by issues impacting the cerebral cortex, which are the outer layers of the brain that facilitate language, thinking and memory. Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob both cause cortical dementia. The typical patient with cortical dementia will have problems with memory as well as their ability to understand language and recall words.

Subcortical dementias affect the areas of the brain below the cortex. Patients suffering from subcortical dementias typically do not have problems with language and memory, but rather are affected by thinking slowly and their ability to start tasks. Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s and AIDS can cause this type of dementia.

Dementia is often also categorized by its cause. The following are other common forms of dementia:

  • Vascular dementia is caused by problems with blood flow to the brain and is common among stroke victims and people with serious heart problems.Vascular dementia can develop quickly or slowly over time, based primarily on what issue is causing the condition. Early signs include confusion and disorientation and more advanced cases will show more significant cognitive problems and possibly hallucinations.
  • Lewy Body dementia results from protein build-up in nerve cells that disrupt communication in the brain. People with dementia caused by Lewy Bodies will have many symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • Older people with Parkinson’s disease will often develop dementia. Parkinson’s sufferers often develop impairments regarding reasoning and judgment. They also often can become depressed and irritable.
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare cause of dementia. Only about one in a million people are diagnosed with the illness each year. Some symptoms of CJD-related dementia include agitation, depression, memory loss and confusion.

Home Care Assistance

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can place a huge burden on families in both terms of money and labor. The CDC estimates that about 15.5 million Alzheimer’s caregivers put in about 17.7 billion hours of unpaid time providing dementia care and Alzheimer’s care.

Home care provides an affordable means of providing Alzheimer’s and dementia patients with the care they need. It also helps give primary caregivers a much-needed break from tending to the needs of their loved ones.

Home care professionals can provide a number of services for clients with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Some services home care workers can provide include:

  • Cooking and feeding clients. Cooking can be dangerous for people with dementia, and some may even forget to eat. In-home care workers can ensure seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s get good, nutritious meals.
  • Help getting to the bathroom and bathing.
  • Some basic health care needs such as medications, vital signs monitoring, etc.
  • Providing encouragement to stay active. The more physically and mentally active seniors, even those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, the better their health will be.
  • Companionship. Social interaction can go a long way to alleviating dementia symptoms and problems and the depression that many seniors with these issues feel.

Always Best Care’s Alzheimer’s home care services provide an affordable solution for families that need help with dementia care to get the assistance they need. With Always Best Care non-medical home care workers, caregivers can take a step back and catch their breath, while knowing that their loved ones are well cared for by trained professionals.