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Seniors don’t often call saying they need in-home care. Many times they don’t realize they need additional help, and often they don’t even know it’s available. Usually one of their children seeks services because they’ve been helping their senior loved one and have noticed their needs have grown. Other times these adult children live out of town and come for a visit and are surprised by a few things going on in their parent’s home.

So, what are the signs that your elderly loved one might need some assistance at home? Here are the top signs we see:

1.  The house is no longer clean and organized like it used to be.

Common household chores can become overwhelming and tiresome. The vacuum becomes heavy and a pain to use for many aging seniors. Sometimes their eyes don’t see the dust and dirt like they used to. Other times your aging parents just don’t have the energy to keep up with the cleaning.

2.  You notice that medications are not being taken as they should. 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (27707)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (27707)

They say that one out of every two seniors over 80 has some type of dementia or memory loss. Even without dementia, it can be hard to remember to take your medications day in and day out, especially if someone is not filling pill boxes every week. Days blend with other days and important medications get missed.

3.  The fridge has minimal or spoiled food and the freezer has a lot of frozen foods.

Many times seniors start turning to easily prepared foods and frozen dinners. I remember one family whose parents were surviving mostly on granola bars and popcorn. It was a sad situation for several months before the family found out and hired a personal care agency to help prepare some hot nutritious meals. Preparing, cooking, and cleaning up all take energy and willpower and many seniors begin lacking both over time.

4.  Your aging parents are having a more difficult time getting around the house.

Joints get painful and muscles start atrophying with many seniors as they sit more and move less. Some begin to stumble and fall, which of course can be very dangerous. We always say, “One fall can change it all!” because we’ve seen it so many times. It’s best to remove any fall hazards in the home, especially loose rugs and items that block pathways. Look at getting a cane or walker to help stabilize your parents as they walk and be sure that all ice is cleared from walkways during the winter months.

5.  Your loved one is coming home from the hospital or rehab after a major fall or illness. Lonely-Senior-Developing-Dementia

The saddest scenario is when an elderly parent comes home after dealing with a hospital stay and they are too weak to get around on their own. Both the kitchen and bathrooms can be especially difficult to navigate while trying to recover. There are so many hard surfaces, slick floors, and sharp edges in a bathroom and kitchen, so one fall can easily result in bad bruises and/or broken bones.

Hiring a personal care agency can make all the difference.

Changes to seniors can be hard to notice, especially if you see them every day or so. Family coming in from out of town usually notice certain changes right away, whether it’s a change in cognition or memory loss or just the cleanliness of the home. Asking for extra help blesses your loved one and you. If you are the primary caregiver, it’s important to recognize if you’ve been feeling worn down and overworked as this is a good indication you may need more help as well.

A personal care agency can make all the difference during these sometimes difficult transitions. It’s always better to seek help before the crisis hits. Although that’s easier to say than do, we encourage families to get a little extra help going as soon as possible. Then, when a lot more help is needed, your aging parent will already feel comfortable having more assistance in their home.

Contributed by Gary Staples, Owner of Aspen Senior Care

 

 

Although a stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the US, very few people understand how to recognize the signs and symptoms. Some risk factors such as such as age, race, and heredity can’t be changed. However, with the right knowledge, risk factors can be addressed and 80% of strokes can be prevented.

Types of stroke

A stroke occurs when the brain’s blood supply is severely reduced or completely stopped. This causes brain cells to become damaged or die due to lack of oxygen. Because the brain becomes severely damaged without oxygen, it is important to act quickly. A stroke can cause long-term damage, disability, and even death.  

Here are the different types of strokes:

Ischemic Stroke – This type of stroke occurs when a fatty plaque clot or mass clogs a blood vessel and stops blood flow to brain cells.

Hemorrhagic Stroke – This type of stroke occurs when a damaged or weakened vessel ruptures and bleeds out into the surrounding brain tissue. The blood gathers and forms a bruise which compresses the brain cells and causes them to die.

TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) – A TIA is a medical emergency. It is referred to as a “mini stroke” and mimics the symptoms of a stroke. It is caused by a temporary clot and does not cause permanent damage to the brain. However, about 15% of all strokes happen after a TIA occurs.

Stroke Types 2018

 

How to spot a stroke

Symptoms of a stroke are reflected in the areas of the body controlled by the damaged brain cells. Remember to act F.A.S.T to reduce the damage caused by a stroke.

Courtesy of StrokeAssociation.org

Courtesy of StrokeAssociation.org

Learn to manage the risk factors

Although not all risk factors are preventable, there are many that can be addressed to minimize the possibility of experiencing a stroke. Along with monitoring your overall health, visit a physician to do a yearly health exam.

  • Manage high blood pressure – HBP is the leading cause of strokes and is highly controllable.
  • Control cholesterol
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Be active and maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage diabetes and control blood sugar
  • Do not smoke

Lack of sleep can have serious negative consequences for both your physical and mental health and this is especially true for seniors. Studies on sleep and people over the age of 65 show that poor quality sleep can:

  • Deteriorate memory and speed up dementia.
  • Increase the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular illnesses.
  • Adversely impact appetite, often increasing the risk of obesity.
  • Weaken the immune system, making seniors more vulnerable to the flu.

Older Americans often have trouble falling asleep, spend less time in REM sleep, and wake up more frequently during the night. If you are over the age of 65 and are experiencing one of these or other sleepless situations — or if you have drowsy days and don’t know why — this article has a few simple, smooth tips for getting better sleep.

Start a Bedtime Ritual

You may need to let your body — and brain — know that it is time to wind down. Nothing triggers yawns quite like creating a bedtime routine. You’ll want this to be something that relaxes your body and lets your brain settle down. Unfortunately, television, tablets, and smartphones do the opposite, so be sure to swap them out for a magazine, music, or a good book (but not one so good that you can’t put it down). Start your ritual an hour or two beforehand. Experiment with different techniques, such as taking a warm bath, using lavender body lotion, meditating for 20 minutes, or practicing relaxing yoga, until you find a combination that works.

Create a Sleepy Space

Is your bedroom filled with distractions, from TVs to bright lights? It could be that your environment is keeping you awake. You can tone things down a bit with some quick, easy, and inexpensive changes. Replace bright, harsh bulbs with soft lighting, and use a white noise or sound machine to block out noisy neighbors.

Temperature plays an important role here, too. Keep the room comfortable and cool with a ceiling or floor fan, and if that doesn’t do it, try wearing pajamas made from breathable fabrics like cotton, chambray, or rayon. And don’t forget the bedding! Sheets and blankets made of breathable fabrics can help you regulate temperature, as well.

Get Diet and Exercise on Track

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(TeroVesalainen)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(TeroVesalainen)

There are definitely types of food you should avoid right before bed— like sugar and caffeine — but how you eat all day can also affect how you sleep at night. Prepare wholesome meals balanced with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you’re drowsy, drink green tea instead of coffee or sodas to get a powerful boost of antioxidants. And diet is only one part of the equation — shoot for at least 30 minutes moderate exercise a day. This will help you sleep longer and more deeply because your body needs to recover. Plus, exercise is also a positive coping strategy for the stress and anxiety that often keeps seniors awake at night.

If you find yourself counting sheep instead of getting sleep, you’re not alone. More than 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia. For some, the mind refuses to slow down, and we tend to ruminate on things we didn’t accomplish or conflicts we’ve endured. For others, the body is the culprit, with sleep disorders or chronic pain keeping us up. However, for seniors, it’s often a combination of both. It’s easy to see how making the effort to improve your sleep can also improve your overall well-being.

 

Contributed by Lydia Chan. Lydia is the co-creator of Alzheimerscaregiver.net, a website that aims to provide tips and resources to help caregivers. Her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Lydia found herself struggling to balance the responsibilities of caregiving and her own life. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experiences with caregivers and seniors. In her spare time, Lydia finds joy in writing articles about a range of caregiving topics.

Infections in the Elderly

Did you know that almost a third of all senior deaths are caused by an infectious disease? This is often due to the difficulty in discovering and diagnosing these illnesses, as the standard warning signs of infection materialize differently in a senior’s body. Furthermore, new strains of bacteria are continuously developing a stronger resistance to antibiotics, which doesn’t help the already aging immune system of your loved ones.

Because of these concerns, it is imperative for all caregivers to familiarize themselves with these common infections in the elderly and their warning signs, as well as what treatments are available. Here is a list of the most common infections you need to be aware of.

Urinary Tract Infections

A UTI is the most common form of infection found in seniors. Usually, this term is used to refer to a bladder or urethra contamination, but this bacteria can also spread to the kidneys which becomes a much more dangerous problem.

Senior’s who suffer from diabetes or use a catheter are at a higher risk, but other causes (such as an enlarged prostate, an increase in vaginal pH, or not emptying the bladder properly) are also widely reported.

The standard symptoms of urinary tract infections (such as pain, discomfort, fever, and persistent desire to urinate) are not always immediately evident in seniors. Rather look out for confusion or increased dementia symptoms, and if any vomiting occurs, seek immediate help.

The correct treatment depends on the infection itself, which is why a proper diagnosis is essential while ensuring the patient is properly hydrated.

Skin Infections

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(DarkoStojanovic)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(DarkoStojanovic)

This is an umbrella term for a myriad of ailments such as shingles, pressure ulcers, fungal foot infections, or the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Seniors are less able to fight off these infections as their aging skin does not heal as quickly as it used to. Diabetes also plays a negative role.

These skin conditions can come from an array of sources, including a weakened immune system, lack of mobility, moisture, or human contact (which includes communal showers).

Look out for any pain, itching, unfamiliar marks, or rashes. Mild fevers have also been reported. As always, the prevention of superficial infection is your best approach. Good hygiene is a must especially in a communal environment, so encourage hand washing and regular bathing schedules.

Vaccines and the proper disposal of all bodily secretions are also important considerations. If someone is already infected, isolate them from any other human contact and treat their contamination with antiviral agents.

Influenza and Pneumonia

An unattended respiratory infection (influenza) may develop into a severe lung inflammation (pneumonia) where the air sacs fill up with fluid and harden. This is the fifth leading cause of death for seniors due to diminished lung capacity, exhausted immune systems, or pre-existing conditions (such as cardiopulmonary disease or diabetes).

These germs are usually spread from person to person, transmitted via a cough or a sneeze, and then inhaled into the lungs. Community settings and closed environments are a definite reason for increased concern.

Be on the lookout for any obvious signs (such as the chills, coughs, sore throats, and fevers) but be aware that these symptoms are often less clear in seniors. Sudden headaches and a weakened demeanor are early red flags, while subtle changes in their behavior (including confusion and delirium) should also be watched carefully.

Routine checkups, pneumococcal vaccines, and a strict no-smoking policy are some of the best methods of prevention, while antibiotics from a doctor should be used to treat an existing condition. And remember that the sooner someone gets diagnosed, the better their chance of a swift recovery.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(geralt)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(geralt)

Gastrointestinal Infections

There are various types of bacterial infections which affect the stomach and/or the small intestine, but Helicobacter pylori and Clostridium difficile are the most common.

These outbreaks can be passed on from individual to individual or introduced to the system via means of undercooked food/contaminated water. The risk of infection is increased when traveling to foreign regions which contain viruses that their body is not accustomed to.

The standard symptoms of gastrointestinal infections can be expected here, and include abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This rapid loss of liquid means that you need to continuously hydrate the patient while making a quick diagnosis. If other people feel unwell who also consumed the same meals, then it is safe to assume that this is a food-related outbreak and you can take it from there.

Stomach troubles such as these usually clear up on their own within a few days. However, always speak to a medical professional just to be safe, and use this threat as a good incentive to thoroughly clean your hands before eating anything.

Contributed by Vive Health Writers

How can you find the fun in caregiving? It’s common to focus on certain aspects of your loved one’s care (safety, medications, finances, medical treatment, nutrition, etc.) Often you busy yourself with monitoring their progress (or decline) and doing everything in your power to keep them comfortable. Worrying about their reduced energy level, increasing fatigue, physical weakness and changing mental status is important. But it’s also important – for you both – to just have fun! Here are a few ways to laugh and live in the moment as you find the fun in caregiving together!

Fun in the home

You don’t have to go out to have fun. Activities are available in the home to enjoy. Keep favorite games handy. Whether a deck of cards, a jigsaw puzzle or a scrabble board, provide access to games that you can enjoy playing together. Try to set aside time to share some of these activities with him or her a couple of times a week, or set up get-togethers with his or her friends if possible. Set aside at least a day a week to watch a special movie together and make an “event” of it with popcorn and beverages.

Small outings

Seniors look forward to getting out, but as they age, they may no longer have the stamina or mobility for all-day trips. Still, they may be able to go out for an hour or two at a time. These can be outings that might seem every day to you: a trip to the supermarket or some local stores to window-shop. Adopt the old-fashioned concept of a “Sunday drive” through scenic areas or attractive neighborhoods that can culminate in a stop for a treat or a bite to eat. What does your loved one enjoy doing? If a gardener, take her to a local nursery or flower shop. How about to a bookstore or the local library for an avid reader? A local matinee is a great idea for a movie buff. A morning at the Farmer’s Market can be very enjoyable for those who love being outdoors and enjoying great food. All of these outings can be done in a couple of hours and provide your loved one with stimulation, a change of pace, and create enjoyable memories for you both.

Getting involved in the community

If your loved one is home-bound and has limited access to the stimulation of company beyond family members, consider finding community-based activities that he or she can enjoy on a regular basis. Most communities have senior centers that offer regular classes on topics of interest to him or her that generally only meet an hour or two at a time. This can offer an outing your loved one can look forward to weekly and allow them to make new friendships at the same time. There may be other community activities hosted through local churches and town-sponsored events that offer new opportunities for fun and socializing.

Music

Fun in caregiving

Photo by Pixabay (Beesmurf)

If your loved one is musical, play their favorite music or plan a karaoke night with their favorite songs.  According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, when used appropriately, music can: alter mood, manage self-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, encourage cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.

Projects

Set up projects at home that you might enjoy doing together. Find old photos or photo albums and help them create new scrapbook pages full of memories (or create them online!) Gardening, quilting, knitting, drawing or painting are other great options!

Talk about it

These are just a few suggestions for activities that can bring more fun to both you and your loved one’s life. So break out of your routine and discuss what you both might enjoy doing together that will bring joy and fond memories to you both!

Taking care of an elderly parent or relative is a heartwarming experience and it can enhance the lives of those you care for ten-fold. But even the most patient and attentive caregivers need a break from time to time. While some might argue that spending every minute you can with an ailing parent is the best use of your time, others would point to the growing concern around self-care and encourage caregivers to take time away as needed to replenish and regroup. Taking care of someone you love is a lot of work, and while it is incredibly rewarding, you need to take a break sometimes too. You might be worried about how to leave a family member you care for to take a vacation or break, but with these tips, you can be on your way.

Plan in Advance

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Free-Photos)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Free-Photos)

You can’t know how long you are going to be caring for an ailing loved one, so it’s important to take the time you need when you need it. Start planning your vacation in advance so that you have plenty of time to ensure that everything is in order and looked after before you head out. Because you will need to find someone to care for your family member while you are away, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of lead-time to arrange for that additional care. Plus, if you are being paid for your time as a caregiver, consider how you can earn money to cover your time away from “work.” Giving yourself a few months notice allows you to save some of your money for such a vacation.

Talk to Other Family Members

When it comes to being paid for your time and effort as a caregiver, you’ll most likely need to plan to offer some form of payment to another family member who takes over. If your family member in care receives CDPAP, or another benefit, you may want to start putting some of those funds away now to ensure you have enough to cover the time away for additional care. You’ll want to organize a family meeting to discuss options for care while you are away. Keep in mind that family members might not want to take on the responsibility of caring for aging parents, even for a week, and they might expect you to find someone else to do the job while you are gone.

Hiring an Outside Source of Help

If it happens that your existing family members don’t want to pitch in to care for your aging parents while you are out of town, you might have to consider hiring an outside source of help. There are a number of home care services that can come for short or extended periods of time. You’ll need time to place an ad or contact an agency and arrange for an interview before leaving on your vacation.

Walk Through the Day

Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)

Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)

When you do find suitable care for your family member, whether that is another family member of an outside source of help, you’ll want to take the time to walk them through a typical day of care. It’s important to do this once or twice so that everyone is comfortable with the temporary situation. Remembering that this is just temporary will put everyone at ease. Elderly parents or family members might not want you to go away for a week or even longer, but because it is so important to maintain your self-care as a caregiver, you’ll need to come to terms with what leaving for a period of time means and decide to do it anyway. Taking time to acquaint new caregivers and your family member is important.

Finally, talk to your family member about how important it really is for you to be able to take time away from your job there and come back ready to tell them wonderful stories and share adventures with them. You need a break and while you might feel guilty about what that could feel like for your parents, remember again, that it is just temporary. And if you are really worried about taking time away from your family member, don’t go far so you can come at a moment’s notice if necessary. That way, you get a break, and you can sleep at night if you are worried about your parents or family members.

Contributed by Baruch Leifer

Freedom Care

Like nurses, caregivers can be more prone to injury or illness associated with caring for someone. Muscle strain from lifting a client, mental stress from various caregiving roles, and infection from contact with many patients across different healthcare settings can not only make the caregiving job harder but be detrimental to a caregiver’s overall health.

When it comes to avoiding common caregiving injuries, don’t miss these quick tips:

Practice Good Lifting Technique

Photo by Pixabay (sasint)

Photo by Pixabay (sasint)

The nature of caregiving doesn’t leave much room for waiting. If the person you’re caring for falls or needs help to get to the restroom, the burden of supporting their weight and helping them get up quickly or reposition falls on you.

Not only is lifting a human being more difficult because they are heavy, often unbalanced, and the body positioning is awkward, but lifting an entire person from a chair or bed can require even more exertion than normal (not to mention pushing wheelchairs with clients in them up steep ramps.)

Commonly, both formal and informal caregivers will experience muscle strain and injury to the back, shoulders, neck, and knees. This can manifest into a serious injury like rotator cuff tears, joint inflammation, and pinched nerves which make the caregiving job that much more challenging and increase safety risks for clients.

Caregivers can practice good lifting techniques by:

  • Calling for help if there is any concern about the lift being unmanageable or dangerous
  • Utilizing transfer and lift aids like shower transfer chairs, swivel seat cushions, hoya lifts, and lifting belts

  • Taking a minute to assess the lift before taking action, i.e. move clutter out of the way, reposition your client so they can help
  • Having your client help with the lift by supporting themselves on a sturdy piece of furniture or with their mobility aid
  • Lifting with the legs from a squat position, and keeping the head up and back in neutral (straight) position

Prevent Infection

Constant contact with clients in different health settings can make caregivers prone to infection or illness like colds or the flu. And any caregiver knows that clients who require care, especially seniors, are more susceptible to complications (like pneumonia) from even small infections that people accidentally pass to them.

Infection prevention is relatively simple. Caregivers should always remember to:

Photo by Pixabay (gentle07)

Photo by Pixabay (gentle07)

  • Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water before and after caring for a client in any way (or use hand sanitizer)

  • Wear gloves when completing tasks that deal with bodily fluids

  • Wear a face mask if a client is ill, sniffling, coughing, etc.

  • Avoid seeing clients when you are under the weather yourself

  • Take care of yourself with a healthy diet and routine exercise that bolsters your immune system

Practice Self-Care

While caregiving is definitely fulfilling and provides you with a sense of purpose, it can also take its toll physically and mentally. More than most, caregivers should practice regular self-care that helps prevent injury, tends to emotional stress, and equips them with the tools and strategies to maintain optimum health while seeing to their client’s health.

If you are dealing with chronic back pain or nagging knee pain, see a doctor for a formal evaluation. They may recommend stretches and exercises to strengthen the muscles used in caregiving, prescribe a brace to stabilize the neck to minimize painful neck movement or to support the knee when lifting, as well as educate you on lifting technique.

If you are feeling stressed or burnt out, see to your own emotional wellness by speaking with a counselor, finding a hobby outside of caregiving that helps you relax (knitting, coloring, rock climbing, etc.), and addressing the caregiving tasks that are posing the greatest challenges. For example, if lifting has become overly strenuous, find out if your client’s doctor can write an order for a lifting aid or device.

To learn more about Aspen Senior Care or to get caregiving support, call our office today at 801-224-5910.

Author: Joe Fleming

Co-Founder, Vive Health

Are you a senior making your spring and summer travel plans? You’re not alone. In fact, AARP’s 2017 Travel Research reveals that the majority of Boomers travel during the spring and summer months. Whether it’s a weekend getaway, summer vacation, or a big family reunion, taking trips is a great way for seniors to get out of the house, socialize with others, problem solve, and check some life goals off their bucket list.

Travel doesn’t come without its own challenges, however; everything from cost, health, and security concerns to long lines at the airport and unexpected snafu’s with reservations can throw a wrench in your well-designed travel plans. These challenges are made even more difficult if you have mobility problems or another disability.

enjoy-the-little-things-Pixabay(Alexas_Fotos)

Photo by Pixabay(Alexas_Fotos)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that you will get equal treatment under the law and that all the accessibility standards and requirements in both public and private places are regulated. However, it does not always work out that way in real life, especially when traveling abroad. More than one-third of people with disabilities reported they experience difficulties, inadequate facilities, prejudice, higher prices, and other associated problems while traveling.

If you’re looking for effective tips to make traveling easier and more enjoyable as a senior, don’t miss this quick list:

Save time and money planning online

For more efficient cost-comparison and travel planning, technology can be your best friend. Websites like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Hotwire can help you search for a great flight, hotel, and car rental deals as well as enlighten you about your destination. If you’re looking into potential vacation rentals, sites like Airbnb or HomeAway are your ticket. And use smartphone apps like Yelp and Zomato to check menus, pricing, and reviews of potential restaurants or other destinations on your itinerary.

Call a travel agent

If you have built up airline loyalty miles, are looking guided tour vacation opportunities, or simply prefer to coordinate travel plans with a real live person, give a travel agent a try. Travel agencies in the United States, Canada, and Europe offer niche services which can be tailored to your specific needs, i.e. if you have mobility problems. Since they deal with seniors regularly, they know all the potential travel pitfalls and hurdles you could encounter and how best to avoid them. Working with an experienced travel agent alone can make your travel more accessible and convenient.

Choose your flight wisely

Senior Travel Plane -Pixabay(bosmanerwin)

Photo by Pixabay(bosmanerwin)

If possible, try to choose a direct flight and avoid connecting flights. Getting off the plane, waiting during a layover at another airport, and boarding again is nothing but an added hassle. However, if you have a hard time using the tiny restrooms on a plane, a long flight can be uncomfortable. In that case, you may want to opt for a connecting flight, but make sure that there is ample time for you to get from one gate to the other.

Be a smart packer

As a senior, there are a handful of items you want to be smart about packing. Take medicine, for example – always take more medicine than you might need, sort and store it in a pill organizer if possible, pack it in your carry-on (not in your checked luggage which has the potential to get lost), and keep your refill prescriptions with you just in case.

For avoiding aches and pains when traveling you may also want to bring items that offer greater comfort, cushioning, and support on your journey. Always wear proper-fitting walking shoes with smooth bottoms and consider getting gel inserts for added comfort and support, especially if you have sensitive feet or are not used to staying on your feet a lot. It makes your travel a lot easier, even if you get caught up in unexpected delays, long lines, and other unwanted situations.

Travel neck pillows and padded seat cushions can also alleviate neck, back, and hip discomfort on long plane or car rides by helping you maintain good posture and better distributing your weight in your seat.

If you use a wheelchair to get around, consider packing accessories (like your pedals) in a bag in your carry-on and bringing a small wheelchair repair kit along (or going ahead and looking up local repair shops at your destination) just in case. Moreover, if you are planning on traveling internationally, make sure you know your rights as a person with a disability by going to the website of the local border agency.

Contact your hotel early

Contact your hotel or other lodgings at least 24 hours before your time of arrival, so they have enough time to make necessary arrangements if needed. If you use a mobility aid like a walker or a wheelchair, make sure to share those details and verify you will be staying in a handicap-accessible room (they have wider doorways, grab bars, walk-in showers, etc).

You may even want to go so far as to bring a doctor’s note with you with their phone number, as well as a travel statement and a list of any special needs written down on a piece of paper.

Taking even just a couple of these steps in your travel planning can save you time, money, and stress. Good luck, and have a great trip!

Author: Joe Fleming

Co-Founder, Vive Health

There are many services available to help seniors who may need extra assistance. Unfortunately, this transition can be hard for those needing extra care. Some adults resist having strangers come into their home. Sometimes they do not want to attend an adult day program or move into a senior housing community. The senior who needs help may see these services as a loss of independence, an invasion of privacy, or are unwilling to pay for services.
 

Here are suggestions family caregivers have found helpful in making these transitions easier.

Listen and involve your loved oneHow can I get my family member to accept help?

Your loved one wants to have a say in what is happening with their care. Listen to their concerns and why they are fearful of accepting help.  Maybe they feel that their choice is being taken away from them. Perhaps they feel they have become a burden. Whatever it may be, express that you understand their concerns and that their feelings are valid Involve your loved one when choosing the in-home care company, adult day care program, or residential facility. Having a voice will help your family member feel more comfortable with the decision.

Take it Step-by-step

Next, take time to introduce the new assistance into your family member’s life. For example, begin by having an initial meeting with your loved one and an in-home care company. As your loved one builds a relationship with a caregiver, add hours and days throughout the week. A senior day center may be a better fit. Your family member can begin with two days per week to adjust to the new routine and structure.

Communicate your needs

Acknowledge your needs as a caregiver and express your thoughts to your loved one. Let them know that it helps ease your concerns when you know they are in good care. Confirm that you are still there to help and that you love them.

Be Respectful

In most cases, your loved one is in a place where they have the right to help make decisions for themselves. Their final decision may not fall in line with what you consider to be the best choice for everyone involved, especially if they have dementia. Encourage them to give the new change a try for two weeks and then evaluate after that. Be respectful and supportive. This may be a difficult time for them and they need your love and support.

Senior Financial Literacy

In 2004, the American Society on Aging sponsored a study to test the financial knowledge of Americans age 50+. This 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. However, 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 seniors.

This may seem an overwhelming topic to tackle for a senior or their family. 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. Yet, this is a strategy that as many as 70 percent of fraud victims report having used. Become more informed and consider learning more from an accredited Financial Advisor. These are the best first steps to improve one’s financial literacy. One online resource for understanding some of the basics is ConsumerCredit.com. This site offers useful tools designed for the 50+ population.

Here are several topics which seniors and their families may wish to consider when evaluating their financial health.

Know where your money is going Do you know where your money is 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 cant 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, its time to develop a strategy to start eliminating it. This means identifying expenses that you can trim and develop strategies to change your spending habits.

Check your credit report 

Your credit report can impact not only your ability to get a loan but to rent an apartment or land a job. Therefore, it is critical that you check your credit report often and understand the factors that affect it. If your score is low, there are many agencies available to help you start improving it.

Understand your retirement portfolio 

Check your investment choices. For those seniors with retirement portfolios, it is important to understand your risk. While the safety of bonds has always been attractive, 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 favors bonds, it may be time to consider a more diversified financial plan. Know whether your total living expenses could ride out a drop in value.

Prepare 

We’ve all heard the rule—you should have three to six months of expenses on hand for an emergency. Even if you don’t think you can get there, start somewhere. Have a set amount put away so if there’s an emergency 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 asaging.org.

Adapted from The Seniors Choice ‘Improving Senior Financial Literacy’