Tag Archive | Senior care

Easing into the New Year

Photo courtesy morguefile.com & a2jc4life

Organization is the best way to end the year and begin the next, especially if your loved one has been ill. Arranging the needs of our seniors can be a long task, but the effort more than repays itself. Follow these suggestions to start “new” in the New Year.

Make a portable carry file with individual file folders inside. Name each file with individual Doctor’s names, addresses and phone numbers. As medical, pharmaceutical bills, and EOB’s (Explanation of Benefits) forms arrive in the mail, they can be easily filed and accessible. If the expenses are extensive, you may be asked to produce past paid invoices for physicians or even hospitals.

Update personal files. Update medication lists twice to three times yearly. Dispose of old prescriptions. Note of new ones. Make several copies of this list and keep them in your files for easy access in the event of emergency or new doctor visits. Noting when a drug is added/subtracted, purchase date, and if the drug has been suspended, when and who suspended it. Update all dosage changes. Changes will be in order of date for easy reference. Keep a copy in your car in case of emergency.

Power of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney. Be sure Power of Attorney and Power of Medical Attorney are in place and keep copies with key family members as well as in your loved one’s personal file. Carry copies to doctor’s visits and add them to your senior’s medical files. Place copies of these papers along with Living Wills, DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), and other end-of-life requests in an envelope and tape them to the refrigerator or inside a cabinet door in the kitchen in the event EMT or Paramedic services are required.

Banking needs. Make arrangements with banks and lending institutions so key family members are able to access funds in the event your loved one is unable to manage their personal business. Simply being listed on the signature card at the bank does not give you access to funds in the event of the loss of a parent. Check with all banking institutions, life insurance, 401K providers, and retiree benefits to be sure the proper paperwork is in place otherwise, accounts can be locked by the institution and made inaccessible.

Verify Insurance co-pays and coverages. Verify deductibles and co-pays. Inquire about old coverages and verify changes. If changes have occurred, ask companies to mail an updated coverage sheet so you are prepared. Never assume that insurance remains unchanged. Healthcare is changing continually. There is no longer security in what you “once” had. Failure to keep up-to-date on insurance can cost your loved one thousands of dollars.

Logs and calendars. Keep a log book of Doctor visits, reason for visit, items discussed, any medication changes, and referrals. It’s easy to forget instructions, but if an emergency arises the details are easily forgotten or confused. The faintest pen is better than the sharpest memory. If there is an in-home caregiver having this log book provides up-to-date information for the care of their patient, but for you, it provides accountability in how those caregivers are providing services. Write upcoming dates on a large calendar so seniors can see the appointments clearly. Keeping a calendar can be one of the best things you do for your aging parent. It adds a sense of security and routine to their lives and it reduces stress and worry. Large erasable calendars are wonderful.

Personal Emergency Response Button. PERS units are valuable assets for aging parents. Units are placed in the home and the client wears a button around their neck. In the event of a fall or an emergency, parents simply press the button. A call center responds immediately securing the necessary emergency help necessary. PERS units save lives by getting immediate response to family members.

Caregiver services are available to offer respite to families. Many seniors may need minimal assistance bathing, dressing, and help with daily living skills. Caregivers placed by in-home, non-medical companies can provide this assistance. Seeking caregiver services through a company provides families with the security that individuals coming into the home are safe, reliable and fully meet state licensure requirements for in-home care.

Start the year by being prepared. Taking these advance steps will bring your loved one into the new year with a new sense of security and ease.

Keep the Holidays Joyful

Photo courtesy morguefile.com & a2jc4life

As the holidays approach and life becomes especially busy, it’s important to remember our aging parents.

Joey’s mother sat in her recliner by the fireplace. “Mom, let’s put up your Christmas tree.”

“Don’t bother. No one to enjoy it.” She slumped deep into her chair. “I get so I start dreading the holidays in the middle of summer.”

Joey’s mother isn’t unusual. Many seniors feel especially lonesome during the holidays. Memories of a spouse long past, drift back. Their own immortality glares them in the face. The inability to make their home the bustling source of activity it once was hits hard.

Holidays can still bring joy into your aging parent’s life, it simply requires a little extra effort.

Don’t overdo decorations. For seniors still living in their private residents, don’t overdo. It’s easy to zip in, bring down all the normal decorations and spice up the house for the holiday. But for the aging parent, it may be too much. Sometimes the best of intentions fall short. Instead of seeing the joy of the holidays, your loved one may worry about funds for gifts they are unable to afford or hosting a dinner for the family they are unable to prepare. Use discretion and decorate gingerly, bringing out things that are simple yet pretty. Ease aging parents into the holiday spirit.

Change the giving process. Give parents permission to skip the purchase of family gifts by turning the tables. “This year we are celebrating you and all you do for us.” Find a family tradition you can expound upon. It’s a long running joke in our family about socks. Everyone gets a special pair of socks from mom. Small bags and boxes are passed out and as everyone opens their socks the family cheers. It’s silly, but fun and something that Mom can continue to do even in her 90’s, that brings laughter and joy. Find a fun family tradition and let go of the expense of gift giving for your aging parent.

Family meals. Rather than your parent being responsible for feeding the troops, make the holiday meals a carry-in. Treat parents by taking the work out of special meals and clean up.

Include parents in individual family events. Don’t forget to invite and bring aging parents to individual family events. Welcome them to Christmas morning in your home or “day after” events. Some families have “leftover days” where their adult children gather to finish off what’s left from large holiday meals. The point is, include your parent. Sometimes the greatest loneliness occurs the day after the holiday.

Small surprises. Surprise loved ones with sudden visits, lunch dates, or little gifts. Revive the joy of the holidays with family. Family is the legacy of aging parents. Make it a focus.

Despite what we do during the holidays, there is always a little sadness when we miss those who’ve passed. Respect those moments. Talk about them. Share fun stories and sweet memories. Loneliness quickly passes to that warmth of sweet memories. Ring in the holidays by setting a joyful atmosphere. It’s never too late to build memories.

 

 

 

 

 

Qualities Every Caregiver Should Possess

Happy Senior Couple


The care of an aging parent is important. It’s difficult enough to invade their  independence with a caregiver but placing them with someone who’s personality doesn’t mesh, is worse.  The role of a caregiver is tough and finding the person who possess the “gifts” necessary is important for the happiness of your senior.

Here are a few qualities that every caregiver should possess before they become part of your aging parent’s daily routine.

*Willingness for Flexibility – It’s important a caregiver be willing to “bend” with the changes in the life of client. Changes in routine and schedule are not always wanted but are certainly a given when caring for the elderly.  Working with the “flow” is an important quality.

*Patience – If a client suffers with a dementia patience becomes a must. Repeated questions, constant reminding, and difficult moods require a person with the ability to change and adapt. One who is willing to smile, repeat, and move on.

*Listening – Sometimes the best medicine is simply to listen, hold a hand, and be supportive. Knowing a caregiver cannot always “fix” things is okay, but are they willing to sympathize and encourage?

*Attention to Detail – Finding the caregiver who has the gift to catch the “little things.” Things that may not seem important to most, are monumental  to a senior.  A caregiver with the gift to notice the small things and act on them is a jewel.

*Joyful – A caregiver who has the gift of happiness and joy is a welcome individual into the sometimes lonesome life of a senior.  It’s important a caregiver leave their personal drama at home and bring a peaceful, kind and happy attitude to work.  Happiness, singing, and laughter are proven morale boosters and sometimes they jog an aging senior’s memory to a time when things were different.

*Pro-Active – A caregiver should be pro-active in the care of their client. If something needs to be attended too, they make the necessary calls or take the initiative to do something.  Including their senior into the process of daily activities is healthy and motivating for seniors so sharing the task of cooking over simply taking charge, encourages important cognitive skills in the elderly.

No one is perfect. But the search for a caregiver can be much easier when you know what to look for.

Loving Care for Aging Parents – Part Two

MP900444005In part one of Loving Care for Aging Parents we listed questions necessary to help family members begin to make a plan of care for aging parents. From the physical needs of the parent to personal affairs and financing. Now it’s time to put together a plan.

Finding a Caregiver

There are important issues to consider when a family decides to find a caregiver and generally two options for locating a caregiver. Here you will find the pros and cons of both.

Hiring a Private Duty Caregiver

There are many wonderful people willing to be paid as a caregiver however when hiring a private duty caregiver there are some things that should be considered.

*Private Duty may be less dollars per hour – Pro
*Someone has to pay the employment taxes – Con
*Homeowners insurance does not cover private duty caregivers under the medical portion of a policy. –
Con
*Someone must provide workman’s compensation in the event of caregiver injury – Con
*Background checks should be done by the family, not accepted from the caregiver applying- Con
*Dependability issues – Con

Though hiring a private duty caregiver may cost less per hour it does not always pan out in the long run. Unemployment taxes still must be paid, if a family is to be honest. Many people are paid, “under the table” but this is not legal nor ethical. If your family chooses to hire private duty, then check with local state agencies to handle the taxes, social security and Medicare costs that should be paid.

A huge misconception for many is a homeowners policy’s medical payments will pay if a caregiver is injured in the home. Not so. Medical payments cover “guests” in the home, not paid individuals who work for the homeowner. It’s not out of the question for homeowners to be sued. Workman’s Compensation can be pricey but certainly not like being sued.

Finally, background checks should be done by the hiring family. It’s important that families invest the $25-$30 to do local and national background checks. Never accept a background check from the caregiver. These can easily be manipulated so for the best care possible for aging parents, do background checks yourself.

Finally, when hiring private duty, personal illness and issues must be taken into account. Should your caregiver be unable to work then your parent is left without care.

Though there are many private duty caregivers who are wonderful, the financial aspect is not as cheap as it seems.

Hiring a Caregiver Company

Below are pros and cons to hiring a company to provide caregiver services.

*Price – higher than private caregiver – Con
*Care is sometimes bundled in price packaging – Con
*Payment is made to the company rather than directly to caregiver – Pro
*Workman’s Compensation is provided – Pro
*Background checks are done yearly – Pro
*Shifts will always be filled – Pro
*All local and state unemployment taxes are paid by the company – Pro
*Long term care insurance can be filed – Pro
*Caregivers can be switched from time to time to add variety or replace a caregiver who is not up to par
Pro
*Home and financial assets are not tied up – Pro

Yes, the price of hiring a caregiver company is a bit higher, but when the individual costs hire and maintain a private duty caregiver revert to the consumer it doesn’t take long to see the value in hiring a company. When families hire a company, use good common sense. Ask if total price is all inclusive or if services are charged according to the task. Some companies will say their cost is $10 per hour but if a bath is given to a client, the price goes up an additional $10. Suddenly the costs are now $20 per hour. Check that charges are all inclusive with the exception of holidays.

The hassle of paying unemployment taxes, Social Security and Medicare are the responsibility of the company as well as providing workman’s compensation . Companies also bond their employees and carry employee theft and liability insurances. Background checks are required by law and companies must meet Federal and State mandates for elder care.

Hiring a company means families will never be without a caregiver should the primary caregiver be ill or on vacation and long term health insurance will pay if a company is working in the home where many make exclusions for private caregivers. Should you find a caregiver whose personality doesn’t quite mesh a company can provide a change.

Finally hiring a company does not tie up home and personal assets. When a parent enters a facility, their assets are part of the financial care obligation.

Every family must choose for themselves what they think the best method of care is for an aging parent. With these tools the decision process should be a bit easier.