All posts by Hillary Hollman

Transitioning to a Multigenerational Household

home care services in Tampa 

Is it time to think about transitioning to a multigenerational household? With the increasing cost of living and housing, young adults are more likely to live under their parents’ roofs for longer, and seniors are more likely to move in with their kids, creating a home with many generations of the same family.

The cost to rent or purchase a home is often extremely high, even unobtainable in some of the nation’s largest cities. In an effort to live well, multigenerational housing is on the rise, and as a result, housing design is beginning to cater to this trend. Accommodations like half-plexes, dual master suites, and renovated homes with lofts are a few examples of the housing development changes taking place as the multigenerational housing trend is on the rise.

Transitioning to a Multigenerational Household

Preparing for adult parents and children to live together is a tricky process that can take some time to adjust to. Here are some things to consider before making the transition:

  1. Ensure that the home is practical for elder care with all the necessary renovations made before the adult parent moves in. Renovations could include wheelchair or walker access, rooms being accessible on the first floor, trip hazards removed, etc.
  2. Renovations for privacy are also very important, as modesty and privacy are key elements of dignity for seniors. For seniors who need help with showering or other personal-care issues, hiring a caregiver can allow them to maintain their dignity and independence by separating the caregiver/child relationship in their most intimate needs.
  3. Perhaps the biggest factor in multigenerational living is the need for adequate space.  On occasion, kids will have to give up or share a room to accommodate a grandparent. This might be a fine fix temporarily, but adults and children alike need separate living space, so if you plan to make multigenerational living a longterm solution, make sure each person has their own bedroom and adequate living space.

If you are interested in looking into a caregiver, we offer home care services in Tampa.

Family Dynamics

Family dynamics inevitably change, especially when a parent takes on a new role as a living-mate in their adult child’s home. It could be the first time that grandchildren have long-term guests in their home, and it is important to make them feel like they are part of the transition process.  Similarly, seniors will have to adjust to sharing the head-of-household role, or relinquishing that title when entering their adult child’s home. Communication is the key to establishing a new, larger family dynamic at home.

Avoid Too Much Moving

Another factor in children caring for an elder parent is how to split up responsibilities when the parent has increasing needs, including disabilities or health conditions. Some families prefer to split their parent’s time, moving them between their homes. While this might seem like a fair solution, it can be taxing or even unfair to the aging mother or father. Frequent moves can take a toll and lead to health setbacks, confusion or mental distress.

Communicating with all parties involved, and making a decision of which home will be shared before making new living arrangements is highly recommended and can provide a more seamless transition into a new multigenerational housing situation.

Multigenerational living offers a multitude of benefits to family members including affordability, additional care, and a strengthened bond between family members. Alternative ways for the non-hosting parties to assist would include financial assistance or taking turns with offering assistance throughout the week.

American In-Home Care and our sister companies Advocate, Douglas, and Whitsyms always refer qualified, screened, and insured care providers for home care services in Tampa and surrounding areas that are compassionate and ready to help with services like transportation, assistance with activities of daily living, and companionship. Contact us at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free in-home consultation to discuss which care options are right for you and your family.

 

Veterans Aid & Attendance: What You Need To Know

Millions of veterans who need long-term care are missing out on the benefits they’ve earned simply because they don’t know about them. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a veterans Aid & Attendance pension benefit program pays for senior care, but the program has such a low profile that often even children of career military parents don’t always know it exists.

Knowing about Aid & Attendance is the first step. As many as 25% of all U.S. seniors are veterans (and their surviving spouses) who might qualify for Aid & Attendance, but fewer than 500,000 veterans were actually receiving Aid & Attendance at the end of 2017. Are your parents missing out?

Navigating the Aid & Attendance Application Process

The next step is deciding whether or not to apply to the program. Here are some things you should know before applying:

  1. Total number of wartime veterans in the US as of September 2018: 15,180,741
  2. Average age of a US veteran: 64 years old
  3. Estimated number of seniors in the US who could be eligible for Aid & Attendance: 1 in 4 seniors
  4. Estimated number of eligible seniors in the US who have claimed their Aid & Attendance benefits: 1 in 7 seniors
  5. Average time is takes to be approved for Aid & Attendance: 9 months
  6. Amount of money that can be awarded from Aid & Attendance:
    1. Up to $1,830 per month (Aid & Attendance + basic pension for a single veteran)
    2. Up to $2,170 per month (Aid & Attendance + basic pension for a veteran and spouse)

The application process requires many forms to fill out, as well as a long list of required documents to submit, including:

  • A certified copy of a veteran’s marriage certificate
  • A letter from a veteran’s doctor explaining the type of daily care he or she needs
  • A veteran’s original discharge papers
  • Proof of all of a veteran’s assets and income

Do you think you or someone you know might qualify for the Aid & Attendance program? The application process can be complicated, but we can help you navigate the application process. Contact us to speak with a Client Care Liaison directly.

What the Aid & Attendance Benefit for Veterans Provides

A qualified veteran or their surviving spouse who is 65 or older can get Aid & Attendance to help pay for long term care in a facility or at home. Recipients can also use their benefit to pay an adult child who’s acting as their caregiver, but not a caregiving spouse.

Eligibility factors include:

  • A medically documented need for daily help
  • A monthly income and assets below the limits set by the VA
  • An honorable discharge
  • Service during wartime

It is important to note that the VA also pays retroactive benefits once approved. When the VA approves you or your parent’s application, they will send a lump sum that covers the time from the day you filed the application until the day it was approved. Then you or your parent parent receives their monthly payments going forward.

Resources to Apply for Veterans Aid & Attendance

We can help you learn more about the veterans Aid & Attendance benefit and to help you apply. Contact us directly and ask to speak to a Client Care Liaison about veterans benefits!

Other helpful resources include:

This Veterans Day, take a few minutes to see if your parents may be eligible for Aid & Attendance and how you can help them claim a benefit they’ve earned.

_________

Source: www.aplaceformom.com/blog/valuable-benefit-for-veterans/

Activities of Daily Living & Their Importance to Senior Health

 home health care Tampa 

There comes a point with aging when it becomes increasingly difficult to complete normal and important daily tasks on our own. People with Alzheimer’s or dementia usually need support to manage their daily routines, activities, and tasks, but needing help to complete daily activities isn’t limited to seniors with cognitive impairment. It is very common that as we begin to age, we begin to develop a range of issues that might make it difficult for us to complete our activities of daily living, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, broken bones, arthritis, general loss of muscle tone and balance, vision and hearing loss, and medication side effects, among many others.

What are activities of daily living, and what can we do to make sure these daily tasks that serve as early warning signs don't get overlooked?

What are ADLs and IADLs?

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are the technical terms for the vital daily tasks and activities that we need to complete on a daily or weekly basis to live a healthy and fulfilled life. A healthy and independent adult should be able to complete the full range of activities in both of these categories. Once limitations begin to appear, and ADLs or IADLs begin to be neglected, long-term care becomes a viable option for providing help to complete the tasks.

Activities of Daily Living are the six essential skills that are needed to manage basic physical needs. These six essential skills include:

  1. Bathing: Maintaining good bathing and personal hygiene habits ensures that individuals feel relaxed, refreshed, healthy, and positive about their appearance. Bathing and personal hygiene are a vital part of a daily routine, and are the first activity that should be looked at when assessing if a loved one is capable of providing care for themselves. If their hygiene or bathing habits begin to be neglected, an in-home care providers can assist with getting in and out of the shower or tub, help with physically bathing, washing, cleaning, toweling, and preparing to leave the bathroom.
  2. Toileting: Being able to use the bathroom independently is obviously an important daily task, one that will show if an individual is capable of living independently. Bathrooms can be dangerous and difficult to navigate as we begin to age, so if your loved one begins to be nervous to go to the bathroom alone, has to go extremely frequently, or has difficulty physically getting on and off the toilet, an in-home caregiver might be the best choice to assist them.
  3. Continence: To maintain day-to-day normalcy and independence an individual should be able to control their bowels and bladder fully. This can often be an embarrassing and difficult subject to speak about, but it is important that it is addressed. The underlying causes of incontinence can sometimes be reversed if the discussion is broached honestly and early.
  4. Feeding Yourself: This is mostly an issue for those suffering from diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia, where seniors can have trouble remembering to eat at all. Severe issues can also cause severe shaking or degraded hand-eye coordination that self-feeding can become nearly impossible. In these cases, an in-home care professional can assist with feeding an individual in need of care. Even if an individual doesn't require hands-on feeding, an in-home caregiver can also be helpful for preparing healthy, nutritious, and regular meals.
  5. Dressing: Dressing isn’t limited to just getting clothes on, it also means dressing appropriately for day-to-day activities. Independent seniors should be able to differentiate between what should be worn for different weather patterns, as it could be dangerous to go outside under or over-dressed. Adults should be able to handle fasteners, buttons, etc on their clothes without assistance to consider this skill as a pass.
  6. Mobility: Functional senior mobility doesn’t necessarily mean running a marathon or going outside to shoot the basketball around. You should be able to get yourself out of bed in the morning and start your day without any major physical setbacks. Essentially, as long as you can move around your house without direct assistance, this skill is a pass overall.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are more complex actions that involve important parts of day-to-day living. Examples of a few major ones include:

  • Meal Preparation: Even before physically cooking a meal, the knowledge of how it is done and recalling recipes come into play. For seniors suffering from early stage Alzheimer’s or Dementia, this hurdle alone may be too much to get over. Physically, you must be able to make measurements, handle hot stoves, reach into cabinets, and lift potentially heavy ingredient bags.  You must also be mentally healthy enough to remember recipes and plan out nutritious and healthy meals for the day or week. What this skill boils down to is whether or not you can cook healthy food consistently enough to maintain a balanced diet.
  • Housekeeping: Senior homes that are neglected for long periods of time quickly become extremely dangerous to live in. Eventually, simply walking around can become a serious hazard if you aren’t capable of simple housekeeping and cleanup. Hundreds of thousands of seniors are injured annually in falls, and illnesses that result from those falls can often be fatal. If you are unable to maintain a well-kept home, an in-home care professional to help with cleaning and maintaining the home is the best course of action.
  • Transportation: Both mobility and challenges with short-term memory can make transportation a challenge for seniors. Being able to get around outside the home to buy groceries, go to the doctor, and visit family and friends are all extremely important factors in a senior’s continuing health, and they all depend on having access to safe transportation. In-home care professionals can assist you with traveling in your car, securing your trip, and making sure you get to your destination and back home safely.

Why are ADLs and IADLs Relevant?

Most doctors agree that if a person declines enough (either cognitively or physically) that they can no longer perform an ADL or IADL on their own, this should be taken seriously. It is very common that once one skill is failed the others will soon follow, unless the cause of the issue is addressed quickly. ADLs represent the first warnings of potentially serious issues, and should never be ignored.

It is important to check in with your aging loved ones regularly to assess their condition. If you begin to notice any of the vital tasks (IADLs and ADLs) that are starting to be neglected, it is time to have a discussion about in-home care. Securing in-home care from a trusted provider is the best way to ensure that the quality of life or safety of your loved one does not decline in conjunction with the loss of these day-to-day skills.

American In-Home Care and our sister companies Advocate, Douglas, and Whitsyms always refer qualified, screened, and insured care providers for home health care in Tampa and surrounding areas that are compassionate and ready to help assist with activities of daily living. Contact us at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free in-home consultation to discuss which care options are right for you and your family.

 

Breast Cancer Awareness in the Aging Community

It’s a tradition in October to unite together to bring awareness to the fight against breast cancer. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, as studies show that one out of eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. But did you know: 80% of all breast cancer occurs in women over the age of 50, and 60% of cases are found in women over the age of 65, making it a very senior-centric disease, and increasing the importance of staying proactive about your health as you age.

It can also be more difficult for seniors to bounce back from cancer treatments, so it is incredibly important to practice preventative and proactive healthy habits rather than waiting until reactive medicine is necessary.

Do you know someone that has breast cancer? American In-Home Care and our sister companies offer the best Home Health Care Tampa services that could help with recovery.

Early Detection is Everything

When it comes to breast cancer, especially in aging women, early detection is extremely important because there is a greater chance to treat the cancer while it is in an early stage. The first step is to regularly self-examine your breasts so that you know what is normal, and can be aware of any unusual symptoms.  Changes in how your breast feels or appears could be signs that something is off. The second step is being proactive if you do notice an abnormality. Do not hesitate to schedule an appointment to see your doctor for an exam or a screening if something feels off. Even if it ends up being nothing, it is better to get it checked out professionally as soon as you notice it.

The biggest issue for senior patients with breast cancer is their unwillingness to come forward to speak to a doctor about potential issues. Doctors suspect that this unwillingness to proactively come forward and talk about abnormalities or issues stems from a generational conservative attitude about keeping health issues private, as well as many seniors assuming that issues could be side effects of other illnesses or medications that they have.

Raising Awareness

A combination of awareness, early detection, and improved treatment options are doing  wonders to spread hope and change across communities. The good news is since the dawn of the 21st century, there has been a significant decline in deaths caused by breast cancer. Studies are suggesting that these numbers will continue to decrease thanks to initiatives and awareness from people across the nation.

However, it is important to remember that early detection is the biggest factor in lowering the mortality rate of breast cancer, and the number of aging patients that seek proactive medical care for breast cancer is far too low. So, be sure to encourage regular breast exams among the women that you love, and also reassure them that having a proactive relationship with their doctor can be life saving!

American In-Home Care and our sister companies Advocate, Douglas, and Whitsyms always refer qualified, screened, and insured care providers for home health care in Tampa and surrounding areas that are compassionate and ready to help with services like transportation, assistance with activities of daily living, and companionship. Contact us at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free in-home consultation to discuss which care options are right for you and your family.

3 Natural Therapies That Can Make You Happier

natural therapies

Now more than ever, the idea of using alternative medicine and natural therapies is gaining more attention and appeal from doctors and patients alike. Both innovative and ancient holistic healing methods are becoming more popular thanks to their ability to reduce discomfort and pain, boost the immune system, strengthen muscles, and promote well-being. Whether you are entering the golden years of life, battling a sickness, or just ready to explore new ways to heal and restore, these three therapies are great ways to help keep a healthy balance within your mind and body.

#1 - Yoga

Many are aware that practicing yoga can decrease anxiety and depression, but how exactly? A recent study published by the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience has shown that yoga protects the brain from losing gray matter volume. This is important because gray matter volume is found mostly in the left side of the brain which is associated with feeling positive emotions and helping your body relax. MRI scans have shown that 50-year-olds who have practiced yoga and meditation were found to have the gray matter volume of 25-year-olds! What’s even more amazing, is that these changes in levels of gray matter volume within the brain can start to occur immediately after beginning. Remember, for those who feel that they are not flexible enough to do yoga, it is not about your ability to achieve the perfect pose. Yoga is your time to become more comfortable and accepting of who you are now. If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, consider yoga in the sand since it is low impact and relaxing. But whether you are receiving companion care in Jacksonville or still weathering northern winters, yoga can work wonders.

Click here for more information about the Companion Care Jacksonville seniors trust.

#2 - Acupuncture

It may be difficult to believe that placing hair-thin needles inside your body could be key to releasing hormones that relax your body immediately, but acupuncture has proven to do wonders for healing anxiety, nervousness, and even mood swings. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of healing that uses hair-thin needles to stimulate different chakra points in the body. Once activated, the benefits include restored connection between the mind and body, released endorphins, and the ability to put your body at rest. If you are facing a more stressful time in life, or suffer from chronic pain, fatigue, or illness, acupuncture could be your ticket to finding relief and happiness.

#3 - Laughter Therapy

Laughter has the ability to lift people’s spirits and make us feel alive. Laughter has the ability to increase oxygen intake, relax muscles, release endorphins, and improve mental functions. After laughing for just a few minutes, you may feel better for hours. It is a contagious emotion that brings happiness, so it is now being recognized as a natural therapy to promote well-being and positivity within people’s lives. Recent studies have evaluated people before and after a humorous event occurs, the result showed that after laughing for a prolong period of time pain was reduced and the immune system was boosted. Doctor’s at Cancer Treatment Centers of America have begun to use laughter therapy as a physical exercise for groups who gather in a circle and make laughter sounds until they feel vibrations in their bodies. The result is contagious, so it makes it hard for people not to join in! Whenever you are feeling under the weather, you can always still laugh and feel better!

If you or your loved one are interested in pursuing yoga, or various other therapies, we can help! American In-Home Care and our sister companies Advocate, Douglas, and Whitsyms always refer qualified, screened, and insured care providers for companion care in Jacksonville that are compassionate and ready to help with services like transportation, meal preparation, and socialization. Contact us at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free in-home consultation to discuss which care options are right for you and your family.

Tailored Lighting is the Newest Alzheimer's Therapy

home health agency St. Petersburg

Seniors are encouraged to do a range of things to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease as they transition into their golden years: switch to heart and brain healthy diets, start aspirin regimens, aggressively lower blood pressure, and maintain consistent mental stimulation. But what happens to those that end up developing Alzheimer’s disease as they age, regardless or preventative measures? New research and kinds of Alzheimer's Therapy are attempting to minimize symptoms and maximize comfort.

The role of music in helping to treat and relieve symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease is one of the newer and more notable treatments to help seniors that are suffering. The incredible transformations of music therapy has been shown to completely turn around the quality of life of many seniors living with Alzheimer's.

Does your loved one have Alzheimer's disease or dementia? Live-in care in Orlando is a care option to help minimize their symptoms and increase their comfort.

Tailored Lighting as Alzheimer's Therapy 

Lighting Intervention acts in the same way as music therapy for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine undertook a multi-year study involving 43 seniors suffering from neurological diseases in several different living environments to discover the importance of lighting in relation to sleep, mood, and behavior.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s typically suffer from sleep problems, aimless wandering, and general irritability that can present night or day. Utilizing specifically tailored daytime lighting patterns, researchers attempted to improve on these behavioral and sleep issues.

What they found is incredible. While it’s not an instant “flip of the switch” like music therapy can sometimes be for Alzheimer’s patients, tailored lighting often led to equally staggering results. Compared to standard and inactive lightning conditions, seniors saw significantly decreased issues related to sleep disturbances, depression, and overall anxiety.

“Here we show that if the stimulus (lighting) is carefully delivered and measured, it can have a strong impact on sleep, depression, and agitation,” said principal investigator and lead author Mariana Figueiro, PhD, a professor and director at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. “Depression was a secondary measure, and I was pleasantly surprised by the positive impact of the light treatment on depression scores.”

What Did the Study Involve?

The study involved a total of 43 seniors that had been positively diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Each individual was exposed to an active and inactive tailored lighting for 4-week periods, followed by a 4-week period. The tailored lighting program was added to locations in which the seniors spent most of their time when awake (i.e. the living room), and actively ran until 6 pm. Personal light meters monitored light exposures for each senior. Measures of sleep, mood, and agitation were taken weekly based on several indexes.

The abstract from the tests and overall research results are publicly available in an online supplement of the journal Sleep.

Results

Presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, the researchers saw substantial improvement in the patient's sleep, mood, and agitation levels. The largest improvements came in the form of improved sleep schedules.

What it Means for Alzheimer’s Patients

By far the most important takeaway from the study is that Alzheimer’s patients can realistically have restful nights of sleep without heavy drug intervention. Severe lack of sleep and overall irritability contribute to neurological decline in Alzheimer’s patients, so lighting therapy could realistically slow the development of the disease. Heather Snyder, Ph.D., the Senior Director of Medical and Scientific Operations for the Alzheimer’s Association said:

"This is sort of a low-tech way that really could address some of these symptoms that are so troubling and difficult for people to sometimes manage, it’s not just turning the lights on longer. It's actually changing the type of light as well as the duration -- during wake-hours, you have more exposure to this type of light.”

Put simply, controlling intensity and type of light being used in a care facility or at home can result in major improvement in three major measurables (sleep, mood, and agitation) related to Alzheimer’s. Changing light bulbs leads to a higher overall level of happiness, greatly improved sleeping habits, and significantly less irritability.

In the future, this could lead to “prescription” lighting solutions. But in the here and now, it serves as an excellent reminder that light is a major synchronizer for our circadian rhythms. If you have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s it is important to ensure they are getting ample amounts of light during their waking hours.

If you would like to explore lightning therapy as an option for your loved one, or if you are looking for a provider for live-in care in Orlando with experience caring for individuals with Alzheimer's, American In-Home Care can help. We refer qualified and compassionate care providers that are matched directly with your loved one's personality and needs. We can refer care providers that specialize in Alzheimer's and dementia care, and who have training and continuing education in this area to ensure they provide the highest quality of care to your loved one, and that you and your loved one are in the best hands.

Senior Vaccinations: Protect Your Health!

Senior vaccinations

Written by Jeff Smith

August is Immunization Awareness Month. Senior vaccinations and immunizations are incredibly important for maintaining health as we age, yet many seniors still go without these important shots every year.

Influenza, or the flu, is responsible for 30,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations in seniors annually. Pneumonia causes between 350,000 and 620,000 hospitalizations in the 65+ age bracket every single year, with most of the cases surfacing in fall and winter. Alarmingly, 90% of all deaths associated with these two illnesses occur in the population of 65 and older, and many of these deaths could be prevented with proper vaccinations.

After a hospitalization from a serious illness, many seniors required continued care at home. Learn more about our live-in care in Orlando and other Florida counties.

Why Are Senior Vaccinations Important?

Fall and winter weather brings stuffy noses, colds, and sickness every year. Between the months of September to February, seniors are far more likely to contract everything from the flu, to shingles, to meningitis and pneumonia. That’s why Immunization Awareness Month was created in August to serve as an annual reminder to get vaccinations in preparation for the coming fall and winter months.

Seniors typically account for the majority of contracted preventable diseases. This is because they are the most at risk population for illnesses that that attack weak immune systems. However, CDC data shows that only 66% or two-thirds of seniors are actually immunized against the flu, and only 60% are immunized against pneumonia. This means that many of the deaths and hospitalizations related to these diseases could have been prevented with proper vaccinations. The importance of preventative medicine can’t be stressed enough in the senior population. Avoiding illnesses that are preventable can extend seniors' longevity and keep their health intact for longer.

The CDC has released an easy-to-read list, split by impairments and age groups, to help seniors identify exactly which vaccines they should be getting this year. It can be accessed here, or referenced below in our quick cheat sheet for senior vaccinations. And schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your specific health circumstances.

Seniors Should Get These Vaccines:

Influenza You should get the flu vaccine every year.
Tdap You should get the Tdap vaccine renewed every 10 years, starting immediately.
Shingles RSV You should get this initial shingles vaccine at age 50.
Shingles ZVL This shingles vaccine should follow up your initial vaccine at age 60.
Pneumonia It is incredibly important to receive both pneumonia vaccines once you are age 65+.
Meningitis Meningitis vaccines are primarily based on your overall health, doctor consultation is needed.
Chickenpox You should get this vaccine if you didn’t receive it as a child. If you were immunized as a child you can safely disregard it.
Hepatitis A Hepatitis A and B vaccines are only required under specific health circumstances, your doctor will let you know if
Hepatitis B See Hepatitis A.
HPV You should get the HPV vaccine if you suffer from heart, lung, liver, spleen, or kidney issues.
Measles The MMR vaccination is important if you suffer from heart, spleen, or kidney issues.

 

If you or a loved one would like help preparing for vaccinations, or you are interested in a consultation to help set up appointments and doctors’ visits, we can help. We refer qualified and compassionate care providers who can help with many different services to help prepare your loved one for flu season, including live-in care in Orlando. For more information about our services and coverage area, contact us directly to speak with a local Client Care Liaison.

Traveling as a Senior: Helpful Travel Tips

Written by Jeff Smith

Traveling can be complicated at any age, from packing the right clothes to printing flight tickets to making a schedule that everyone enjoys. Traveling as a senior has even more complications. Seniors have the added stress of needing to remember medications, packing important emergency documents, ensuring they get the proper care while they're traveling, packing and managing medical equipment, and taking special considerations based on their condition and their destination.

That being said, there is absolutely no reason why we can’t enjoy travel as we continue to age. As a matter of fact, it’s likely the best time of our lives to travel as often as possible. In the spirit of making senior travel simple without sacrificing any important health and luxury comforts, we put together this list.

Respite care is a useful service when traveling as a senior. Find out more about the services we offer, and the respite care Tampa families and Florida residents trust.

Packing Medications

Medications should be the first thing packed before any trip. Make sure that all of your prescriptions are filled, and you have enough medication to last the duration of the trip, with some extra for emergencies or delays. The last thing you want is to be stranded without important, potentially life-saving medication on hand.

Medication should be packed in the original pill bottle (with the prescription label). If for some reason bringing the original bottle isn’t reasonable, having the proper label is still a necessity. If something happens and you need to refill a prescription away from home for any reason, you will need proof. And TSA requires proper identification of your medications as well as you move through the airports.

Don’t Forget Important Documents

Important documents that seniors should never go on an extended trip without include things like: a medication list, full contact information for your primary care doctor in case of emergency, and an allergy list to be used in the event of medical treatments. It is also always advisable to travel with an additional paper copy of your photo id and passport, just in case you lose the originals.

Be Careful with Medical Equipment

Even simple medical equipment requires special consideration when packing for an extended trip. If you wear hearing aids be sure to replace the batteries before leaving home and bring additional spares. If you don’t already own a carrying case you should consult your doctor so you have somewhere safe to put spares.

If you rely on oxygen you should be sure to have a medical professional check your tank before leaving home. A leak or problem with the nose piece could put a serious damper on your trip, so it’s always best to make sure that problems never even present themselves.

It is also important to make sure you have spares and care supplies for more minor medical equipment like glasses and dentures. While it wouldn’t be a trip-ender, not having dentures for an entire trip wouldn’t make for a great time. It is recommended to bring two sets of anything you can, that way you always have a back up in case of emergency.

Airport vs. Car Travel

There is a substantial difference between traveling as a senior in the airport versus by car. Both come with a unique set of advantages and challenges.

The greatest advantage of traveling by airplane is...

  1. The overall time of travel between point A and your destination (point B) is much shorter.
  2. Cutting down on travel time is a great way to minimize the inherent risks of long trips
  3. Shorter travel time typically results in a much more comfortable journey
  4. Seniors also have access to restrooms for the majority of flights, so no pulling over for pitstops, and no discomfort from holding it in.
  5. Traveling by plane is safer overall. Car traffic-related incidents happen significantly more often than flight-related incidents.

Traveling by airplane does come with a set of disadvantages as well, however:

  1. Potential severe discomfort some seniors can feel when rapidly changing elevations.
  2. The shift in air pressure can cause pain, especially in individuals that have sinus issues.
  3. Pressure shifts have even been known to cause issues with pacemakers.
  4. Flying for extended periods also inherently means sitting for extended periods, if you are the type of person that needs to stretch every-so-often, or is prone to blood clots, flying may be a no go.
  5. The largest disadvantage is transporting medical equipment if you need to. Traveling with oxygen, spare batteries, additional electronics, or even pacemakers can cause trouble not only with TSA but also with your equipment.

Traveling by car, on the other hand, is a great way to make sure you can be fully packed and supplied for any journey. Some benefits of car travel as a senior are:

  1. It is easy to pack spare medical equipment and ensure that it is well taken care of since it’s sitting a few feet away from you. You can also pack other comforts that you might have had to leave behind when packing light for a flight.
  2. Changes in elevation and air pressure are far more gradual when traveling in a car as well, so they are a non-issue.
  3. You can also stop and stretch your legs as often as you’d like, so the stiffness or blood clot dangers involved with long flights aren't an issue when driving.

Then again, trips in cars do have some downsides:

  1. Traveling by car takes substantially longer than flying to your destination.
  2. Seniors often require frequent pitstops, and the amount of time spent driving without interruption is much lower.
  3. Longer trips mean amplified levels of risk of health issues developing and overall discomfort.

At the end of the day it is up to you and your family to decide which travel option is best for you and your specific needs.

Pack for Your Destination

Packing for your destination is valuable travel advice for anyone, regardless of age. Seniors should especially make sure they are properly packed for the weather where they are traveling. Check annual weather patterns and check the weekly forecast before packing to ensure you have clothing packed for the full range of potential temperatures. The last thing you want to do is step off the plane in Florida ready for fresh fall weather, only to discover there is a warm front and the temperatures will be up to the 90s again, and all you have is sweaters! Not only is it generally uncomfortable, it can be downright dangerous for seniors.

If you or a loved one would like help preparing for travel, or you are interested in a consultation to gauge travel readiness, we can help. We refer qualified and compassionate care providers who can help with many different services to help your loved one feel safe and happy when traveling, including respite care in Tampa. For more information about our services and coverage area, contact us to speak with a Client Care Liaison.

Preparing your Senior for a Hospital Discharge

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Is your senior loved one facing a hospital discharge?

After a hospitalization or stay in a medical facility, older adults often need additional care in order to have a full recovery. A successful hospital discharge, and subsequent in-home care support, helps older adults stay on track with their their recovery, and regain health and independence.

So what does being discharged really mean for someone’s health? We have gathered some information to help you understand what a successful discharge is, why many seniors aren’t prepared to leave the hospital, how a discharge checklist improves recovery, and how to get seniors to accept the continued help they need.

What does a hospital discharge really mean?

When someone is discharged (released) from the hospital, or a short-term stay in a facility, it means their doctor (and/or nurses) have determined that they’ve recovered enough to no longer need hospital-level care. It doesn’t mean they’re fully recovered.

Even though the older adult is able to leave the hospital or facility, they will still need additional care at home to recover. They might even need an intense level of care for weeks or months.

Depending on the needs of the older adult upon discharge, and the doctor’s plan of care, an in-home care company can match your loved one with a care provider(s) to come to their home and assist them with recovery.

Why aren’t some seniors well prepared for a hospital discharge?

A successful discharge means that the older adult leaves the hospital and continues their recovery without any major problems or returns to the hospital. This should be the goal of every discharge.

However, hospital discharge nurses are often loaded with many cases, meaning they are unable to spend a lot of time helping patients and families understand everything they need to know about post-hospital recovery.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure you and your elderly loved one have all the necessary information before leaving the hospital. It is also important to find an in-home care company that you trust to become your advocate during this time and to assist with transition and recovery.

How can a discharge checklist help your loved one recover?

During your loved one’s stay at the facility, their doctor and staff will work with you to plan for their discharge. You can use this checklist to prepare. Talk to your loved one’s doctor and the staff (like a discharge planner, social worker, or nurse) about the items on this checklist. Check the box next to each item when you have completed it, skip any that don’t apply to your loved one’s situation, and take additional notes as necessary. An in-home care provider can help you with many of these items, and to make sure the transition out of the facility goes smoothly.

Your Discharge Checklist:

What's Ahead?

◊ Ask about care options after discharge. Make sure in-home care is an option.

◊ Prior to discharge, contact the in-home care company to get a care provider that is right for your loved one’s needs. Make sure you have help arranged BEFORE discharge.

Your Loved One's Health

◊  Ask about problems to watch for and what to do about if they arise. Get an emergency contact at the hospital.

 ◊  Create a drug list for all prescriptions, over-the-counters, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Share this with hospital staff and caregivers.

◊  Ask if your loved one is ready to do these activities. Circle the ones they need help with:

  • Bathing, dressing, toileting
  • Climbing stairs
  • Cooking, food shopping, house cleaning
  • Getting to doctors’ appointments
  • Managing prescription drugs

Recovery and Support

◊  Ask if you’ll need medical equipment (like a walker). Who will arrange for this? Get a contact in case you have questions about equipment.

◊  Ask the staff to give your care provider a detailed plan of care and written discharge instructions for your loved one.

◊  Ask the staff to show you any tasks you might be able to perform yourself to help your loved one remain comfortable.

◊  Ask to speak to a social worker if you’re concerned about how you and your family are coping. Write down information about support groups and other resources. Social workers can also help you understand your payment options for in-home care.

◊  Create an appointments page to write down any appointments and tests your loved one will need in the next several weeks. Bring the drug list and discharge instructions with you to all appointments.

American In-Home Care and our sister companies can help you or your loved one prepare for a hospital discharge, and be comfortable during the transition. We have a special package called the Welcome Aboard package that specifically assists patients who are discharging from a hospital or facility, and are on their way back home. Contact us today for more information.

 

How to Avoid Hovering & Smothering Your Aging Parents

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Helicopter Parenting is a buzzword that has been gaining more attention recently. Studies have shown that this method of constantly hovering can have developmental impacts on children, and it often leads to children becoming frustrated and lashing out. So what does it mean to be a Helicopter Child, and how can you avoid hovering and smothering your aging parents?

What does it mean to be a helicopter child?

Just like when parenting, adult children can sometimes have the helicopter tendency to constantly hover around their aging senior parents. While they have the best intentions, this method of controlling and hovering can often cause more problems than it solves. Caring for a senior loved one is similar to caring for a growing child in many ways. There is a fine line between being an appropriately concerned caregiver, and one that is overly worried, controlling, and smothering. The best rule of thumb is if your senior parent can still function on their own, you shouldn’t limit them or nag them to try to slow them down.

It is easy for humans to start feeling paternal or maternal when they take on responsibility for someone else’s care, even if the individual they are caring for is their own parent. Often, adult children can unknowingly start treating their parents like children, telling them “Don’t do that” or “You have to do this.” Most senior parents don’t handle the concept of their children taking on a parental tone with them very well, especially when it comes to making decisions about their independence.

How can you provide support without becoming a helicopter child?

When your parents start to age, it is natural and important to step in to be a bigger part of their life, offering help when necessary. However, you should be wary about imposing your will forcefully, unless it is clear that your aging parent is losing his or her physical or mental functions completely, or is in real danger of hurting themselves.

For example, if your mother doesn't want to wear her hearing aid because it bothers her, and she feels like she can hear well enough without it, don’t constantly push and pester her to put it in. However, if the situation could be dangerous - i.e. your father is starting to have serious issues going up and down steps, and you are seriously concerned about their safety because of a fall -  then it's time to take action and gently enforce a responsible decision.

Adult children of aging parents should always ask themselves if they are intervening to legitimately improve or maintain their parent's well-being, or if they are doing it for themselves, to alleviate their own worries. You might feel much more comfortable about the safety of your aging parent if they are under 24-hour observation, but is it truly required? Remember that independence is incredibly important to aging with dignity and happiness. So, while you should absolutely feel comfortable being more involved in your parent’s care and well-being, you shouldn’t smother them or remove unnecessary independence. If mom or dad can still garden, drive, and get themselves out of bed in the morning then they really shouldn’t be limited, and chances are they would resent you trying.

The In-Home Care Decision

A certified care provider can help seniors maintain their independence and safely do the things they love, while offering support and reassurance to their families. If you or a loved one believe that a certified care provider would be right for your circumstances, contact us today. We refer qualified, screened, and insured care providers that are compassionate and ready to help. Contact us to schedule your free in-home consultation to discuss which care options are right for you and your family.