Tag Archives: Aging

Building A Responsible Doctor-Patient Relationship

A Comprehensive Partnership With Your Physician: A Patient's Responsibility

By Marjorie Marcus, MSW

In the past, doctors took the lead and patients typically followed without question. These days, a good doctor-patient relationship is a partnership. So here is what you can do to make your physician visits as productive and effective as possible.

Create a list before your appointment. This will make it easier to fully cover what it is that brought you to your doctor, and ensure that you do not forger any problems or issues you want to discuss. The list should include the following information:

A list of symptoms

This list should include, but not limited to, aches and pains, trouble sleeping, anxiety, moods. Are you sad all the time? Are you more confused lately? This list ensures that you give your doctor an accurate account of what is occurring in your life, mentally and physically. Include when these issues started, how often and how long they last, what makes them better or worse. Be sure to explain how these issues affect your daily activities.

A list of your medications

ALL medications should be listed; non-prescription, herbal remedies, vitamins, even eye drops should be included on this list. Better yet, bring your medications to your appointment. Include dosage, how often and times of day you take these medications. Make sure to note any side effects.

An outline of your daily activities

Be honest when discussing these activities. What do you enjoy doing? How often do you exercise? Do you smoke and/or drink? Describe your sex life. How do you sleep? What and how often do you eat?

Describe any life changes

Examples of these are divorce, death of a loved one (including pets), or a change in living arrangements. These life changes can cause stress, and stress affects our health.

This comprehensive approach of sharing complete information is key to developing a solid doctor-patient relationship. By being open, honest and detailed about your medical and personal condition, you and your doctor will be working together to formulate the comprehensive care plan you desire.

Written by Marjorie Marcus, MSW, a Client Care Liaison for American In-Home Care. Originally published in The Villager's Voices Publication, Palm Coast, FL. Sept. 2015


Contact American In-Home Care today at 1-844-505-0004 for your free, no-obligation consultation. We will work with you to match the best care provider and determine the right care options for you and your family.

Transitioning to Retirement: 5 Tips For A Smooth Move

The picture of retirement is changing. Today's older adults are more active and adept than ever, and generally aren't settling down and retiring at age 65 anymore. Not only are they wanting to remain in the workforce longer, but employers are also reluctant to lose them. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, 54 percent of companies say that they're concerned about losing the skills and talent of retiring workers.

Because of this, many companies are creating phased retirement plans that allow older employees to work fewer hours in their current position, or take on part time jobs in an effort to gradually move toward retirement. This allows the companies to retain the talent of the older employees while training newer, younger individuals, while the older adults get the satisfaction of remaining in a place where their skills and expertise are valued, while they prepare for long term retirement.

Even if the company doesn't specifically have a phased retirement plan, you can still follow a similar path by creating a gradual retirement plan on your own. Either way, following the below steps can help make transitioning to retirement smoother and easier on both you and your loved ones.

1. Get As Much Info As You Can

Talk to other people - both friends and people in you professional field - who are in similar situations to you, or who have already retired in a similar way, and pick their brains. Then consider ways that you can bring your specific areas of expertise and particular projects into a scaled down job description. Map out what your new job will entail, and make sure it makes sense to you and your company.

2. Flexibility Is Crucial

There isn't one way to make a phased or gradual retirement work. Be open to creative ideas and don't be stuck on the idea that a part-time job is the only step. Consider working on a per-project basis or transitioning to freelance so that you are able to work from home and set your own hours.

3. Stay Current

It is important that you keep your skills and marketable assets current so that your employer is more likely to keep you on. This could mean attending classes or conferences outside of the workplace to stay up-to-date, or getting the latest certification or learning the newest software in your area.

4. Consider Your Wallet

It is pretty clear that your salary will be reduced when you scale down your work, but be sure to consider the other implications. Be aware of the changes that could happen to your retirement, medical and social security benefits when you are no longer a full time employee, as your coverage could be limited.

5. Find A Balance Between Work And Home

With phased out retirement, finding the right balance between holding on and letting go can sometimes be difficult. Even though it isn't as drastic as retiring all at once, it is still a big change and it is important that you start to develop skills and hobbies at home so that you feel fulfilled both at work and at home.

If you or your loved one feel the need to have a qualified and compassionate care provider in the home to assist with daily activities and companionship, American In-Home Care can help. We always refer credentialed, screened, care providers that specialize in a variety of services, so you can always find the right care option for you and your family. Contact us today at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule a free consultation to assess your in-home care needs.


Memory Loss With Age: Helpful Tips For Coping

Forgetfulness and memory lapses are common among older adults, and can be frustrating and embarrassing. As we grow older, we experience changes that can cause glitches in the brain functions that we have always taken for granted. Because it takes longer to learn and recall information as we age, we’re not as quick as we used to be, which can lead to feelings of frustration when we forget everyday things.

Memory loss with age happens because the region of the brain responsible for memories starts to deteriorate, and hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells decline. Older adults are also less efficient at absorbing brain-enhancing nutrients, which makes some memory loss a natural part of aging.

For this reason, most people experience occasional lapses in memory that are a normal part of the aging process and not necessarily a warning sign of serious mental deterioration or the onset of dementia. However, when memory loss with age becomes so severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, then it is time to see a doctor and get evaluated.

When a loved one has been evaluated and is diagnosed with severe memory loss such as Alzheimer's disease, it can be challenging for the person diagnosed as well as their caregivers. Even though there are no medical treatments for curing severe memory impairments, changing the way things are done at home can help.

1. Use Lots of Hints and Reminders

Talk frequently about things that are coming up and important events that need to be remembered. Incorporate these reminders naturally into conversation so that it doesn't make the person feel foolish, or point out the fact that they can't remember on their own. Also use hints like "let's make sandwiches for lunchtime," which can help remind them what time of day it is and what meal is coming next. Words with context such as "lunch," "dinner," or "bath time," can be more useful than using numeric values such as "3 o'clock."

2. Use Calendars and Clocks

Make sure there are clocks placed throughout the house, and keep blinds and curtains open during the day so that it is easier to keep track of the time of day. Before getting in bed,  visibly cross off the day on the calendar so that the new day is apparent in the morning.

3. Keep Old Photographs and Mementos Around

While these will not necessarily jog any present memories, they are important to have around because they can be comforting and provide reminders of family and friends. People with severe memory loss are often better able to recall events in the distant past, so having heirlooms and pictures around the house can help to provide a means to recall these comforting memories.

4. Keep Choices Limited

Remove the need for extra choices to be made which can confuse and upset the individual. For example, only leave a few shirts and two pairs of shoes in the closet, keeping the other items in a separate, locked closet. And when asking for the individual's preference, limit choices and distractions by asking "do you want" questions, such as "do you want to wear the black shoes?"

5. Use Night Lights Around the House

People with severe memory loss can easily become disoriented at night, so keeping night lights around helps them know where they are if they wake up in the middle of the night and need to use the bathroom. Also, keeping the house illuminated helps prevent injury due to falls or bumping in to objects.

6. Provide for Other Sensory Changes

Changes in other sensory organs comes along with severe memory loss, meaning taste, hearing and sight might also be compromised which can be confusing and even lead to depression. Be aware of this as a caregiver and be sure the individual gets the proper glasses or hearing aids if necessary, and try cooking with more spicy or flavorful foods to compensate for deteriorating taste buds.

7. Show Not Tell

Because of the way the brain works, someone with a progressive memory disorder such as Alzheimer's would have a poor declarative memory (related to recalling facts), but still have a strong, healthy procedural memory (related to recalling how to do things). Thus, someone with Alzheimer's may be able to learn new skills or remember how to do tasks by practicing in small steps how something is done. It may take several weeks of patient practicing, but the sense of accomplishment and independence after learning the task is worth the effort.

8. Keep a Set Routine

People with severe memory loss do not function as well when there are changes and surprises in their day, so activities should be done at the same time and in the same way every day as much as possible. For example dressing before breakfast, watering the plants before lunch, and eating meals and exercising at the same time every day. If there needs to be a change, such as a vacation or a visit to the doctor, tell the person all the information beforehand in a positive, friendly way.

If you are worried that you or your loved one's memory loss might be getting serious, you can start by taking a quiz to test the severity of memory loss, but you should always see a doctor to confirm the results and start seeking treatment. People who are diagnosed with severe memory loss such as Alzheimer's or dementia often require constant and daily care to help provide for their needs, so do not feel overwhelmed or guilty if you cannot handle the care on your own - professional in-home care services can help your loved one remain safe, happy and under control in the comfort of their own home.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer compassionate, qualified, care providers that specialize in a variety of services, including Alzheimer's and Dementia Care. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.

Preventing Diabetes: Tips For Fighting The Statistics

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. Of this overall percent, seniors age 65 and older that are diagnosed with diabetes is alarmingly high at 25.9 percent.

Even more alarming is the fact that half of all seniors age 65 and older suffer from prediabetes, which means that blood-glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with prediabetes are at an increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes and for heart disease and stroke.

Diabetes and prediabetes are very serious conditions that require attention to ensure early diagnosis and treatment methods. If left untreated, diabetics can suffer from kidney damage, blindness, hearing impairment, amputation, stroke, heart disease and eventually death.

However, there is a silver lining. Because so many Americans suffer from diabetes, or are at risk for it, research and government programs such as the CDC are working and conducting research to find cures, prevention methods, solutions and support.

In the 1990's, the National Institute of Health (NIH) conducted a large national clinical trial among 1,000 overweight adults at risk for Type 2 diabetes. After three years of the program, which was aimed at changing lifestyle habits and promoting weight loss, participants lowered their risk of diabetes by 58 percent. Even more significant, those aged 60 and older had a 71 percent reduced risk.

These results are particularly heartening because they show that taking a proactive approach with diet, exercise, and weight loss can significantly lower if not eliminate the risk for diabetes. This knowledge, coupled with early detection practices is a huge step towards preventing diabetes and lowering the statistics for diagnosed cases and deaths.

Warning Signs of Diabetes

It is fairly common for people to not display any symptoms of diabetes, especially in the early phases of the disease. However, diabetes symptoms generally include one or more of the following, and people should be aware if they start to develop these symptoms, especially if they know they are at an increased risk.

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry - even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss - even though you are eating more (Type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (Type 2)

It is important to recognize these symptoms as early as possible because early detection and treatment of diabetes can reduce the risk of developing complications associated with the disease. There are several tests that doctors can perform to diagnose diabetes, and you can even take risk tests to find out if you are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Change your Diet

Because the leading risk factor for diabetes is obesity, the best thing you can do to prevent diabetes is to lose weight. Taking steps to lose weight can include eating smaller meal portions and choosing healthier foods, including fruits and vegetables, while at the same time consuming fewer high-fat foods. The National Education Diabetes Program recommends eating whole grain foods, avoiding consumption of fried foods, and eating lean meats without the skins.

Another important step for losing weight is portion control. Try reducing portion sizes by only filling half of your plate or only eating until you are 80 percent full. Also always plan to take home half of your meal when you eat out, as restaurants are notorious for dishing out huge portions. Scaling back on dessert is also a factor to consider. Eating dessert is alright, but consume it less frequently and in smaller amounts. Yogurt is also a great substitute for dessert, as it is shown that regularly consuming dairy reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Get More Exercise

Activity can reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes because it helps make your cells more receptive. The National Education Diabetes Program recommends adding more activity each day until you reach at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Brisk walking, swimming and tennis or golf are great physical activities to get started, and you should also incorporate gentle strength and aerobic training into your physical activity regimen.

Stress and poor sleep also contribute to obesity and thus to diabetes. Exercising regularly can help reduce stress and get your body on a schedule, which helps regulate sleep habits. Other activities that can help with these include meditation, listening to soothing music, or sitting outside and enjoying relaxing activities such as reading or knitting.

Overall, being aware of your own personal risk for diabetes and keeping an eye on any developing symptoms is very important. But being proactive with your health and weight is something that every person can do, regardless if they already have diabetes or not, and these steps are enough to help lower your risk as well as reduce complications that might arise if/when the disease develops. With these subtle but dramatically important lifestyle changes, you can help beat the statistics of diabetes.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer qualified, screened, care providers that can assist with a variety of needs including meal preparation, diet monitoring, and exercise. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.


Senior Driver Safety: Talking To Your Loved One

There are more than 30 million people over the age of 65 who are licensed to drive in the United States. Those 30 million senior drivers made up 14 percent of the total number of all car related fatalities in 2006. 14 percent. That is an alarming number, and it makes the need to address senior drivers even more urgent.

Talking to a loved one about senior driver safety can be a very difficult topic to broach, and so it often gets put off, procrastinated. But think how would you feel if the delay led to a serious car accident.

Realizing the possible consequences should help overcome some hesitation, but it still doesn't mean it will be an easy conversation; telling someone that they can't perform a basic task that they have done all their life, that they will be losing some of their independence, is never easy.

But it is a difficult conversation that must be had once there is concern about the safety of an older driver, especially because you don't want to wait until it is too late. Armed with the understanding that there is a tough process ahead, there are a few steps you can take to make it go as smoothly as possible.

1. Plan Ahead

This is the most important step you can take to ensure that the conversation doesn't spin off in to a heated debate, or end with feelings hurt. Know the points you want to make and be empathetic - try to imagine how it must feel to be in their shoes.

Set realistic expectations for how the conversation will go, and realize that you might have to revisit the subject later on. It might also be helpful to give up your own car for a few days or weeks to show that you are committed to helping and understanding what they are going through.

2. Bringing it up Initially

Once you have planned out what you want to say, it is best to broach the subject gently. Even though you might feel like it is an obvious decision and therefore want to be blunt about it, you must remember that the driver is likely going through some emotional internal struggles, and it is best to take a sensitive approach.

If their driving has become erratic or scary enough for you to take notice, they likely notice themselves and will be willing to listen. Try prefacing the conversation with a question about how they are feeling about driving or if they are finding it hard to manage. However, if they become angry and defensive, it is best to drop the conversation for now and try bringing it up again later rather than battling and likely not making any progress.

3. Practice Reflective Listening

You must be ready for some inevitable objections. It is natural to wonder how you will go about your daily life without a means of transportation - How will I get to my appointments? How will I get to the store for groceries?  However, instead of answering questions like this with a quick dismissal that they will all work out just fine, or jumping to a conclusion that a friend will be glad to help, try reflective listening instead.

Reflective listening is a technique to turn the question back on itself, which results in an engaged conversation and promotes discussion and reflection, an important step to working through major transitions.

4. Don't Rush the Conversation

This conversation is likely to bring up many emotions and could easily turn in to a trip down memory lane. But this is perfectly fine and you actually encourage it, as reminiscing could help come to terms with life transitions. However, some point in the conversation you should pose the question about what he or she thinks is best to do about driving. This should help them reflect on possible consequences and consider the best option for themselves.

Don't be afraid to suggest a break. Once you have had an initial discussion and gotten your points out there, give some time to let them marinate and suggest you all get back together in a few days.

5. Address any Issues that could be Affecting the Driver

If the person you are talking to admits that they are having trouble driving, it is worth checking to see if an underlying medical issue could be the cause. Make appointments with their physicians, and eye and ear specialists. Be sure to ask about medications they are taking and potential side effects, as it is possible that lowering a dose or changing a medication could fix the problem.

Once you speak to the doctors, you will have a better idea about when and if it is safe for them to be driving. If they get the clear from their doctors, it is a good idea to brush up on traffic laws and safe driving tips with them, possibly even take them on a few practice drives to make sure they feel comfortable. If it really is time to give up driving all together, help them find other reliable transportation options, and even ride the bus or train with them to make sure they are comfortable.

6. Be Proactive

Once you have had the discussion and you all have come to an agreement that it is time to hang up the keys, there are ways that you can be proactive to help ease the transition.

Make sure that you keep them connected. Start making it a habit to drop by their house and check in, even if it is just for a quick chat to keep them in the loop. Be sure to include them in family activities and outings. Also be sure that you offer to drive them to activities they enjoy, and urge them to connect with any friends who can drive. Suggest that they reciprocate in some way by cooking these friends dinner or inviting them over for tea.

You can also suggest other means of getting around. Ride public transportation with them and print out a schedule and map to make it accessible. Also try introducing them to new hobbies and activities that don't require them to leave the house, such as gardening, bird watching or walking the neighborhood.

Ultimately remember that you are a very important part of their lives, and your opinion and support matters. So keep trying if you don't succeed at first, and once they finally hang up the keys remember to be supportive and caring. Your presence and dedication can ease the transition and help ensure that your loved ones do not become just another statistic for car related fatalities.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer qualified, screened, care providers that can assist you with your in-home care needs, including transfers into and out of vehicles, and transportation. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.


Senior Driver Safety, 24 Hour In Home Care


Elderly Hearing Loss: Communication Tips

What? What? Huh?

*Smile and nod*

Care For Dementia Patients, Live In Home Care Sound familiar? Below are some elderly hearing loss suggestions for communicating with loved ones:

  • Before beginning to speak, get the attention of the person with hearing loss
  • Face the person and have the light on your face (in your eyes)
  • Speak up, as clearly and naturally as possible, without shouting
  • Do not overemphasize the speech sounds or talk in slow motion
  • Cut out background noise by turning off the TV or radio
  • Write down important information and directions
  • Don’t cover your mouth with your hand or an object
  • Think about trimming a mustache and/or beard so lips are easier to read
  • Rephrase a misunderstood sentence rather than repeat it
  • Ask the person with the hearing loss to repeat vital facts
  • When traveling by car, look at the person who is speech reading to the degree safety allows
  • When going to a restaurant, choose a quiet, well-lit establishment where the noise is tolerable. Ask for a table away from music speakers and in a corner, so the person with a hearing loss can sit against the wall to minimize background noise
  • When in a group, clue the person into the conversation, the punchline, the context, and/or assist the person when topics change

If the listener does not understand you:

  1. Repeat what you said
  2. Slow down
  3. Speak slightly louder than normal
  4. Re-word or re-phrase (say it another way using common words)
  5. Present sentences in short units, breaking them down into “chunks” (“I went on a trip…with my daughter’s class…to Ellis Island”)
  6. Request feedback (“Tell me what you understood.”)
  7. Write down some important words

*Information Courtesy of the The Center for Hearing and Communication. For more information visit chchearing.org.

If hearing loss goes unchecked, the individual might begin to feel isolated and depressed. American In-Home Care can help someone with hearing loss by providing companionship and other services to help them remain independent and stay safe within his or her home and daily environment. Contact us for more information or to set up a free in-home consultation.

Care For Dementia Patients, Live In Home Care