Tag Archives: safety

Safety Tips For Traveling With Alzheimer's Disease

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, it often feels like that is the end of life as you know it. But being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's  doesn't mean that you have to give up traveling, nor does it mean your loved one can no longer enjoy getting out of the house. Traveling with Alzheimer's disease is still possible in the early stages of the disease, it just requires advanced planning to ensure everyone involved is safe and happy.

Safety is always the number one consideration when planning a trip with a loved one who has Alzheimer's. Follow the steps below to help plan an Alzheimer's-safe vacation so that you can both relax and enjoy the trip.

1. Have a plan in place for wandering.

A familiar routine and environment are comforting to someone suffering from Alzheimer's, and because traveling disrupts this, it is more likely that anxiety and wandering could happen. That is why it is crucial to never leave your loved one alone, be prepared, and have a plan in place.

Contact your local Alzheimer's Association before your trip and register with their Safe Return Program or  Comfort Zone monitoring system, being sure to complete the process entirely before you leave. If a situation arises while you are there, have a plan in place and don't hesitate to contact the local authorities.

3. Keep comfort in mind when traveling.

Have comfort items such as pillows, snacks and water readily available when you travel. This includes any kind of transportation including bus, train, car or airplane. If you decide to fly, schedule flights early in the day, and choose to fly non-stop if you can. Put medications in your carry-on bag, along with any other necessities you might need in case your flight is delayed. And  consider bringing a puzzle book or something similar for your loved one to hold on to.

3. During your trip, maintain a daily routine as much as possible.

Even in a new environment, having a regular routine will lessen the confusion for your loved one. Plan on waking up at the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time in the evenings. Also eat meals at the same time during the day. Create a plan for your days, organizing the days with structured and pleasant activities that you both can enjoy. Plan to see places and incorporate activities you know they enjoy, and make sure to allow for flexibility within your daily routine for spontaneous activities.

4. Consider respite care while you travel.

If you feel that traveling with your loved one would be too difficult or too disruptive to them, consider hiring a temporary respite care provider to come to their home. This will allow you the chance to take a break from your caregiving responsibilities, which can be crucial for your own health and happiness, and it will give your loved one a chance to  experience quality care and meaningful activities, making their "staycation" fun and safe as well.

American In-Home Care refers care providers that can assist with Respite Care and additional Alzheimer's Care services, ensuring your loved one will be in the best hands, and will always be safe and happy. We offer free, no obligation consultations and assessments. Contact us today!






Elderly Prescription Drug Use: How to Keep Pain and Pills in Check

Elderly Prescription Drug Use Picture your medicine cabinet, stacked top to bottom with different pill bottles, each one targeting a different ailment, each one taken in a different dosage at a different time of day.

On their own, these medications can be extremely beneficial, perhaps even life saving; each one is necessary for maintaining quality of life. However, taking many prescription medications coupled with all of the supplements and over-the-counter drugs is a condition known as polypharmacy, and can increase the risk of dangerous drug interactions. In fact, the American Geriatrics Society finds that every year, one in three people aged 65 and over has one or more harmful reactions to a medication.

One of the reasons for this high statistic is that the aging process causes changes to the body which can affect the way medication absorbs and reacts. Decreased kidney and liver function are a product of aging, and could affect how fast medications are processed in the body, and a slower GI tract can affect how much of the medication actually enters the bloodstream.

Another reason is the sheer difficultly of keeping track of medications and taking them directly as prescribed. With 44% of men and 57% of women older than age 65 taking five or more medications per week, it is no wonder that mistakes with medications occur frequently. Elderly prescription drug use also becomes problematic when patients are prescribed too many medications by multiple healthcare providers working independently, and no one doctor knows the patient's full history.

So what can you do to lower the risk of potential problems related to multiple drug use? There are several strategies to help get a handle on your medication habits to make sure that you are getting the proper amount that was intended for you.

1. Always ask the doctor questions

When you are diagnosed with an illness and have to be put on to a new medication, be sure to ask the doctor everything that is relevant to you so that you are prepared and know exactly how and when you should be taking the medication. Also be sure he or she knows what other medications you are taking so they could notice any possible interactions.

2. Educate yourself

While doctors and pharmacists will be able to advise you about prescription interactions and dosing, they will likely not be aware of all of the over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements and vitamins that you take also. And just because these medications are not prescription strength does not mean that they do not have the potential to interact with other medications. In fact it is quite the opposite - OTC products, such as vitamins, minerals, antacids, sleep aids and laxatives can all interfere with the effectiveness of other medications, so be sure to read up on possible interactions and let your doctor or pharmacist know if you have any questions.

Also, be sure that you are aware of the side effects of prescription medications so that you know what to expect and don't get caught in a dangerous situation. Many medications have side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness which can interfere with driving and increase the chances of accidents or falling if the warnings are not heeded.

3. Listen to your Doctor

Medications are meant to be taken exactly as prescribed, so do everything you can to take the medication as you had discussed with your doctor. This means taking it at the proper time of day, with or without food and taking the correct dosages. If any unexpected side effects occur, immediately call your doctor to discuss the best course of action, but never suddenly quit taking a medication without first discussing it with your healthcare provider.

4. Keep a Comprehensive List of Medications

You should create a comprehensive list that serves as the reference any time you go to the doctor or pharmacy. Be sure to add any over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements as well as prescriptions. The list should include the prescribed dose, how many times a day you take the medication, who prescribed it and what it was prescribed for. Keeping a list is a good way to make sure you never forget any medications when you meet with new doctors or go back for new appointments. Be sure to keep the list updated and on you at all times because being able to determine your medications could save your life in an emergency situation.

5. Get Help to Remember

With all the different medications, times and doses, it is hard to remember and easy to make mistakes. The best way to avoid this is to get help in some way. Try syncing your pill schedule with meals so you remember, or get a pill box and/or pill calendar to help keep track. There are even high tech options now with programmable prescription caps that sound an alarm, and a device called the CompuMed Dispenser that dispenses the proper amount of medication at the right time and gives you the instructions as you take it.

But if it gets to the point where this is not enough, care providers can be wonderful helpers when it comes to medication, because they can help administer the exact right medication and dosages throughout the day, and are there if there is ever any problem with negative drug interactions or reactions.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer qualified, screened, care providers that can assist you with your in-home care needs, including medication management and reminders. 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.

Elderly Prescription Drug Use

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