Is Someone You Love Overmedicated?

Senior woman reading a prescription bottle

Learn how to help a senior you love avoid being overmedicated.

At one point, it was normal to hear, “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” But now, it’s more like, “take two of these…and two of these…and perhaps one of those, too!” Nearly forty percent of older adults are taking at least five different prescription medications each day – not to mention OTC meds, vitamins, and supplements. It’s easy to see how a senior could be overmedicated and experience adverse medication reactions to their medication.

Take these actions to prevent medication complications for a senior you love:

  • Set up a system. When you confirm that all of the older adult’s medications are necessary and you have the information you need to ensure they are taken correctly, create a system for following physicians’ orders. Depending on the older adult’s cognitive functioning, this can be as simple as a pill box that is filled weekly. You could also rely on in-home care in Fort Lauderdale or the nearby areas from a home care provider, like Responsive Home Care, for medication reminders.
  • Make a list, and check it twice. Create a list of every one of the medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – that the older adult is currently taking. Share the list with all of the senior’s healthcare providers, and supply updated lists whenever there’s a change in medications. Then at least twice a year, review the list with their primary care physician to confirm that all of the meds are essential and that current doses are ideal.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you understand fully what each medication is for, and make sure there are not any contraindications with other medications the person is taking. The doctor or pharmacist can run the senior’s meds through a drug interaction database to verify. If you’re unsure about anything else related to the medications prescribed, speak up. You’ll want to make certain you have an understanding of:
    • Exactly when as well as how the meds must be taken (in other words, on a full stomach, with a full glass of water, if they can be crushed or broken in half, etc.)
    • Whether a generic version is available
    • What you should do if a dose is missed
    • What the potential side effects may be
    • And any other questions you might have

It’s also very important to consult a doctor before starting or changing any medications, including vitamins or over-the-counter meds. Some prescription medications belong to the same drug category as OTC meds, which could result in an excessive amount of a medication being administered. In other cases, vitamins or OTC medications interact negatively with prescriptions.

We’re always here to help older adults continue to be healthy and safe. Contact us to learn more about our in-home care services and how they are able to benefit a loved one in your life.

Watch for These Signs That Could Point to Mobility Issues in Seniors

Senior man walking up stairs using a hand railing

Learn the signs of mobility issues in seniors.

Benjamin Franklin was definitely right: An ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure. When it comes to detecting and addressing mobility issues in seniors, prevention is a must. Falls in seniors lead to 3 million emergency room visits, 300,000 hip fractures, and 32,000 deaths each year, according to the CDC.

Avoid a tragedy in the future by looking out for these warning signs of increasing mobility issues in seniors:

  1. Experiencing dizziness. Dizziness and problems with balance can arise from a plethora of factors that ultimately cause difficulty with mobility. It’s important to learn why these issues are taking place and address them right away.
  2. Struggling to sit or stand. Notice whether the senior finds it hard to either stand up from a seated position or to sit back down. Do they require something to hold onto for support?
  3. Skipping physical activity. Another warning sign is a senior loved one who previously participated in some degree of exercise but now is choosing a more sedentary lifestyle. Exhaustion or weakness can result in problems with mobility.
  4. Steering clear of stairs. An older adult who seems to be getting around just fine but is avoiding going up or down stairs may be fearful of falling because of mobility changes.

One simple and effective option to determine mobility and fall risk in older adults is the TUG (Timed Up and Go) test. The test should be performed on a regular basis. Here is all it will require:

  • Place a stable chair against the wall.
  • Mark a distance of 10’ from the wall.
  • Have the senior sit in the chair.
  • When you tell them to go, start a timer, and have the person stand, walk towards the ten foot mark, turn around, come back and sit down again.

Be sure to stand close by the senior as they perform the test in case they need extra support. Track the outcome over a period of time and share with the person’s doctor for guidance. Find more information about the test as well as a downloadable one-page evaluation sheet here.

If you note any signs of mobility issues in seniors, it is time to start the appropriate conversation with the senior about getting help. Let the person know you’re concerned, and schedule an appointment for a check-up with the physician. The implementation of some simple mobility aids might make an enormous amount of difference in maintaining safety and independence.

Reach out to Responsive Home Care for additional fall prevention strategies for older adults, and also to learn about the countless ways our respite care in Weston, FL and the nearby areas can improve quality of life for a senior you love.

How to Build New Senior Friendships

Senior friendships can make the days a little brighter.

If you’ve ever observed young children at the park, you know how quickly friendships are formed. A small group might be playing hide-and-seek, and a newcomer dashes over with a breathless, “Can I play?” In most cases, the response is a resounding, “Sure!” and thus – instant friends. Read more

Is it Time To Consider Guardianship of an Elderly Parent?

Learn when to think about petitioning for guardianship of an elderly parent.

In an ideal world, our family relationships would all be positive and helpful. We would manage transitional times cooperatively, smoothly, and with virtually no disagreement. As our parents grew older, it would be a seamless process to fulfill their needs today and their needs in the future. Read more

Selecting a Geriatrician: Why Going to a Specialized Expert Matters

doctor talking with seniorIf your child suddenly developed an illness, who would you call? It’s a no-brainer; many parents have the number on speed dial for the pediatrician they have carefully selected to oversee the medical care needs of their children. Due to their specialized training, working with a trusted pediatrician ensures the best possible care.

Likewise, choosing a physician for senior loved ones who focuses on senior health care concerns is equally as essential. Yet unfortunately, the health care system as a whole has not placed a great focus on the distinct health care needs of older adults. Dr. Carla Perissinotto, geriatrician and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, explains her concern over this age-related health care gap, and how little professors in med school are focused on caring for senior patients.

In fact, reflecting on her own residency, she shares, “We literally did the same thing for forty-year-olds as we did for eighty-year-olds, and we’d treat all eighty-year-olds the same whether they’re dependent or independent, have limited life expectancy or complete life expectancy, and that just didn’t sit well with me.”

Fortunately, there has been a new push to provide med students with additional training in geriatrics, including an emphasis on a holistic approach to senior care – viewing the body as a whole. It is very important for seniors to have a reliable geriatrician who can manage and piece together the results of the often multiple specialists an older adult patient sees. In fact, providing additional education for anyone who comes in contact with seniors in a medical setting – from hospital receptionists to EMTs and triage workers to doctors and nurses – is essential to overcome ageism and ensure seniors receive the level of care they need and deserve.

Additionally, older adults and their family caregivers might want to look into the services of a geriatrician as their primary care physician. Not to be confused with gerontologists, who specialize in aging-related issues but are not medical doctors, geriatricians are board-certified physicians who have finished a fellowship in geriatric medicine and have also passed the Geriatric Medicine Certification Exam.

According to the American Society of Geriatrics, there are approximately 7,000 certified geriatricians in the United States. They recommend asking the following questions when selecting a geriatrician:

  • What training and certification have you received?
  • Do you accept my insurance coverage?
  • Will you work with all members of my healthcare team?
  • How is communication handled – texts about prescription refills, email appointment reminders, etc.?
  • What is your guiding philosophy?

Visit the geriatrician for an initial consultation, and evaluate additional details such as:

  • Is the office easy to access?
  • Is there lots of parking?
  • Is the staff respectful and courteous?
  • Does the geriatrician speak directly to the older adult?
  • Are questions answered thoroughly?

Don’t dismiss your gut feelings. If any warning signs are noted, you may want to consider searching further to ensure the geriatrician selected is an individual both you and your loved one are fully comfortable with.

At Responsive Home Care, our staff are thoroughly trained in providing respectful, specialized care for older adults within the comfort of home. Contact us any time at 954-486-6440 for help and support or to acquire more information about our customized Pembroke Pines senior care services and care throughout Broward County.

Does Having a Sense of Purpose Help Us Live Longer?

What motivates you to get up out of bed every morning? The answer is different for every single one of us, of course, but there is one commonality: it could allow you to live longer. Scientific studies are answering the question, “Does having a sense of purpose help us to live longer?” with a resounding “Yes!” as evidenced in Japan, the country with the highest life expectancy on earth.

Interestingly, there’s no word for our definition of “retirement” in the Japanese language. Instead, there is a focus on maintaining purpose and meaning beyond a person’s working years and defining themselves according to their current pastimes and passions.

So just how can we help older adults – and ourselves – stay involved with what ignites interest and makes a difference in the world around us? Below are a few inspiring ideas to get you started:

Cultivate a sense of compassion for others. There’s no shortage of suffering in this world, and there is something that all of us can do in some way to help lessen the struggles of somebody else. Have a conversation with the older adults in your life about who or what touches their hearts the most – homelessness, mental health, single parents, stray animals, veterans, etc. Direct that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make a direct impact.

Prioritize family. With so many families living far away from each other, and even further separated recently as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, make a plan to close the gaps and bring family members closer together. Plan a backyard holiday gathering or family reunion. Commit to a video chat or phone call with a different member of the family weekly to reconnect and get caught up on their lives. Work on documenting your life story, and that of past generations, to share with children and grandchildren.

Redefine retirement. For a senior loved one who is already retired from one career, consider another. Is there an unrealized dream that could be explored, such as earning a degree in a different field of interest? Look into volunteer or part-time job opportunities that offer the opportunity to learn something new while serving others.

Take time to play. Meaning and purpose are found in lighthearted endeavors too! Sports, hobbies, art, music, travel, exploring nature, reading, and many other engaging and fun activities provide possibilities for self-expression and a more enjoyable life. Betye Saar, a 93-year-old artist, explains, “… the creative part of me is forever young.”

Responsive Home Care’s caregiving team is full of innovative ideas to help older adults continue to take pleasure in a life of purpose and meaning. Contact us any time online or call us at 954-486-6440 for additional tips and to find out more about our personalized senior home care in Pembroke Pines and the neighboring communities.

Are You Falling for These Common Hospice Misconceptions?

If you knew that a significantly better quality of life could be achieved for someone you care about, you wouldn’t hesitate to explore that option. Yet one of the most beneficial types of care – hospice care – is one that family members shy away from, because of many different hospice misconceptions.

Hospice is intended to help someone with a life-limiting illness obtain relief from pain along with other difficult symptoms, while benefiting from comfort as well as spiritual and emotional support. Hospice care is available around the clock, both for the person needing care along with family members. And, for anyone covered by Medicare, hospice care is available for a very low cost or possibly at no cost. Many additional insurance policies cover hospice care too.

Here are some of the top myths and the real facts you should know about hospice care:

Hospice is only needed at the very end of life. Lots of people mistakenly assume that hospice services are for a person’s last day or two, when in fact, the earlier hospice care is started, the better. The criteria for Medicare-covered hospice services are simply for a doctor to certify that the individual could die within six months. The hospice team and the doctor continue to monitor and modify this prognosis ongoing, either discharging the individual from hospice if improvement is noted, or recertifying if life extends beyond six months.

A person can no longer receive medical treatment while on hospice. While it is correct that typically aggressive treatments that won’t lead to a cure are discontinued, the goal of hospice care is to help an individual with pain and symptom management. Treatments designed to improve the person’s level of comfort are an integral part of hospice care.

Hospice takes place in a facility or at a hospital. Hospice care is available anywhere the individual and loved ones wish. In-home hospice care is readily available for individuals who opt to remain at home for a lifetime or in a facility setting, if preferred. Whatever the living arrangement, hospice care is brought to that individual – eliminating the need to go out to physician’s appointments.

Hospice care is a holistic approach to meeting the needs of the person receiving the care, in addition to his or her loved ones. Beginning care as soon as possible allows maximum time to take advantage of the resources, support, and comfort necessary for the most peaceful transition possible.

For answers to any other questions about hospice care, call Responsive Home Care at 954-486-6440. We can share additional information with regards to the benefits of hospice care and provide you with a free consultation to talk about the options that are available to you for in-home care in Plantation and throughout the surrounding areas.

 

How to Help Your Loved One When Alzheimer’s Affects Sleep

If it feels like a senior with Alzheimer’s has completely rewritten the rules on when and how to sleep, you are not dreaming—Alzheimer’s affects sleep. For reasons that are not yet fully understood, a number of people with dementia experience changes to their circadian rhythm, leading to sleepless nights and drowsy days.

The progression of the disease is one contributing factor. Damage to brain cells causes increased weakness, making everyday activities and tasks exhausting. Medication side effects from commonly-prescribed dementia treatments can further exacerbate the issue.

Why a Good Night’s Sleep Is Crucial for a Senior with Dementia

Decreased sleep quality in dementia may lead to an increase in restlessness and delusions and can result in serious safety concerns, including the potential for a senior to wander away and become injured or lost. Not just that, but a senior loved one who is sleepy during the day will also be less likely to engage in healthy activities, such as spending time outdoors and exercising.

And, for a busy family caregiver who also needs rest, it is typically quite a challenge to meet all of the person’s care needs during the day and throughout the night as well.

Ways to Help

Try these strategies for a senior whose sleep patterns are disrupted:

  • Talk to the physician, first of all, for a review of medications. Changing the dosage timing every day may be all it will require to make a difference.
  • Maintain a routine like going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Limit caffeine, naps, and heavy meals later in the day.
  • Incorporate bedtime activities that are soothing, for example, a warm bath, reading, turning off the television, and playing quiet, calming music.
  • If wandering is a concern, a wireless bed exit pad can notify you as soon as the senior gets up so that you can assist.
  • Try placing a clock that distinguishes between nighttime and daytime near the senior’s bed.

You may want to encourage a senior to try sleeping on their side rather than the back or stomach as well. Recent reports revealed a possible link between side sleeping and much more effective clearing of brain waste, such as excess beta-amyloid. Note that this study was conducted on laboratory animals, and it’s unclear yet whether the results carry over to humans.

Responsive Home Care is available to help as well, with overnight caregivers who are awake and alert, looking after the older adult’s needs throughout the night, so you can get the rest you need. Our care team members are fully trained and experienced in creative, patient approaches to meeting the unique care needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease. Give us a call at 954-486-6440 to learn more about our specialized Fort Lauderdale elderly care offered throughout the greater metropolitan area.

Why Strength Training for Seniors Is Imperative Post-Pandemic

strength training for handicapped seniorAs we’re finally easing our way out of this pandemic, we’re finding more about how it has harmed senior loved ones – both physically and emotionally. We know older adults have been at a higher threat of serious issues and death due to the COVID-19 virus, although the impact of 15 months of social isolation and physical distancing is similarly distressing.

Dr. Jonathan Bean of the New England Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System has noticed a “significant decline in functioning” in both his elderly patients and his own mother. Whereas she had been able to walk with the assistance of a walker, be involved in conversations, and participate in other activities of day-to-day life independently pre-pandemic, her self-care and cognitive abilities have diminished dramatically.

Physical therapy Linda Teodosio confirms, explaining, “Immobility and debility are outcomes to this horrific pandemic that people aren’t even talking about yet.” She is noticing a considerable uptick in both falls and chronic disease exacerbation – likely based on poor lifestyle choices due to the pandemic, such as unhealthy food intake and reduced exercise.

As a result, increasingly more older adults require physical therapy as well as other rehabilitative services. Some health plans are addressing the issue by following up with seniors to confirm their wellbeing and also to help connect them to the services they require to restore their strength. Surprisingly, as much as 20% of an older adult’s muscle mass may be lost by just not walking for up to five days, according to physical therapist Sabaa Mundia.

Before leaping into a new exercise routine, however, it’s essential that seniors first schedule an appointment with the physician for a complete exam and recommendations on safe, ability-appropriate exercise. Then make a plan to help the seniors in your life to follow a healthier lifestyle that includes a good amount of exercise.

Let Responsive Home Care help the seniors in your life stay as physically active and engaged as possible to remain strong post-pandemic. Our home caregivers are always on hand to supply the motivation and encouragement to help seniors make physical activity a routine part of every day. We are able to also provide accompaniment to exercise classes, the fitness center, the pool – wherever and whenever a senior wishes to go. Sometimes, just adding in a regular walk with one of our friendly caregivers can make a world of difference in how older adults feel!

Contact us for a free in-home consultation to learn more about how we can help.

Senior Safety Tips: The Assistive Devices Many Seniors Aren’t Utilizing

Happy senior safety leaning on cane

Think about the various tools you utilize each day – your phone, hairbrush, toothbrush – simple items, but ones you can’t imagine living without. For many seniors, there are basic adaptive devices available that could mean the difference between living at home and facing a move to assisted living. However nearly 50% of older adults living at home are not utilizing these handy tools – despite the fact that prices are minimal.

A newly released National Health and Aging Trends Study estimated the ability of seniors to accomplish tasks such as rising unassisted from a sitting position and walking, and found that a large number of the participants could benefit from assistive devices.

Not only that, but the danger of senior falls from the lack of simple assistive devices is increased, resulting in hospitalizations, serious injury, and disability that could easily have been prevented. In fact, once these devices were made available to older adults, based on research, disability rates for older adults dropped by 50 percent, along with a decrease in pain levels and an increase in the ability to independently perform activities of daily living.

Dr. Kenneth Lam, author of the study, explained, “It’s a technical problem which, unlike so much of aging, is actually solvable. In the hospital, I can order an M.R.I. and charge the system thousands of dollars. But down the road, that won’t help patients not fall. What happens when they get home?”

Johns Hopkins in Baltimore has recently launched a program looking to change this by introducing inexpensive assistive tools to seniors. Through several in-home visits with an occupational therapist, nurse, and repair specialist, needs are identified and resolved. That may mean installing grab bars in the bathroom, removing fall hazards, or adding a shower chair or raised toilet seat. Small changes such as these can make a substantial difference in an older adult’s capacity to safely and independently manage activities of daily living.

At Responsive Home Care, we are pleased to offer in-home evaluations to recommend modifications to the home environment that enhance safety and help seniors remain independent and in control. We can also help improve senior’s comfort, safety, and independence through services such as:

  • Preparing nutritious meals and ensuring adequate hydration for seniors
  • Providing assistance as necessary with personal care needs for safe showering/bathing, getting dressed, etc.
  • Maintaining a clean and organized home
  • And more

Contact us at 954-486-6440 to schedule your assessment today!

How to Address One of the Leading Caregiver Struggles: Caregiver Dread

One of the most common caregiver struggles is caregiver dread.

What are your first thoughts as soon as you wake up in the morning? Are you looking forward to what your day holds, or would you prefer to crawl back under the covers and remain there? If you are feeling more dread than delight as you think through your caregiving tasks for the day, you are not the only one. In fact, caregiver dread is one of the most common caregiver struggles we help families with each and every day.

Distinctly different from anxiety, depression, and even burnout, caregiver dread is a heavy, exhausted feeling of duty. It stems from feelings of overcommitment as well as the need to escape from obligations. While feasible to muscle through and carry out needed tasks in spite of these feelings, there are methods to conquer them instead – and restore the joy that comes from making life better for someone you love. To begin with, try these techniques:

  1. Release the guilt. Meeting the care needs of a person can feel unimpactful, mundane, and just downright difficult. It requires selflessness, which can feel burdening. Yet dreading the daily tasks you’re obligated to do in no way is a reflection of how you feel towards your loved one. Acknowledge to yourself that your role is not easy, and it is okay to wish you could be doing something else.
  2. Deliberately search for joy. The little pleasures each day holds may be diminished by the difficulties. Make the effort every day to find five small things which make you smile. Keep a journal of each day’s finds and refer back to it at the conclusion of every week. Engage all of your senses as you look for the day’s joys: the smell of freshly brewing coffee; the beauty of the sunrise; the sound of your cat purring; the invigorating feeling of a hot shower.
  3. Set boundaries. Schedule time daily to spend on things that you enjoy apart from the senior loved one in your care. Plan and look forward to this time when your caregiving responsibilities begin to weigh you down. An established and trusted care partner is vital to ensure that nothing impedes with the important time of looking after yourself.

Remind yourself that the work you are doing in caring for your senior loved one is extremely important. Yet also keep in mind that no one can do it all, and in order to provide the very best care for the senior and for yourself, frequent breaks from care tasks are essential.

Connect with our experts in elder care in Fort Lauderdale and nearby areas at (954) 486-6440 to arrange for regular respite care services and release the stress of caregiving dread. We’re here for as much or as little assistance as you need to help you enjoy quality time together with a family member and also to rediscover joy in your own life as well.

 

Taking Care of Elderly Parents After the Pandemic: The Shift We Can Expect

Employers may now have a different perspective on those taking care of elderly parents post-pandemic.

If there is a single positive after-effect regarding the pandemic, it is the appreciation generated for the plight of family caregivers. Managing work and home life is without question a tremendous challenge for those taking care of elderly parents. As Lindsay Jurist-Rosner, CEO of Wellthy, explains, “Caregiving went from a silent struggle to being in the spotlight overnight.”

Businesses were suddenly thrown into the fire of navigating a world of balancing the safety of staff along with the need to uphold productivity. Here is what we discovered – and what we can expect in the future:

    • More telecommuting. Individuals who began working from home in the last year have, in some cases, demonstrated their ability to be much more productive. Because of this, it is predicted that nearly 25 – 30% of the workforce within the United States will continue telecommuting at least several days a week this year.
    • Less stress. Doing away with the daily commute opens up extra time for self-care for family caregivers, while enhancing peace of mind. This is particularly true for those who relied on public transportation and were wary of compromised health safety. To further boost mental health, many employers are offering subscriptions to mindfulness and meditation apps.
    • A corporate culture of caring. Working from home has opened up the personal elements of our lives to employers. Zoom meetings share our living spaces with each other, including the appearance of pets, children, and other household members. As a result, the workplace has started to become more humanized, resulting in a more empathetic working environment.
    • Emphasis on mental wellness. Along those lines, there is now greater awareness of the significance of attending to our mental health. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll shared that nearly 45% of adults experienced negative mental health affects as a result of the pandemic – and an even more substantial percentage in those who function as family caregivers for older family members. Many employers have started implementing ways to take care of the mental health of their employees, such as offering virtual adventures and trips to give the chance to relax and escape.

Let Responsive Home Care, who offers the best respite care in Weston, FL and the surrounding areas, further help nurture a better work-life balance with our dependable respite care services. Regular, ongoing respite care is key to the general wellness of family caregivers. Our skilled and compassionate home care team is on hand to help with anything from only a few hours every week up to and including 24/7 care. Call us at (954) 486-6440 to request a no cost in-home assessment to find out more.