Fall Prevention and Coping after a Fall

Fall Prevention and Coping after a Fall

American writer and poet Gertrude Stein once said, “We are always the same age inside.” I couldn’t agree more. I still feel young even though I am far beyond my twenties. When I dream, I am always much younger. When I look in the mirror, I am often surprised by the reflection of my older self.

I will, however, readily admit that I am no spring chicken. My body isn’t what it used to be and sometimes my age attacks when I least expect it. It is frustrating. I get myself into all kinds of messes, including an occasional injury.

Age related physical changes, mental conditions, health conditions, and even medications increase the risk of injury. Falling is the leading cause of injury among seniors ages 65 and older. In fact, each year one in three seniors will have a fall. As we age, a serious fall can be the difference between freedom of movement and wheelchair, or worse, the difference between living comfortably at home and moving to a care facility. One serious fall can be life changing.

Unfortunately, 2 million seniors will be treated in an emergency setting for fall-related injuries this year alone. For seniors, fractures are one of the most serious consequence of falls. Serious falls may cause hip fractures or even life-threatening head injuries. In 2013, the direct medical costs of older adult falls, adjusted for inflation, were $34 billion.

While the aging population continues to increase, both the number of falls and the costs to treat the associated injuries will also increase. Even when there’s no serious injury, a fall can still be scary enough that we choose to avoid certain activities because we are fearful of another fall. Falls can have an adverse psychological impact on the aging. For example, after having a fall some can lose confidence, become withdrawn and feel as if they have lost their independence entirely.

The fear of falling doesn’t need to control a life. Below we have compiled some useful information to help you or a loved one prevent falls and cope after a fall.

Make an Appointment with your Doctor if You Fall or have a “Close Call”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than half of seniors who experience a fall will actually talk with their doctors about it. Many will rationalize and conclude that the fall “wasn’t serious enough.” It is important to remember that ALL FALLS ARE POTENTIALLY SERIOUS. You or your family member should see their health care provider if they have fallen, even if they are not hurt. Remember to record the details of the fall, including when, where and how.

It is also important to discuss instances when you almost fell. For example, you were caught by someone, were able to brace yourself just in time, or you became so dizzy that you rushed to a chair or bed before it was too late. These types of details may help you and your doctor identify fall-prevention strategies to protect you.

Review your Medication(s) and Eye Sight with Your Health Care Provider

If you have fallen, have been feeling dizzy, or your sense of balance has declined, consider reviewing the medications are you taking with your health care provider. Some medicines (or combinations of medicines) can have side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness. This can make falling more likely. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you:

Make a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, or bring them with you to the appointment. Your doctor can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling. To help with fall prevention, your doctor may consider weaning you off certain medications — such as sedatives and some types of antidepressants.

Poor vision can make getting around safely very difficult. Aging seniors should have their eyes checked annually and wear glasses or contact lenses with the proper prescription strength to ensure clear eye sight. The Mayo Clinic adds:

Certain eye and ear disorders may increase your risk of falls. Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk — for example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, numbness or shortness of breath when you walk? Your doctor may evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as well.

Eliminate Home and Clothing Hazards

Over one half of all falls happen in the home or yard. A safety check in the home (including exits), garage and yard can identify hazards that need to be removed, changed or upgraded. To make your residence safer, consider:

Moving, downsizing, or eliminating coffee tables, book shelves, electrical and phone cords, or plants from high-traffic walkways outside and inside.
Securing rugs and doormats with tape, nails or a slip-resistant backing (or remove the rugs entirely from the home).
Swapping out chairs and couches that are unsafe or difficult to stand up from.
Using nonslip mats in the shower or bathtub.
Repairing loose tile, stairs, sidewalks, floorboards and carpeting.
Storing tools, clothing, dishes, food and other necessities in areas that are easy to reach.
Avoiding wearing loose clothing. Regardless of how comfortable they might be, baggy clothing can make a fall more likely.
Consider changing your footwear (shoes, socks, and slippers). Properly fitting, sturdy footwear with nonskid soles can prevent falls.
This safety check should include a review of your clothing and foot apparel. There is a myriad of outer garments, underwear, leisure wear, footwear and other specialized clothing available for elderly people with Alzheimer’s, arthritis, mobility issues, foot problems, incontinence, scoliosis or obesity issues.

Medical Equipment and Assistive Technology

Medical equipment is a term often used to refer to a larger category of services called assistive technology. Assistive technology is a broad term and may mean different things to different people but for our purposes we will define it as devices or systems to help the elderly function safely at home. Assistive technology can include:

Hand rails for entrances and stairways
Lifts and ramps
Nonslip treads for the floor
Raised toilet seats with armrests
Grab bars and nonslip treads for the shower or tub
A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub
Elevated toilet seats
Wheelchairs and scooters
Oxygen equipment
If you or a loved one spends a substantial amount of time at home, and is at increased risk of falling, consider subscribing to a personal emergency response system. This service, which operates through your home phone line, provides a button or bracelet to wear at all times in your home. Carrying a cell phone in your pocket while you are at home can also make it easier to call someone if you need assistance.

Great care and consideration should be used for those who are at a fall risk and have been diagnosed with dementia. Although many of the items mentioned above can be very helpful, those with memory issues may forget to utilize them properly.

Physical Activity
The Mayo Clinic recommends that:

Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention. With your doctor’s OK, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or tai chi — a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. Lack of exercise can lead to weak legs and this increases the chances of falling. Exercise programs such as Tai Chi can increase strength and improve balance, making falls much less likely.

Practice Getting up from the Floor
Can you get up from the floor on your own right now? The answer to that question may depend on your age, health, past injuries and what is available to grab to help you up. Knowing whether or not you can get up from the floor by yourself is important. You might consider testing your ability. If it is difficult, can practicing with a stand by assistant help you develop this skill? Don’t wait until you fall down to work out how to get up. If you practice getting up and down from the floor on a regular basis, you might be surprised by the results.

If You Fall
A sudden fall can be startling and upsetting. Knowing what to do if a fall occurs can help you or a loved one be less afraid of falling. Whether you are at home or somewhere else, the steps below, provided by NIH Senior Health, can help you know how to get up from a fall.

Remain still on the floor or ground for a few moments. This will help you get over the shock of falling.
Decide if you’re hurt before getting up. Getting up too quickly or in the wrong way could make an injury worse.
If you think you can get up safely without help, roll over onto your side.
Rest again while your body and blood pressure adjust. Slowly get up on your hands and knees, and crawl to a sturdy chair.
Put your hands on the chair seat and slide one foot forward so that it is flat on the floor. Keep the other leg bent so the knee is on the floor.
From this kneeling position, slowly rise and turn your body to sit in the chair.
If you’re hurt or can’t get up on your own, ask someone for help or call 911. If you’re alone, try to get into a comfortable position and wait for help to arrive.
When someone has a serious fall and, for example, breaks their hips, they can feel that the situation is the beginning of the end. A fear of become increasingly frail and incapacitated can set in. Care.com has offered some helpful suggestions to help the elderly cope with depression after a fall. Here are some things you can do:

Empathize with your parent’s feelings.
Don’t minimize the situation, but remind your parent that it is temporary and that he or she will become more fully mobile little by little.
If your parent continues to feel depressed, tell the doctor and make sure the depression gets treated and starts to improve.
Any exercise that your parent is able to do will help improve his or her mood.
Conclusion – Address the Fear of Falling, Eliminate Risk, and Find Ways to Cope after a Fall

Each year one in three seniors will have a fall. Unfortunately, there is a common pattern when it comes to falls among the aging: risks increase, fear of falling ensues, the fall and subsequent injury, followed by hospitalization, rehabilitation, decreased independence and mobility, and often relocation to a nursing or residential care facility. One serious fall can be life changing.

Simple home modifications, the use of assistive devices, wearing sensible footwear, and removing hazards can reduce the risk of falling and the injuries that come with it.

If you’re worried about falling or having another fall, talk with your doctor or another health care provider. Getting rid of your fear of falling can help you to stay active, maintain your physical health, and prevent future falls.

Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Preserving Assets and Transferring Assets to the Next Generation

Older Americans control a large amount of the wealth in this country and have a continued interested in protecting that wealth from loss. Older Americans also want to stretch their assets out as long as possible in order to avoid running out of money well before they die.

As Americans age many look for ways to preserve, maintain or transfer their assets. Whether the assets are many or few, there are steps that can be taken to further secure and maintain a distinct lifestyle.


Reasons for Preserving Assets


Provide Assets and Income for a Surviving Spouse

Though tragic, when a spouse of a couple dies, income is usually reduced through loss of Social Security income or reduction of retirement pension. This can be especially hard for the surviving spouse having to learn to live on less and prepare for following years.


Protect Assets and Income from Deterioration or Loss of Property

Unexpected property loss may result in a drain on available cash assets. You might have damage to a vehicle or even to the home. Lack of regular maintenance or damage may result in expensive repairs. There are estate preservation strategies which strive to recognize these losses and to provide potential solution to avoid these losses with adequate insurance coverage. In additional, help may be sought through grants, tax credits, and other programs that provide maintenance or savings on utility bills.


Maintain Assets to Pay for Medical Care and End-Of-Life

Paying for Medicare supplement policies, medical co-pays and the cost of prescription drugs not covered by insurance can reduce available assets. Costs associated with dying can drain the estate. Strategies are designed to identify these costs and to deal with them while assets are still in place to provide protection.


Maintain Assets to Pay for Long Term Care

The need for long term care often occurs at the end of life. Unfortunately, this is the time when assets are already being stretched thin. The cost of home care or assisted living or nursing home care can be very expensive. Assets that have taken a lifetime to accumulate can be wiped out in a matter of months. Strategies are designed to take advantage of government programs to cut down on the burn rate of assets when the need for care occurs.


Compensate Children or Grandchildren for Their Sacrifice

It is very common for children or grandchildren to put their own lives on hold and to sacrifice their time and their income to care for loved ones in their final years of life. It is only fitting that any assets remaining should go towards helping family members get back on their feet after the sacrifice of months or years providing care.


Provide an Inheritance for Children or Grandchildren

Many seniors have worked hard their whole lives to accumulate cash savings, investments and a fully owned personal residence. It does not sit well with these people to have to put out money at the end of their lives for such things as health care, long term care or maintenance. They prefer to have their children have the money. Many aging seniors will actually forego medical care or long term care or maintenance on their property to leave more money to their children.


Transferring Assets for Tax Planning or to Qualify for Government Programs

Many elderly look to the government to help them pay for to pay for home care, assisted living, or nursing home care. At least two government programs may be able to help pay for this care but do prevent participation for seniors who have too much in assets. These two programs are the Department of Veterans Affair’s Pension Benefit (more commonly known as the Aid and Attendance Benefit) and Medicaid long term care for the elderly. In order to qualify, eligible participants must have little or no money in cash equivalent assets. Some individuals use strategies to transfer the assets out of the name and control of persons eligible for these programs and thus allow participation in the programs.

There are also a number of government programs that help rich and poor alike without consideration of assets. Medicare, for example, is funded through premiums by participants and directly through the Federal general fund from taxpayer dollars. In general, all persons 65 years of age or older who have been legal residents of the United States for at least 5 years are eligible for Medicare.


Another area where there is a no discrimination between those having assets and those without assets is tax planning. Some individuals use strategies to take advantage of the deductions available to senior households.

Seniors and their families should use caution as they considered using asset preservation and tax planning strategies to qualify for government benefits or to avoid paying high taxes.


Estate Planning & End-Of-Life Issues

A key deficiency in the process of preserving or transferring assets occurs when seniors fail to provide for orderly distribution of assets at death or fail to let their family know what to do when the senior can no longer handle his or her own affairs.


Estate planning from a qualified estate planning attorney, a financial adviser who specializes in estate planning or a CPA planner is the design and creation of documents to provide the orderly transfer of assets and property to the next generation. Wills, living trusts and a myriad of other trust documents or business arrangements to avoid estate taxes, income tax and real estate capital gains are some of the principal documents used. Estate planning also concerns issues of business succession or disability of a business owner.


Many estate planners are also adding final directive or end-of-life documents such as living wills, powers of attorney and special medical directives. But often these are considered secondary to the process of transferring assets or property. Unfortunately, these documents are much more important to family caregivers dealing with the needs of elderly loved ones.


Estate planners also need to become more involved in the planning process for long term care by helping in the production of a written long term care plan. This should also include meetings with potential family caregivers and instructions or checklists for these people. This important aspect of planning is often overlooked.


Elders or their families who are assisting them should insist on more careful planning for long term care issues when doing an estate plan.


Advanced Wellness GCM Inc. can help you plan to preserve you assets

We can provide a listing source of community care providers and advisers who can help the public keep, transfer and protect what assets they have from loss. For questions about any of these topics contact us here(click to the right) or attend one of my seminars(click to the right).


Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Vietnam and PTSD – 40 Years Later

40 years ago – May 7th – marked the end of the Vietnam War. Many of those alive 40 years ago can still easily recall where they were on the 7th of May and what they were doing on that memorable day. Some are still mourning those who didn’t return home. Many of those who did return home, returned to bitter feelings towards the war. Public opinion of the war was very negative. So negative, in fact, that service members (even cadets) were told to not wear their uniforms in public places. Many were afraid to reveal their service to strangers. The negative public sentiment surrounding Vietnam Veterans remained for years. 58,000 brave men and women gave their lives and those who returned, though just as brave, were forced to hide one of the most traumatic events of their lives.


Imagine joining the service in the 1960s or being drafted for a war that very few people knew the U.S. was fighting. Now imagine (after joining), fighting a war in a foreign country, being far away from home, surviving the war, then being forced to feel shame for fighting and having to quietly endure the mental hardships caused by the war for years.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, was not officially recognized until 1980 when the American Psychiatric Association added PTSD to the Third Edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until 1989 that a Congressional Mandate (PL 98-528) addressed the needs of Veterans and other trauma survivors with PTSD. Then in 2010, VA Secretary Shinseki reduced the medical evidence needed by Veterans who were seeking health care and disability compensation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Shinseki simplified the application process which allowed for faster and more accurate decisions and quicker access to medical care for Veterans with PTSD. For years, Vietnam and pre-Vietnam Veterans had very few resources and struggled to access the healthcare and financial resources that are readily available to veterans today.


PTSD has existed in many forms throughout the ages. Though fictional, Shakespeare’s many characters displayed symptoms of PTSD. Before the official term of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, those with combat experience were deemed “Shell Shocked”. Many times, Shell Shock / PTSD was mistaken for cowardice. In 1943, Lt. General Patton encountered and American Soldier at a hospital in Italy, this soldier was recovering from what was then called “nerves.” Patton slapped the soldier and called him a coward. An even more saddening account was uncovered more recently when, in 2006, the British Ministry of Defense (BMD) pardoned 300 soldiers who were executed for cowardice and desertion during World War 1. The BMD concluded that many of these soldiers were probably crippled by PTSD.


Not only were Vietnam Veterans coming home from war not allowed to talk about their service but they were told what they did was wrong. Unable to understand their feelings and unable to talk about it, many returning service members relationships struggled, they were unable to get work and life became increasingly difficult. This hits home for me, my father in-law was drafted for Vietnam. He returned home and although he married almost immediately after, the marriage didn’t last. He ended up married multiple times and had two children. He remains a person who would rather not talk about the war and prefers not be around others who have been in the war. He was diagnosed with PTSD in the last few years but refuses to believe the diagnoses and get any treatment. Though he believes he does not have PTSD he cannot watch movies with violent war scenes or be around video games with life-like war situations.


In 2011, 476,515 veterans with primary or secondary diagnosis of PTSD received treatment at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers and clinics. According to the VA about 5.2 million adults have PTSD during a given year and only a small portion of those who have endured a trauma.


Our history books are littered with thousands of cases of PTSD. Fortunately, veterans in today’s society have more resources and have vastly more emotional, verbal and physical support than those who served during Vietnam Era. Many of us rarely remember how brave Vietnam Veterans were and still are.


Do you suspect you or a loved one may have PTSD? Find out symptoms and treatment options here or contact your mental health provider for more information:ptsd.va.gov/PTSD/public/PTSD-overview/basics/index.asp


Vietnam War Memorial: thewall-usa.com


Look up friends or family members on the Vietnam War Memorial: vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces


If you are a Veteran and need help with benefits: veteransaidbenefit.org


Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

What is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?​

Understanding the differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia can be confusing. The terms and definitions of these conditions are frequently thought to be interchangeable as patients, families and caregivers come to believe that one simply means the other. Doctors and other healthcare professionals have even been known to contribute to this confusion as they tend to prefer using the word “dementia” when “Alzheimer’s Disease” (AD) is the appropriate diagnosis. “Dementia” simply sounds less frightening.


According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), “Dementia is a brain disorder that affects communication and performance of daily activities and Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that specifically affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language.


In other words, Alzheimer’s is a specific brain disease.  It progressively destroys brain cells causing serious issues with memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer’s disease is particularly common in aging people and is the most common cause of dementia.


On the other hand, when an individual has dementia they are dealing with a set of unhealthy symptoms that affect the brain. It is often difficult to pinpoint exactly what is causing dementia beyond old age and frailty. This is similar to a headache. There is an obvious “ache” yet it is not instantly understood what is causing it.


Examining dementia and Alzheimer’s disease separately can help breakdown the differences.


What is Dementia?
Dementia is an all encompassing term for a group of “symptoms including impaired thinking and memory. It is a term that is often associated with the cognitive decline of aging. Issues other than Alzheimer’s can cause dementia. Other common causes of dementia are Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.”


The most prominent symptom of dementia is memory difficulty. Other areas of cognitive functioning to which dementia can be attributed include problem solving, spatial skills, language, attention, judgment, or organization.


The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines dementia as a “word for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there.”


There are many possible causes of dementia, some of which are reversible such as certain thyroid conditions or vitamin deficiencies. If these issues are identified and treated, the dementia reverses and the individual can again begin to function normally.  “However, most causes of dementia are not reversible. Rather, they are degenerative diseases of the brain that get worse over time. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s, accounting for as many as 70-80% of all cases of dementia.”


What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer discovered changes in the brain tissue of a woman who died from an abnormal mental illness. She suffered from memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she passed, Dr. Alzheimer examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps of protein plaques and tangled fibers.


Alzheimer’s disease is now recognized as a specific and progressive brain disease that causes dementia. It destroys brain cells which in turn impairs memory, thinking and behavior. These problems are generally severe enough to affect employment, hobbies and social life. Alzheimer’s progress slowly and, over time, is fatal. A person with the disease may experience a gradual decline in cognitive abilities over a period of several years. [3]


Alzheimer’s disease is particularly common in aging people and is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 50 to 70 percent of dementia cases in people ages 65 and older. As many as 5.3 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Alzheimer’s symptoms include “getting lost, asking repetitive questions, experiencing difficulty handling money and paying bills, having poor decision-making skills, frequently misplacing items and undergoing personality changes. Those with Alzheimer’s also tend to take longer than before to complete normal daily tasks. As Alzheimer’s progresses and becomes severe, people may lose the ability to communicate and recognize oneself or family members.” [4]


Understanding the differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia is not always as easy and straightforward as sorting out definitions and terms. People and the challenging disorders of behavior some face are far more complex than simple definitions can imply.


For simplicity’s sake, Alzheimer’s is a specific brain disease and dementia is a symptom of cognitive disorders that affect the brain. “Dementia” is not a disease and is a term that has begun to replace the dated word, “senility.”



Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Downsizing, Organizing, Handicap Remodeling or Relocating

When Robert and Anne bought their family home thirty years ago, their plan was to live through retirement in this home. They had furnished their home with refurbished antiques acquired from their many trips together. It was one of their cherished antique coffee tables that Robert tripped over, breaking his hip. Now with his return from the hospital in a wheelchair, the overwhelming task of making their home accessible for Robert’s wheelchair and safe for both of them faced Anne.


Remodeling for wheelchair access, organizing home furnishings and daily living items or downsizing and relocating to a smaller living area are monumental tasks that are many times thrust on senior home owners. Sometimes the need to do this is brought on by injury or age related illness. Home and yard maintenance can become a daunting chore for even the healthiest of seniors, requiring them to make a downsizing decision.


There is a large and growing industry of specialists who understand these challenges of elderly homeowners and are ready and willing to help with remodeling, organizing or the sale of the home and with the move to a new location.


A professional organizer provides skills in making the home safe and manageable. Relocating furniture, removing hazards such as electrical cords, throw rugs, heavy objects on shelves that might fall are some of the ways they make a home more senior friendly. They specialize in helping seniors part with items that clutter or have no valued use, so to make rooms less crowded or to make ready for a move to a smaller living space.


Handicap remodeling services and senior safety services offer help in adding wheelchair ramps and widening doorways. Bathrooms are made more accessible and safe, with hand rails, walk-in bath facilities and easier access to toilets.


If moving to a smaller retirement home or care facility is the best solution there is another senior specialty provider to call on called a Seniors Real Estate Specialist.


The Senior Real Estate Specialist concentrates more on a complete service package for the sale of the property and/or the purchase of a new living arrangement. The specialist also arranges for the services of a relocation specialist or Senior Move Manager to provide a complete, stress-free package for the elderly homeowner.


A move often requires downsizing and getting rid of a tremendous number of acquired possessions. The relocation specialist or Senior Move Manager, as they are often called, will typically provide a turnkey operation that includes assessing and identifying items to keep, arranging for auction or other disposal, cleaning the home, moving the belongings and setting up the new residence. The manager may also work closely with a real estate agent to arrange for the sale of the home and may also be involved in the financial transactions necessary to move into a new living arrangement.


All the help available to seniors may in itself be overwhelming. How do seniors choose the right service provider for their needs? How do they know they will hire someone qualified, responsible and honest? Area Agencies on Aging and State Better Business Bureaus are good resources to check out available service providers.


Family, friends and religious leaders can be valuable resources to seniors in referring service providers and helping to manage the hiring and supervision.


The National Care Planning Council’s website www.longtermcarelink.net provides educational articles and information on eldercare providers throughout the nation.



Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

The Perfect Holiday Caregiver: It’s all a state of mind

The holidays are always a wonderful time of year for family gatherings, reflection on what we have and the spirit of giving. The television is packed with specials showing relationships and families coming together for the holidays.


But the holidays can also be a time of stress and sadness for those who are caring for family members that are struggling with health problems, frailty, dementia and loss. Those who care for these individuals may feel overwhelmed, frustrated, depressed or resentful as they watch “perfect” families enjoying the holidays. There are many surveys and documents that show that caregivers are highly susceptible to these feelings. If you are a caregiver, there are measures you can take to avoid this.


First; Remember, that you are not alone.


If you are new to caregiving or have been caring for someone for a very long time, remember that the perfect family on television is not reality for many Americans. You are not the only one with these challenges. A recent study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found that 44.4 million Americans age 18 or older are providing unpaid care to an adult. In fact according to the survey provided by the National Family Caregivers Association:

  • The typical caregiver is a 46-year-old Baby Boomer woman with some college education who works and spends more than 20 hours per week caring for her mother who lives nearby.
  • Female caregivers provide more hours of care and provide a higher level of care than male caregivers.
  • Almost seven in ten 69%) caregivers say they help one person.
  • The average length of caregiving is 4.3 years.
  • Many caregivers fulfill multiple roles. Most caregivers are married or living with a partner (62%), and most have worked and managed caregiving responsibilities at the same time (74%).


Second; Find help.


There are many resources available to a caregiver. Some of these include family members, friends, a local religious group, elder care agencies and homecare providers. The internet provides many great resources and help. The National Care Planning Council offers many articles, brochures and local referrals to help caregivers find the help that they need.

“When my husband’s stepfather was released from the hospital in December of 2009, he called us to give him a ride home. Once he was home, we quickly realized that he was not able to care for himself at all. He lived alone and we found ourselves driving back and forth three or four times a day to assist all of his needs. It was overwhelming and frightening to suddenly become a caregiver to a man we weren’t even that close to. With my husband working full time days, I became his primary caregiver. I would pack up my two little girls every day to come with me to take him to the doctor, do his laundry and feed him his meals, do his grocery shopping and help him with his bills. I had no idea what his finances were like or how to pay his medical bills. He was too sick to care or even understand what I was saying to him. I quickly realized I was going to have to find help. First I called his children. They were sympathetic, but gave all kinds of excuses as to why they could not help. Next, I went to the internet. I went to the website for National Care Planning Councilwww.longtermcarelink.net and found and contacted a Care planner in my area. The Care Planner came to my stepfather’s house and met with the two of us. They helped me get organized and set up time to meet with someone to explain his Medicare services and what my next steps would be. It was such a relief to have a plan and to know what to do.” MH- Salt Lake City, Utah


Most family members are willing to help, but just don’t know what to do. Many caregivers feel that they are the only one who can give the best care. It is important to communicate with other family members about what kind of help you need and let them know specifically what they can do.


A number of organizations and private companies will give you advice and guidance — many for free. If your care recipient has a very low income, you might get free help from your local Area Agency on Aging. A lot depends on available funds. Click here for a nationwide list of agencies.


A good source for professional advice is the rapidly growing business of non-medical home care companies. Most will offer free consultations and will provide paid aides to help you with your loved-one with such things as bathing, dressing, shopping, household chores, transportation, companionship and much more. These people may also help you coordinate adult day care or other community services.


You may wish to pay for a formal assessment and care plan from a professional geriatric care manager. Even though it may cost you a little money to hire a care manager, this could be the best money you will ever spend. Care managers are valuable in helping find supporting resources, providing respite, saving money from care providers, finding money to pay for care, making arrangements with family or government providers and providing advice on issues that you may be struggling with.


Lastly; it is important to take care of yourself first in order to give effective and loving care.


Stephen Covey tells a story in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People about a man who is sawing a tree. A woman approaches and asks the obviously exhausted man how long he has been sawing the tree. He tells her that he has been there for hours.


She says “Well, I see that your saw is dull, if you would just sharpen your saw you would be able to saw it much faster and with less effort.”


He replies, “I don’t have time to stop and sharpen my saw, I need to chop this tree down now!”


It seems pretty silly that the man just doesn’t stop for a few minutes to make the work easier. It is common for caregivers to do the same thing. They focus on caring for their loved one and run themselves down instead of stopping to “sharpen their saw”.


Covey states that “sharpening the saw” is to take care of yourself by keeping your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self balanced. There is joy and respite in balancing all of these areas in our life. This is what makes us efficient and happy. Here are some ways for you as a caregiver to sharpen your own saw:

  • Maintain a positive attitude. Take time to be grateful for everything that is good in your life. There is always something. Adjust your expectations for the holiday season. If you aren’t expecting that perfect holiday family picture, then you won’t be angry and frustrated that it isn’t something you have right now. It is always possible to change your attitude and perceptions, but it is not always possible to change your circumstances.
  • Eat healthy food and be sure to get some exercise. Do this in small increments if it is too overwhelming to plan menus. Drink more water, cut down on sugary snacks, pick up some vegetables and fruit to grab. Walk or do marching in place. Run or walk up and down stairs if that is all the time you have right now.
  • Forgive and let go of frustrations, anger, resentment and guilt. These are common feelings for caregivers. The best thing a caregiver can do for their own emotional health is to clear out these negative thoughts and feelings. Get counselling, talk to a friend or family member or simply write down the negative feelings to get them out of your system. Never take your anger and frustrations out on those you care for.
  • Take time to do something you enjoy and give yourself a little bit of rejuvenation everyday. Laughter is a great stress reliever. Find something funny to read or get on the internet and find a funny video to watch.
  • During the holidays, be easy on yourself. If you enjoy holiday activities, then get out there and do them. Ask someone to help with your caregiving duties even if it is just for an hour or two to shop or to see a concert or movie. There are day care facilities or home care services available for short term care. See www.longtermcarelink.net for a service in your area.


Being a “perfect” caregiver during the holidays does not have to look like the perfect on-screen holiday family. How you handle your circumstance will be the key to creating your own peace, happiness and cheer during the holiday season. The holidays can be a time of reflection on good things. Your attitude and a little care for yourself can make a big difference in the care that you give in the coming year.



Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Is Insurance the Answer to Long Term Care Planning?

A recent USA Today article states that there is an increase in seniors living over the age of 90. According to author Haya El Nasser “The number of people living to age 90 and beyond has tripled in the past three decades to almost 2 million and is likely to quadruple by 2050”.


Seniors who live longer generally have some sort of disability or need help at some level of living. Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, indicates that the focus needs to be on being able to help these seniors live at home as long as possible as nursing home cost could rise to average $72,000 a year.


Long Term Care at any level, in the home, assisted living or nursing home can add a tremendous cost to seniors and their families.


Government Programs Only Pay For About 16% Of Long Term Care


Government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration will cover the cost of long-term care under certain conditions. Medicare will cover rehabilitation from a hospital stay or limited care at home if there is a skilled (medical) need. The Veterans Administration will cover the cost of nursing home care indefinitely if the veteran is at least 70% service-connected disabled. The VA will also cover other forms of home-based or community-based care if there is a medical need.


Medicaid will cover both medical and non-medical related long-term care but in order to qualify for Medicaid a person has to have less than $2,000 in assets and income that is insufficient to pay the cost of care.


Funding Long Term Care with your Life Insurance Policy


Drawing cash from life insurance or changing a life insurance policy should only be done after reviewing with an expert advisor. Loss of the policy and death benefit could prove to be a detriment. If, however you have accumulated cash in a life insurance policy and no longer need the coverage you may consider using the cash for long term care or purchasing a LTC rider to your current policy.


New insurance products are being developed to cover both life insurance and long term care insurance. ElderLawAnswers reports:

“A new law makes the purchase of products that combine annuities or insurancepolicies with long-term care insurance more attractive. These “hybrid” products are gaining in popularity due to a law that went into effect January 1, 2010, making distributions from life insurance and annuities tax-free when used to pay for long-term care. The same law also allows owners of annuities or life insurance policies to exchange their old policies for long-term care insurance or hybrid policies without being taxed.”



Combination sales which include life insurance, annuities and traditional long-term care coverage are becoming popular with insurance companies and may prove a method of financing long term care. Investigate closely, however to find what exactly will be covered. Some policies do not cover home care costs or complete costs of nursing homes.


Long Term Care Insurance Funding for All Long Term Care Needs


The first long-term care policies were offered about 40 years ago. These were primarily nursing home-only policies designed to take over when Medicare rehabilitation ran out. They were not the comprehensive benefit policies we see today.


Long Term Care Insurance policies today are greatly diversified in their coverage. Home care, nursing home costs, adult day care, physical therapy, skilled and non-skilled nursing care are some of the services covered. Policies vary in price and what they cover. There is also a very restricted qualification of physical and mental heath to get a policy. Purchasing a policy at a younger age makes it easier to qualify and also provides cheaper premiums. It is best to consult with a long term care insurance professional about the type of policy that fits your needs and budget.


Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit


Though not an insurance policy, the VA Pension Benefit should be mentioned as a way to pay for long term care needs. A veteran or spouse of a veteran who served during a period of war can receive money, up to $2,085 a month, to pay for long term care medical expenses, home health care, and assisted living cost. A qualified individual accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs can help you determine if you qualify for this benefit.


Pre-Need Burial Insurance


One might ask what Pre-need burial insurance has to do with long term care. The purpose of preneed life insurance is to set aside funds for your funeral, before the need arises.
It is an insurance policy that covers the cost of the predetermined expenses of a funeral, cremation or burial. It gives the purchaser the opportunity to preplan the services and peace of mind in having it paid for. This is usually an insurance policy that pays at time of death for these expenses. There are many insurance companies that offer these packages as well as funeral homes.


The saddest cases of long term care needs we hear are:


“Mother can no longer live alone and she has no money to go live in a care facility.”


“ Is there someone that can come help me take care of my wife? We live on our Social Security and I can not pay what home care costs.”


“Father died last night and we have no money to bury him, what do we do?”


It is important to make the necessary arrangements to cover long term care and end of life costs. There is no government program that will cover all those needs. The National Care Planning Council at www.longtermcarelink.net strives to educate people about long term care services and encourages the planning that needs to be done to prepare for future costs and needs.



Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Recognizing the Need for outside Help in Caregiving

Caregivers often don’t recognize when they are in over their heads, and often get to a breaking point. After a prolonged period of time, caregiving can become too difficult to endure any longer. Short-term the caregiver can handle it. Long-term, help is needed.  Outside help at this point is needed.

A typical pattern with an overloaded caregiver may unfold as follows:

  • 1 to 18 months – the caregiver is confident, has everything under control and is coping well. Other friends and family are lending support.
  • 20 to 36 months – the caregiver may be taking medication to sleep and control mood swings. Outside help dwindles away and except for trips to the store or doctor, the caregiver has severed most social contacts. The caregiver feels alone and helpless.
  • 38 to 50 months – Besides needing tranquilizers or antidepressants, the caregiver’s physical health is beginning to deteriorate. Lack of focus and sheer fatigue cloud judgment and the caregiver is often unable to make rational decisions or ask for help.

It is often at this stage that family or friends intercede and find other solutions for care. This may include respite care, hiring home health aides or putting the disabled loved one in a facility. Without intervention, the caregiver may become a candidate for long term care as well.


With the holiday season upon us, caregivers feel even more stress — with planning, shopping and participating in holiday activities. This is a perfect time for family and friends to step up and provide some respite time and caregiving help.  Whether it is provided personally or arranged as a gift of services to be provided by a professional respite company or home care provider, it is a welcome gift.


An article in “Today’s Caregiver” states:


“Nearly one in four caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias provide 40 hours a week or more of care. Seventy-one percent sustain this commitment for more than a year, and 32 percent do so for five years or more. One of the best gifts you can give someone caring for Alzheimer’s is something that relieves the stress or provides a bit of respite for the caregiver.
The Gift of time: Cost-effective and truly meaningful gifts are self-made coupons for cleaning the house, preparing a meal, moving lawn/shoveling driveway, respite times that allow the caregiver time off to focus on what he/she needs.”


It is also important to note that hiring professional care provider services can provide valuable ongoing support to an overloaded caregiver. A financial planner, care funding specialist or areverse mortgage specialist may find the funds to pay for professional help to keep a loved one at home. A care manager can guide the family and the caregiver through the maze of long term care issues. The care manager has been there many times — the family is experiencing it for the first time.


An elder law attorney can help iron out legal problems. And an elder mediator can help solve disputes between family members. There are also cash benefits for Veterans, who served during a period of war, that pay for home care or assisted living.

If you are the one providing daily care for a loved one, you owe it to yourself to seek help.
Take care of yourself and your needs, both physically and mentally.  Seek out professional help that will ease your burden and look for community service organizations that offer respite help.


The National Care Planning Council’s website www.longtermcarelink.net contains hundreds of articles with tips and advice for caregivers and their families.  Take a few minutes to find the help you need and enjoy this holiday season.


Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Care Management Advice

Getting older is scary to both the person getting older and their family. Many questions arise when we think about retirement and ageing. Most of these questions start with, “how am I going to pay for…” All are legitimate questions. How are you going to pay for all of the possibilities of care, what are all our care options? Care management advice is an obvious need, not just for financial reasons but to get the best care possible for yourself or a family member. It’s never too early to get advice and it might be that you are in need of the advice now.


Care management advice should be something that every family takes advantage of but in reality very few families use this service. Geriatric care specialists could go a long ways towards helping the family find better and more efficient ways of providing care for a loved one. The concept is simple. The family hires a professional adviser to act as a guide through the maze of long term care services and providers. The specialist has been there many times. The family is experiencing it usually for the first time.


The need for care management will generally come about as aging issues develop like the ability to move about, dress, bathe, eat, use a toilet, and medicate. This need for care, advice or supervision may also be caused by an accident, disease process, disability, or frailty. A life doesn’t stop because a person is in need of help, in fact we enter and leave this earth in need of assistance from others. Most eldercare in this country is provided at home by family members. Regardless of who is taking care of whom, it is important to talk about it and have a plan.


Care Management Advice Is Needed to Assist with Eldercare


According to some sources, 60% of us will need long term care (eldercare) sometime during our lives. It is important for all of us to prepare for that day when we will need to help loved ones with care or we will need eldercare for ourselves.


Another source indicates about 40% of all seniors, 65 and older, will spend some time in a nursing home. The National Care Planning Council estimates that at any given time, at least 22% of all seniors, age 65 and older, are receiving some form of eldercare support in the home or in a facility.


Some 44.4 million adult caregivers — or 21% of the U.S. Adult population — provide unpaid care to seniors or adults with disabilities, according to a 2004 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving in Bethesda, Md. On average, those caregivers provide 21 hours of care a week and the average length of time spent providing care is 4.3 years.


Geriatric Care Specialists Provide Care Management Advice


Also known as Geriatric Care Manager, Elder Care Manager or Care Manager, a Geriatric Care Specialist represents a growing trend to help full time, employed family caregivers provide care for loved ones living close by or needing long-distance care. Specialists are also particularly useful in helping caregivers at home find the right services and cope with their burden.


Below is a partial list of what a geriatric care specialist might do:

  • Assess the level and type of care needed and develop a care plan
  • Take steps to start the care plan and keep it functioning
  • Make sure care is received in a safe and disability friendly environment
  • Resolve family conflicts and other family issues relating to long term care
  • Become an advocate for the care recipient and the family caregiver
  • Manage care for a loved one for out-of-town families
  • Conduct ongoing assessments to monitor and implement changes in care
  • Oversee and direct care provided at home
  • Coordinate the efforts of key support systems
  • Provide personal counseling
  • Help with Medicaid qualification and application
  • Arrange for services of legal and financial advisors
  • Manage a conservatorship for a care recipient
  • Provide assistance with placement in assisted living facilities or nursing homes
  • Monitor the care of a family member in a nursing home or in assisted living
  • Assist with the monitoring of medications
  • Find appropriate solutions to avoid a crisis
  • Coordinate medical appointments and medical information
  • Provide transportation to medical appointments
  • Assist families in positive decision making
  • Develop long range plans for older loved ones not now needing care


As with hiring any paid care provider to come into the home, hiring a geriatric care specialist is a similar situation. For those who desire to remain in the home the geriatric care specialist can help make that a reality and keep the care recipient away from a premature admittance into a care facility.


But the geriatric care specialist can also help in the other direction. Oftentimes the family is attempting to keep a loved one at home when that is not the best situation. For many and various reasons care in the home may be impossible. In this case, finding a facility is best. Below are links to find a care manager, facility, placement manager, retirement community, and financial specialists.


Find a Geriatric / Professional Care Manager in your area:

Find a Facility in your area:

Find Placement Management Services in your area:

Find Retirement Communities in your area:

Find a Long Term Care Insurance Services in your area:

Find Financial Retirement Planning Services in your area:

Find a Veterans Benefits Advocate in your area:



Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Home Repair Loan and Grant Program (Section 504)

$7,500 Home Improvement Grant Available to Low Income Seniors!


Rural Development makes loans for repairs to improve or modernize a home for families and individuals with very low incomes. These improvements are intended to make it safer or more sanitary, and/or even to remove health hazards. For seniors 62 and older who cannot afford a loan, grant funds many be available for these necessary repairs.


Eligibility to obtain a loan, a homeowner must be unable to obtain affordable credit elsewhere and have a very low income, defined as below 50 percent of the area median income. Grants are available only to homeowners who are 62 years old and older and cannot repay a Section 504 loan.


Repairs that can be made under both of these options are to make the dwelling more safe and sanitary, or to remove health and safety hazards. Examples of these repairs are: fixing or replacing roofs, modernizing heating and wiring systems, and making houses accessible to people with disabilities.


Terms of the Section 504 loans can be up to $20,000 for up to 20 years at 1 percent interest. A real estate mortgage and full title services are required for loans of $7,500 or more. Grants are up to $7,500 and may be recaptured if the property is sold in less than three years. A grant/loan combination is made if the applicant can repay part of the cost. A loan and a grant can be combined for up to $27,500 in assistance.


All repairs must meet local health department requirements and other applicable local codes and standards. Information can be obtained through your local zoning and health department offices located within your city and/or county.


This document explains the process of the section in great detail:www.rurdev.usda.gov/SupportDocuments/3550-1chapter12.pdf


You can find home repair & remodeling services by state on our website at LongTermCareLink.net under Home Maintenance / Remodeling or by clicking the Link: www.longtermcarelink.net/a7homemaintenancechore.htm


For additional Information on Section 504 contact the National Office, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250, 202-690-1533 or your Rural Development State office, which can be identified at www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html



Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar.