Nutrition

Good nutrition is important in order that people live life to its fullest. Good nutrition is a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water in the foods we eat. A healthy diet helps to provide energy; build, repair, and maintain body tissues and regulate body processes.

 

When meals are eaten in the company of others, people not only benefit from the nutritious foods, but also enjoy the chance to socialize. This encourages good eating habits and promotes good mental health.

Nutrients listed on food labels

The table that follows summarizes essential nutrients (which you may also finds listed on food labels) and their functions.

Adapting Meals for People with Dietary Restrictions

If an individual is on a special diet (low salt, diabetic or low saturated fat), the Basic Four Food Groups Guide (which follows) can still be used. However, because diets are prescribed to control a specific medical condition, certain foods may have to be eliminated, modified in the preparation, or limited in their intake. It is important that caregivers obtain specific instructions from a registered dietitian or their doctor on which foods are allowed, how much, and how they should be prepared.

 

Since some foods or medications may interact with other medications and/or foods in a harmful way, check with the pharmacist as to restrictions in any medications’ use before it is applied.

Nutrients on Food Labels and their Function

  • Protein: For preservation and repair of tissue; formation of antibodies to fight infection.
  • Carbohydrates: For energy; fiber to help prevent constipation.
  • Fat: For energy; healthy body and skin.
  • Vitamin A: For healthy eyes, skin, hair; resistance to infection.
  • Vitamin C: For healthy gums, skin; healing of wounds, bones; resisting infection.
  • Thiamin (B1): For digestion; healthy nervous system.
  • Riboflavin (2): For healthy eyes, skin, mouth; use of oxygen from air.
  • Niacin: For healthy digestive tract and nervous system.
  • Calcium: For preservation and repair of bones, teeth; muscle contractions; blood clotting.
  • Iron: For building red blood cells to carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
  • To simplify daily meal planning, foods are grouped according to the nutrients they supply. Plan your diet to include the recommended number of servings from each group.

 

The Four Basic Food Groups

Meat Group: Provides protein, niacin, iron, and Thiamin-B1. 2 servings daily. Dry beans and peas, soy extenders, and nuts combined with animal or grain protein can be substituted for a serving of meat. 2 ounces of cooked, lean meat, fish or poultry have the same amount of poultry as: 2 eggs; 1 cup cooked dry beans, peas, or lentils; 4 tablespoons peanut butter; 1/2 cup cottage cheese.

 

Grain Group: Provides carbohydrates, Thiamin-B1, iron, and niacin. 4 servings daily. Whole grain, fortified, or enriched grain products are recommended. 1 adult serving is: 1 slice bread; 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal; 1/2 cup cooked cereal, pasta, cornmeal, rice or grits; 1 small muffin or biscuit, 5 saltines, 2 graham crackers.

 

Milk Group: Provides calcium, riboflavin-B2, and protein. 2 servings daily: Foods made from milk contribute part of the nutrients supplied by a serving of milk. 1 cup milk has the same amount of calcium as 1 cup yogurt, 1 and 1/2 slices (ounces) cheddar-type cheese, 1 and 3/4 cups ice cream, 2 cups cottage cheese.

 

Fruit-Vegetable Group : Provides vitamins A and C. 4 servings daily: Dark green leafy or orange vegetable and fruit are recommended 3 or 4 times weekly for vitamin A. Citrus fruit is recommended daily for vitamin C. 1 adult serving is: 1 cup raw fruit or vegetable, 1/2 cup cooked fruit or vegetable, 1 medium fruit, such as an apple or banana, 1/2 cup juice.

Common Problems Interfering with Good Nutrition

Illness, disability and depression can affect an older person’s desire and ability to eat properly. The following suggestions deal with common problems that interfere with good nutrition.

 

When the care-receiver say the food tastes strange, it might help to:

  • Check teeth for tooth decay or gum infection,
  • Avoid alcohol,
  • Marinate meat, poultry and fish in sweet fruit juices, Italian dressing, or sweet or sour sauces,
  • Drink plenty of fluids or suck on candies to get rid of bad tastes,
  • Serve foods at room temperature or cold (Try milk-shakes or cheese),
  • Use stronger seasonings such as basil, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, lemon juice or mint when cooking,
  • Try new foods.
  • Cramps, Heartburn, Bloating:
  • Eat slowly,
  • Eat small meals frequently,
  • Avoid gas-forming foods, e.g., cabbage, onions, nuts, beer, cola drinks,
  • Avoid lounging immediately after eating; stand or sit upright for one hour after eating,
  • Avoid fried, greasy and heavily spiced foods,
  • Try bland, low-fat, easily digested foods,
  • Chilled antiacid may help, HOWEVER, check with your doctor regarding the brand of antiacid to use.
  • Constipation
  • Take high-fiber foods and plenty of liquids,
  • Exercise,
  • Add bran when cooking or baking (1 – 2 tablespoons of bran for each cup of flour),
  • Drink hot beverages which act as stimulants.
  • Diarrhea
  • Eat small meals frequently,
  • Drink clear liquids,
  • Avoid high fiber and greasy foods,
  • Replace fluid loss with liquids between meals.
  • Nausea, Vomiting
  • Avoid unpleasant odors,
  • Eat small meals frequently,
  • Chew slowly and thoroughly,
  • Sip cool, clear liquids between meals,
  • Rest after meals with head elevated,
  • Avoid hot, spicy, strong-smelling foods or fried, greasy foods,
  • Try foods which are cold or at room temperature, and low-fat food,
  • Eat dry or salty food,
  • Try fresh air and loose clothing.
  • Dry or Sore Mouth
  • Drink plenty of liquids,
  • Suck on ice chips,
  • Suck on popsicles made of milk or non-acid juices,
  • Dunk or soak foods in liquids,
  • Use extra gravies, sauces, salad dressing,
  • Rinse mouth frequently,
  • Suck hard candies or chew gum,
  • Eat sweet or tart foods if no sores in mouth,
  • Artificial saliva can be used.

General Tips for Helping the Older Person to Eat Well

  • Plan meals and snacks to include the person’s favorite foods.
  • Use a variety of foods from each of the four food groups,
  • Prepare foods that provide a variety of texture, color, and temperature,
  • Provide a pleasant setting, i.e., flowers, place mats, matching dishes, good lighting.

 

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. 

Personal Care

Personal care activities include eating, bathing, shaving, caring for the skin, hair and mouth, and transferring (moving from chairs, toilets or bed). During the course of our daily lives these activities are taken for granted until weakness or a disability makes them difficult to accomplish independently or safely. Providing assistance requires knowledge, patience, skill and physical strength.

Bathing

Bathing an older person may require strength, special equipment and skills. It is advised that caregivers ask the elderly person’s doctor and.or physical therapist for special instructions on how to safely bathe the care-receiver.

Shampooing and Shaving

Visits to a barber or hairdresser are very positive experiences. Individuals who provide this service will often come to the home. Wetting hair with alcohol or cream rinse helps to remove the snarls. Dry shampoos are available if your family member is bed bound. People who are diabetic or on medication to thin the blood (anti-coagulants, i.e., Coumadin) should use an electric shaver to reduce the risk of cuts. It is much easier and safer to shave another person with an electric razor.

Skin Care

  • Keep skin clean and dry, especially when people are having problems with bowel and bladder control. When washing, use a mild soap, rinse well, and dry thoroughly.
  • Keep bed linens clean, dry and free of wrinkles. Disposable bed pads can be purchased at a drug store and can keep sheets dry so that the caregiver does not have to change sheets so often.
  • Massage skin gently using a light, circular motion. Change the position of older people at least every two hours, particularly for those confined to a bed or wheelchair. Encourage them to shift their weight between position changes to redistribute pressure onto other areas.
  • Encourage good nutrition and adequate fluid intake. As a supplement to your family member’s diet, give a multi-vitamin every day to ensure proper nutrition. Check with the physician as to the appropriate supplement.
  • Use mattress and chairs that are soft and form-fitting rather than rigid and hard. (Example: egg crate mattress and sheep skin). This spreads the weight over a larger skin area, decreasing the pressure under the bones.
  • Encourage movement or mild exercise; this helps stimulate circulation which is good for the skin. Combing hair and helping with bathing and dressing are good ways for frail people to get exercise and be more independent.
  • Watch for possible sources of pressure on anything that would interfere with good circulation, such as tight shoes, elastic cuffed socks or tight undergarments.
  • Bony prominences are prone to skin breakdown. They are heels, feet, behind the knees, hips, buttocks, sacrum, elbows and shoulder blades. A special air mattress may be ordered by the doctor to prevent skin breakdown.
  • Watch for any redness or a break in the skin and report it immediately to the doctor or nurse, and keep the care-receiver off the affected side.

 

Toileting

  • Safety features in the bathroom, such as grab bars and raised toilet seats, make using the bathroom safer.
  • A commode or urinal may be necessary when flexibility and distance to the bathroom are a problem. They may be especially helpful at night.
  • Lack of control over bowel or bladder functions can be embarrassing and older people may try to hide it from caregivers and professionals. Be sensitive to the older person’s feelings, and mention this to the doctor. Loss of bowel and bladder control is not a part of normal aging and often can be controlled.
  • For the care-receiver with bowel and/or bladder problems it may help to take them to the bathroom every 2 hours. Specialized programs exist to retrain a bladder and bowel function. Check with your doctor or nurse for a program in your area.
  • Constipation or Irregularity: Many elderly become constipated due to medications and inactivity. If your care-receiver is experiencing this problem the doctor or nurse can suggest a stool softener. Other important factors are:
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and foods high in fibers.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
  • Avoid constipating foods like cheese, rice, bananas, etc.
  • Exercise as much as is tolerated.
  • Be sure your doctor is aware of all the medications being taken.

 

Assisting with Eating

Eating can be very time-consuming, especially if the older person must be fed. Encouraging independent eating saves time for caregivers, and promotes the independence and self-worth of the older person. Try to relax yourself and enjoy the time spent with your care-receiver. Here are some suggestions for encouraging independence:

  • Check gums for areas of redness. Dentures may not fit correctly and cause the family member pain when chewing.
  • Provide adaptive equipment such as plate guards or special silverware with built-up handles. These can be purchased from medical supply houses (listed under Hospital Equipment and Supplies in the Yellow Pages). An occupational therapy evaluation can recommend the best for each individual.
  • Prepare finger foods which may be easier to eat than those requiring utensils.
  • Encourage older people to use a straw, cups with 2 handles, or a glass with ribbed surface for independent drinking.
  • If the older adult has limited vision, consistent place setting of food and utensils helps to know where to find silverware, beverage, etc. Using the clock method to locate food may be helpful; for example, Your meat is at 9 o’clock, your potato is at 12 o’clock and your carrots are at 3 o’clock.
  • Reminder: Treat older people who are being fed as adults, not children. Disciplining poor eating habits should be avoided. When they lack interest in food, try to learn the reason. For example, ask if they are thirsty or not feeling well, or if the food in not appetizing on this occasion.
  • Transferring: Moving people who cannot move safely by themselves requires skill, knowledge, and some strength. For every type of disability, there is a specific technique to use. Ask a doctor, therapist or attend caregiver training for specific techniques. In all cases, remember:
  • When lifting, do not add your own weight to whatever you are lifting — get close and keep balance centered.
  • Do not use weak back muscles to lift – use your leg muscles because they are much stronger.
  • Do not twist when you are lifting – instead, change the position of your feet so that you face the older person, keeping your spine straight.
  • Balance is vital – spread your feet to serve as a base for support.
  • Your doctor can refer you to a physical therapist who can teach you to transfer safely.

 

Rest and Sleep

As we age, our sleep patterns change. The elderly require less sleep time. It takes longer for them to fall asleep. Also, awakenings during the night increase. Scheduled rest times are important. A few naps during the day can refresh and revitalize the care-receiver. However, if you notice that your care-receiver is sleeping for brief periods during the night, it could indicate a problem. Notify your doctor and discuss your concerns.

Tips for Encouraging Self Care

  • Allow the care-receiver to do as much as possible; provide only as much help as needed. When older people do all or part of their own personal care, it is a form of exercise that will help maintain strength as well as promote independence. No matter how small the activity (holding the soap, combing the front of the hair, etc.) it is important that the person be able to participate.
  • Adapt the home to allow the care-receiver to do more things. Install equipment such as grab rails in the bathroom, wheelchair-accessible sinks and mirrors, bath bench for the shower or tub, and lights with switches that can be easily reached.
  • Seek the aid of therapists or nurses to teach you how to perform personal care tasks safely and effectively.
  • Learn about the care-receiver’s disability and what you and others can do to help him/her function as independently as possible. If the older person cannot perform a certain activity, see if there is a part that can be done. For example, one might be able to independently dress the upper body if sitting, but require help dressing the lower body.
  • Whenever possible, include the care-receiver in making plans for his/her care. Take suggestions and feelings into consideration and encourage involvement in his/her own care. Sometimes, slowing the pace of an activity allows older people to do more for themselves.
  • Be aware of changes in the care-receiver’s health and abilities. Your plans for care will change as the care receiver changes.

 

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. 

Caring for the Caregiver

Caregivers experience mixed emotions. Love for your family member and the satisfaction you derive from helping may coexist with feelings of resentment about the loss of your privacy and frustration at believing you have no control over what happens. You may find it hard to accept the decline of the special person for whom you are giving care. Such feelings will depend in part on your prior relationship with your care-receiver, the extent of your responsibilities as a helper, and daily activities in your life (professional, social, and leisure pursuits). Your conflicting emotions may cause guilt and stress.

To guard against becoming physically and emotionally drained, you must take care of yourself. You need to maintain your health and develop ways to cope with your situation.

Caregiver’s Self-Rating Scale:

Below is a scale to evaluate your level of caregiving. It has been adapted from an article in Co-op Networker; Caregiver of Older Persons by Judy Bradley. It is an excellent effort to provide some guidelines for caregivers and to evaluate your level of care and value wich you give your care-receiver and yourself.

Put a number from 1 to 10 to best describe your feelings. Number 1 is no feeling, numbers between express stronger feelings with 10 being strongest feeling.

  1. Abandonment to withdraw protection or support or to actively abuse your care-receiver.
  2. Neglect to allow life-threatening situations to persist or to display consistent coldness or anger.
  3. Detachment/Aloofness to maintain an air of detachment or being aloof, perfunctory in your care, no genuine concern, only obligation. Concerned only with physical well-being of your care-receiver.
  4. General Support given freely, with a guarded degree of warmth and respect, occasional feelings of manipulation. Concerned with both emotional and physical well-being of care-receiver.
  5. Expressed empathy the ability to feel what your care-receiver feels. a quality relationship where feelings can be freely expressed and caringly received with non-judgmental positive regard.
  6. Sympathy feeling sorry for care-receiver, giving sympathy, focusing on the losses experienced by care-receiver.
  7. Occasional over-involvement care characterized by periodic attempts to do for rather than be with.
  8. Consistent Over-involvement care-receiver regarded as object of series of tasks which must be performed.
  9. Heroic Over-involvement care characterized by sometimes frantic and desperate attempts to provide for every possible need your care-receiver has; increased dependence, care-receiver not allowed independence.
  10. Fusion of personalities between caregiver and care-receiver. The caregiver’s needs no longer have any value or meaning; the caregiver has abandoned him/herself to needs of the care-receiver.

 

You can place yourself on the Scale of Caregiving to determine how you value your care-receiver as compared to yourself. The low numbers give little or no value (honor) to the needs of your care-receiver. The high numbers (8, 9, 10) give little or no value to your own needs as an individual and as a caregiver. The numbers in the middle are where you find a balance between undercare and overcare. Neither of the two extremes is healthy; they represent positions where you are not helping your care-receiver.

What can I do to help myself?

Acknowledge your feelings: Your feelings have a lot to do with the way you view and cope with caregiving. All feeling are legitimate, even those that may sem disturbing to you (including anger, frustration, and sadness). Recognizing and accepting your emotions are the first step toward resolving problems of guilt and stress. Learn to express your feelings to family members, friends, or professionals. Take the following caregiver Stress Test; determine how much stress you are under.

The following test will help you become aware of your feelings, pressures and stress you currently feel.

Which of the following are seldom true, sometimes true, often true, or usually true? I find I can’t get enough rest.

  • I don’t have enough time for myself.
  • I don’t have time to be with other family members beside the person care for.
  • I feel guilty about my situation.
  • I don’t get out much anymore.
  • I have conflict with the person I care for.
  • I have conflicts with other family members.
  • I cry everyday.
  • I worry about having enough money to make ends meet.
  • I don’t feel I have enough knowledge or experience to give care as well as I’d like.
  • My own health is not good.

If the response to one or more of these areas is usually true or often true it may be time to begin looking for help with caring for the care-receiver and help in taking care of yourself.

Seek Information

Check your public library for books, articles, brochures, videotapes, and films on caregiving. Some hospitals, Adult Education Centers , the Southern Regional Resource Center and CESS offer courses on caregiving and additional information on resources that you can turn to for help. Help is available!

Join a Caregiver Support Group

In addition to offering useful information, such groups provide a unique forum for caregivers to come together and share their feelings in a supportive environment. Groups help caregivers feel less isolated and can create strong bonds of mutual help and friendship.

Participating in a support group can help mange stress, exchange experiences, and improve skills as a caregiver. Sharing coping strategies in a group setting lets you help others while helping yourself. It may also help you to realize that some problems have no solutions and that accepting the situation is reality.

Set Realistic Goals

Caregiving is probably one of the many conflicting demands on your time. It is important to set realistic goals. Recognize what you can and cannot do, define your priorities, and act accordingly. Turn to other people for help – your family, friends, and neighbors. Prepare a list of tasks for anyone who may offer assistance. The list may include:

  • running an errand for you,
  • preparing a meal,
  • taking your care-receiver for a ride,
  • taking our children after school one day.

Practice good communications skills

Do not expect that others will ask if you need help. It is up to you to do the asking.

Communicate with your Family and Friends

Turning to family members or friends for emotional support and help can be a mixed blessing. Their visits may make you feel less alone and better able to deal with caregiving responsibilities. They can give you a break by spending time with your care-receiver.

However, other relatives or friends can be critical of the way you provide care. They may feel the house is not kept clean enough; or they may not like the way your care-receiver is dressed. Recognize that they are responding to what they see at that time and are lacking the benefit of experiencing the whole picture and any gradual changes in your care-receiver’s condition. Harsh criticism may be a response to their own guilt about not participating more in the care process.

Try to listen politely to what is being said (even though this might not be easy). However, if you and your care-receiver feel comfortable with the way you are managing the situation, continue to do what meets your needs. Schedule a family meeting from time to time to help other family members understand the situation and to involve them in sharing the responsibilities for caregiving.

Use Community Resources

Investigate community resources that might be helpful. Consider using in-home services or adult day care. Employ a homemaker to cook and clean, or an aide to help your care-receiver bathe, eat, dress, use the bathroom or get around the house.

Use Respite Care Services

When you need a break from providing care to your care-receiver, look at respite care. For example, a companion can stay with your care-receiver for a few hours at a time on a regular basis to give you time off. Or have your care-receiver participate in an adult day care program where he or she can socialize with peers in a supervised setting; this gives your care-receiver a necessary break from staying home all the time. Hospitals, nursing homes, and particularly residential care homes offer families the opportunity to place older relatives in their facilities for short stays. The Residential Bed Availability Hot Line, your doctor, and the Area Agency on Aging can assist with arrangements.

Maintain your Health

Your general well-being affects your outlook on life and your ability to cope. Taking care of yourself is important and involves:

  • eating three balanced meals daily,
  • exercising daily,
  • enough sleep/rest,
  • allowing yourself leisure time.

Food is fuel for your body. Skipping meals, eating poorly, or drinking lots of caffeine is not good for you. Learn to prepare and eat simple, nutritious, well-balanced meals. Avoid alcohol above 2-3 ounces daily.

Being physically active can provide you with an outlet that is relaxing and makes you feel good. Stretching, walking, jogging, swimming, or bicycling are examples of invigorating exercises. Consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine. Your doctor can help design a program that fits your individual needs.

Leisure time allows you to feel better and more able to cope with your situation. Having time to yourself to read a book, visit a friend, or watch TV can also bring enjoyment and relaxation, and break the constant pattern and pressure of caregiving.

Sleep refreshes and enables you to function throughout the day. If your care-receiver is restless at night and disturbs your sleep, consult your doctor and fellow caregivers on possible ways to handle the situation. You may need to have outside help in the evenings to allow you time to sleep.

If you are unable to sleep because of tension, practice relaxation exercises. Deep breathing or visualizing pleasant scenes can be helpful. Continued sleep disturbance may be a sign of major depression, which needs medical attention.

Relaxation Exercise:

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Allow your mind to drift a few seconds, go with it wherever it goes. Wiggle your fingers and toes, then hands and feet, ankles and wrists. Loosen tight clothes, belts, ties. Sway your head from side to side, gently, gently. Now you have prepared yourself to relax physically and psychologically.
  • Now concentrate, still with your eyes closed, on some one pleasant thing you really want to think about; maybe it is a place you have visited in the past, or your dream place of your own imagination. It might be the seashore, or high on a hill, or in a field of grass and flowers. Become totally immersed in the place. Smell the smells you best remember. See the sights it offers. Hear the sounds. Feel it, whether it be water or sand or soil or snow. Fully realize this place or situation you are in: if it is on the sandy beach, sift your fingers through the warm sand and smell it, hold the sand to your cheek, smell the salt of the sea, search the skyline for gulls and terns and low clouds in the distance. Your body is totally weightless. You are totally in control of this scene. It is so relaxing and pleasant and beautiful, you are breathing slowly, peacefully. This is YOUR place and no one can take it from you.
  • After you have sufficiently experienced your peaceful imaging, whenever you have a chance, return to your special place, close your eyes again, tune in, relive those these special few moments in the world of your choosing where everything is perfect and everything is yours. This relaxation exercise can benefit you all day. Check your local library or book store for books, audio tapes, videotapes or films on relaxing and managing stress.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

This is an old expression popularized by Norman Cousin’s book Anatomy of an Illness, in which he describes his battle with cancer and how he laughed his way to recovery. His hypothesis and the subject of many studies suggests that there are positive effects to be gained from laughter as a great tension-releaser, pain reducer, breathing improver, and general elevator of moods. It sounds miraculous, is not proven, but studies continue. Groups such as the International Conference on Humor and many hospitals use positive emotion rooms and humor carts. In short, humor therapy is valuable and it helps us through difficult or stressful times.

So for yourself and your care-receiver:

  • try to see the humor in being a caregiver;
  • write on a card Have you laughed with your care-receiver today? and place it in a conspicuous place in the bathroom or kitchen;
  • read funny books or jokes, listen to funny tapes or watch humorous movies or videos that make you laugh;
  • share something humorous with your care-receiver, a friend, or relative;
  • attend social groups where there is a lot of comeraderie, joy and fun;
  • be aware of how often you smile; it takes much less energy to smile than to frown.
  • If you find that you are feeling hopeless, and humor or laughter is not affording you the up-lift you want, contact a counselor. And remember, laughter is the best medicine. Try it, you’ll like it!

Avoid Destructive Behavior

Sometimes people handle stressful situations in ways that are destructive. Instead of openly expressing feelings, they overeat, use alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes to mask their difficulties. Such escapes do not solve the problem and are harmful to health. If the strain results in neglecting or abusing the care-receiver, it is a vary serious problem. It is also against the law!

Seek Help

You do not have to go it alone. Turn to family members, friends, clergy members, professional counselors, or a caregiver support group for help and support.

Build your Self-Esteem

Continue to pursue activities and social contacts outside your home. Do what you enjoy. Go to a movie, play a musical instrument, or get together with friends for a card game. It may not be easy to schedule these activities, but the rewards for having balance in your life are great. Taking care of yourself benefits you and your care-receiver. Meeting your own needs will satisfy you and give you additional strength and vigor to bring to your caregiving tasks.

Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

You have rights, too. Below is a Caregiver’s Bill of Rights. After you read them, post and keep them fresh in your mind.

Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

  1. Caregivers have the right to receive sufficient training in caregiving skills along with accurate understandable information about the condition and needs of the care recipient.
  2. Caregivers have the right to appreciation and emotional support for their decision to accept the challenge of providing care.
  3. Caregivers have the right to protect their assets and financial future without severing their relationship with the care-receiver.
  4. Caregivers have the right to respite care during emergencies and in order to care for their own health, spirit, and relationships.
  5. Caregivers have the right to expect all family members, both men and women, to participate in the care for aging relatives.
  6. Caregivers have the right to provide care at home as long as physically, financially and emotionally feasible; however, when it is no longer feasible caregivers have the obligation to explore other alternatives, such as a residential care facility.
  7. Caregivers have the right to temporarily alter their premises as necessary to provide safe and livable housing for care-receivers.
  8. Caregivers have to right to accessible and culturally appropriate services to aid in caring for aging care-receivers.
  9. Caregivers have the right to expect professionals, within their area of specialization, to recognize the importance of palliative (ease without curing) care and to be knowledgeable about concerns and options related to older people and caregivers.
  10. Caregivers have the right to a sensitive, supportive response by employers in dealing with the unexpected or severe care 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. 

Common Problems in Caregiving

The first step in organizing a rational care plan is making a list of needs. As family members or friends care for an impaired elderly person, several questions present themselves:

What are his/her needs?

  • What kinds of care are needed to allow the elderly/impaired person to remain in the community?
  • Who is going to provide the care? When? How?
  • Should the care-receiver remain in his/her own home, live with the children or other relatives or move to other surroundings (retirement apartments, residential care, intermediate care, skilled nursing facility or other)?
  • How can living arrangements be changed to help the person stay in the home or become more independent?
  • If outside services are needed, does the impaired person have the resources to pay for them? How can they be obtained?
  • How can care be given to the person in need without denying attention to others (spouse or children) for whom the caregiver also has responsibility?
  • Do you as the caregiver feel tired or frustrated from caring for an older person?

In answering these questions you are developing an important List of Needs of the impaired elderly person, and bringing into perspective the caregiver’s needs as well. The questions do not have easy answers and the solution may vary in every situation. The care of an impaired older person can create stress that affects the ability of the caregiver to continue giving necessary levels of care. The stress experienced may be physical, financial, environmental and/or emotional in nature.

Physical Stress

Providing physical care to an impaired older person can cause physical stress. General homemaking and housekeeping activities such as cleaning, laundry, shopping, and meal preparation require energy and can be tiring, particularly when added to existing responsibilities in one’s own home.

Personal care required for the supervision of medications and the maintenance of hygiene can also be stressful, particularly in situations of acting-out behaviors, incontinence (loss of bladder or bowel control), colostomies, or assistance with bathing. Lifting and transferring individuals with limited mobility is not only tiring, but also can result in injury to the caregiver or the impaired person. In some instances there is the additional responsibility of maintenance of equipment such as wheelchairs or hospital beds.

Financial Stress

The care of an impaired elderly person has many financial dimensions. For those services that cannot be provided by family members (medical, pharmaceutical, therapeutic, etc.), decisions will have to be made as to where service will be secured and how they will be paid. When money is limited, many families assist with the cost of care, causing financial burdens on all family members.

Environmental Stress

The proper home setting has to be chosen. If the care-receiver elects to remain in his/her own home, modifications such as railings and ramps may have to be installed. If the person cannot remain in his/her own home, alternative arrangements must be sought, such as moving in with a friend or relative or specialized housing (retirement hotels, senior apartments, residential care homes, intermediate care facilities, or nursing homes). If the care-receiver is to remain in the home, some major adjustments in the living arrangements and patterns of daily living will be necessary.

Social Stress

Providing personal care up to 24 hours a day can cause social stress by isolating oneself from friends, family and a social life. The caregiver may find him/herself becoming too tired or unable to have an evening out even once a week, or once a month. What can result is a build-up of anger and resentment toward the very person receiving the care, as the care-receiver is the cause of the lost socialization.

Emotional Stress

All of these factors often result in tremendous emotional stress. Compounding these sources of stress are the difficulties in managing one’s time, juggling multiple responsibilities, and feeling the pressure of the increased dependency.

Conclusion

For family members providing care, the various forms of stress can result in different feelings. Anger, resentment and bitterness about the constant responsibilities, deprivation and isolation can result. This is also a time when many of the unresolved conflicts from parent-child relationships resurface and can intensify, causing anxiety and frustration. There might even be the unspoken desire, at times, to be relieved of the burden through institutionalization or even death of the care-receiver. This desire is frequently and swiftly followed by feelings of guilt. All of these can be felt, then denied because they seem unacceptable. The person giving care needs to be assured that, in fact, these feelings are common even though they may not be expressed. There are resources that can help caregivers. The remainder of this book will address those resources, such as joining a caregiver support group, using community resources and above all, caring for yourself the caregiver.

 

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. 

Caring for a Loved One at Home

Informal caregivers are family, friends and volunteers who provide care and support for an aging loved one. These selfless individuals are rarely paid for their services and often endure a significant amount of stress while providing care. Health in Aging estimates as many as 43.5 million Americans care for older parents, grandparents, spouses and other older adults. Informal caregivers may provide services in a care facility, but most care takes place in the home of the aging loved one.

 

Challenges Informal Caregivers Face

Caregivers often face challenges providing informal care. A wife caring for her husband, for example, may risk injury (to herself or him) while trying to move him safely around the home to bathe, dress, eat and use the bathroom. She may also struggle to provide proper nursing care due to a general lack of training, especially when it comes to monitoring vital signs and serious medical conditions.

 

Financial hardship is another challenge and varies depending on the informal caregiver. Generally, a retired spouse suffers little to no financial impact as income and assets are not used to pay for care. If the same spouse offering informal care is employed and has to reduce his or her hours or quit employment entirely there can be a significant impact on the couple’s finances. A child, caring for an aging parent (generally the adult daughter), will often forego wages to make themselves available to provide care during critical times of the day. This can be a massive strain on the child’s personal finances and time.

 

Beyond the financial impact informal caregiving can create lies an often unseen burden placed on the informal caregiver. The emotional and physical health of a caregiver is often strained when caregiving. These stresses, which can cause anxiety, exhaustion, and depression, are numerous and vary by situation. Strains to the emotional and physical health of the caregiver can be caused by:

  • A lack of time, resources, or skills necessary to provide adequate care,
  • Supervision requirements for those with memory issues,
  • Traveling (time to and from the care recipient’s home),
  • Considerable or unrealistic physical or emotional demands made by the aged, or
  • Unwillingness of other potential caregivers to assist.

Caregiver Burnout

Any of the above can be significantly overwhelming and contribute to a serious condition called “Caregiver Burnout.” The Cleveland Clinic describes caregiver burnout as:

a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able — either physically or financially. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression.

Make Caregiving Easier on You

To ensure informal care for an aging loved one is feasible can be sustained for a period of time, caregivers must understand the potential stresses outlined above, carefully avoid them, and in some cases correct them. It is important for every caregiver to be honest with themselves.

 

Here are some ideas, provided by the National Care Planning Council and WebMD, to keep burnout at bay:

  • Find someone you trust to speak with on a regular basis about your feelings and frustrations
  • Know your caregiving limits
  • Set reasonable goals, schedules, and boundaries
  • Realize you may need help from others
  • Educate yourself and set reasonable expectations about your loved one’s ongoing illness or condition
  • Set aside time for yourself. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it is a need
  • Talk to a therapist, social worker, or clergy member. They are trained to give advice on a wide range of physical and emotional issues
  • Remember to lighten up when you can. Use humor to help deal with everyday stresses
  • Stay healthy by eating right and getting plenty of exercise and sleep
  • Accept your feelings. It’s normal to have negative feelings such as frustration and anger

Use Professional Caregivers and Planners

Avoiding caregiver burnout can involve bringing in professional and formal caregivers for respite. This might include such services as adult day carecare managementprofessional and non-medical home caremediation services or other long term care advisors and specialists.  Advisors might include Medicaid planners, assistance from Veterans Affairs (VA) Accredited individuals, or long term care planners. The responsibility for recognizing elder care challenges and meeting those challenges can be shouldered by any appropriate combination of the above.

 

Informal Caregiving Can Be Rewarding

Providing informal care for an aging loved can be difficult and rewarding. Remember, care for yourself during the process to avoid caregiver burnout! Use the resources above to get support for the service you do so you can provide the best care possible for your aging loved ones.

 

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. 

Parkinson’s Disease

In the U.S., over one million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease (approximately 10 million worldwide). Every year, 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The frequency and severity of this disease increases with age. An estimated four percent of people with Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed before the age of 50.
Unfortunately, many of us do not understand the impact this disease can have on our families and loved ones. Many of us do not know what it is, how to treat it, or even what the signs are.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

 

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system. Due to increased changes in heredity, men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s than women. The disease usually develops around age 60. Ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides may put an individual at a slightly increased risk.

What are some signs of Parkinson’s?

 

Tremors. Shaking can begin in a limb.
Slowed movement. Parkinson’s may reduce the ability to move and slow movement. Steps may become shorter when walking.
Rigid muscles. Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of the body and can cause pain.
Impaired posture and balance. Posture may become stooped, balance problems may also result.
Loss of Automatic Movements. Decreased ability to perform unconscious movements including blinking, smiling or swinging arms while walking.
Speech Changes. One may start to speak softly, quickly, slur or even hesitate before talking. Speech may be more of a monotone rather than with the usual speech inflections.
Writing Changes. It may become hard to write or text size may become smaller.
Dementia. A person with Parkinson’s disease has 2-6 times the risk of exhibiting symptoms of dementia compared to the general population.

How Parkinson’s is diagnosed?

No specific test exists to diagnose this disease. A neurologist will attempt to diagnose Parkinson’s based on one’s signs and symptoms, a neurological and physical examination, and one’s medical history. Doctors may order tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms.

 

If Parkinson’s is not controlled?

 

Thinking difficulties. Cognitive problems such as dementia, which usually occur in the later stages of Parkinson’s, are likely to develop and aren’t responsive to medication.
Depression and emotional changes. Fear, anxiety, loss of motivation and depression can make dealing with Parkinson’s hard but these issues can be treated with medication.
Swallowing problems. Difficulties with swallowing as the condition progresses. Saliva may accumulate in the mouth due to slowed swallowing, leading to drooling.
Sleeping problems and disorders. Issues sleeping, including waking up frequently or early, is very common.
Bladder problems. Inability to control urine or even having difficulty urinating can occur.
Constipation. A slower digestive tract can cause constipation in those with Parkinson’s.
Blood pressure changes. Feeling dizzy or light-headed when you stand is common.
Scent dysfunction. Problems with a sense of smell or identifying odors may.
Fatigue. Many people with Parkinson’s lose energy and experienced increased fatigue.
Pain. May people with Parkinson’s disease experience pain.

 

Treating Parkinson’s

 

Carbidopa-levodopa is a Parkinson’s disease medication. Improvement with this medication will often confirm a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. This medication comes in pill form as well as an infusion, which is administered through a feeding tube that delivers the medication in a gel form directly to the small intestine.
Dopamine agonists mimic dopamine effects in your brain. This isn’t usually as effective as levodopa in treating symptoms however it may be used in conjunction with levodopa to smooth the sometimes off-and-on effect of levodopa.
MAO-B inhibitors. Help prevent the breakdown of brain dopamine (includes side effects such as nausea or insomnia).
Catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors. Medication mildly prolongs the effect of levodopa therapy by blocking an enzyme that breaks down dopamine.

Anticholinergics. Used for many years to help control the tremor associated with Parkinson’s disease. Modest benefits are often offset by side effects such as impaired memory, confusion, hallucinations, constipation, dry mouth and impaired urination.

Amantadine. Provide short-term relief of symptoms of mild, early-stage Parkinson’s disease. It may also be given with carbidopa-levodopa therapy during the later stages of Parkinson’s disease to control involuntary movements.
Deep Brain Stimulation. Surgeons impact electrodes into a specific part of your brain. The electrodes are connected to a generator implanted in your chest near your collarbone that sends electrical pulses to the brain and may reduce symptoms.
Lifestyle changes including aerobic exercise, physical therapy to focus on balance and stretching may be an option.

 

Prevention of Parkinson’s

 

Doctor’s are not certain what causes of Parkinson’s nor have clearly proven way to prevent the disease. Some research has shown that caffeine (found in coffee, tea and cola) or green tea may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

 

What Causes Parkinson’s

 

Generally. Generally Doctor’s are unaware of the cause.
Genetically. About 15-20% of Parkinson’s cases report having a relative with the disease, however researchers have found that people with an affected first-degree relative, have a 4-9% higher chance of developing Parkinson’s.
Chemically. In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs added Parkinson’s to a list of diseases possibly associated with exposure to Agent Orange. Another compound, a synthetic neurotoxin agent called MPTP can also cause immediate and permanent parkinsonism. This compound was discovered in the 1980s in those who injected themselves with a synthetic form of heroin contaminated with MPTP. Cases of this MPTP induced Parkinson’s are rare. A veteran who was exposed to this herbicide may have a strong case for a VA service connected compensation claim for benefits.

 

Economic Burden of Parkinson

 

The cost of Parkinson’s, including treatment, social security payments and lost income from an inability to maintain employment, is estimated to be nearly $25 billion dollars per year in the United States alone. Medication costs for an individual with Parkinson’s disease average $2,500 per year and therapeutic surgery can cost up to $100,000 dollars per patient.

 

Famous People with Parkinson’s Disease

 

Muhammad Ali (diagnosed 1984 at the age of 42)
Michael J. Fox (diagnosed 1991 at the age of 30)
Johnny Cash (unknown diagnoses)
Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire (diagnosed roughly 1992)
George Wallace, Democratic Presidential nominee in 1972 (diagnosed early 1990s)
Estelle Getty Actress Golden Girls (unknown diagnoses)
Billy Graham, Evangelist Pastor (unknown diagnoses)
Charles Schultz, Peanuts comic strip (unknown diagnoses)
Janet Reno, Attorney General under President Bill Clinton (unknown diagnoses)
Billy Connolly, Actor (unknown year of diagnoses at the age of 70)
Linda Ronstadt (unknown diagnoses)
Bob Hoskins (unknown diagnoses)
Pope John Paul II (unknown diagnoses)

 

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 to Do When an Aging Loved One Dies

If and when my parent passes away (which will likely take place in my own home), I wouldn’t know what to do. Most people don’t know what to do. The process itself is overwhelming to think about. Take a deep breathe, the next few moments maybe may be a little hectic.

 

Things to consider just after passing
When your aging loved one dies, note the general time of death. You don’t necessarily need to call someone right away unless the circumstances of the death were unusual or if your loved one is an organ donor. Organs need to be transferred as quickly as possible. If you are not sure if they are an organ donor, you can check their driver’s license or any advanced health care directive (living will or health care proxy) they may have available. You may even consider calling the nearest hospital to speak with an organ donor coordinator who can help you through the process.

 

If your loved one is not an organ donor and you want to spend some time with the newly departed and say goodbye, then is the perfect time to do so. Within the first hour of death, you can also wash and dress the body if you’d like to do so. You can also close their eyes and mouth if they are open. Sometimes the mouth may reopen. If that happens, place a rolled towel underneath the chin in order to keep it shut.

 

Inviting relatives and loved ones to come say their final good-byes can be done as well. It is generally best to keep these types of invites to a select few as you may be overwhelmed, emotionally drained or even in a panic. Adding additional people’s emotions to your own may make matters worse. Funerals, viewings, and family gathering may be the more appropriate time to invite relatives to visit the deceased.

 

Calling a local funeral home is your next step (if other arrangements haven’t already been made). It may be many hours before they come. When they arrive they will have questions for you. They will transport your loved on a gurney from the place of death to their vehicle, then drive to the funeral home/mortuary.

 

Things you will need to think about during the upcoming days
The death of a loved one is not an easy thing to experience. Finalizing their final affairs can be just as difficult. Take time now to understand the items below so you will be prepared to assist your loved one with their final wishes and needs.

 

Funeral Arrangements
Considering the departed wishes and what you’re able to afford. Reach out to a funeral service and meet with the funeral director. They can assist in any decisions that need to be made including embalming or cremation, closed or open casket, burial site, headstone, etc.

 

Close Friends, Extended Family
You’ll want to contact the departed’s close friends and extended family and maybe a few of your own. They can help with moral support. This also gives them time to take time off to grieve and time off to attend the funeral.

 

Religious Leader
Notify the departed’s church leader or clergy. These individuals can help you and your family during the coming days.

 

Property
Securing the departed’s home and vehicle is important. If the person lives in a rent home/facility, you’ll want to notify the property manager.

 

Pets
Does the departed have pets? If so, making arrangements for them will be necessary.

 

Post Funeral Gathering
Gathering those together who cared for the departed is a great way to share experiences and help each other through the grieving process. Enlist family and friends to help with this gathering.

 

Obituary
Some funeral home may offer this as a service, or you may want to write one yourself. Check with the local newspaper on rates, deadlines, and submission guidelines.

 

Death Certificates
Before you talk to any of the entities below, make sure you request and receive the death certificate and order duplicates. Funeral directors may help handle this but you can also visit your local vital statistics office in your state for further assistance.

 

Notifying government agencies
Social Security, Veterans Affairs (if applicable), Medicare, DMV, and the IRS are all agencies that need to be informed about the death of the departed. An official copy of the death certificate may be needed with the cause of death clearly provided. With the IRS, a final tax return will need to be filed.

 

Insurance Policies
Insurance companies will need to be notified of the death.
Estate (Probate), Creditors, Financial Advisors, Mortgage Companies, Banks, etc…
All will need to be notified. Accounts will need to be closed. Trusts and estates will need to be settled. Much of this can be done as paper statements arrive in the mail.

 

Credit Reporting Agencies, Other Memberships
Credit reporting agencies should be notified to limit the chance of identity theft. Other memberships such as Gym, Spa, Clubs, Library, etc should be cancelled as well.

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. 

Include End-Of-Life Planning When Anticipating Long Term Care

A key deficiency in the process of planning for long term care occurs when seniors fail to provide for orderly distribution of assets at death and 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 or elder law attorney, a financial adviser who specializes in estate planning or a CPA planner, is the design 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 capitol 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. We call this Life Resource Planning. This important aspect of planning is often overlooked.

 

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

 

Some advisers have recognized this need and have put together a team of experts such as attorneys, care managers and financial planners who provide a more complete and comprehensive approach to estate planning, long term care and end-of-life issues.

 

Here are some other important issues to consider for end-of-life planning:
  • Provide instructions, in the event of death, for guardianship of minor children.
  • Provide for disabled adult children, elderly parents, or other relatives.
  • Get your property to chosen beneficiaries quickly and determine in advance who gets what.
  • Plan for incapacity.
  • Minimize expenses of transferring property.
  • Choose executors or trustees for your estate.
  • Ease the strain on your family by making funeral arrangements and purchasing a funeral trust.
  • Create tax savings and leave money to charity.
  • Reduce state and federal estate taxes.
  • Provide a plan for an orderly transition of your business ownership to others.
  • Pre-plan for Medicaid/Medical

 

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, the Desired Setting for Elder Care

Most of those receiving long-term care and most caregivers prefer a home environment.

 Out of an estimated 10 million older Americans receiving care, about 7 million are in their own home or the home of a family member or friend. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice reports that over 12 million individuals currently receive care from more than 33,000 providers (for causes including acute illness, long-term health conditions, permanent disability, or terminal illness).

Most older people prefer their home over the unfamiliar proposition of living in a care facility.

Family or friends attempt to accommodate the wishes of loved ones even though caregiving demands might warrant a different environment. Those needing care feel comfortable and secure in familiar surroundings and a home is usually the best setting for that support.

Often the decision to stay in the home is dictated by funds available.

It is much cheaper for a wife to care for her husband at home than to pay out $3,000 to $6,000 a month for care in a facility. Likewise, it’s much less costly and more loving for a daughter to have her widowed mother move into the daughter’s home than to liquidate mom’s assets and put her in a nursing home. Besides, personally taking care of our parents or spouses is an obligation most of us feel very strongly about.

For many long term care recipients the home is an ideal environment.

These people may be confined to the home but continue to lead active lives engaging in church service, entertaining grandchildren, writing histories, corresponding, pursuing hobbies or doing handwork activities. Their care needs might not be that demanding and might include occasional help with house cleaning and shopping as well as help with getting out of bed, dressing and bathing.

Most of the time these people don’t need the supervision of a 24/7 caregiver.

There are, however, some care situations that make it difficult to provide long term care in the home.

It is precisely the ongoing and escalating need for help with activities

of daily living or the need for extended supervision that often makes it impossible for a caregiver to provide help in the home. Either the physical demands for help with activities of daily living or the time demand for supervision can overwhelm an informal caregiver. This untenable situation usually leads to finding another care setting for the loved one.

On the other hand if there are funds to hire paid providers to come into the home,

 there would be no need for finding another care setting. By planning for eldercare in advance and providing the funding necessary to remain in the home, no one need go to a facility to receive long term care. With enough money, anyone who desires, can remain at home to receive the necessary care.

 

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. 

Arthritis Among Seniors

Arthritis affects millions of people of all ages, including children (1 in every 250 children in the United States each year). From 2010-2012, nearly 50% of adults 65 years or older in the U.S. were told by a doctor that they have some form of arthritis in their joints. Although osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease, there are over 100 different types of arthritis including gout, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.

.

What is Arthritis?

Although very common, arthritis is not well understood. Arthritis is an informal way of describing pain due to inflammation of one or more of your joints. Although most common among women and the elderly, arthritis can affect anyone regardless of race, sex or age. In fact, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

Symptoms might include decreased range of motion, pain, stiffness and swelling. These symptoms can be frequent or infrequent and range from mild to severe. Arthritis symptoms can last for a number of years and even worsen over time.

Common Types of Arthritis

Degenerative Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)

As cartilage wears away, bone begins to rub against bone. This can cause pain, swelling and stiffness. Risk Factors include weight gain, excessive weight, family history, previous injury, and old age.

Inflammatory Arthritis

Rheumatoid and Psoriatic Arthritis are two examples of inflammatory arthritis. When the immune system mistakenly attacks a joint, inflammation and joint erosion develop which may lead to complications with internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Smoking is a strong risk factor.

Infectious Arthritis

This unique type of inflammatory arthritis is caused when bacteria, virus or fungus enter the joint and triggering inflammation. Food poisoning, some sexually transmitted diseases ,and Hepatitis C can cause Infectious Arthritis.

Metabolic Arthritis

Uric acid is commonly formed in the body to break down purines, found in cells and foods. Having excessive levels of uric acid can cause needle-like crystals in the join, which can result in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain or gout.

Arthritis Symptoms Checklist

Arthritis.com provides a symptom description to help you and your doctor determine if arthritis could be the cause of your symptoms. Visit: https://www.arthritis.com/about-arthritis

What can I do to manage arthritis?

Ways to help manage arthritis include staying moderately active (strengthening muscles around your joints) with rest between activities, hot and cold therapies, eating a healthy balance diet, maintaining a healthy weight, improving sleep habits, and avoiding smoking and alcohol. If you think a medication is causing painful side effects in your joints make sure you discuss it with a professional.

When Should I See A Doctor?

If joint pain persists, going to the doctor for a diagnosis and getting treatment is recommended. Many people can develop significant joint and other serious issues if arthritis is not treated over an extended period of time. Visiting your doctor may also help determine whether you have other diseases similar to arthritis such as:

Lyme Disease, which not only gives you Arthritis but may in fact cause heart, brain, and nerve problems.

Lupus, which does not cause erosive, deforming arthritis. Symptoms rather tend to be milder overall.

Reiter’s Syndrome, also know as reactive arthritis. It can last from three months to a year, in cases, longer.

Reactive arthritis, which affects a few larger joints usually only on one side of the body. Inflammation of tendons, ligaments and muscles can happened as well. This can cause inflammation of other parts of the body such as eyes, head, skin, and mouth.

Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition in the muscles and soft tissue.

Pseudogout, a sudden with swelling and intense pain most common in the knees ( flares can last for weeks or months).

Chicungunya, a virus spread by mosquitoes. One can experience high fever, joint pain, and rashes. Though the rash lasts up to 10 days, joint pain can last up to a year or more.

Still’s Disease, which starts with a salmon-colored rash, high fever, joint pain can occurring after weeks of the initial symptoms. In those younger than 16, it is called Systemic-onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. This can appear in both adults and children.

Summary

Arthritis is a disease that affects millions but with the right treatment, plenty of rest and a balanced diet, arthritis doesn’t have to ruin plans or stop you from doing what you want to do. Going to your doctor and diagnosing arthritis early can limit damage and give you many years of happy, healthy activity.

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.