‘Home Care’ Posts

Home Modifications to Support Aging In Place

November 21st, 2015 by Doris Bersing
gero technology TO LIVE AND age WELL

LIVING WELL PIONEER OF HIGH TECH IN HOME CARE

Aging in place is a term used to describe a person living in the residence of their choice, for as long as they are able, as they age. Most adults would prefer to age in place—that is, remain in their home of choice as long as possible. In fact, 90 percent of adults over the age of 65 report that they would prefer to stay in their current residence as they age.

The focus of aging in place is to help seniors ensure they can live where they choose and get any help they need for as long as they can. The goal of an elderly person (or anyone) wanting to age in place should be to maintain and/or improve their quality of life. In order to do that, a good plan that focuses on quality of life and covers your self, home, finances, care and other items should be created as early as possible. This plan should be maintained over time as your situation changes. This includes being able to have any services (or other support) they might need over time as their needs change, including safety monitoring, home care assistance, or home renovation, while maintaining their quality of life. Some examples of home modifications include: increased lighting, accessible switches at both ends of the stairs, additional railings, grab bars, nonskid flooring, a hand-held, flexible shower head, walk-in bathtubs, and the removal of throw rugs and clutter. In most cases, home modifications can be simple and cost-effective, while simultaneously offering substantial benefits to the individual.

We thank Liz Greene [1] for her ideas about home renovation. She proposes 5 home modifications to support aging in place. She said “…It’s not easy to choose which living arrangements will suit you later in life. So much depends on your health, mobility, and family situation. However, with the cost of senior living on the rise, many people are choosing to grow older in their own homes rather than moving into assisted living communities. Nonetheless, aging in place comes with a host of considerations, not the least of which is modifying your home http://www.ageinplace.org to accommodate your changing needs. If you’ve decided to stay in your home for the long haul, think about implementing some of the following modifications to make the transition easier.

Pull-Down and Pull-Out Shelving

Bending, stooping, reaching — these motions become harder on your joints as you age. Regular exercise can help alleviate pain and increase mobility, but it’s not a bad idea to eliminate situations where you’re putting more strain on your body than necessary. Installing pull-down and pull-out shelving in your closets and kitchen cabinets will allow you to reach out of the way items without having to strain or use a step stool. These devices are inexpensive, easy to install, and an almost effortless way to improve accessibility.

Grab Bars

Grab bars are an absolute must have if you plan to age in place. Install grab bars next to the toilet to provide balance while sitting down, give leverage when rising from a seated position, and help transfer from a wheelchair to the toilet seat and back. Place them next to the bathtub and in the shower to help maintain balance while standing or moving, assist in maneuvering into and out of the enclosure, and help reduce slips and falls. Put in floor to ceiling grab bars, or security poles, in the bedroom to assist in getting in and out of bed. While many grab bars tend to have an institutional look, some manufacturers are releasing newer models that are more aesthetically pleasing. This allows you to add stability and safety to your home without sacrificing personal style.

Walk in Tubs

Traditional bathtubs can be 20” or higher from the bathroom floor — clearly not designed for those who suffer from mobility problems. This is where walk in tubs come in. Walk in tubs offer a watertight door that opens so you can easily walk into and out of the tub. Most walk in tubs include a chair-height seat for a comfortable and secure bath and a non-skid floor to minimize slips and falls.

Curbless Showers

Curbless showers are designed to provide a safe and convenient alternative to traditional bathtubs. Curbless shower floors are flush with floors in adjoining spaces, allowing you to safely walk or roll a wheelchair into the shower without getting tripped up by a raised threshold. Curbless showers are a favorite in universal design as they are not only stylish, but friendly to users of all ages.

Sinks

Sinks can prove especially inaccessible to people in wheelchairs. Luckily there are accessible sink options for both the bathroom and kitchen. To provide space beneath a bathroom sink for wheelchairs and other mobility devices, install a wall-mounted sink. Wall-mounted sinks have no vanity cabinet or supporting legs underneath to get in the way. For the kitchen, consider a push-button, adjustable-height sink that gives each user a custom fit. The sink can be raised and lowered between 28 and 36 inches with the simple push of a button. This is ideal when you live with people with varied heights and mobility.

It takes some fore thought when designing your home to adapt to your needs as you age. However, if you do it right, you’ll find you’ll be able to live a happy, comfortable life in your own space, free of the cost and ordinances of retirement communities and assisted living centers.

[1] Liz Greene is a writer and former preschool teacher from Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene

Aging in Place: Assistive Technology and Human Touch to Solve the Caregiving Issue

May 4th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

Aging in PlaceWe all know those smart and dynamic elders, who used to be professionals, hard workers, homemakers, very engaged in their communities, who slowly but surely, are aging with aches and pains and diminishing faculties, with some times chronic and debilitating diseases rising in the horizon. We all try to help them to little (or no) avail, since the response is: “I do not need help …I am not moving from my home…I am not going to one of those places full of old people”… Does it sound familiar? If you have an elderly parent or loved one in need of care and help, I am sure you have.

Many studies since 2007 have focused on Aging in Place and what seniors and baby boomers want. Besides being in denial of needing help, elders fear moving into a nursing home and losing their independence more than they fear death, according to a study, “Aging in Place in America,” commissioned by Clarity and The EAR Foundation, which also found that the Baby Boomer children of seniors also fear for their parents. Boomers express particular concern about their parents’ emotional and physical well being should they have to enter a nursing home, finds the study, which examines the attitudes and anxieties of the nation’s elderly population. Although since 1997 AARP survey, we know (89%) of the interviewees answer they wanted to stay at home, and age in place – or live independently, but more than half of those surveyed (53%) are concerned with their ability to do so.

Some of the issues that force older adults out of their homes is not only illness and frailty but houses that do not accommodate their needs, isolation, and lack of support –we know our communities, sad to say, are not equipped with volunteerism enough to help some of these seniors or systems that protect not only the low income ones but the middle class, as well.

Projects like Capable in Baltimore, where volunteers come helping seniors run errands and reach the next community even that day while retrofitting their houses has proven to keep seniors at home longer. The project started as a major research effort in the Baltimore area called the CAPABLE project – it stands for Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders – is sending handymen, nurses and occupational therapists into the homes of hundreds of low-income seniors aging in place to see how far $4,000 can go in preserving people’s independence. The project’s initial success has captured nationwide media attention and piqued the interest of federal officials straining to hold down Medicaid costs. If it can be scaled up and tried nationwide, it could potentially save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars. The average cost of nursing home care in the U.S. is $6,700 a month, much of it paid through Medicaid, so even postponing a move to a nursing facility by just a few months can have a major impact.

Another well known solution but difficult to implement, on one hand because seniors resistance to technology, and on another because of baby boomers not turning their parents into it, is Gero-technology that can lower the cost of home care when needed and/or help keep seniors independently but safely at home. Aging in a high tech world is not easy for these seniors but there are agencies and resources in the community to help them and their families navigate through the maze of options and what is really needed.

These technologies go from the safety ones to guarantee people are safe at home, and monitor their comes-and-goes, as needed without invasion, to the tablets to communicate with loved ones, receive medication reminders, or access services in the community. Organizations like Living Well use leading-edge technologies to evaluate their members’ health and mental status, reduce the cost of care, communicate medical and other information to physicians and relatives, provide cognitive vitality programming and monitor personal safety. When needed, they will evaluate the layout of the home and undertake modifications to ensure mobility, access, and security. In addition, our professional housekeeping and maintenance staff keep our members’ homes updated, clean, and impeccably maintained.

Just today, May 4, 2015 California Health launched a report discussing the caregiving issue and if really this technology involving social networking and technology will “…save the day for one of America’s most intractable social problems — caring for the country’s aging population? The article proposes a different way of hiring caregivers but still posits the issue of just having a caregiver. One size does not fit all and for some of our loved ones just low-tech or high tech intervention can save the day. Now if in need of home care, options are there with agencies as the article states charging more than what a privately hired caregiver could cost but no- back up, or services that will monitor the process for you, and more. Read the article.

In reality, the high tech and high touch is a better answer. It is not only technology but the human connection what makes a real answer: personal services and advanced assistive technology can add a strong measure of comfort, convenience and control to those that desire to remain at home but have conditions that may limit their ability to move freely, communicate effectively or otherwise navigate their environment. Together they can ensure and encourage those that desire to age in place the opportunity to do so with safety and choices for the seniors and peace of mind for family members and friends. Check all the options and remember one size-does-not-fit all.

Living at Home and Understanding Dementia Symptoms

April 23rd, 2015 by Doris Bersing

Understanding DementiaHaving a loved one diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s,  is a very hard circumstance and can be very challenging. Most of the times you want to keep them living at home, and provide the home care for the dementia or Alzheimer’s care they need. However, people get distanced from the one suffering from Dementia since they can barely recognize you; thus it is important to understand the symptoms of dementia and become a step closer to your elderly parents.

Nobody wants to see their aging parent struggle with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sadly, there are things in life we can’t control, like incurable diseases that could materialize after a certain age. When someone gets dementia, their relationships, priorities, and perceptions on life take an unexpected turn. Nevertheless, certain forms of dementia can be kept under control, reversed and even treated if caught on time. If you have an aging parent, it’s only natural to become concerned with their wellbeing. Are they eating right? Are they becoming more forgetful? Are they in pain? These are questions most concerned children ask themselves on a daily basis.

A 70-year old parent may forget things from time to time, but if you notice that their memory loss becomes intense, then it might be a cause of cognitive decline. Dementia can be identified in many ways. First, you must understand the disease. The more you know the higher chances you have to save your parent and stop the health condition from advancing.

Understanding symptoms of dementia

Dementia is not a sole health condition but a collection of numerous symptoms, and some of the most common are changes in personality, memory loss, and impaired intellectual functions that could result from trauma or disease to the brain. These changes are not normal aging signs, and their side effects are severe enough to impact someone’s daily living, relationships and independence forever. Even though Alzheimer’s is one of the most widespread forms of dementia, there are many others, including mixed and vascular dementia.

If you suspect that your parent may suffer from this dreadful illness, then some of the changes will be noticeable. Remembering, communication, learning and problem solving will become difficult endeavors to accomplish. These are changes that can happen fast, or develop slowly in time. The outcome and progression of dementia differ, but are mainly determined by the form of dementia suffered and side of the brain affected. A specialist in the medical field will provide a complete diagnosis after the patient has undergone a series of tests, clinical exams, and brain scans.

What triggers dementia?

A healthy brain’s mass begins to decline in adulthood. However, this fascinating organ-machine of ours keeps forming vital connections even if we age, thus keeping us sane. When these connections are misplaced because of injury, inflammation, or disease, brain neurons begin to die. The result – dementia; it’s certainly traumatic to see a loved one go through such a horrifying disease. This is why it is important for adults to interfere as soon as the first signs materialize in their aging parent. The faster a doctor understands the cause, the better chances he has to recommend a treatment.

Caring for a parent with dementia

In the United States, there are roughly 10 million people who take care of a parent with dementia. Most of these at-home caregivers are women. It’s tough to do this job and at the same time have a family on your own. But since we’re talking about a parent, you wouldn’t want anyone else to take care of them.

Becoming a caregiver to a sick parent is tough. If you’re an adult and you have kids, you must accept that your aging parent may also have the behavior of a 5-year old. Given that dementia affects the brain, memory loss is not the only disturbing symptom. Many adults don’t want to move their loved one to a nursing home. In general, it’s not because they can’t afford the costs but because they’ve over protective.

Professional care can be good for an elderly suffering from dementia

The option of Home care or aging in pace and caring at home for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s is still an option for some. However, one size does not fit all. Living Well Assisted Living at Home in San Francisco and Marin County recognizes that home care for senior with dementia is an alternative but also, believe it or not, today’s healthcare facilities and nursing homes are no longer what they used to be. Some of these hospices provide exceptional comfort. They also feature all kinds of activities for patients, and they have professional personal taking care of your loved one 24/7. Making the decision and moving your parent to a facility is not something you want to do. But it is necessary.

Only an equipped facility can offer the best care for your loved one. At-home caregiving is great, but it’s still not enough to make the patient feel appreciated. A specialized facility comes with lots of programs, socializing sessions, and other therapies meant to stimulate your parent’s brain and ensure he remains in good physical health for as long as possible.

In collaboration with  Edward Francis and Foresthc.com!

How Families Can Prepare to Care for A Loved One Dealing with a Memory Loss Condition

November 6th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

CaregiverIn recognition of November being National Family Caregivers Month,  US President Barack Obama issue a proclamation recognizing November as the National Family caregiver month. President Obama stresses the fact “…In the United States, more than 60 million caregivers provide invaluable strength and assistance to their family members, and as the number of older Americans rises, so will the number of caregivers. Many of these dedicated people work full time and raise children of their own while also caring for the needs of their loved ones. Caregivers support the independence of their family members and enable them to more fully participate in their communities, and as a Nation, we have an obligation to empower these selfless individuals.

Private institutions like The Brentwood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Danvers, MA shared some advice for family caregivers whose loved ones have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

Family Caregivers provide many aspects of emotions, finances, nursing, and homemaking to allow for their loved ones to stay in their own homes comfortably. National Family Caregivers Month allows us to recognize those that put hard work into supporting their loved ones throughout difficult times.  Here are a few pieces of advice for those who are caregivers to loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia:

Become Well Informed
There are programs and classes that caregivers can take to learn more about Memory Loss Conditions. Also, completing your own research to gain as much knowledge about the diseases can help. There is a ton of information which can help you to prepare for the future and what you are going to encounter as your loved ones progress.

Develop a Strong Support Network of Family and Friends
Having a strong support network around you is extremely important as you become a caregiver. Keeping a support system of people you can talk to, get away for a bit with, or a shoulder to lean on helps for caregivers to handle the stress of caring for a loved one who is dealing with memory loss conditions.

Join a Support Group
Caregivers sometimes need to realize, they are not the only ones who are in this type of situation. By joining local support groups, you can gain a trusted support system, talk about your issues, and gain valuable advice about how others have coped with bringing in a loved one with medical issues.

Develop Family Roles
Many times, there are multiple people in the same house acting as caregivers for a loved one. It is important to set family roles so that everyone knows their part and what they are responsible for doing. Someone may be the driver to doctor’s appointments whereas another makes their meals and another could be responsible for their medication. It is important that everyone in the household is on the same page to decrease tension and make sure their loved one is getting the proper care necessary.

Evaluate Finances
Bringing in a loved one will create added costs to your monthly budget. Sit down with your past budget and you will realize you may need to readjust. You will have one more mouth to feed, one more person to drive, medications to order, new furniture or safety accessories to add to your house. Before you bring your loved one into your home it is important to realize what the added costs will be to understand the expenses you will face.

Plan for the Future
From the beginning caregivers have to understand that their loved ones may not be able to stay with them forever. Families need to sit down and discuss what the plans are for the future. Whether that includes part time at home nursing care, part time living situations between different members of the family, or eventually looking into care facilities for your loved ones, it is important for these decisions to be set from the beginning.

Take Care of Yourself
Finally, caregivers need to take a step back and make sure they are caring for themselves. Being active will help keep a caregiver physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. Taking time for yourself is important to release the burdens and stresses that come with care giving. Allowing yourself “me time” will keep you fresh and allow you to be a better caregiver.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia are extremely life-changing diseases for both those diagnosed and their loved ones. Those who take on the care giving responsibilities will be taking on a lot in the future, but the patients will benefit from their love and support.

Finally, thank you to all the wonderful caregivers out there, we appreciate all that you do!

Role Reversal: A Reality, A Documentary.

November 1st, 2014 by Doris Bersing

Role ReversalNeedless to say that many of us,  Baby Boomers go, had gone, are going, have been going, and/or will go through the difficult and taxing task of caring for an aging, chronically ill or frail parent.  With the growing of the aging population and the out-of-the-pocket excessive cost of care, many caregivers are the adult children who need to care for their parents.

Caring for our parents might bring up many different emotions and reactions to this experience, including feeling uncomfortable when you find yourself feeding, bathing, or supervising a parent who once took care of you, frustrated when ourparents denied their need for care or when they won’t listen to advice or accept, and sometimes awkward when roles are reversed. Moreover, some of us may have a loving relationship with our parents but other adult children find themselves caring for parents they never got along with well or having to deal with a variety of family dynamics.

Some of this aspects is what film maker Chris Nicholas tries to portray in his documentary role reversal about caring for his mother…at his home. A circumstance that is not available to everybody. I know some people do not have that opportunity and are left with few other choices like paying for “outside” care or placing parents in a facility. No matter what your reality is vis-a-vis the care of your parents, it takes a village to educate us all about this reality and the options we do or do not have.

Nicholas explains “…Role Reversal’ is a documentary about what happens when our aging parents are no longer able to care for themselves and how we, the adult children take on the role of caregiver.  Millions of us are currently struggling with this role reversal, and millions more should prepare for it. He initiated an indiegogo campaign to raise funds to make the documentary a reality. His indiegogo campaign states: “…Filmmaker Chris Nicholas uses his own experience of caring for his ailing mother, Beatrice, as a means of helping us all prepare for the inevitable…Nicholas will also interview health care professionals, and share the stories of others that are at various stages of taking care of their aging parents. The goals are to create a film that will guide us through this process, teaching us how to take care of ourselves as we care for our parent; and to inspire us to honor our parents, letting them live their final years with dignity and compassion.

If you want to learn more about Chris and Beatrice’s personal story click here

If you feel moved by or identify with this story, you could think of supporting Support Role Reversal, which is about caring for our aging parents and the lack of options, sometimes, we have. To see Nicholas indiegogo campaign, click here.

Finally Medicare Paying Attention to Mental Health Issues in Elders

December 31st, 2013 by Doris Bersing
Living Well with Alzheimer's

Living Well

The New York Times on December 27, 2013 announced some favorable changes.

“…On Jan. 1, for the first time since Medicare’s creation seniors who seek psychological therapy will be responsible for 20 percent of the bill while Medicare will pay 80 percent, the same percentage it covers for most medical services. (Payment kicks in once someone exhausts an annual deductible — $147 next year.) In 2008, Medicare covered 50 percent of the cost of psychological treatment. Last year, it covered 65 percent.

For decades, older adults with depression, anxiety and other psychological conditions have received unequal treatment under Medicare. The program paid a smaller share of the bill for therapy from psychiatrists, psychologists or clinical social workers than it did for medical services. And Medicare imposed strict lifetime limits on stays in psychiatric hospitals, although no such limits applied to medical care received in inpatient facilities. Read the article

Yet another reason to age in place

September 9th, 2013 by Doris Bersing

High Tech High Touch.pptA good friend of mine who is a estate planner lawyer (Elizabeth Krivatsy) shared with me, this link via e-mail and call it “…Yet another reason to age in place…” The article refers to fatal cases in an assisted living facility in San Diego that raise questions about family choices, and state oversight. The article continues with a staggering statistic where “…at least 27 San Diego County seniors have died since 2008 from injuries and neglect suffered in the facilities…”

This brings up the recent “boom” of aging in place and although perhaps aging in place is not for everybody, it seems that 99% of us want to age in our homes.

The Center for Disease Control defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

In December 2011, AARP Policy Institute and the National Conference of State Legislatures released a report entitled, “Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices”to foster aging in place by giving state legislators examples of how laws, policies and programs can support this goal. In addition to such governmental initiatives, livability can be optimized through the incorporation of universal design principles, telecare and other assistive technologies. Assistive technologies include communications, health and wellness monitoring, home safety and security. Semico Research published a report in July 2013 claiming the health and wellness monitoring market for Aging in Place will reach $30 billion by 2017.

Purposeful aging in place has grown in popularity and celebrated by the National Aging in Place Week and the National Aging in Place Council that promotes the positive outcomes of older adults having a choice in their care and living arrangements. In addition to Home Care Agencies,  there are many more professionals trained to fill the growing need in this service model for older adults. Industries that have special programs or certifications include Real Estate, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Relocation specialists. Communities are now fully engaged and committed to exploring ways to better serve older adults by developing action plans that address future needs and ensure that the necessary services are in place when they are needed.Recognizing that a home is filled with memories and is more than just a place to stay, companies are engaged in accommodating the elderly for years of comfortable living. As they age in place and their needs evolve, companies adapt services to meet the changes so that the homes remain well-kept and comfortable. Living Well specializes in providing gero-technology with specialized care (high tech  and high touch) to keep seniors at home and although it is a no brainer solution for us, many elders and/or family members do not trust the new venue and find that the only option is to move away from home and then issues like the ones depicted in this article, which is not an isolated issue, make us think about how to make an effort to really give elders a choice and peace of mind to family members.

Read the article