Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year’s Resolutions for Caregivers

When you’re caring for an elderly loved one, it’s easy to put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own. However, as 2013 comes to a close, it’s time to make some resolutions to preserve your happiness and state of mind in the year ahead. Some great resolutions for caregivers in 2014 include:

Know that your efforts are appreciated

While your elderly loved one, siblings, and other family members may not say “thank you” as often as they should, know in your heart that your efforts are appreciated. It’s easy to wait for other people to acknowledge the work you put in, but this can leave you feeling disappointed. Don’t wait for other people to thank you for your efforts. Know that you are essential for your senior’s well being, and feel good about the work you do each day.

Take time for yourself

Your schedule is probably busy maintaining your relationship with your spouse, shuttling kids to appointments, and making sure that your senior’s fridge is fully stocked. Because of this, you may never take a moment to get your nails done, enjoy a good book, or simply sit and watch mindless television. However, in order to be the best caregiver you can be, eldercare professionals explain that taking time for yourself is one of the most important things you can do. Even if it’s just a half hour each day, when you’re caring for the elderly people in your life day in and day out, making time to rest and recharge is a must.

Ask for help

Nobody can do everything on their own. Even the most competent and capable people need backup sometimes to get to all of the tasks on their “to do” list. If you find yourself overwhelmed trying to prepare food for your senior, take them to appointments, and make sure that their home is clean, it may be time to call on a home care professional for assistance. 

Even having this person stop by once or twice a week to lend a hand may be the respite you need to feel reenergized and happy once again. This person can help with grocery shopping, light cleaning, meal preparation, and other tasks that are essential for your senior’s health. When it comes to home care, Chapel Hill based professionals explain that even just a little help can make a major difference in that caregiver’s life. 

Join a support group

Eldercare professionals also recommend that those who are regularly caring for elderly family members consider joining a support group. Caring for the elderly can be a struggle. It’s not easy to see parents age and weaken. However, a support group can be a powerful outlet to keep a caregiver feeling positive and relaxed. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to Help Your Senior Beat the Post-Holiday Blues

The holidays are full of joy and time with family, but the days and weeks afterward can actually be a prime time for feelings of sadness or depression. The eldercare professionals of Chapel Hill explain that your elderly loved one has probably spent months looking forward to Christmas parties and family gatherings, and may feel disappointed and wistful once they’re over. To help your senior overcome the post-holiday blues, keep these tips in mind:

Plan another excursion to look forward to

So the parties and huge family get-togethers may be over, but this doesn’t mean that the next few weeks and months need to be boring. To help your loved one get over their sadness that the holiday season is over, plan a fun excursion or activity to look forward to. You can go to dinner, see a play, or simply bundle up and take a walk around the neighborhood.

Help them declutter

A peaceful and clean living situation contributes significantly to your senior’s happiness. When they are spending a significant amount of time in a space that is filled with dirty dishes, papers, and clothes, they may find that their post-holiday sadness worsens. To ensure that their home is a place where they enjoy spending time, senior care professionals encourage family members to help their seniors straighten their space up. 

Together, you can go through old clothes and papers and discard items that are no longer needed. Move through their refrigerator and ask them to point out items that they are no longer eating. You may also consider hiring a professional cleaning service to come and give the space a deep clean. It’s amazing how significantly a clean home can impact your elderly loved one’s mood.

Bring them books or music they’ll love

If your senior has a favorite book genre, consider purchasing them a few titles that they can enjoy reading now that their busy holiday schedule has quieted down. You may also purchase DVDs or CDs featuring their favorite music, movies, or TV shows. 

Spend time with them
Though the holiday season is coming to a close, there’s no reason why bonding with family has to stop. Make it a point to drop in on your elderly loved one regularly. Invite them over for dinner, or take them out for a cup of coffee. The activities don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Safety Tips for Cold Medicine

The symptoms of a common cold can be pesky at best, and serious in some instances. However, while you may want to offer your senior medication to help them feel better as they fight off a cold, home care professionals remind you that some over the counter cold medicine may interact negatively with prescription drugs that your elderly loved one is taking.

How to proceed

Prior to offering your elderly loved one any sort of medication, even a decongestant, eldercare professionals encourage you to seek guidance from a doctor. This person can also indicate whether mixing certain prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications would cause a health problem.

You can also consult with a pharmacist about how any prescription drugs that the elderly person takes may interact with common cold medicines. Make sure that you have a complete list of the drugs your senior is currently taking, including dosage, as you ask the pharmacist for advice. 

The facts about cold medicine

A decongestant can prove useful if your elderly loved one is dealing with nasal or sinus problems. However, understand that decongestants can increase heart rate, and are known to cause anxiety and insomnia in some people. For this reason, it is important to ask a doctor if your senior is able to take these medications safely before issuing them. As long as the person’s blood pressure is controlled using medication, they are probably fine to take these kinds of medications. However, it is always smart to verify just in case. If your senior has high blood pressure that is not yet under control, check with a doctor first for their recommendation about how to proceed.

Decongestants can safely be taken with antihistamines, though it is important not to overdo the recommended dosage instructions. Keep in mind that over-the-counter antihistamines that contain diphenhydramine may make the user drowsy. Do not give your elderly loved one this kind of medication if they need to drive.

Using nasal decongestants effectively

Nasal decongestants open up breathing passages, however when a person uses them for more than three days in a row they may suffer a “rebound” effect. As a result, they can end up more congested than they were to begin with. For this reason, senior health experts recommend using nasal decongestants for less than three days at a time. If symptoms persist afterward, it is time to seek help from a medical professional. Another useful option is a saline spray, which can loosen mucus without relying on medication. Though they work slower than other options, they also do not cause rebound effects.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Keeping Your Senior Safe From Falls This Winter

As temperatures drop and ice becomes prevalent, your senior’s risk of enduring a slip or a fall becomes higher. While a younger person may be able to just dust themselves off after a fall, for an elderly individual these incidents can be devastating. In fact, in many cases they result in broken bones and other serious injuries. To keep your elderly loved one safe this winter, keep these tips in mind:

Encourage them to wear proper footwear

When shoes become worn, the traction essentially disappears. This sets a senior up for a slip or fall as they pass over a slick area. To prevent this from happening, make sure that your loved one’s footwear is in good condition. Encourage them to wear sturdy shoes that will provide a strong grip as they move about potentially icy conditions. This means persuading them to ditch heeled shoes or boots in favor of a more stable option. 

Keep the property clear

The home care professionals of Chapel Hill explain that an important part of elder care is ensuring that an elderly individual’s property is taken care of. This may mean hiring someone to shovel snow and put salt down so that ice disappears. If your loved one is no longer able to take care of these tasks on their own, hire a senior care professional to help or consider having a professional snow removal service come by and attend to the property regularly. 

Encourage your senior to take their time

When conditions are slippery, you should remind your elderly loved one to take their time as they move from place to place. They may feel guilty about moving slowly and try to quicken their pace as a result, but doing so can put them at risk of falling. Remind your senior that there is no need to rush, and that you are more than happy to wait for them as they slow down their pace. Encourage them to take as long as they need to get safely from one area to the next. An important part of caring for elderly family members is reminding them that you are there to support and not to judge.

Rely on help from an elder care professional

During the winter months, assistance from an elder care professional is often necessary in order to lessen your senior’s risk of slips and falls. When they do not have to head out and check the mail or shovel the sidewalk on their own, your senior’s chances of falling are greatly reduced. Even if you only have someone come assist one or two days per week, this can be a lifesaving change.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Holiday Songs Your Senior Will Love

Listening to holiday music is one of the best ways to get into the spirit of the season, note home care professionals. Best of all, it’s easy to listen to these kinds of songs, no matter where you are. You can buy a CD, download the songs on iTunes, or simply pull up YouTube and pick and choose what you’d like to hear. If you’re searching for some holiday themed songs that your senior will love, here are some popular choices to explore.

“The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole

This particular version is widely believed to be one of the best. The song is also often referred to as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” as this lyric is found in the song’s opening line.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland

When it comes to caring for the elderly, it is often wise to connect with them about favorite childhood memories. This song was performed by Judy Garland in the 1944 musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Your senior may have fond memories of the time when this song debuted, so listening to it is a great idea during the holiday season.

“O Holy Night” by Celine Dion

This song was originally composed in 1847, and has continued to be a favorite over the years. Celine Dion put her own twist on the tune in 1998.

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Bruce Springsteen

Created in 1934, this song was an instant hit. Legendary rock musician Bruce Springsteen has made his own version a signature part of his live concerts during the holiday season.

“Little Drummer Boy”

This song was originally created in 1941, and an animated TV special was based around the song’s story in 1968. David Bowie and Bing Crosby worked together for a popular version that aired on the Bing Crosby Christmas special in 1977.

“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

This song came about in 1942 as part of the movie musical Holiday Inn. It ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Song from a Motion Picture. The Bing Crosby version of the tune has sold over 50 million copies.

“All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey

A contemporary holiday classic, this song debuted on Mariah Carey’s 1994 holiday album. It has sold over four million copies worldwide.

No matter what style of music your senior loves, eldercare professionals explain that holiday songs are the perfect way to make the season festive for your elderly loved one.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How to Help Your Senior Sell Their Home

Whether your senior is ready to downsize, move in with family, or is planning on heading to a new community, preparing their home for sale is important. Family members should help their elderly loved one ensure that they are getting compensated accordingly. In order to help your senior sell their home successfully, keep these tips in mind.

Find someone who specializes in this kind of sale

There are special programs where real estate agents receive training on senior housing. Seek out an agent who has an understanding of senior housing needs, as well as the implications of certain financial transactions. When the realtor you work with has your elderly loved one’s best interests in mind, it makes it easier to ensure that the sale goes smoothly.

Know what the home is worth

When your elderly loved one has resided in their current home for many years, it can become difficult to maintain a real sense of the value of the property. However, blindly accepting an offer without learning about the residence’s value is doing your senior a disservice, note the home care professionals of Chapel Hill.

Part of eldercare is ensuring that your loved one does not make any major financial mistakes, which means that they need to learn what their home is really worth. To do this, review the comparative market analysis that the real estate agent will provide you. This includes data from that area, including information about what similar homes have sold for recently. These details can help you guide your elderly loved one to making a smart choice as they prepare to sell.

Help your loved one declutter

When your senior is getting ready to sell their home, you will want to work with them to make the house look its best before potential buyers come to look at it. Those who care for elderly individuals explain that this is often a challenge, as your elderly loved one probably has a wide variety of belongings that they’ve accumulated throughout the years they’ve lived in the home. Be sensitive as you help them sort through their belongings, deciding what will come with them, what will get donated, and what will get thrown out. A clean, clutter-free home is much more attractive to prospective buyers, but the process behind it takes time.

While preparing your senior’s home for sale is no easy undertaking, working together ensures that your elderly loved one will make a smart financial decision.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Protecting Your Senior with the Flu Shot

Though the holiday season is an exciting and joyous time of year, it also signifies the start of flu season. For seniors especially, this time of year can become dangerous, as elderly individuals are more likely to contract the flu. While the flu will sideline anyone, it is even more risky for seniors, as their immune systems are often already weakened. The flu can exasperate current health problems too, making vaccination important.

Get the flu facts

Experts state that roughly 90 percent of flu-related deaths and 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations in the U.S. occur in people over the age of 65.1 For this reason, it is important to encourage your elderly loved one to get vaccinated so that they are less susceptible to this condition.

Protecting your senior

Ensuring good senior health comes down to attention to detail. Understand that your elderly loved one may have a weakened immune system, and encourage all people who come into contact with that senior to get a shot too. It’s not enough just to get your senior vaccinated, as they may quickly contract the illness from someone else. All family members, eldercare professionals, and friends who regularly come to visit should receive their vaccination too.

Practice good health habits

Even once the elderly individual and those who care for that person are vaccinated, it’s important to keep the focus on hygiene. This means covering a sneeze or cough with your sleeve, washing hands frequently, and avoiding people who are sick and might spread the illness. Remember that germs quickly spread to doorknobs, hand railings, and other places where we place our hands frequently, so proper hand washing is a must after spending a day out in public.

Encourage your senior to wash their hands thoroughly after they use the bathroom and before they prepare a meal. When it comes to care for the elderly, this is an important step. If your senior needs assistance with hand washing, make sure someone is there to help so this step does not get skipped.

Get vaccinated in time

There are myths floating around that the flu shot actually gives the recipient the flu, but these theories are unfounded. The vaccine is safe, and is covered by Medicare. However keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to start working, so make plans to get your senior vaccinated before flu season starts. The flu makes chronic health problems in elderly people worse, so this form of protection is a necessity.

The Best Gifts to Give Your Senior This Holiday Season

As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to think about what you’ll give your senior this year. The ideal gift for your elderly loved one should be practical, while also containing emotional significance. When you care for elderly individuals, you will get to know them well enough to choose a meaningful gift. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

A photo in a beautiful frame or a digital picture frame

Regardless of whether your senior lives in an elder care facility or on their own, pictures add warmth and love to their living space. Choose a beautiful frame that goes with the décor of their home, or consider purchasing a digital picture frame. This gadget allows your senior to store their favorite shots, which then rotate.

Comfort gifts

As temperatures drop, your elderly loved one will benefit from warm, cozy gifts such as a handmade quilt or slippers. These pieces will keep the elderly individual warm, while also reminding them of their family.

Some of their favorite old movies

Your senior will delight in receiving some of the movies they grew up watching as a child. Watching these films will take them down memory lane, and can be a great way to spend time when it’s chilly out. As an added bonus, they can share these movies with their grandchildren, which provides for a unique bonding experience.

An e-reader

If your elderly loved one is a book worm, they will love being able to read their favorite titles without having to go out and purchase a new book every time. E-readers add a convenience factor that can’t be topped, and also help to prevent books from overcrowding that elderly individual’s living space.

A gift basket filled with their favorite small items

If you’re looking to get creative this holiday season, think about making a gift basket full of your elderly loved one’s favorite things. This might include their favorite candy, a type of lotion they love, or some magazines you know they’d like to read. Arrange the items in a cheerful way and you have a highly personalized yet practical present.

The gift of home care

If you are still feeling stumped about what to give your senior this holiday season, think about the gift of home care. Care for the elderly is an essential part of ensuring that your senior lives comfortably. As your gift, you can pay for a month’s worth of home care, thus making it easier for the elderly individual to get chores and errands done. For many people, this gift can become a life-changing present.

Incorporating gifts that are both practical and sentimental is the way to go as you select presents for your elderly loved one this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Healthy Holiday Recipes to Enjoy Preparing With Your Senior

The winter holidays are a joyous time of year, filled with friends, family, and gratitude. However, delicious meals are also a major part of the holiday season, and can pack a serious caloric punch if you’re not careful. Part of care for elderly people includes encouraging them to eat a healthy, nutritious diet. If you want to enjoy time in the kitchen during Thanksgiving with your elderly loved one but are looking to lighten up your menu, consider incorporating these recipes:

New Year’s soup

This soup contains plenty of fiber so it will keep you feeling full, without the calories of cream-based options. This is ideal for good senior health, as the fat and calories in cream-based soups can become problematic. The chili powder contains capsaicin, which helps to jumpstart your metabolism. This is an ideal appetizer option if you’re looking for a soup that tastes great and is healthy too. It’s made using fire-roasted tomatoes, chickpeas, garlic, chili powder, lime juice, and cilantro, all in a vegetable or chicken broth base. Simply puree the tomatoes, chickpeas, and garlic, and then bring the ingredients to a boil with the broth and chili powder.

Recipe from:

Oil-based Parmesan turkey with walnut gravy

Senior care professionals explain that this tasty dish will become the perfect holiday entrée for you and your elderly loved one to prepare together. It has a nutty flavor that makes it rich and tasty, without any added salt or oil. With only nine ingredients, the meal is easy to make, thus taking the stress out of holiday meal preparation.

Recipe from:

White bean and pumpkin bisque

For a lighter version of a cream-based soup, this is the recipe to try. Use canned pumpkin for richness and white beans for substance and protein, and you end up with a flavorful starter that everyone will love. You can make the soup a few days in advance, thus lessening the burden that falls on your elderly loved one and you as you try to prepare for company.

Recipe from:

Cranberry orange relish

Cranberry sauce can be filled with sugar and calories, making it an unhealthy choice for a Thanksgiving side. If you want the flavor without the poor nutritional value, try making this relish. It’s got bright colors and just the right amount of sweetness, making it the perfect complement to turkey and other trimmings. Plus, you can make it up to three days in advance.

Recipe from:

There is no need to pig out on unhealthy treats over the course of the holidays. Together, you and your senior can make dishes that are as healthy as they are tasty.

Friday, November 22, 2013

How to Trace Your Ancestry with Your Senior

Every family should understand where they came from. This helps to build appreciation and shape that family’s plan for the future. If you’ve never really sat down to talk with your senior about your ancestors, home care professionals explain that doing so is often a thrilling and enlightening way to spend the day. Home care, Chapel Hill, providers assert that there is a number of different ways to trace your heritage with an elderly loved one.

Talk with them about their past

Your senior is a great (and often underutilized) resource when it comes to family history. Most elderly individuals love to share stories about their childhood with their children and grandchildren. The next time you’re curious about your ancestry, sit down with your senior and ask them a few questions. You may even consider recording the answers so that future generations can listen to their words and hear their voice. You can ask your elderly loved one about anything, including where they grew up, what their parents were like, and what daily life was like when they were younger.

Chronicle photographs

It’s common for a family to have boxes of old photographs floating around. If this is the case in your home, take some time to sort through these pictures and then organize and display them in a beautiful way. Instead of letting shots of relatives from generations past just sit idly in a box, arrange them in a way that makes sense so others can enjoy it. That way, whenever someone in the family is feeling curious about their heritage, they can simply look through these books and get a better understanding of what their relatives were like.

Use free resources online

Fortunately with the Internet, it’s easier than ever to trace your roots. There is a number of popular sites that offer useful (and often free) resources that can help you find out more about those who came before you. Some of these sites include:

  • Familylink

Plug your information into these sites and you may be surprised about what you learn. Additionally, eldercare providers explain that seniors and their families can rely on the U.S. government’s National Archives database, which allows you to use census data, immigration forms, military documents, and other materials to track your relatives.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Understanding the Diverse and Essential Function of Senior Care Professionals

The role of a senior care professional is absolutely essential for elderly individuals and their families. These people provide varying degrees and kinds of assistance and support, ensuring that elderly loved ones live a happy and comfortable life. Depending on your skills, education, and areas of interest, there are a number of different options for someone who’s hoping to work in senior care. Some examples of jobs in this field include:

In-home caregiver

When it comes to caring for the elderly, an in-home caregiver is an important figure. This individual offers both help and companionship for an elderly individual who may struggle to perform some day-to-day tasks. This professional’s job description will vary depending on that individual senior’s needs, though some common tasks include planning and preparing meals, doing laundry, taking care of transportation, and attending to light housekeeping. Those who receive more extended training can also help with bathing, dressing, and grooming needs. The right in-home caregiver has plenty of patience, a sunny outlook, and tact.

Hospice aide

This sort of senior health professional works with many different residents, taking care of dressing, bathing, grooming, and eating. A hospice aide may also help to transport residents from their beds into wheelchairs. The level of care provided by a hospice aide is more significant than that done by an in-home caregiver, as they often monitor a resident’s vital signs, change bandages, and apply medication. This job requires special training and certification.

Registered nurse specializing in geriatric care

Those who have completed several years of schooling are able to work as a registered nurse. Some nurses choose to specialize in geriatric care, meaning that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to tend to elderly patients’ needs. This may include IV therapy, dialysis, wound care, and other tasks. A registered nurse circulates regularly, ensuring that each senior’s condition is stable, and that they are comfortable and clean.

If you have a passion for care giving and are interested specifically in elder care, there are many job options available. Depending on the level of training needed, you will find plenty of ways to exercise your compassionate and positive disposition.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Facts You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer

As your elderly loved one gets older, elder care professionals assert that it’s important that you both understand some basic facts about prostate cancer. Prostate cancer rates rise as a man ages, making it important to learn about some of the warning signs and treatment options for a senior. Though a cancer diagnosis is always scary, proper treatment and understanding of the condition can help a family feel better equipped to handle the situation.

Some of the key signs of prostate cancer

Senior health care professionals note that this disease is a slow growing one, but it can eventually spread into other areas of the body if it is left undetected. Unfortunately, the condition typically only displays when it has been allowed to progress. Therefore, senior care professionals recommend learning some of the signs of prostate cancer. They include:

  • The frequent urge to urinate
  • Trouble stopping or starting when urinating
  • The inability to urinate
  • Pain during urination
  • Blood in the urine

Keep in mind that not all of these symptoms automatically imply that a man has prostate cancer. However, in the event that your senior does begin displaying some of these symptoms, it is important to check in with a doctor.

Prostate cancer is still a relatively unknown condition. While significant medical advancements have been made in recent years, researchers are still fairly unsure about what causes this condition to develop in the first place. However, they have narrowed down several risk factors that may lead to this condition. These include:

  • Family history
  • Age (80 percent of cases occur after a person turns 60)
  • Race (African Americans and Caucasians are most at risk)
  • Obesity
  • A high-fat diet
  • A sedentary lifestyle

A prostate cancer diagnosis is certainly scary for a family; however, there are many effective treatment options when a person finds out that they have prostate cancer. While it may seem as though chemotherapy is the best option, in reality surgery, radiation, and hormone therapy are actually some of the most powerful options when it comes to overcoming prostate cancer. If your elderly loved one receives a prostate cancer diagnosis, his medical team will work closely in order to determine the best course of action based on that individual’s current condition.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Comprehensive Look at Veteran Benefits for Your Senior

If your senior served their country, they may stand to receive veteran’s benefits. These benefits also apply to spouses and surviving spouses of veterans. If your elderly loved one is at least 65 and served during war time, it is important to look into whether the Department of Veteran Affairs will help pay for their medical care, as well as care for their spouse. For an elderly individual who may be in a tight financial situation, these benefits can be life changing.

In order for your senior to qualify, they must have served at least one day during wartime. Wartime is currently defined as the following periods:

World War II 
12/7/1941 through 12/31/1946

Korean War
6/27/1950 through 1/31/1955

Vietnam War
 8/5/1964 through 5/7/1975

Gulf War
8/2/1990 to date to be determined by U.S. government

If your senior lost their discharge papers, they can contact the National Archives for assistance.

Senior care professionals and family members should make sure to understand the tiers of VA benefits for those who served and their dependents. The three tiers are as follows:

Basic pension:  This provides cash help for low-income veterans and their dependents. This means that the applicants are often healthy, but do not bring in much money.

Housebound benefit: This provides assistance for homebound vets, giving them help from a home care professional in order to accomplish day-to-day tasks.

Aid and attendance: This is for someone who requires daily assistance from an eldercare professional in order to live a healthy life.

If your senior is looking to receive these benefits from the VA, they will need to illustrate that they are genuinely in need of the benefits. They will do this by verifying their income, assets, and needs. However, don’t be discouraged if your elderly loved one’s income is over the threshold. Many seniors will qualify anyway, depending on their age and their current situation. It is worthwhile to apply just in case, as many seniors get the benefits even if they fall right on the border of eligibility. If you or your elderly loved one are confused about the benefits process, consult with a Veteran Services Officer who can provide you with detailed information about what your senior and their dependents can qualify for.

Friday, November 8, 2013

What You and Your Senior Need to Know About Carotid Artery Disease

Seniors and their families should understand the basics of carotid artery disease, which is when the major arteries in the neck become narrow and blocked. These arteries, known as the carotid arteries, are what supply the brain with the blood it needs to function on a daily basis. When the arteries become blocked by plaque (made up of cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue), the arteries start to narrow and stiffen. Eventually, this condition can lead to a stroke. In order to keep your elderly loved one healthy, it is important to understand how to prevent the condition from developing.

A person’s chance of developing carotid artery disease increases as they age. Only one percent of those aged 50 to 59 have narrowed carotid arteries, yet 10 percent of those 80 to 89 have this issue. Fortunately, even as a person ages, there are some steps that they can take to protect their body. To avoid carotid artery disease (and stroke), a senior should focus on exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.

In order to provide proper care for elderly people, families and homecare professionals must do what they can to ensure that their senior is getting some physical activity in during the course of each day. Proper diet is also key when it comes to preventing such conditions from occurring.

What are the symptoms of carotid artery disease?

Unfortunately, many people only find out that they have this condition when they suffer a stroke. Others may experience transient ischemic attacks, known as TIAs, ahead of time. Symptoms of a TIA last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour and include:

  • Weakness or tingling in one side of the body
  • Inability to control the movement of arms or legs
  • Lost vision
  • Inability to speak clearly

Eldercare professionals and family members should ensure that their senior gets regular checkups to help pick up on the signs of carotid artery disease before serious damage occurs. To do this, a doctor can listen for the sounds of turbulent blood flow in the elderly individual’s arteries, and will also measure their blood pressure. These preventative measures can help to keep your senior safe as they age.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Falling: Techniques for Getting Back Up

Falling is one of the most dangerous accidents that a senior can have, as the injuries that they sustain from a fall can range from nonexistent to fatal. According to professionals who care for elderly in Chapel Hill, preventing falls is a wonderful way to cut down on the number of injuries that the senior population sustains, as a whole, each year. But home care professionals recognize that all falls aren't avoidable. As such, these senior care providers urge individuals to help elderly loved ones learn different techniques to get up after falling down.

According to elder care professionals at, an average of one out of every three seniors will fall on an annual basis. Additionally, 25 percent of hospital admissions and 40 percent of nursing home admissions are due to falls.1 This is why it's extremely important to make certain that seniors can, if they do fall, get up and call for the help they need. Below are a few techniques that has provided that you can teach your loved one.
  • Lay still to calm down and make certain that there are no severe injuries. Identify any sore parts of the body and try not to exacerbate these injuries. 
  • Find a sturdy piece of furniture or other item that can be used when standing up. Roll over from the back to the stomach and to all fours. 
  • Take time to let the body settle and blood pressure to normalize. 
  • Crawl to the furniture or other item that was identified earlier. 
  • Slowly stand using the stable item and find a place to sit. 
Should a senior have injuries from the fall it is essential that they seek medical assistance immediately. If it is an emergency, they should dial 911 for an ambulance. If not, it is important to call a friend or family member to come over and help them to the doctor's office, urgent care office, or emergency room, depending upon their needs. Even if there are no injuries, though, your loved one should report the fall to their doctor so that they can better identify what caused the accident and how to prevent another from occurring in the future.


Monday, October 28, 2013

How to Help Your Senior Enjoy a Safe (Yet Fun!) Halloween

Halloween is a favorite among many seniors, but some degree of caution is required during the evening. There is a risk of falls when your elderly loved one is hustling to and from the door to pass out candy, and (unfortunately) some people use seniors who live alone as the targets of pranks. To make sure that your elderly loved one enjoys the holiday safely, keep these tips in mind:

Volunteer to help them pass out candy

Depending on your senior’s mobility, you may want to assist them with passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. Many elderly individuals love seeing kids dressed up in their costumes, but simply don’t have the ability to hurry to the door, pass out candy, set the bowl down, then return just moments later to greet new costumed kids. They may feel pressure to get to the door quickly, and may end up tripping on a loose rug or other items in their rush.

To prevent a problem during the evening, home care professionals encourage families to provide support for their seniors. Come over and help them answer the door to take some of the stress out of this part of the night. Let them be the one to put the candy into the trick-or-treat bags, but encourage them to sit and wait as the doorbell rings. This allows the elderly individual to enjoy the social interaction and to take in the costumes without dealing with the up-and-down that is required to greet the guests.

Invite them over

If your senior loves the festivities associated with Halloween but struggles with mobility, it’s often best to invite them to your home for the night. They can enjoy watching the parade of trick-or-treaters, but don’t have the pressure of heading to the store to buy candy and answering the door.

Find other ways to celebrate

If your senior wants to get into the Halloween spirit but simply doesn’t have the energy to do so, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate the occasion. You can watch Halloween-themed movies together, decorate pumpkins, or bake cookies and use orange frosting and black sprinkles to make them look festive.

Depending on your senior’s energy level, you can tailor Halloween festivities accordingly, ensuring that the elderly individual has an enjoyable evening without putting their safety at risk.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Easy Ways to Help Seniors in Your Community

If you’ve been looking for a reason to jumpstart your volunteer work, October 26th presents the perfect opportunity. This is known as Make a Difference Day, and it’s the ideal time to start improving the lives of seniors in your community. Depending on your interests, there is a number of different ways to enhance care for elderly individuals.

Bringing a companion dog to a nursing home

If you have a four-legged friend running around your home, this is the perfect way for you and your dog to help out. The two of you can get trained and become registered to make visits to assisted living facilities and nursing homes. The presence of dogs can help to cut feelings of loneliness and isolation among the residents.

There is a number of different groups that provide the training necessary to do this type of volunteer work. This includes Therapy Dogs International. You can also do an online search for groups looking for “puppy raisers,” which are people who raise puppies during their first year, while getting them used to being around people. Over time, these dogs become a regular presence at nursing homes and senior care facilities.

Putting a stop to senior hunger and malnutrition

Lack of mobility and other concerns make it a real challenge for many seniors to get the nutrition they need to stay healthy and vibrant. To do your part to end this problem, you can host a senior food drive in your area, or sponsor a group meal at a senior center. You can also volunteer with a program such as Meals on Wheels, which provides elderly individuals with well-balanced meals at home.

Start a walking program for seniors

Many elderly individuals don’t get the exercise they need to feel physically and mentally well. To help inspire seniors to get moving, start a walking program. Even if the group only meets every other week, the socialization and exercise will prove tremendously helpful for seniors in your area.

 Regardless of your interests, there are plenty of productive ways that you can help elderly individuals in your community. Use Make a Difference Day as a chance to get inspired to improve the lives of seniors near you.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Showing Appreciation to Your Senior on Sweetest Day

Sweetest Day was created to recognize the generous, compassionate people in the world and the genuine kindness that they bestow upon others. As such, elder care professionals are excited to celebrate Sweetest Day on October 19 by showing appreciation to the seniors who bring happiness and light into today’s world.  Caring for elderly individuals is a rewarding experience, particularly when senior care providers have the honor of working with people who truly love and appreciate life.

Here are a few ways that you and your family can show your appreciation to your senior in celebration of Sweetest Day this year:

  • Make a card listing all of the reasons why you love your senior. Have each member of the family contribute ideas and sign it. This is a keepsake your elderly loved one will cherish for years to come!
  • Have family and friends come over for a meal and small party. The companionship of loved ones can help your senior feel more appreciated and this will give attendees the chance to personally thank your elderly loved one for their kindness and generosity. 
  • Make a donation or volunteer your time in the name of your loved one. Seniors who have mobility issues or other health problems and cannot physically volunteer at certain events will be happy to know that you have done so in their stead. This is a great idea for large families, too, as they can strengthen their relationships while working side by side. 
  • Spend the day doing things for your senior, who has for so long done things for others. Start with breakfast in bed and continue to do all that you can throughout the day to make their life easier, happier, and more fulfilled. For instance, you might visit their favorite museum, take a picnic to their favorite park, or go to a movie that they have been waiting to see in theaters. 

No matter how you celebrate Sweetest Day, make sure that you keep your senior at the center of your attention. Your appreciation will mean the world to them, so take this opportunity to show your loved one just how much you value their positivity and kindness!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Medicare Plans Demystified

With open enrollment for Medicare starting in just a few days (enrollment spans October 15 through December 7), it is important that your senior understands which plan is best suited to their needs. Eldercare professionals know that there are many details to consider when choosing the right care for seniors, and Medicare plays a major role in the financial aspect of this issue. But senior health professionals believe that with the right information you and your senior can make choosing the best Medicare plan easy. Below are some of the highlights of Medicare Part C and D, two of the most popular plans.

Medicare Part C
Formerly called Medicare + Choice and often referred to as Medicare Advantage, this plan is a supplement to Parts A and B. As such, seniors must have Parts A and B in order to qualify for enrollment in Part C. Part A covers services that are paid for by Social Security, including inpatient care at the hospital, hospice care, and skilled nursing. Part B, which is funded by monthly premiums and supplemented by the U.S. Treasury, pertains to fees regarding appointments with doctors, outpatient hospital procedures, and other medical attention that Part A does not cover.

Part C allows for the ability to choose the provider organization through which all of these services are offered. Ultimately, having Medicare Part C can result in lower medical costs and additional benefits, so it is worth looking into depending upon your senior’s individual needs.

Medicare Part D
Prescriptions are, for many seniors, a major financial burden. Medicare Part D helps to alleviate this burden by covering prescription medications. Completely optional in nature, this aspect of the Medicare program is covered by monthly premiums and requires seniors to opt in through an application and enrollment process.

Choosing the Right Plan
The plan that will best cover your senior depends upon their unique needs, as elderly individuals require differing levels of medical care and support. Talk with your senior and their doctor to ensure that they are signing up for the right plan, as this can help save them a great deal of money and financial stress.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Inspiring and Exciting Home Activities for Your Senior

Even if your elderly loved one has lost the mobility they once enjoyed, there’s no reason that they have to sit at home mindlessly watching television all day. According to eldercare professionals, there are plenty of inspiring and fun activities that a homebound senior can enjoy with family and friends. Some of these choices include:

  • Studying genealogy: Family members can bond with their senior as they take some time to research the family’s ancestry. It’s often eye opening to learn about distant relatives, and to track the family’s progression to America.
  • Painting: Even if your elderly loved one struggles with fine motor skills, painting can be the perfect pastime. They can find a brush size that works for them, and create paintings that allow them to express themselves. Regardless of whether the work is museum-worthy or not, seniors will get a kick out of turning broad brushstrokes into their own unique piece.
  • Learning about new subjects: Thanks to the Internet, seniors can learn about any subject they please without having to venture to a museum or library to do it. Is your loved one interested in woodworking? Watch some videos on the topic. Does the elderly individual love exotic places? Take them on a Google Maps tour of Mount Everest or the Amazon. They’ll get the thrill of seeing a new place and learning about an unfamiliar subject without having to leave the comfort of their home. 
  • Scrapbooking: Home care professionals encourage seniors and their loved ones to work together to create a scrapbook. The book can detail family vacations, milestones, or the elderly individual’s childhood. The finished product is beautiful to look at and has sentimental value, making it the perfect project to work on together.
  • Catching up with friends: For seniors, loneliness can become a problem. To ward off feelings of isolation, encourage your elderly loved one to catch up with friends. The two can discuss their families, and can provide each other with emotional support. Having someone to care for and think about helps to keep a senior feeling fulfilled.

If you’re looking for ways to keep your senior engaged even when they can’t leave the home, these easy, inspiring activities are perfect. Work together with your elderly loved one so they have some company as they pursue a new hobby.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Must-Know Points About Palliative Care

Palliative care refers to highly specialized medical care that is used for elderly individuals who are facing a serious illness. This method of care giving is committed to providing relief from pain for these seniors, regardless of their diagnosis. Ultimately, palliative care is about boosting an elderly loved one’s quality of life, keeping them comfortable and at peace. Palliative care is provided by a team of highly trained home care professionals, and can also include treatment from doctors, nurses, massage therapists, nutritionists, religious figures, pharmacists, and others. These individuals offer support and care for elderly individuals and their family members.

Some common illnesses that may require palliative care include:

  • Cardiac disease like congestive heart failure
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

The goal of this kind of eldercare is to eliminate unpleasant symptoms like:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

Together, the palliative care team provides expert pain management, assistance navigating the healthcare system, and emotional and spiritual support for a senior and their family.

What is the difference between palliative care and hospice care?

Though hospice care and palliative care share many similarities, they are also quite different. For instance, palliative care is typically administered in a hospital, extended care facility, or nursing home. Hospice care, on the other hand, usually takes place at home. Hospice care is typically reserved for a senior who has been deemed terminal or is thought to be within six months of their death. Palliative care has no time restrictions, and can be administered at any stage of illness, regardless of whether the elderly individual is terminal or not.

Another major difference between hospice and palliative care comes with the approach to treatment. Most hospice programs focus on comfort instead of prolonging life. However, palliative care does not work off of the assumption that life-prolonging treatments will be avoided. In many cases, palliative care is covered by insurance, whereas hospice treatment may have some policy restrictions.

For elderly individuals who are dealing with a serious illness, palliative care is often a useful tool in order to keep the senior comfortable while allowing the family members to enjoy emotional and spiritual support.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Programs that Assist Seniors with Health Care Costs

Homecare and other forms of care for elderly individuals can become quite costly, although they are imperative to the wellbeing of many seniors. Despite the critical nature of such eldercare, though, many seniors find themselves having to forgo the support that they need due to financial limitations.

If your senior needs care but cannot afford it, there may be hope yet. There are actually several organizations that provide assistance to seniors who need help paying healthcare expenses. According to an article published by the Huffington Post, Medicare Savings Program and Extra Help are two initiatives that can assist elderly individuals in paying down their medical costs and maintaining the level of care that they need to stay as safe and healthy as possible.1

Medicare Savings Program
The Medicare Savings Program, or MSP, is an initiative that serves to assist Medicare beneficiaries who are at lower income brackets to pay for the costs associated with Medicare Parts A and B. With several different levels, MSP offers differing amounts of support based upon several factors.

Qualifying for this support occurs under the direction of Medicare. Seniors must make less than 135 percent of the federal poverty level and are subject to an asset test. The requirements may vary from one state to the next, though, so it is important that seniors get information from the local Medicare organization.

Extra Help
Prescription medications are often extremely costly, and many seniors have a difficult time keeping up with their prescriptions because they are so expensive. The Extra Help Program is able to assist with Part D prescription drug deductibles and premiums, as well as co pays, depending upon the level of income that your senior receives each month.

Qualifying for this assistance requires seniors to make less than $1,436 per month and to hold less than $13,300 in assets. To apply, seniors can contact the local Social Security office.

Paying for healthcare is something with which many elderly individuals struggle. With the assistance of these two programs, though, your senior may find it easier to keep up with the financial aspect of their physical wellbeing.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Important Issues to Remember on International Day of Older Persons

Care for elderly individuals is an important consideration of the United Nations, which is an organization that strives to ensure that all populations around the globe are treated with dignity and respect. Eldercare professionals are happy to celebrate the International Day of Older Persons on October 1 of each year. A day dedicated to the needs of the aging population, this particular event is popular among senior care providers.

International Day of Older Persons: A Brief History
The International Day of Older Persons was created on December 14, 1990. On this day, the United Nations General Assembly created this holiday under resolution 45/106. Ultimately, the goal of the initiative is to bring greater awareness to the needs of elderly populations and to call attention to the unique challenges that this demographic faces.

The United Nations has a strong history of advocating for the needs of seniors, and the International Day of Older Persons is just one example of the effort that this organization has put into helping elderly individuals achieve a higher quality of life through awareness and diplomatic initiatives.

This year, the theme is “The Future We Want: What Older Persons Are Saying.” Ultimately, the goal of the day is to call attention to the need to ensure that aging is a part of the international development agenda.

Celebrating Seniors
On this day, it is a great idea to think about what today’s seniors need. The United Nations invites individuals to vote on the issues that are most important at

In addition to giving important feedback to this international organization, you can talk to your elderly loved one about any issues that may be bothering them. For instance, healthcare is an issue that is continually evolving and that could be improved for many populations. If this is a concern of your senior’s, take a look at their insurance plan and see if there are any ways in which you can improve their coverage based upon new policies and offerings. International Day of Older Persons is a wonderful time to celebrate your senior and really pay attention to what they need.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Assisting Seniors with Social Media

Within the field of eldercare, Chapel Hill professionals have seen a rise in the number of seniors who are using social networking websites. Social media is a tool that has helped bridge the geographic gaps that settle between friends and family members, as the Internet allows individuals to connect with one another from virtually anywhere in the world. But while social media is certainly accessible to any senior who has a connection to the World Wide Web, it is also difficult for seniors who are not tech savvy to navigate.

Eldercare professionals and family members who provide senior care can play an integral part in helping elderly individuals to stay connected with friends and family online. Below are a few of the ways in which you can assist your loved one with using social networks to stay actively engaged with the people about whom they care.

  1. Start slowly by getting your senior involved with one social site at a time. Facebook is the most popular, as it appeals to the widest range of users and is the easiest to navigate. As your elderly loved one wants to become involved in new networks go ahead and help them do so, slowly building their ability to use these websites on their own. 
  2. Take the time to set up your loved one’s profile. Once this is up and running it will be easier to explain to them how to use the website. Once the profile is set up, set aside an hour or so to walk your senior through the many features and functions that the site has to offer. For instance, you might coordinate with them to send friend requests to their loved ones on Facebook and then teach them how to send private messages, write on walls, and peruse the pictures that others post. 
  3. If you think it will prove beneficial, schedule a time each week to get online with your loved one. For instance, you might log into your senior’s Facebook account and update them on the activity in which they are interested every Sunday after family dinner, or every Monday after you help them with grocery shopping. 

Home care professionals understand that social media can greatly impact a senior’s life in a positive way. With these tips you can help bring about these benefits.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mourning the Loss of a Spouse

Losing a spouse is a devastating experience, and seniors all mourn in their own way. In fact, there is no one way to heal after such a loss, and it can take weeks to months to even years for individuals to overcome their grief. When your elderly loved one loses their husband or wife, senior care professionals recommend that you give them room to experience their emotions naturally while ensuring that they are safe and secure.

Senior care professionals know that you cannot alleviate the pain that your loved one is feeling, but there are ways in which you can encourage them to work through their grief in a healthy manner. According to the National Institute on Aging, the following are extremely important:1  
  • Urge your senior to seek support. This can come in the form of turning to friends or family members to talk through their experience, speaking with a professional, or joining a support group. All of these are wonderful options, and seniors should be encouraged to choose the one that will best help them heal. 
  • Keep your elderly loved one from making significant changes too quickly. To distract themselves from their loss, seniors might want to move to a new city, sell their home, or make other changes. While these decisions may be in the best interest of your senior, it is important that your loved one is able to make such choices when they are thinking clearly, not when their judgment is clouded by grief. 
  • Make your senior’s health a priority. After the loss of a loved one a senior may not feel as though their health is a concern, but it is important that they keep up with their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing as much as they can. Don’t push too hard, but do make sure that your loved one takes their medications and upholds any medical appointments they may have. After a few days, try to get them outside and encourage them to get some physical exercise into each day—even if it’s just a short walk around the block. 
Losing a spouse is a devastating experience, and it is something that will change an elderly individual forever. But with your assistance, your senior can work through their grief naturally without compromising their health or safety.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Understanding the Important Dynamic Between Grandparents and Grandkids

If you were fortunate enough to grow up with grandparents, you know just how special that dynamic is. Grandparents and their grandchildren share a special connection, because they inspire each other, teach each other new things, and share a genuine love and affection for one another. In fact, a new study finds that the quality of relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren can significantly boost the well-being of both generations.

The two-decade study examined 376 grandparents and 340 grandkids and tracked the mental health of participants from 1985 to 2004. The findings illustrate that grandparents and adult grandchildren who felt close emotional ties to each other had fewer symptoms of depression. The research shows that this generational bond plays an important role in the happiness of everyone involved.

So, if you’re looking to make sure that your kids have a close relationship with the seniors in their life, consider these tips:

  • Spend quality time together: Some grandparents worry that if they’re not buying their grandkids toys or taking them on expensive outings, then somehow the time together doesn’t “count.” In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth. Kids just want to spend time with their grandparents. Encourage the two to head out on a trip to the zoo or to spend some time playing in the leaves in the backyard. Regardless of the cost of the activity, the time together is ultimately priceless.
  • Share your hobbies: Seniors looking to strengthen the connection with their grandkids should consider sharing their favorite hobbies and pastimes with them. Kids will get a thrill out of cooking, stamp collecting, or gardening, and may end up sharing their grandparent’s passion for the particular hobby. 
  • Make one-on-one time: Many seniors only get to see their grandchildren during major family events like Thanksgiving. However, one-on-one time throughout the year is a necessary part of strengthening a relationship. Even a short weekend visit is enough time to help the children strengthen their bonds with the older generation. Make sure that your kids are getting the time they need with Grandma and Grandpa throughout the year. 

Above all else, a grandparent should make it a point to listen. Children have plenty of stories from summer camp and school to tell, and generally want nothing more than to share these tales with Nana and Pop Pop.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Autumn Activities for Seniors in Chapel Hill

With the first day of autumn, which is September 22, quickly approaching, eldercare professionals are encouraging you to think about seasonal activities that your senior may enjoy. When it comes to eldercare, Chapel Hill is a wonderful location. With such a strong community and beautiful natural environment, you can certainly find some great activities that your senior will love. When providing care for elderly individuals it is always a good idea to get them out and about, allowing them to enjoy social activities and meet new people. To help you meet this goal, below are some of the events that are going to be taking place at the Central Orange Senior Center and the Seymour Center.

  • Wellness special events: These seminars provide elderly individuals with information about important topics, including smoking, diabetes, and podiatric health. Other wellness classes, which are given on a regular basis, including aerobics, balance, yoga, Pilates, pacesetter, NIA, strength training, t'ai chi, walking, and more. 
  • Computer classes: Technology is continually evolving and, to keep from feeling left behind, your loved one may want to take a course on how to use computers. From learning about Google to computer maintenance, there is a wide range of topics to choose from. 
  • Support groups: These groups are wonderful for seniors who have certain illnesses or have been through difficult experiences. Some of the support groups that are offered include those based upon Parkinson's disease, the death of a spouse, stroke, pulmonary hypertension, alcoholism, multiple sclerosis, and more.
  • Arts and crafts classes: Art is a wonderful form of self expression, and the community centers provide several different courses dedicated to helping seniors use their creativity. These include oil painting, Chinese brush painting, mixed media, pastels, and watercolors. Crafts, too, such as making bobbin lace, jewelry, quilts, birdhouses, and more, are highly popular. 

In addition to these categories, the community centers in Chapel Hill provide classes on pottery, bridge, dance, music, theater, movies, hiking, and more. With such a diverse list of activities, it is certain that your senior will find something that they can enjoy this fall.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Oral Health: How Is It Affected by the Aging Process?

As the body gets older it experiences many changes, particularly in its ability to ward off disease and regenerate as it used to. One of the many impacts that aging has on the body is related to oral health, as dental care for elderly individuals is quite different from that required by younger populations. Elder care professionals explain that there are many different dental problems that seniors might encounter while they age. To help you to care for elderly loved ones, here are a few of the oral health problems that are common among seniors, per an article published by
  • Dark teeth: This issue is often caused by changes in the tissue that lies beneath the enamel of the teeth. Additionally, the accumulation of years of consuming beverages and foods that can cause stains can contribute to a darker color of the teeth. 
  • Less sensitivity to taste: Sensory loss is naturally caused by the aging process; however, dentures, certain diseases, and even specific medications may make the mouth numb to flavor. 
  • Gum disease: Plaque, irregular brushing or flossing, the use of tobacco, a poor diet, certain illnesses, and even improperly fitted dentures and bridges can all lead to gum disease. 
  • Uneven jawbone: This can be caused by the loss of teeth. 
  • Thrush: A fungal infection, this is a condition that can be sparked by diseases or medications that impact the immune system. 
  • Dry mouth: Cancer treatments and certain diseases and medications can slow the production of saliva, causing this uncomfortable condition. 
  • Root decay: If the roots of teeth are exposed they can be affected by acids, leading to their deterioration. 
  • Tooth loss: While gum disease is the number one reason for tooth loss, there are other issues that seniors face that may contribute to this problem. 
  • Stomatitis: This inflammation can be caused by poor dental hygiene, improperly fitting dentures, or thrush. 

To help your senior avoid as many of these conditions as possible, encourage a healthy oral care plan that includes brushing and flossing on a daily basis. Additionally, make sure that your senior has regularly scheduled dental appointments to monitor their oral health.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Dementia Care: Coping Strategies for Care Providers

Providing care for elderly individuals who have dementia, which is also known as dementia care, is a major responsibility for both professionals and family members. If you offer eldercare to your loved one who suffers from dementia then you are certainly well aware of the unique challenges this form of care can present.

Understanding Dementia
In order to cope with the stresses of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia care, the Alzheimer’s care, Chapel Hill, professionals know that it’s important to really understand what your elderly loved one is going through. Dementia changes seniors because it directly impacts the brain, making it difficult for them to remember certain details, perform certain tasks, and even simply orient themselves. This can make them feel vulnerable, uneasy, and frustrated. As such, seniors may experience a change in personality and they may take out some of their frustrations on those around them, even if they don’t mean to.

By understanding why your elderly loved one is acting this way it can be easier to provide the care that they need. Through your efforts, you can help your senior feel more secure in an environment that may seem unfamiliar to them.

Keeping Yourself Healthy
One of the most important things to remember when providing dementia care is that you cannot take care of your senior if you don’t take care of yourself first. This responsibility is demanding, and though it is just as rewarding as it can be stressful it is important to make sure that you see to your physical and mental wellbeing as you take care of your loved one. Below are a few ways for you to do so.

  1. Take at least one day off per week. If you need to bring in a respite care professional to do so, make it happen. This day will allow you to recharge and rest so that you can keep from burning out. 
  2. Exercise compassion. It is important to not only be patient with your senior but to also try to understand what they are going through in order to best cope with the situation. 
  3. Talk about your experiences. Sharing with friends, family members, or even professionals can prove extremely therapeutic. 

With these coping mechanisms in mind you can better care for your loved one.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

How to Make Grandparents’ Day Memorable

Grandparents’ Day was first created by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, and has since become a favorite holiday among many American families. Just like for mothers on Mother’s Day, and fathers on Father’s Day, Grandparents’ Day is all about making seniors feel special. Here are some tips for how your family can show Grandma and Grandpa how much you care on their holiday:

  • Have the grandkids “interview” their grandparents: Children can sit down with Grandma and Grandpa and ask them a number of different questions about their childhood, their career, and their hobbies. Record the audio or use a video camera to create lasting memories. Grandparents may have an entirely different perspective on the world based on how they grew up, and can shed some light on what it was like to grow up during major historical changes that kids have read about in textbooks. The interview will become an important piece of family history that future generations can enjoy.
  • Do a project together: Kids love to get active, and grandparents will enjoy working with their grandchildren on a project to brighten up their home. Whether it is a collage of family pictures or a watercolor painting, these artistic endeavors promote bonding and yield a beautiful piece of art for Grandma or Grandpa’s living space.
  • Plant a garden: Depending on the senior’s ability levels, gardening is a fun way to spend some time in nature on Grandparents’ Day. Kids can pick out the plants they’d like to grow, and then work with their grandparents on planting and watering these seeds. 
  • Cook a meal together: Many families enjoy putting together a Grandparents’ Day meal for their seniors. Children can work alongside Grandma or Grandpa to help make a specific dish for the meal. Grandparents often delight in teaching kids some of their own favorite recipes from childhood, and it is even more special to enjoy these items on a day reserved to honor grandparents. 

No matter how your family spends the day, make sure that grandparents know just how much their children and grandchildren appreciate them. Put a personal spin on the holiday, and incorporate activities that you know your senior will love.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Outdoor Activities for the Elderly: Getting Your Senior Outside

For seniors who have mobility limitations or who suffer from certain injuries or illnesses, staying indoors is often the routine in order to minimize their discomfort. But eldercare professionals assert that, if your senior can get outside, there are so many benefits to soaking in a bit of sun that it is well worth the effort to spend some time out of doors. When providing care for elderly individuals, though, you may find it difficult to come up with ways to spend time outside. Below are some activities that homecare professionals believe will help you and your elderly loved one to enjoy time spent out of the house.

Going for a Walk
If your senior is able, going for a stroll through the neighborhood or a nearby park is a wonderful option. For elderly individuals who have mobility limitations, it is a good idea to find a park with a paved walkway so you can push them in their wheelchair. The beauty of the natural surroundings and the simple pleasure of the fresh air will both serve to reinvigorate your senior and allow them to enjoy time spent in a new location.

When friends or family come to visit, seniors normally sit in the living room or kitchen with their loved ones while catching up on one another's lives. Instead of staying indoors, try moving out to the porch or backyard. Additionally, a nearby park with benches and a great view of a lake or pond is a wonderful option.

Elderly individuals who enjoy gardening will certainly love getting out in the yard and getting their hands dirty. As seniors get older they may have difficulty lifting heavy bags of soil and completing other tasks, so make sure a friend or family member is available to help them and keep them company. Additionally, make certain that your loved one has access to all of the resources they need, like knee pads and a hat, to keep them comfortable while enjoying this hobby.

There are so many different ways that seniors can spend time in the great outdoors no matter their mobility limitations. These are just a few of the activities that your loved one may enjoy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

At-Home Exercises to Keep Your Senior in Shape

Eldercare professionals understand that, when it comes to caring for your senior, one of the most important responsibilities that you hold is to keep them active and as physically fit as possible. For elderly individuals who have limited mobility this can prove challenging, but it is not impossible! When it comes to homecare, Chapel Hill professionals know that there are many ways in which you can work exercise into your senior's schedule.

One important note to make before diving into the different exercise tips for your senior is, when providing care for elderly individuals, make sure that you understand their physical limitations. Home care professionals understand that improving health takes effort and exercises should challenge your loved one; however, don't push them so far that they suffer from an injury.
  • Walking: If your senior is able, try to go for a 30 minute walk each day. During nice weather, take a stroll around the block or neighborhood. If there are any parks nearby, drive to these locations and enjoy the great outdoors while spending quality time with your senior and getting in some cardio. When it's too hot or cold outside, or if it is raining or snowing, take the exercise indoors by walking around the mall. 
  • Encourage hobbies: Gardening, shuffleboard, and other popular hobbies are wonderful sources of exercise, as seniors are able to get their bodies moving while enjoying their activity. If there is an interest group within the community, encourage your elderly loved one to join and enjoy both the physical activity and socialization that this group can provide. 
  • Stretch daily: Stretching is an important aspect of physical fitness that is often overlooked. It is essential that seniors are able to maintain a certain degree of flexibility in order to prevent limited range of motion. Try daily stretches to get your senior moving in the morning and help them unwind and relax before bed. 
  • Physical therapy: If your loved one has certain injuries or illnesses that prevent basic exercise, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist. This professional should be able to provide you and your elderly loved one with a list of exercises that they can perform at home. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Costs of Caregiving

Care for elderly individuals can take many forms. For instance, your senior may need minimal care, so you may stop in a couple of times a week to help out with a few household chores. Or your loved one may need more extensive care requiring the continual assistance of an eldercare professional. When it comes to home care, Chapel Hill senior care providers are able to offer a wide range of services that may prove beneficial to your senior; however, it is important that you weigh the costs associated with each of these options—both those that are financial and personal in nature.

Caring for Your Loved One on Your Own
If you are providing home care for your loved one, it is important that you realize just how much time and energy you are putting into the task and how much of an impact this can have on your life. Depending upon the amount of time that you spend with your senior, the cost that this responsibility carries can range from minimal to extreme. If you spend a couple of afternoons per week with your elderly loved one to help them keep a clean house and make sure that any minor household repairs and other tasks are done, you probably benefit a great deal from the arrangement. The quality time that you get to spend with your senior is certainly well worth the task of driving to their home for an hour or two every few days if they live nearby.

If your elderly loved one needs more substantial care, though, it may prove highly costly. Many family members quit their jobs or reduce their working hours to better support the needs of their seniors. Additionally, caring for an elderly loved one around the clock can lead to time spent away from your own children, friends, and other aspects of your life.

Hiring the Professionals
In situations in which seniors need extensive care, hiring home care professionals is a great option. The prices associated with doing so vary depending upon the extent of the care needed and other considerations, such as insurance and other healthcare coverage. But the peace of mind of knowing that your loved one is secure and in good hands is priceless.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Living Alone: What Is the Danger?

Living alone is something that countless individuals do, as they often prefer having their own space to sharing a place with a roommate or moving in with family members. For numerous seniors, aging in place means living at home, oftentimes alone, throughout their golden years. But the truth is that elderly individuals may have a difficult time carrying out certain activities of daily living as they get older, which can make it quite dangerous for them to live alone. In terms of home care, Always Best Care Chapel Hill-Durham professionals know that an eldercare provider is a wonderful asset to seniors who would like to continue living with the highest degree of independence possible.

What Are the Dangers Your Senior Faces?
Any in home care agency will tell you that there are many risks that seniors must overcome in order to maintain their safety while living alone. Below are a few of the dangers that independent living may present:

  • If seniors fall or suffer from any other kind of injury or illness they may not gain access to the medical attention that they need, as no one will know of their predicament. 
  • Meal preparation is a difficult task for many elderly individuals, who may face malnourishment and dehydration if they are not able to cook healthy meals and access clean drinking water. 
  • Maintaining a home requires a lot of physical activity, including yard work, cleaning, and making small repairs. Many seniors may injure themselves trying to keep up with the needs of their property. 
  • Should an emergency occur, such as a flood or fire, seniors who have limited mobility may not be able to get out of the house in time. 

These are just some of the many dangers that seniors face when living alone; however, the good news is that home care professionals can help your loved one retain the lifestyle they want without compromising their safety.

Calling in the Help of a Professional
Eldercare professionals can provide seniors with a high degree of support, as they assist with activities of daily living (dressing, cleaning, meal preparation, personal grooming, etc.) and take care of the responsibilities that might pose a challenge for seniors. Additionally, their companionship means that seniors have someone near in case of emergency, which is incredibly important.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How Mobility Technology is Changing Aging

The vast majorities of seniors, an estimated 90%, report that they want to age in place and stay in their homes as long as possible.1  This should come as no surprise; most people have spent decades working on their homes, raising children there, and creating memories.  Why would anyone want to abandon the place where they feel safest and most comfortable right at a time when physical ailments and mobility challenges are leaving them feeling vulnerable?

No one, no matter what age, likes to feel more dependent on others.  In seniors, this unwillingness to confront the reality of decreased mobility can often result in preventable injuries.  In fact, falls are the most common cause of death among those over the age of 65.2  Fortunately, there are simple and affordable solutions available on the market that can increase safety and mobility for seniors and allow them to live independently in their own homes.

Stair Lifts
One of the biggest obstacles for seniors with mobility challenges can be tackling the stairs of their multi-level house.  Many people end up abandoning the upper levels of their home altogether and settle for living on the first floor.  Installing a stair lift, which can range in price from around $1,250 - $3,000, can instantly allow seniors full access to all areas of their home.  Some models are especially designed for do-it-yourself installation, which helps keep cost down.

In addition, there are outdoor stair lift options that can reduce the risk of slipping and falling on outdoor surfaces.  If you have been leaving the house less and less often because you are afraid of porch stairs or other outdoor mobility obstacles, a weather-proof outdoor stair lift can help you safely reach your vehicle or even just get back out to your garden.  Investing in an indoor or outdoor stair lift might be just the tool to prevent falls and allow you to age in place more comfortably and they only cost a fraction of what it would to relocate or hire a home aide.

Safe Bathing Solutions
Improving safety and accessibility in the bathroom can be another vital component that will allow you or your loved one to comfortably age in place.  For many, the biggest challenge is being able to safely access their tub or shower.  Tub ledges can present a real obstacle to anyone with limited mobility and when you combine that with wet, slippery tile surfaces, the risk for a nasty fall only increases.

In addition to grab bars, shower seats, and other simple bathroom solutions, there are also more substantial solutions that can increase your safety.  Bathroom conversion and replacement kits can either modify your existing tub to make it more accessible or offer a whole new tub that can provide access to those who are ambulatory or wheelchair bound.  There are a wide variety of sizes, styles, and price ranges available to fit your physical challenges, architectural limitations, and budgetary needs.

Bath lifts are another great option on the market that can help you safely enter and exit your tub.  Some models are designed to simply lower you into and raise you out of your tub in order to eliminate unnecessary strain.  More advanced models feature seats that will actually rotate you over the ledge of your tub before lowering you in, essentially taking all the work and danger out of entering and exiting your tub.

Lift Chairs
Another great tool that can allow seniors to age gracefully and remain independent is a lift chair.  These simple devices combine a comfortable recliner with a lift mechanism that can smoothly and gently lower you into and raise you out of a seated position.  This is the perfect solution for those who have trouble sitting or standing.  In addition to the convenient lift feature, these chairs also come in a variety of recline positions that allow the user to rest comfortably and enjoy pressure relief on achy muscles and joints.  Some people even find that they are able to enjoy more rejuvenating rest when they sleep in their lift chair.

Mobility technology is becoming more innovative and affordable, which is in turn making it increasingly feasible for seniors to age in place and maintain their independence.  When combined with in-home care services, seniors can experience enjoy an affordable solutions to their mobility challenges without having to leave their homes and more into a nursing home.  A comprehensive treatment place can not only ease the burden on caregivers and family members, it can also provide user friendly tools that can improve the mental, emotional, and physical health of seniors.

If you are interested in aging in place technology and mobility devices, here are some helpful resources:

Amy M. Blitchok is a professional writer and researcher who specializes in issues related to seniors, aging in place, and mobility and disability equipment.  One of her goals is to disseminate important information in the hopes of helping to improve the quality of life for seniors, their families, and caregivers.  You can read more of her work at  Feel free to contact her with any questions or comments.
1 “Falls Among Older Adults:  An Overview.”  Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Sept 2012.  Web.  7 May 2013.  

2 “Falls Among Older Adults.” 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bringing Elderly Parents Home from the Hospital

After a stay in the hospital, your elderly loved one may need a bit of assistance transitioning back to life in their own home. Whether they live with you or live independently, it is important that you understand the kind of eldercare that they will require. Below are a few tips for helping your loved one to settle into their home without compromising their health or safety.

  1. Talk to your loved one's doctors before they come home to ensure that you understand the degree of care that your senior will need. Depending upon the severity of their condition or the recovery period associated with their hospital stay, you may need to think about homecare services if your loved one needs more attention than you can provide. 
  2. Make sure that the living space your loved one returns to is comfortable. Before picking your senior up from the hospital, take the time to tidy their home. Vacuuming, straightening up odds and ends, and dusting can go far in creating a more comfortable living space in which your senior can recover. 
  3. Remember that care for elderly individuals entails more than simply sitting with them throughout the day—particularly if they are recovering from surgery or an injury. Think about the extent to which you can care for your senior and call upon homecare professionals to help fill any gaps in care that you cannot provide. For instance, if your loved one is not able to walk, you may need help lifting your senior during bathing and dressing routines. 
  4. Make certain that your senior has transportation to all of their follow-up appointments with their doctor. It is crucial to their recovery that they receive ongoing medical care if necessary. If you are spearheading efforts to assist your senior in the healing process, call upon friends, family members, and professionals to assist you in ensuring that your senior is able to make all doctor's appointments. 

Bringing your senior home from the hospital can be overwhelming, as you certainly do hold a great deal of responsibility when helping your loved one through the healing process. But with the right approach—and assistance from eldercare professionals—you can provide the care that your loved one needs.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Stroke Recovery: Tips for Helping Your Loved One Heal

Strokes take place when the blood supply is cut off from the brain, resulting in damage to the areas of the brain that are impacted by the event. Blood flow may be interrupted due to the blockage of an artery or the bursting of a blood vessel, known as a brain hemorrhage. The kind of therapy that is available to seniors who have suffered a stroke depends upon the severity and location of the damage that is caused; however, rehabilitation is the most common way in which medical professionals assist elderly individuals in healing after a stroke.

Setting Realistic Expectations
In terms of your role helping your senior to recover, the first tip to keep in mind is to maintain realistic expectations. The brain is a very resilient organ that can bounce back from many forms of damage, but cutting off the blood supply to certain areas of the brain can result in permanent effects. According to the National Stroke Association:1

  • Recovery with minor permanent damage is expected for 25 percent of stroke victims. 
  • Nearly complete recovery is expected for 10 percent of seniors who suffer from a stroke. 
  • Moderate to severe permanent damage, resulting in the need for special care, is expected for 40 percent of seniors who experience a stroke. 
  • Care in a long-term facility or by a home care professional is necessary for an expected 10 percent of stroke victims. 

After your loved one has a stroke, it is important to speak with their doctor to determine the best rehabilitation strategy and to discuss the expected results of this treatment. Having realistic expectations is essential in measuring your loved one's progress and supporting their needs.

Acting as a Support System
Depending upon the damage that a stroke causes, seniors may require assistance with activities of daily living. From grooming to meal preparation, making certain that your loved one has access to the support that they need is imperative. You might find it best to hire a senior care professional. Elder care providers are trained to offer the help your senior needs while assisting them in maintaining a safe living environment and the highest possible quality of life.