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.