Home-care Tech is Here to Stay
Guest article by Denise Valerio, Owner, Valerio Care Management
According to Alzheimer’s Disease International someone in the world is diagnosed with dementia every three seconds. Defined as a “chronic or persistent disorder of mental processes,” medically speaking it is an umbrella term that addresses a composite of cognitive disorders that carry a range of symptoms such as sundowners syndrome.
Also known as “sundowning” as many as 20 percent of those with Alzheimer’s experience an amplified state of confusion or aggression, typically between the hours of 4:00 and 7:00 PM. Behaviors such as extreme agitation, sadness, hallucinations, and delusional thinking are some of the symptoms, with violent episodes occurring in extreme cases. As a professional care manager with over 30 years of experience, I’ve witnessed a spectrum of aberrant symptoms, some of which are more “textbook” than others.
In my book The Stemwinder: Stories of a Faithful Care Manager, I go in-depth about two of my clients who have dementia (one with Lewy Body, a more severe form). After years of observation, I’ve concluded that past trauma plays a role in cognitive decline later in life. Exemplary warriors, these women share emotional hardship and hindrances while coming from two entirely different backgrounds. Their paths have never crossed, but each has lived her own darkness as I discovered through my work with them.
Bella, who I tag “The Gentle Soul,” exemplified grace beneath the cloudiness and confusion of dementia:
It took a solid six months to get Bella on the right combination of meds. Achieving that equilibrium not only required medicinal efficacy, it also was contingent upon finding the right people who were willing to work with me… Bella had 24-hour care divided into two shifts. Joycelin was with her during the day. The aide who took the night shift needed to be extra vigilant. A few times Bella snuck out of the house in the middle of the night, right out the door and down the street, occasionally stopping a passing car. Fortunately, these were infrequent close calls but I had to install a deadbolt that was out of her reach, a necessary safeguard that made her angry and combative. Anyone who’s been around someone with dementia knows it’s not a matter of saying to that person “it’s okay” or “calm down.” Keen awareness of behavioral abnormalities such as aggression, anxiety psychosis and sleep disorders, is essential.
I recall a couple of visits that coincided with one of these episodes, and my appearance seemed to momentarily suspend her disturbed state. “It’s you! Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in months.” Bella always made that endearing inquisition. You’ve been absent from my world. How come? It always buoyed me up, even if her short-term memory didn’t accurately track the timing.
Though Bella’s aggressiveness seemed to spike in the overnight hours, she didn’t fall neatly into the category of a sundowner, as her primary aide observed erratic behavior during the day. A couple of shopping trips became disorienting experiences to the point that the authorities intervened. Familiar with Bella’s triggers, the aide developed a protocol to de-escalate these episodes. For caregivers and family members who’ve been confronted with sundowners syndrome, mitigating psycho-emotional distress is critical.
Senior Living offers some tips to achieve this, such as:
- Minimizing any environmental disturbances
- Maintaining a regimented routine throughout the day
- Conversing with the person in a soothing tone
- Recognizing patterns of behavior to better anticipate episodes
The right meds work in tandem with open dialogue, consistency of routines, and if possible, documenting the duration and frequency of sundowning. Of these, engaging in consistent, meaningful dialogue with the person is one of the best antidotes as evidenced in my work as a professional care manager. Hands down, it is the most rewarding part of my job and the inspiration behind The Stemwinder.
If you’re a senior or the caretaker of a senior, you may have heard about long-term care, also known as LTC. Long-term care refers to the type of care that’s needed when an individual can no longer live independently. It encompasses both medical and daily activities, such as eating and getting dressed. LTC can be necessary for a disabled person of any age after an accident or illness, but it’s commonly required for seniors with diminished mobility or dementia.
If you’re thinking about aging in place, it’s a good idea to start early. Establishing a plan when you — and your home — are in good shape can buy you time, save you money, and make for a more convenient transition in the future. From deciding whether to stay or go to making home modifications, there are a lot of things to consider while planning to age in place.
While many people choose to stay in their current home, others may choose to downsize to save time and money on heating, cooling, and maintenance. Whichever you choose, the home where you will grow old will more than likely need some upgrades. Read on to learn more about features that can help you age at home, safely and comfortably.
While you can’t predict what your future needs will be, you can plan to make your home accessible no matter what the future holds. Some features to consider in your home to improve accessibility:
- Wide Hallways: A hallway at least 42” wide is ideal as it allows space to navigate with a wheelchair or walker.
- Wide Doorways: For reasons similar to why a wide hallway is recommended, internal door widths should be at least 34” wide, while the door for the home’s entry should be at least 36” wide.
- Lever handles on the doors: Replacing door knobs with ADA-compliant lever handles makes opening doors easier since it doesn’t require gripping a knob. If you have arthritis, or your hands are full carrying things, opening a door with a lever handle is easy.
- Good lighting and high contrast spaces: Prevent trips and falls by making sure your home has good lighting so you can see more clearly, as well as contrast between the walls and floors to more easily orient yourself.
- Easy to maintain, non-slip flooring: In addition to making sure your floors aren’t too slippery, be careful with small area rugs as they can be a tripping hazard.
- No-step entryway: Fewer steps mean less risk of tripping and falling and prepares your home in case of a wheelchair or walker.
- Bedroom and bathroom on the first floor: As stairs become more difficult to climb, having a bedroom on the first floor allows you to stay in your home longer.
The bathroom can be one of the most dangerous rooms in the house for slips and falls. Here are a few features that will make your bathroom safer:
- Comfort height toilet: Along with strategically placed grab bars, a taller comfort height toilet makes it easier to raise and lower yourself to use the bathroom.
- Walk in shower: Without a barrier to step over while getting in and out of the shower, you are less likely to lose your balance and fall.
- Handshower: Adding a hand shower to your shower offers you greater mobility. With a hand shower you can easily adjust where the water is directed and bring the stream to you. Paired with a shower seat, a handheld showerhead can make you safer and more comfortable.
- Grab Bars: Grab bars are an inexpensive and simple upgrade to start the aging in place process. Great for use in the shower, and alongside the toilet to assist in standing up and lowering yourself, grab bars are available in a wide range of styles and finishes so they can be easily incorporated into your bathroom decor.
- Shower Seats: Showers can be slippery places, and a shower seat is great for keeping you safe, comfortable and supported while showering.
There is a lot to consider while planning to age in place. By planning ahead and considering what upgrades you may need to make moving forward, you can be prepared for whatever the future holds.
Marion Endsley is the Content Manager at #GRABDASHBAR where she writes and maintains a blog that focuses on preparing your home to age in place.
There is no doubt among its practitioners that yoga is one of the best ways to improve yourself — mind, body, and soul. As the popularity of yoga grows, so does the age range of those choosing to get into it. Seniors, maybe more than any other age group, can truly benefit from this amazing form of exercise.
Guest article by Final Expense Rate
If you were to pass away, and you have not prepaid your funeral expenses, or you have not purchased funeral insurance, costly funeral expenses can be a very stressful situation for your family. Average funeral services cost between $5,000 and $15,000! In fact, for many families, this is too expensive, and that is when funeral planning can become a financial and emotional nightmare. Although it is not something that people like to think about (either in relation to their own life or in others), there are times when you simply do not know what to do if you cannot pay for a funeral.
While this situation is not ideal, it does not mean that you do not have options. There are government and church organizations to provide support, and you may be able to find a financing option that suits your lifestyle. If you are preparing to plan a funeral and do not have the funds available to cover everything, here are some options and tips that tell you what to do if you cannot pay for a funeral:
WHAT TO DO IF YOU CANNOT PAY A FUNERAL:
- Family and friends: It is not easy to ask for help from your loved ones or relatives you do not know, but you may be surprised at how willing people are to help. Death has a way of bringing out the best in people. Asking for donations instead of flowers of sympathy is also a possibility.
- Religious organizations: Most churches do not have the money to cover the funeral expenses of all members, but they have links to the community that can make a big difference. Charges can be made to help pay for a funeral, or church officials can direct you to services and non-profit organizations that exist to help cover some of the more expensive costs. You may also find that they are willing or able to donate a place for burial or a place for the funeral.
- Government Assistance: If the deceased received benefits or assistance from the government during his life, there are usually funds available to help with the burial needs. You can contact Social Security or Medicaid directly for more information.
- County where you live: County services also exist for those in need. Try calling the county forensic office for more information about what happens to bodies that have not been delivered to a funeral home. They often have direct cremation or direct burial options for those who need them. (However, keep in mind that if the city or state covers the cost of the funeral, they have the legal right to liquidate the estate of the deceased in order to recover their money.) There are also counties that donate money for the costs of a funeral if the deceased was the victim of a violent act.
- Payment plans: Funeral homes are aware of the financial constraints that many people face, and most are willing to work with you to find a solution. There are payment plans to distribute funeral costs, and you may be able to finance a direct burial or direct cremation (this may depend on the credit rating). Obviously, financing options of this type are very few and the interests are quite elevated.
- Body Donation options: Although it is not something that many people feel comfortable with, donating a body to science is a way to get rid of the remains at no cost to you. This comes with the added benefit of knowing that you and the deceased are making an invaluable contribution to science and medicine.
- Crowdfunding (Community Donation): Today there are several resources on the internet that you can use to raise funds through social networks and web pages. You simply create a free account and share the information on facebook, twitter, and other social networks. The money raised is given to you once the campaign period has ended. One of the most popular companies for this purpose is Gofundme. Visit their page and learn more about these options. (Remember that these companies charge a percentage of the funds collected)
THE BEST SOLUTION: BUY FUNERAL INSURANCE AHEAD OF TIME.
Funeral insurance or final expense insurance can be a great solution for those who will deal with your funeral some day. Our Agency offers many options with top rated life insurance companies. Visit our website today and obtain prices and options.
Protect Yourself From Sharks
Guest Article By Christina Lynn, CDFACEP
We live in a litigious society. Lawsuits fly around courtrooms across the United States. Why? Because sharks smell blood. When you rear-end someone, the shark (the other driver) may smell blood (your German car). Raising an an eyebrow, interest peaked, the shark dials the 1-800-number on the billboard sign in front of him that reads, “Injured in an auto accident? Call our bulldog personal injury attorneys. We fight for maximum compensation!”
$1,000,000 legal settlement later, your nest egg is wiped clean. It’s not fun to restart your retirement plan from scratch.
For better and for worse, the United States protects the rights of an individual to sue another individual, or business, for wrongdoing. Even if there is no foul play on your part, you can’t prevent a lawsuit from happening.
Convinced you can win the lawsuit? Your wallet will still forfeit a hefty sum in attorney fees.
Continue reading “A Simple Tip To Protect Your Nest Egg In Retirement”
As you age, your abilities change. Perhaps the stairs take you just a little bit longer or you find yourself tripping or stumbling into a corner more often than not. Fortunately, living options abound to meet your needs and expectations. Check out the pros and cons of the following living options and decide which one would work the best for you:
Aging in Place
The term “aging in place” is becoming very commonplace, and if you’ve never heard of it, you need to add it to your vocabulary. Aging in place refers to seniors who prefer to live in their current place of residence for as long as they are physically and mentally able, receiving help if necessary, but remaining relatively independent. This is a great option for seniors who prefer to enjoy the autonomy you are used to in the comfort of your own home without a major life change. However, this type of lifestyle requires home modifications, which can be a little pricey depending on how in-depth or advanced they are. The most common modifications are grab bars in the bathroom, shower seats, walk-in tubs/showers, wider doorways, ramps, and security systems. Some adjustments are inexpensive, but some will require building and installation, which can come with a price tag.
As we get older, we slow down, our minds start to blur, and the gray creeps in. However, physical and mental health is important during all stages of life. After all, age is just a number right? Use this toolkit as a guide for brain and body-boosting activities for seniors of all abilities, as well as resources for further learning.
Stay in the Know
While you might disagree with what age you start to qualify as a senior, the fact is that seniors are a unique demographic. Due to this, seniors require their own personalized information for various life situations. You’re in luck, as some of the most informational ones can be found right here:
- AARP – advocates for your needs via information, initiatives, projects, and services
- NCOA – promotes the well-being and success of seniors via helpful resources
- Senior Journal – direct access to news and resources pertaining to seniors
- NIA – helpful and thorough information on various health issues often experienced by seniors
- HUD – information on housing options for seniors, including financial assistance
Activities for Mental and Physical Health
Continuing with the “age is just a number” theme, there are several activities for seniors that can jumpstart both your mental and physical health, regardless of age and mobility. The following are just a few to get you started:
Continue reading “Fun and Safe Activities for Seniors”