Tips for Contacting Volunteers with Elder Helpers

Our non-profit organization connects the elderly with people desiring to help them. At this time, the people seeking assistance using the Elder Helpers service are required to contact volunteers by phone. We believe that this is the best method, because it is very personal, but sometimes those calling can have a difficult time finding what to say.

In this post, we will present tips for you to follow so that you can contact the caregiver that work best for you. We want you to not only be satisfied with finding the best volunteer for you, but also be happy when you are being helped by them. Follow these three simple and easy tips to make a smooth transition into the perfect volunteer – elder relationship:

It is very important to stay relaxed and friendly. When we speak with others, our own emotions tend to be reflected in the person we are speaking with. They react to how we are behaving around them, so just be calm and be yourself like you are calling a distant friend.

Do not get discouraged when contacting caregivers  if you do not get an immediate response, give them a few days. Because volunteers are contacted by phone, some people are not available at all times, may have disconnected phone numbers or other issues. We strive to maintain an accurate volunteer database for subscribers.

Remember that our volunteers are safe and have background screenings. They have joined our service because they truly desire to make a difference in their community. It is of the utmost importance of our organization to make  you happy, healthy and above all, safe.

Are you interested in assisting an elder near you? Click the following link to volunteer for the elderly in your community.

 

Depression & The Elderly

Depression in seniors in not uncommon, but that does not mean that it lacks seriousness or should be taken lightly. By definition, depression is a prolonged state of sadness that is different from grieving and can last a very long time. In this post, we will help you to understand if you or an elder you know has depression. It can sometimes be difficult to determine this, as many aging diseases or other aging traits can be perceived as symptoms of depression. The good news is that you can take steps to help reduce the stressors in the senior’s life or get them professional assistance to help them feel better.

Common symptoms of depression

Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

Fatigue and decreased energy

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness

Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

Restlessness/IrritabilityInsomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable

Overeating or appetite loss

Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings

What you can do to help

If the elder that you care for experiences these symptoms, it may alert you that they could have depression. You may instinctively want to help them or change it, but the best things that you can do for is being a faithful friend or seeking professional help. Sometimes people like to talk about their feelings, but in most cases, discussing it only makes it worse and can cause anger towards your attempts to help. If you know the person well enough that they like to openly express their feelings, you can subtly ask them if there is anything that they would like to talk about or that has been bothering them. To not be persistent or aggressive, if they want to talk they will when they are ready.

Depending on the severity, attempting to get an able-bodied homebound senior outdoors and interacting with other people may help. Doing light exercises like water aerobics can also do a great deal of good, provided that the senior is willing and their doctor enables the activity. If the depression is more serous and the senior denies the opportunity to do any activities because he or she no longer finds them enjoyable or ‘worthwhile’, you should contact a medical professional. Their extensive experience in having elderly patients with depression gives them expertise and the elder’s doctor may know private information about their health that could be linked to the depression.

Depression is not an easy thing watch a loved one experience. With a watchful eye and caring heart, it can be spotted early and its chances of getting worse can decrease. Just be careful not to assume too quickly or ask too many personal questions, as some of the symptoms can be the result of an aging disease and not depression. You should never, under any circumstances recommend or give the senior any medication that is not prescribed by their doctor. Medication is very complex and when it is taken in combination with others or not under professional circumstances, the consequences can be very negative physically for the senior and legally for the person that recommends the medication.

How to Help Aging Parents Stay Healthy: Elderly Resources for Healthy Living

When we say, “stay healthy,” we do not just mean eating a well balanced diet. Staying healthy can be synonymous with staying protected physically, being mentally happy and emotionally well balanced in this context. As we get older, the importance of this broad meaning increases, along with our decisions to become more health conscious. Fortunately, plenty of resources exist willing to provide help for senior citizens such as yourself or your elderly parents. The sites listed below cost nothing; they are entirely free elderly resources from U.S. Government organizations designed to improve and maintain seniors’ health.

Senior Care Resources for Health & Wellbeing:

National Center on Elder Abuse: If you or someone you love is being abused or neglected, this website is a free anonymous hotline to report the individual to the proper authorities. Not only will you be enabling the victims to receive better care for the elderly, you could be potentially saving a life.

Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs: If an elder makes less than $13,000 alone or $26,000 combined income, they may be eligible for addition help with prescription drug costs in the United States.  This may be a good option to provide elderly parents or yourself with adequate care for seniors and to protect the senior’s health with medication prescribed by a medical doctor.

Eating Healthy: This free guide from the National Institute on Aging provides resources for elders on how to continue eating healthy after age fifty. It focuses on the daily diet and how it can be improved to manage seniors’ health.

 

Communication Tips: for volunteers helping elders

As an elder care service, we stress the importance of communication when caring for seniors. Proper verbal and non-verbal communication can improve the companionship that you provide. We have collected three tips for you today that will improve your relationship with seniors and the non-profit elder care that you provide for them.

Encourage engagement:  When elders respond to questions that you ask them, it lets you know that they understand the message that you are conveying to them. It helps you become a better elderly caregiver when you actively ask open-ended questions and allows the elder to feel better about their own communication methods.

Re-state main points: Many great writers or speakers will include conclusions into their presentations or literature to help readers remember the key points. When serving as a volunteer caregiver for the elderly, you can improve your communication and increase the ideas remembered by simply re-stating them.

Short, Sweet and to the Point: Steven Hawking is a famous physicist and writer, well known for his ability to present complicated material for anyone to understand. Most people prefer short and simple sentences, with the key points easy to understand. We believe that shortening and simplifying your speech will help you to provide better help for the elderly and improve other relationships as well. 

Early Stages of Alzheimer’s: Helping Elderly Parents through Understanding

As you or your elderly relative becomes older, they may experience some indications that could be early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The sooner that you notice these signs,the better help that you can provide help for your aging parents. Alzheimer’s has several levels of severity,however we will be focusing on the actions indicating the disease in general.

Severe memory loss preventing daily living can be one sign that is tricky to distinguish, because some people simply have a poor memory. If the memory loss disrupts the elder’s daily life or general problem solving abilities it may be helpful to investigate further. If the elder is regularly confused for activities that were once routine or elementary, this may be an indication of the disease.

The confusion may be demonstrated in conversation or if the elder misplaces objects frequently. A social withdrawal or change in mood or personality may also be due to other circumstances, so you may be able to notice more than one symptom. If you or the volunteer for the elder notices that he or she has become fearful, depressed or worried frequently or disassociate with normal activities, it may be the result of something else. It is important to focus on several signs and understand that while it is important to know early, it may be easily misunderstood for something else.

How to Help Seniors Avoid Scams: Helping Elders Stay Protected

The internet and technology revolution that seniors have seen within the past few decades has simplified life, but also opened them up to several new forms of scams. When finding help for seniors with finance, legal or general living issues, it is essential that elders stay protected to avoid falling victim to scams.

With scamming, prevention is the key to success. Steps can be taken to prevent elders from begin scammed online or offline that can be much simpler than having to resolve the consequences. As the authorities work to provide new methods to stop seniors from begin scammed, we have complied three resources for elders to help them stay safe and protected:

Be Selective about Disclosing Personal Information

Some scammers may call the senior’s home and request personal information that may be used to commit fraud. Websites or e-mails have also been known to be set up to have an appearance of a legitimate website to ‘trick’ users into entering their personal information. If necessary, ask that the senior speak to a relative or caregiver before they distribute personal information.

Assign a Power of Attorney

Seniors can request to assign a power of attorney, which enables a trusted individual like a family member or financial professional to manage their finances if they become unable. Not only does this protect the senior, but it can also keep trusted relatives with good intentions legally safe.

Order Medicare Discount Drug Cards Directly From Medicare

Discount drug cards are sold by several companies and many can help elders to save on their prescription drug costs, but the card can do more harm than good for the elderly if it is being sold by a scammer. To avoid any Medicare card scams, only order your card from Medicare directly by calling them at: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)

3 Tips for Helping the Elderly Use Computers

We have moved quickly from the release of the very large first personal computer, to super advanced machines that are more transportable than a book. How is an elder supposed to keep up with this rate of change? Do not worry, the technology lingo and hype you hear these days is not important to most people. There are still preparations that you can take to ensure that the computer is simple, yet still very beneficial.

1. It may help to make the screen larger for the elder, if they have trouble seeing it. Simple steps can be taken to increase icon size, window size and the size of the text displayed on the screen. For more information on how to make specific features of your PC larger, click this link.

2. If you are the person setting the computer up in the home or you know the person that is, tell them to just keep it simple. Computers are as complicated as we want them to be, or perceive them to be. To do this, ask the elder what he or she wants to do on the computer and delete all of icons that do not accomplish this task by dragging them into the recycle bin. Do not uninstall the programs unless you are a computer professional, as this may have unintended consequences.

3. Is there virus protection software on the PC and is it up-to-date? Alerts should notify you if there is not, a red or yellow alert button will be located on the bottom of the screen near the start button. If there is a red alert button, stating that your ant-virus is not active or you believe that there is no anti-virus software on your computer, follow the URL below to get Microsoft’s free virus removal software. 

In the summer heat

In the summer heat, it can become a great challenge to heat our homes without skyrocketing the electricity bill. Additionally, many of us may not have a cooling system. These situations can become dangerous for the elderly who demand a safe room temperature, particularly those living alone on the hot summer days. This article presents nine ways that you can help seniors stay cool to beat the heat, without beating the budget.

1. Avoid Direct Sunlight: Investing in drapes or shades for windows to block the sun’s rays can avoid heating the home through direct sunlight. The first step to a cooler and safer home is through the elimination of sunlight, which causes heat to increase through the sun’s warming rays.

2. Windows: Although this may sound contradictory to the first step, use a white or light colored window dressing to reflect the sunlight to have the windows open to let cool air in, without being subject to the sunrays. Additionally, leave cabinets open, as they tend to hold in heat.

3. Turn you fan into an air conditioner: Placing a frozen bowl of ice or milk in front of a fan can make the fan act as an air condition. The ice emits cooling air, which is distributed through the home with the fan.

4. Electronics are hot: Keep in mind that electronics create heat. This heat may be very minor, but if you have many electronics in your home on at the same time it can slightly increase the temperature.

5. Avoid Heat: If you use the oven frequently in the home, consider switching to an alternative such as the microwave. The oven can get over 500 degrees and releases its heat into the surrounding area, which can heat the home.

6. Humidity: A high humidity can increase the feeling of a temperature in a room. Obtaining a dehumidifier may assist, particularly if you live in a humid climate.

7. Landscaping: For a more long term solution, planting trees around the home can give shade, which will cool the home by preventing sun rays from going through your windows or hitting your home.

8. Attic insulation: One of the best ways is to insulate the attic, especially when an attic-ventilating fan is used. This can reduce the temperature from the outdoors and cause hot air to be removed from the home.

9. Light Bulbs: Light bulbs give off small amounts of heat, but having them on can increase the temperature of a room, particularly if several are on at a given time.

 

Elder Helpers’ Standard for Volunteers: The Code for Caregivers

Care about your important volunteer position in order to provide the best help possible. The more that you care about helping the elderly, the more emotionally rewarding and meaningful the experience will be. Demonstrating that you are concerned about providing help for the elderly will show them that they are respected and valued.

Compassion in actions through understanding. The elderly sometimes have difficulty communicating or mobility restraints and it is important to not get frustrated. Remember that it is not their fault; it is just part of the aging process. By reading the Caregivers Guide to Compassion, you can understand what the elderly may be experiencing to provide the best experience for you and them.

Trust must be established with every relationship from the beginning. It should grow and strengthen with time. It is the foundation to all great relationships, your building blocks to success. By maintaining integrity with the elder, you can gain their gratitude and the satisfaction of helping others.

Reliability demonstrated in the relationship by arriving at a previously agreed upon time and consistently. The elderly can become accustomed to a daily routine and interrupting it can cause stress and anxiety. Being reliable in this context means keeping your promises, mainly with scheduling. While your visits may not be the most important activity on your agenda for you, it may be for the elder.

Respect of the beliefs held and lifestyle lived by the elder that you care for.  Our organization operates around the world, honoring all backgrounds and we expect volunteers to do the same. This is for the best interest of you and the elder.  Achieving this may mean some personal subjects like religion; political beliefs or finances are better left unmentioned.

Genuine companionship and care should be provided for the elderly. We believe that this is possible by not accepting money for yourself or our organization. You are very smart because as a volunteer, you understand that there are more satisfying rewards when you provide authentic compassion.

Safety should be practiced and not dismissed when volunteering for the elderly. This may include taking preparation before engaging in athletic activities, sustaining a healthy diet or ensuring that the home is free of potential hazards.

Honesty should remain among the most important factors in your relationship. It is the quality that binds the code together, allowing the relationship to flourish and your care to be the best available. There are no exceptions to not being honest or compromises for integrity.

Friendship will develop over time when the ethical code is practiced. You may not need to take special measures, just be yourself and the relationship will prosper. This is a result of your compassionate care and companionship over time.

Senior Nutrition: Recommended Calorie Intake

It is important for seniors to stay healthy by eating the ‘right’ diet. This can help them to live a longer and healthier life in which they feel better and can help to alleviate or prevent some aging diseases. Eating healthy is very important at any age, but in seniors it could have serious adverse effects on the body due to the aging diseases that it may cause.

So what is the ‘right diet’ for seniors and how do you know what seniors should eat? The senior’s doctor should give the specific answer to this question, however we will present some general tips and diet information to help them stay healthier and happier for longer.

To begin, it is important to know an estimation of how many calories seniors should be consuming based on varying fitness levels. Too many calories can result in weight gain that could increase the chance of falls with osteoporosis and cause or worsen diabetes that can result in life threatening health problems. Here are the recommended calorie intake levels by the National Institute on Aging:

 A woman over 50 who is:                                                          A man over 50 who is:

Not active: 1600 calories a day                                                       Not active: 2000 calories a day

Somewhat active: 1800 calories a day                                          Somewhat active: 2200-2400 calories a day

Very active: 2000 calories a day                                                     Very active: 2400-2800 calories a day