Tips For Visiting Elderly Relatives During The Holidays

Elder care is a growing issue in society. Caregiving at a distance can be difficult, stressful and time-consuming. And often the only time caregivers see the loved one is on a family visit, more than not tied around a holiday. It is very noticeable when something is awry when visits are infrequent. This holiday season be aware of your older loved one’s physical and mental capacity and take notice of their environment. Whether visiting someone in senior care centers or at home, here are some tips to help.

Where do you start?

First use your senses. Observe with your eyes, ears, and with your senses of taste, touch and smell. Look at the house/apartment. Is it being kept up? Is the environment unsafe, unsanitary? Track the chores you do while there as they could point to services your loved one needs after you leave. Is there any thing obviously missing or large-scale new purchases? This could indicate some type of exploitation/abuse by others.

How can you tell if a loved one has been abused?

As a healthcare conference speaker, I often need to remind my audience members of their responsibility in the community. And watching out for abuse of elders is one such responsibility.

There are different types of abuse, some initiated by others and those of self-neglect. Again use your senses. Observe physical or sexual abuse — bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, and rope marks.

Is there a new best friend around? Does a home care worker refuse to allow you to see your loved one alone?

Emotional abuse — is a loved one being emotionally upset or agitated; being extremely withdrawn and non communicative or self report being verbally or emotionally mistreated? These are signs that something is up.

Is mom or dad just slowing down or is there more going on?

It could be natural old age setting in or there could be signs of bigger health issues going on. Has there been excessive weight gain, weight loss, decline in general hygiene? How is their strength and balance? Does it prevent them from doing things? Will they accept help, say when you go to a mall and offer to get a wheelchair? Check for dehydration or undernourishment. Are your parents eating nutritious meals regularly? Are they able to prepare meals?

Are they wearing inappropriate clothes? Is their clothing inadequate? Check that they have all of their medical aids — eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures.

Look for signs of declining memory. Are loved ones placing items in wrong places, missing appointments? Are they forgetful?

Check expiration dates on medications. Are loved ones forgetting to take medications? Can they afford their medications? Has the number of prescriptions increased significantly?

Signs of Financial Stress

Unopened mail could indicate memory problems, vision problems, or hint at financial problems. Sweepstakes circulars could indicate they or someone is responding to offers. Are there overdue bills? Are bill collectors calling or showing up at the house?

Check for any changes in the loved ones bank account. Check for any additional names on a bank signature card. Check their bank statements. Is there unauthorized withdrawal of funds?

What Do I Do If They Need Care?

First, there is a delicate art on how to communicate with an elder loved one. You want to enjoy the time you have with them and ease into the conversation. Gather information on community services that can meet their needs. Take notes of services, fees, waiting lists.

Schedule a visit with your elder’s physician during the time you are there. Identify a social support system for your loved one. This includes people they can call on such as friends, neighbors, clergy, and others in regular contact. Meet these people while you are there.

Even if loved ones are fine, advance planning can help you to avoid a crisis in the future. Take a medication inventory. Document the names of physicians. Make sure they have a living will and durable power of attorney. Know where to find their financial information.

Enjoy your time with an elderly parent, relative or friend this season but be watchful of their needs. They will not let on or ask for help. So be a good observer, listener, and friend.

Written by Anthony Cirillo.

Taken from: The Huffington Post

Top Board Games for seniors

What comes to mind when you think of board games? For many of us, it is fun and non-electronic games that we remember playing in our youth at school. Today, many board games exist that can be fun for people of all ages. We will share what we believe to be the best games for elders:

Scrabble: We are sure that you have heard of this classic game, scrabble consists of a series of small letters in the form of squares that the players can arrange to make words, in order to score points. It is fun to play on a rainy day with a good friend, or when volunteering for seniors or sharing time with a caregiver. 

Pictionary: The best thing about this game is the worse of an artist that you are, the more challenging that it can be. The friends for seniors can play without purchasing the game, by simply selecting random and well known words from the dictionary and drawing them within one minute to see if the other player can guess the object.

Charades: Because this game often goes off the table and can require extra space, some question its ‘authenticity’ as a board game. However, it is still a fun word-based game that operates like Pictionary, except you act the words instead of drawing.  Seniors should consult a medical professional before engaging in any physical activities.

Checkers: For some, checkers is a fun guessing game where the outcome is solely based on chance. For other more competitive and strategic players, it can be a game of strategy and skill. This game is enjoyable to people of all skill levels and is a timeless classic.

Backgammon: You can rest assured that the seniors knows about this classic board game as many people believe that it was invented over 5,000 years ago. The objective is very simple, move your pieces across the board determined by the roll of dice. The person that removes all of their pieces first wins.

Chess: This often seems like a profound strategy game that few people are good at , I have heard some of the most educated people that I know doubt their chess skills. That is because to be very good at the game, it requires memory and learning different ‘strategies’ like the Italian Game, the French or Sicilian Defense. It is not necessary to learn these, in fact, some find improvising the entire game more enjoyable to share with a good friend.

Card Games: How many card games do you know? There is almost never a good excuse to not learning another one. By learning new things, you can help preserve the elder’s memory and help them and yourself to feel a since of accomplishment by working together to learn something new. Learn about many different card games, by visiting this link.

Many of these board games for the elderly can be enjoyed both by seniors in need of assistance and their volunteer caregivers. They have been specifically chosen because they may help to improve memory in older adults by having to learn new things and think logically, or keeping home-bound seniors fit with Charades when providing home-care and companionship for the elderly.

Caregiver’s Guilt: Recognition and Acceptance

Every task in our lives with value carries with it some inherent challenges and problems. As students, we had the dreaded homework. If we chose to participate in sports, we had to practice, even when we did not wish to. As parents, we had those days when we really wished we had decided not to have children. If we did not do our homework, skipped practice, or took a break away from our children, we felt guilty. Guilt seemed to move on with us as the situation changed. 

Taking care of an elderly person, whether they are a parent, a friend, or someone for whom we have assumed responsibility is a valuable life experience. And, just as with any other experience with value, there are challenges and difficulties. Our responses to the daily activities we engage in as we provide for elder care needs can breed that old, familiar feeling of guilt. It helps if we recognize the reasons for elder guilt and accept them as normal.

Everyone has difficult days, and this is especially true for the elderly, who have aches and pains, may be lonely, or suffer from memory loss or confusion. Dealing with changing needs and moods can be difficult and, no matter how hard we try to stay positive, resentment can creep in and then we feel guilt. Such feelings are normal. Here are three ways you can deal with elder guilt:

  1. Be honest about your feelings. If you admit to them, that is the first step in moving on. It may help to discuss your feelings honestly with someone else involved in elder care.
  2. Take a break. Just as with child-rearing, sport practice, and homework, some time away from what is causing the stress and resultant guilt can help allay those feelings. You may only be able to step into the kitchen to retrieve a cool drink of water, but when you get there, take a deep breath and relax, then return.
  3. Learn to deal realistically with expectations – yours and the person for whom you are caring. You cannot meet every need and requirement for care, no matter how hard you try. Be happy with doing your best. Also, realize that some desires expressed by the elder in your care simply cannot be met. If they wish to eat something prohibited by their doctor that is a need you cannot meet. Be content to do what you can to keep the person in your care as healthy and comfortable as possible.

Elder care is a valuable life experience. However, there are days when everything feels overwhelming and we may not be proud of our response. When elder guilt sets in, admitting honestly to the feeling, taking a break, and realistically dealing with daily challenges and problems, can help those moments pass and make our elder care experience even more rewarding.

Thinking Beyond Revenue, our Equation to Happiness.

There is a saying, “don’t cry over anything that cannot cry back.” It essentially means, do not place an emphasis on material possessions because they do not matter more than non-material things. Compassion, care and genuine companionship for the elderly are more rewarding than fancy cars, houses or boats. Many people believe this, while many others do not. A person’s true response to this may be best understood in critical situations. There was once a story of a sinking boat containing several very expensive jet planes. Instead of attempting to save a single multi-million dollar object, the top priority was to save the few people on board. To us, this seems like common sense. Saving the people has a reward that cannot be purchased with money, cannot be achieved through collecting a mass of fancy possessions.

There are several people in the world that would choose to save the merchandise instead. They may perceive financial gain to be superior to emotional satisfaction. We are not saying that these people are wrong or bad, just that they may be missing out on our greater rewards. When we talk about our operations with people placing an emphasis on profits with elder care services, they often do not understand our motives. Something that I have been asked is, “Why would you charge just enough money to cover expenses, when you could be making ten times this amount?”

We believe that you understand, striving to provide for the best elder care services gives us an emotional reward greater than money. While some companies strive for revenue and profits, we want to set a good example for the affordable hospices or geriatric providers of the world. We believe that money can take a higher level of satisfaction out of some things in life, which is why we strive to be the option for non-profit elder care in your community by connecting volunteers helping elders. By being affiliated with our program, it means that you understand the greater rewards, seeing past the immediate financial or material gains.

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. 

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.