Stroke Awareness Month- Know the Signs

May is Stroke Awareness Month – and it is vital to know the warning signs of a stroke. Use the acronym FAST or the chart below to help identify a stroke.

F- face drooping

A- arm weakness

S- speech difficulty

T- time to call 911

stroke

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Above and Beyond

Sheila

Sheila winning a door prize at the Alzheimer’s conference last year.

It’s important to highlight what makes Capability Caregivers so special. When you’re choosing someone to care for your elderly parents, it helps to know this person will go above and beyond what’s expected.

 

Take for instance our amazing caregiver Sheila.

Sheila has been caring for the same couple for over a year and a half. She provides live in care– meaning she spends 4 full days living in their home- helping them with day to day tasks (ADL’s) such as making meals, helping with bathing and dressing, personal care (assisting with toileting and catheter care) providing companionship and keeping them safe in their home.

She also takes them for walks, drives to doctor’s appointments, runs errands, takes out the trash, gets the newspaper each day, takes care of light housekeeping, keeps the kitchen stocked and more… all the tasks that we take for granted, but have to be done to keep our homes running smoothly.

Sheila has been a caregiver for 8 years- she is a trained CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and on her own time takes extra CEU classes to further her education and skill set. Last year I remember running into her at the Alzheimer’s conference- she had attended on her own so that she could learn more about caring for her clients.

Sheila says she loves working with Mr and Mrs S because she learns so much from them- they are interesting to talk to- and more importantly, they are still so in love with one another. Their love for one another brings a smile to Sheila’s face because she knows that she is helping them stay together in their home to live out their old age.

The hardest part of Sheila’s work day is recognizing that Mr and Mrs S both have dementia- and they are slowly slipping away from their former selves which makes Sheila sad.

Sheila’s passion is cooking- as was evident the day I went over to visit and interview her for this article. The house smelled delicious! She had prepared an omelet with green peppers, fresh cottage cheese with berries, sausage links, toast, coffee and juice (keep in mind she had no idea I was coming by, she cooks like that every day!).

What I noticed more than the amazing food- was that on the table were decorations for St Patty’s day. She had 4 leaf clovers scattered around, confetti strewn on the table, pictures of leprechaun and other little nick knacks on display. On a white board next to the table was written the day of the week, the schedule for the day and a little note reminding them that St. Patty’s day was coming up.

I asked Sheila about this- and she replied that she does this each month as a reminder to Mr and Mrs S about whatever holiday is coming up. It helps them stay in touch with the outside world and brings them a little joy. It also adds a festive element to their home- making it seem like a party every day!

I was so touched by this- because to me- it goes above and beyond what would be expected. She truly cares about Mr and Mrs S and treats them as if they were her own parents.  Her devotion to them is so evident in the loving way she cares for them. I know Mr and Mrs S (and their adult children) are grateful for all that Sheila does to help them live comfortably at home.

Sheila exemplifies the core values that we live by at Capability Homecare- honesty, integrity, empathy and compassion.

5 Ways to Prepare for Homecare

Once you’ve made the choice to provide in-home care for an elderly member there will be many things you need to take care of. At first, your decision may overwhelm you and create a lot of stress. But with a little knowledge and planning, some of this stress can be relieved. Here are some tips that will help you provide better and hopefully make the transition a pleasant experience for everyone involved:

Accept the Change

The very first step is to accept that there will be a change. Depending on the level of care there may be dramatic changes to your lifestyle, or negligible ones. Whatever the case may be, it is necessary that you accept and embrace the change that will soon be coming your way.

Keep Your Family Involved

Your decision to provide in-home care needs to be discussed with your family. The effects of ageing in an in-home care situation are very prominent, and will affect your family members in different ways. Take into account everyone’s opinions on the matter, so that you can prepare for any potential challenges. Make sure responsibility is divided equally so that no one person is stretched beyond their limits.

Eliminate Clutter

A messy environment in general makes it hard to get things done. This will become more of a hassle in an in-home care situation. Obstructed pathways and all round clutter pose challenges and risk the safety of your loved ones. Thus, a good way to prepare for in-home caregiving is to minimize clutter, and organize your surroundings. Having a neat space will make caregiving much easier for you, and will also be greatly appreciated by your elder family members.

Modify the Home

Sometimes, your home may need certain adjustments to make living more comfortable for your elder loved ones. Consider what modifications you may need, from installing a walk in-tub to investing in grab bars to promote stair safety.

Remember Yourself

Caregiving can take a toll on anyone. In the process of giving care, make sure not to neglect yourself. Caregiving is very demanding, even if you are helping your own family members. Neglecting oneself often happens subconsciously, but can have negative repercussions. As a care provider, it’s important to look after yourself so you are in the best condition to provide care for others. Remember to eat and sleep well, stay healthy, and take a break every now and then, giving yourself the attention and care you rightly deserve.

Keeping these things in mind will lessen the anxiety and stress that often accompanied in-home care giving in its initial stages. Ultimately, you will find that in-home care giving is a wonderfully fulfilling process – not only for your dearly loved elders, but also for you.

Written by Akshata Mehta, who has also written for Not Now Mom’s Busy, The Small FootPrint Family, Family Groove

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

glaucome banner

Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness.

Diagnosing Glaucoma Early Can Help Preserve Sight.  Usually there are no early warning signs of glaucoma.  Many people are unaware they already have glaucoma and become aware of a problem suddenly when the side or peripheral vision becomes shaded. 

It affects people of ALL age groups but usually people age 60 or older are affected and even more so over age 80, especially those of Hispanic or Latino origin.  African Americans are at a higher risk and often as early as age 40. 

Diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease may increase an individual’s risk for glaucoma.

With early detection, vision loss may be lessened or halted.  Everyone over age 40 should have regular eye checkups including a dilated exam.  A glaucoma test is covered for Medicare beneficiaries under Medicare Part B.  Treatments as simple as specialized eye drops that reduce the pressure building up inside the eye may make a difference in reducing vision loss.

We encourage everyone to have regular eye checkups.  Capability Homecare caregivers with Nurse Delegation may administer Glaucoma Eye Drops when needed along with our exceptional care.

               Additional information about glaucoma is available at https://nei.nih.gov/education.

When Ho, Ho, Ho feels More Like Ho Hum

This is the time of year when it seems like everyone is full of cheer- but truth be told, not everyone you see is feeling joyful. In fact, depression is actually quite common during the holidays- especially among the elderly.

Sadly,  the elderly population ranks 2nd in the nation for the highest suicide rate.*

During this holiday season, if you notice things that make you concerned about a loved one, there are a few signs to look for if you fear they may be suffering from depression:

  1. Mental exhaustion
  2. Loss of interest in normal activities
  3. Recurrent thoughts of death
  4. Loss of appetite
  5. Loss of energy
  6. Socially withdrawn
  7. Insomnia
  8. Lack of personal hygiene

If you notice that they exhibit more than one of these signs, it is suggested you seek professional help.

Some of the risk factors for suicide and depression include**:

  1. Alcohol or substance abuse
  2. Current use of a medication associated with a high risk of depression
  3. Hearing or vision impairment severe enough to affect function
  4. History of attempted suicide
  5. History of psychiatric hospitalization
  6. Medical diagnosis or diagnoses associated with a high risk of depression
  7. New admission or change in environment
  8. New stressful losses, including loss of autonomy, loss of privacy, loss of functional status, loss of body part, or loss of family member or friend
  9. Personal or family history of depression or mood disorder

If you are concerned about a loved one, it is important that you talk to them and get them to their primary care doctor for PH2Q evaluation.

The good news is that depression can be treated in a variety of ways. Including Psychotherapy, Pharmacotherapy, and in some cases ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy).

For those who have minor depression- helping them find purpose and meaning in their life can often be beneficial. Brookdale Communities offer an Optimum Life program that focuses on all aspects of one’s life, including physical, emotional, social and intellectual stimulation.

Eating a healthy diet can also help increase mood. Encourage your loved one to eat foods that are rich in Omega 3 fats and get plenty of vitamin D. Often seniors who live alone rely on frozen foods to get by, hiring a Capability Caregiver to prepare healthy, nutritious meals can make a huge difference. Even just having a companion to eat meals with can help alleviate loneliness.

If you are worried about your loved one, have faith, patience and seek help.  With the proper care- depression can be treated and you can turn ho hum into ho, ho, ho!

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Walking in the Park

*http://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures

** http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=32668

How Much Does Senior Care Really Cost?

As far as senior care goes, when it comes down to it- one thing people really care about is how much does it cost?
So today I want to share what senior care actually costs. All figures are averages– and depending on circumstances (level of acuity), cost can increase significantly. Rates were based on Genworth’s Annual Care Costs report.*

Homecare– (this is what Capability Homecare  provides)

  • Caregivers are assigned to a specific client and assist with medication, mobility, personal care (assist with toilet, catheter & ostomy care), bathing, meals & nutritiion, housekeeping, transportation, skin care, and ADL’s.
  • For 8 hours a day of service- it can cost around $240 a day (average cost is around $30 per hour, most agencies have a 4 hour per week minimum). Care can be short term or long term. Care is usually paid for privately or with LTC Insurance.

Assisted Living

  • Facilities that provide supervision or assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs); coordination of services by outside health care providers; and monitoring of resident activities to help to ensure their health, safety, and well-being. Meals, housekeeping and care are provided. Caregivers assist residents, but are not assigned one on one.
  • Depending on how much care is needed- costs can range from $6000 a month to upwards of $7000+. Memory care is often more expensive. AL is paid for privately or with LTC Insurance.

Adult Family Home

  • Homes that have been configured to provide housing, meals and care for between 2- 6 senior residents. They are often for people with dementia, but each home is very different and specialize in their own specific care.
  • Because there are so many homes in the Greater Seattle area, we recommend using a Placement Specialist to find the best fit for your specific needs.
  • Most homes have a home doctor/ or nurse practioner who regulary visit the residents (billing Medicare)
  • Cost can be around $6000- $7000 a month.

Skilled Nursing Facility

  • This is more of a hospital type setting. Often seniors will share a room with another person. There is a MD on staff as well as nurses, caregivers, social workers and rehab staff.
  • If there has been a hospital stay (with 3 midnights) Medicare will pay for services- for a limited time. Sometimes, after Medicare stops paying, people chose to continue on at a SNF and live in the Long Term Care wing. The average daily cost for private pay in a SNF is $320 (semi private) and $420 (private) a day.

Adult Day Care

  • Drop off daycare where seniors can socialize with other seniors, enjoy a meal and participate in an activity or outing. Seniors enjoy the companionship of other seniors and have access to staff.
  • Average cost of Adult Day Care is around $100 a day.

Home Health

  • Services include Wound Care, PT, OT, Speech therapy, Social Work and sometimes a bath visit. Clinician comes to the client’s home to provide services on a short term basis.
  • This is generally covered by Medicare- and must be received under doctor’s orders and meet certain requirements (patient must be considered homebound). Different than Homecare- but the two services complement one another and often get confused.

Hospice

  • Must be determined by MD and meet certain criteria. Nurses and caregivers provide comfort care for terminally ill patients.
  • Medicare benefit.

Long Term Care Insurance

  • Often a great way to pay for many of these services. It does require advance planning (usually around 10 years), but can be a lifesaver if needed. Be sure to buy from a trusted agent and do your homework!

Elder Care Attorney

  • Speak to an Elder Care attorney who can help protect your assets and do long term planning for your estate.
For more information about any of these options, please call Capability Homecare. We have many trusted partners that we would be happy to refer you to. 
*https://www.genworth.com/corporate/about-genworth/industry-expertise/cost-of-care.html

Why Hiring Help Could actually save you Money

photo credit: istockphoto.com

photo credit: istockphoto.com

The growing number of Americans caring for their aging loved ones often face financial strain along with their daily caregiving responsibilities. A survey this year of 1,345 family caregivers by Caring.com found that 46 percent of caregivers spend more than $5,000 a year on related expenses. Those costs include medications, medical bills and in-home care. One-third of respondents said they spend 30-plus hours a week on caregiving and half said they had to change their work schedule to make room for those responsibilities.

“All across the country, adult children are paying for this just at the time when they should be saving for their own retirement,” says Andy Cohen, founder of Caring.com. He started the site after being a caregiver for his mother, who passed away from cancer in 2006. He says his family made many financial mistakes, including hiring an in-home care agency that wasn’t covered under his mother’s long-term insurance policy; not having necessary financial documents, like one that designates a health care agent in place; and paying for care out of his own savings rather than his mother’s assets, which is not optimal from a tax or Medicaid eligibility standpoint.

Cohen urges families engaged in caregiving to set up a family meeting to talk through the financial ramifications and how to handle them. If one person is serving as the primary caregiver, then other siblings might want to contribute more financially, for example, he says. “It’s becoming more common to pay the family member who is the caregiver,” he says, especially because that person often has to cut back on his or her work hours or even quit a job altogether.

Cohen also notes that despite the fact that 43 million people in the country are now caring for someone over age 50, caregivers often feel very lonely. He urges them to seek support through websites like his own. Caregiving experts also offered these five strategies for minimizing the financial stress of taking care of an older adult:

1. Leverage community help. This approach won’t work for everybody, but those who live in close-knit communities might find some relief by sharing duties with neighbors or enlisting a local scout troop to handle yard work or read to the older adult. Paula Spencer Scott, author of “Surviving Alzheimer’s: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers,” shares the story of two neighbors who both lived with their mothers and took turns handling caregiving duties for both women. She adds that local meal programs or adult day care services might be available at low or no cost.

2. Hire help for yourself. Scott says that for a relatively low cost, caregivers can hire help in the form of a personal organizer or personal ​concierge to run errands or handle yard work, which can free up time and energy for caregiving or other work or life responsibilities. Similarly, automating as many tasks as possible, such as grocery delivery and bill pay, can also free up time. And giving the caregiver a break is important: “You have to spend a little on respite time for yourself, even if it’s a few hours a week to get a massage or a haircut. That’s an expense many caregivers aren’t willing to make, but they’ll pay a bigger price for it later,” Scott says.

3. Try to avoid quitting your job. Nell Lake​, author of “The Caregivers: A Support Group’s Stories of Slow Loss, Courage, and Love,” says it can make more sense to hire help if it enables you to maintain your career as well as health insurance and other benefits. She points out that 1 in 10 caregivers quits a  jobs to provide full-time care to an elderly family member, which on average costs more than $300,000 in lifetime wages, Social Security and pension income.

4. Check up on public benefits. Veterans (and spouses)​ might qualify for certain benefits, and other government programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicare Part D Extra Help Program and Medicaid, are also available to those over age 65 or under the federal poverty limit. Lake recommends the website BenefitsCheckUp.org as a resource.

5. Investigate long-term care options. Lake points out that long-term care can be complicated, and people with accumulated assets often must spend them first before qualifying for Medicaid coverage of nursing home or in-home care. An elder law attorney can often help caregivers better understand the current and future expenses and how to minimize them in the long run, she says.

Planning ahead as much as possible, even more​ after the potential caregiving needs are known, can also help caregivers and their loved ones prepare to handle the financial cost of what’s to come. “The more we all think about and plan for our own and our loved ones’ possible long-term care needs, the more prepared and less stressed we’ll be,” Lake says.

Editor’s note: Kimberly Palmer wrote this article through a Journalists in Aging Fellowship, a collaboration of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America, with support from AARP.