We all know that caregiving can be extremely taxing on the mind and body if stress isn’t addressed and handled appropriately. That said, not everyone has a healthy outlet, let alone access to someone they can reach out to and discuss their experiences with, seeking honest feedback and advice.

That’s where online communities come in.

We’ve already discussed AARP’s excellent Caregiver Resource Center in a previous post. Today, we’ll dive a little deeper and examine the Caregivers Group Directory within the resource center. Here, real people gather to ask questions about and share their experiences with caregiving. The best part? They (usually) receive good, honest advice from people who can directly related to them and what they’re going through.

Via AARP:

This group is for anyone who is a caregiver, past or present, who is taking care of anyone—or anyone who has anything to offer to caregivers. It is a place to talk, ask questions, let off steam…just anything you want and need to talk about.

The discussions are active on a number of topics like “Is anyone taking care of a spouse?” and “Lack of support from siblings for caregiving.”

To get started, you’ll have to register with AARP to create a new account (or you can sign in via Facebook) in order to post a topic or a reply to a thread. Otherwise, you can freely browse the various boards and take it all in from an outsider’s perspective. Regardless, it’s good to know there’re people out there who are going through the same stresses you are.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Today’s post is part of our new series, The Encompass Way. Here, we’ll go over many of the steps involved in setting up a comprehensive care plan, which helps us to provide seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the “system.”

Comprehensive In-Home Assessment

Encompass Senior Solutions professionals may conduct psychological, environmental, functional and medical assessments, and will develop a written plan of care, and coordinate the health care providers and family members we call the “Home Team” who are responsible for the execution of the plan of care. All assessments are done wherever your loved one resides to determine the best plan of care. From the Comprehensive Assessment outcome, a written plan of care is developed and the plan is communicated to family members and other members of the care team. A completed copy of the comprehensive assessment is yours to keep as a reference.

Below is an overview of the categories we assess when first helping a new client.

Medical Assessment

    • Nutritional status — including oral hygiene

 

    • Medication review

 

    • Current medical status

 

    • Potenital drug interactions and side effects

 

    • Co Problem list — existing conditions and disease severity

 

    • Optional pressure sore risk assessment

 

Environmental Assessment

    • Activity/exercise status

 

    • Home safety, transportation, functionality

 

    • Potential home modifications

 

Assessment of Functioning

    • Instrumental activities of daily living

 

    • Basic activities of daily living

 

    • Gait and balance

 

    • Optional vision/hearing limitations

 

Social Assessment

    • Informal support needs and assets

 

    • Current social activities and/or needs

 

    • Review of potentiality for abuse or neglect

 

    • Caregiver concerns

 

    • Care resource eligibility/financial assessment

 

Psychological Assessment

    • Mood/depression testing

 

    • Mental status (cognitive) testing

 

    • Memory/Recall

 

    • Physical and emotional pain

 

Currently serving Omaha and surrounding areas, all Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

Photo courtesy Encompass Senior Solutions

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”

Scientists are finding concrete evidence for causes of Alzheimer’s and other related changes to a person’s cognition. This new knowledge is largely thanks to recent technological advances that enable researchers to share, process and analyze huge amounts of data as well as the development of biological and imaging tests that allow a look inside a living brain, helping to detect the disease’s onset and progression.

An executive summary of these most recent advances come courtesy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which “conducts and supports a balanced and varied program of research that investigates the biological, translational, clinical, behavioral, and societal aspects of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The research took place in 2011 and the first half of 2012. Advances have been made in the following key areas, adapted from the NIH.

Understanding the biology of Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers are very interested in abnormal levels of amyloid and tau proteins, two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. One study found that nearly half of the brains of people in their 80s and 90s had Alzheimer’s-related changes but remained cognitively intact. It’s still unknown why this is, but it’s quite intriguing.

Genetics and Alzheimer’s disease

Teams of researchers from across the world are looking at gene variants at play in the risk and progression of Alzheimer’s. One such gene (presenilin 1) helps regulate amyloid levels, possibly weakening or strengthening the ability of synapses to connect with other synapses — an important function of learning and memory.

Risk factors for cognitive decline

Scientists are finding that a person’s life history and overall health can influence disease risk. This is in addition to the best known risk factors for Alzheimer’s: age and genetics.

Targets and treatments

Preclinical research is currently underway for compounds and drugs that inhibit Alzheimer’s-releated cellular brain changes. Researchers are discovering that medications already approved for other conditions my possibly be applied to Alzheimer’s. In one study, the cancer drug paclitaxel stabilized tau levels in animals, and in another study an existing cancer treatment lowered amyloid levels in mice.

Detecting and diagnosing

Brain imaging has proven to be a valuable way for researchers to find early signs of Alzheimer’s-related brain changes. Imaging found two of these signs are reduced glucose uptake, a condition tied to diabetes, and structural changes like the thinning of the cerebral cortex.

Therapies’ role in clinical trials

The NIH currently supports a number of clinical trials that aim to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s and onset dementia. Among the treatments are amyloid-clearing medications, aerobic fitness and diabetes drugs.

Related

Activities for Alzheimer’s patients

Alzheimer’s and changing family traditions

Online learning helps family caregivers handle dementia

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

Photo credit: IsaacMao via photopin cc

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

home care omahaRecently, the NBC Nightly News ran a three-part series on the state of caregiving in the United States. In the final segment, Amy Goyer was interviewed about multigenerational living. In a companion piece to the NBC series, Goyer, who has worked with multigenerational families for many years and is currently living in a household with her parents and a live-in caregiver, wrote an article for the AARP offering tips for those in similar situations, touched on below.

For more multigenerational tips, check out Goyer’s column When Generations Share Space.

    • Always plan ahead. This only helps to protect family relationships. Discuss things like boundaries, use of space and optimal ways to communicate what is and what’s not working. Also, map out roles and responsibilities, even put it in writing if it helps. If you can remember what it was like living with roommates during your college days, you’ll know you need to give a little room and make sacrifices, lest you drive yourself crazy.

 

    • Go over shared expenses. Make the time to create both individual budgets and a shared household budget. Just make sure who is paying for what and how the bills will be paid — we all know that money is a touchy subject.

 

    • Use your space wisely. Make sure your home is equipped to meet everyone’s needs, including safe and private space for each family member. Heads up: some families may need to find a home designed for multiple generations, while others may need to remodel and/or modify an existing home.

 

    • Make family time. With multiple generations living in the same house, you have opportunities that few families have — the chance to spend a lot of quality time together. Goyer suggests creating routine time together, such as shared meals, game nights, movie nights, etc.

 

    • Go with the flow. Expect that there will be conflicts, frustrations and moments when you wish you still lived alone or only with your spouse. This way when drama appears you’ll be better equipped to handle it. Likewise, make time for yourself to get away from it all — it’ll help you be able to love your family even more.

 

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

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“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Elder economic security campaign One Away, sponsored by the National Council on Aging, produced a video on the cost of caregiving. In the video, 61-year-old Sheryl describes her experience being a caregiver for her aging parents. Originally, Sheryl thought she’d only need to take a couple months off of work to care for her mother after a heart surgery. It turned into a full-time caregiving job for both of her parents — a job that has lasted more than a decade.

In order to do so, Sheryl left a six-figure job as a corporate event planner. She’s since developed health problems of her own due to caregiver stress, which has prolonged her husband’s retirement so Sheryl can still be insured. Despite the struggles she’s facing, Sheryl still manages to eloquently tell her story with plenty of humor, creativity and, most importantly, love.

Watch the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTjicE-2_vA

Caregiver stats (via the Family Caregiving Alliance):

    • 29 percent of the U.S. adult population (65.7 million people) are currently providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged.

 

    • In 2009, caregiver services were valued at $450 billion per year, up from $375 billion in 2007.

 

    • The number of elderly adults is expected to more than double by 2030, increasing to an estimated 71.5 million seniors.

 

    • 66 percent of caregivers are female with an average age of 48.

 

    • About 51 percent of caregivers (male and female) are between the ages of 18 and 49.

 

    • Of those caring for someone 65-plus, the average age is 63, with one third of caregivers in fair to poor health.

 

    • 64 percent of caregivers were employed at some point during the last 12 months.

 

    • 70 percent of working caregivers have work-related difficulties due to their dual caregiving roles.

 

    • Among working caregivers, 5 percent turn down a promotion, 4 percent choose early retirement and 6 percent give up working entirely.

 

    • Caregivers spend an average of 20.4 hours a week providing are.

 

    • In 2010, 14.9 million families and other unpaid caregivers provided 17 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s and dementia – an estimated value of $202.6 billion.

 

    • The average duration of someone providing care is 4.6 years.

 

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

There are many reasons why elderly people should be aware of their overall bone health, especially since one in three adults over the age of 65 fall each year. And these falls often lead to moderate to severe injures which not only diminish quality of life but can also lead to other complications and even cause an early death. So what should a person do? For the elderly, it’s not so different from what is suggested for average people to maintain bone health throughout their lives, including having a healthy diet, sufficient physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Below are five tips to promote bone health in the elderly, adapted from articles by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the Center for Disease Control.

1. Have a balanced diet. Many nutrients are important for bone health. That’s why having a daily well-balanced diet with a variety of foods (grains, fruits, vegetables, nonfat or low-fat diary products, meat or beans) is key. The more calcium-rich a food item is, the better it is for your bones. In addition to a person’s normal diet, look for calcium-fortified foods to meet recommended levels.

2. Take your vitamins. The elderly are especially susceptible to having low levels of vitamin D. If getting enough sunlight is not practical, look to boost vitamin D levels through diet or, if all else fails, through supplements. Recent studies have found that vitamin C may also prevent bone loss, helping to fight off osteoporosis.

3. Stay physically active. It’s recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. In addition to this, specific strength-bearing exercises are critical to building and maintaing bone mass throughout a person’s life. For the elderly, it’s common for do exercises that promote balance (and in turn reduce the risk of falling). Of course, always keep a person’s physical limitations in mind. If there are ever any questions regarding a person’s physical health, it’s best to first consult a doctor or trained health care professional before embarking on an exercise program.

4. Maintain a healthy body weight. Studies have shown that excess fat in the belly and around the organs (visceral fat) is linked to lower bone mineral density. The human body is designed to operate optimally at it’s ideal weight. That said, carrying around extra pounds invariably leads to decreased bone health and an increased risk for developing just about every other chronic degenerative disease.

5. Get screened for osteoporosis. Adults 65 and over should get screened for osteoporosis and, if needed, treated for the disease. Height loss and joint/muscles aches are common symptoms. Osteoporosis (i.e., bone loss) leads to an increased risk of bone fractures, among other complications. Older women are especially at risk.

Are there any other tips we missed regarding promoting bone health among the elderly? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.


Photo credit: Ivana Vasilj via photopin cc

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

home care omaha alzheimer's dementiaBeing diagnosed with early onset dementia brings about many changes to a person’s life. Not only is there the stress and depression that comes along with an incurable disease, many people begin to isolate themselves from activities they once enjoyed. As a family caregiver, watching the decline of someone you love is no walk in the park either. Still, it’s important to  be adhere to a sense of normalcy in a person’s life. That’s why making the effort to ensure your loved one’s life is full of familiar activities can help ease some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease as it progresses.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers a list of tips for caregivers to create rewarding activities for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, depending on the severity of the person’s condition.

    • Always keep your loved one’s skills and abilities in mind, and focus on enjoyment rather than achievement.

 

    • Keep notes on what makes the person happy as well as what makes him or her anxious. Naturally, fill the day with the happy activities and avoid the others, if possible.

 

    • Stick to a daily routine as much as possible and incorporate activities your loved one begins without direction (e.g., setting the dinner table). This also builds a person’s sense of self worth, leaving an individual to feel like a valuable part of the household.

 

    • Creative activities that build on remaining skills can be particularly enjoyable for your loved one.

 

    • Likewise with activities that relate to past work (e.g., a former farmer might enjoy helping with the yard work).

 

    • The right time of day can make certain activities more enjoyable for both caregiver and the one receiving care. For example, bathing may be best in the evening before bed.

 

    • Lastly, adjust activities to stages of the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that more repetitive tasks may be more appropriate as the disease progresses. Also, as a caregiver, be prepared to have your loved one take a less active role in activities.

 

Patience is definitely a virtue when caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Through promoting a strong sense of purpose in daily activities, you and your loved one can live a happier life that establishes a sense of normalcy, encourages self expression and aims reduce stress as much as possible.

Are there any other tips and/or activities you’ve found helpful when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

 

Photo credit: mynameisharsha via photopin cc

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

home care omahaWhen an elderly person relocates to a nursing facility, he or she needs an advocate to help make the transition as smooth as possible. If this responsibility falls on your shoulders, there are many things you should be prepared for. For one, prior to the move, it’s vital to research and visit several facilities in your area so you can choose the best option for your loved one. Once your parent is settled in, be sure to get know the staff and make them aware that you’re serving as the advocate.

Still, as the AARP notes in a recent article, problems can arise even if you’ve done your research. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of mistreatment.

Here’s a quick checklist of what to look for (via AARP):

    • Bedsores

 

    • Stiffening muscles

 

    • Physical restraints

 

    • Malnutrition

 

    • Dehydration

 

    • Chemical restraints (such as drugs)

 

What to do if you suspect abuse

If the incident is serious, immediately call an elder abuse hotline, the police or the state department of aging. If the quality of treatment is your main concern, the AARP suggests trying the following:

Talk to the caretaker whom you suspect is involved. Don’t be accusatory, rather be friendly and respectful of their perspective. Make it your goal to find a solution together.

Attend the next meeting when staff and/or families of the clients are invited to address any concerns.

Speak with a supervisor if you feel your issues are not being adequately addressed. Be as detailed as possible with times, dates and other information. Be sure to let the supervisor know of any of your other concerns, such as your complaint resulting in retaliation against your parent.

File a written complaint with the facility if you can’t get through to the staff. You can expect a written response as well, as nursing homes are required to follow a formal grievance process.

If you’re still not getting results you like, contact the long-term care ombudsman in your area via your state agency on aging and/or the National Long Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. You can also file a complaint with the state survey agency that licenses nursing homes, the AARP notes, often overseen by the state’s department of health.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa ” provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

Photo credit: consumerfriendly via photopin cc

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”

home care omaha

No one said caring for your elderly mother would be easy. Even though she’s in her twilight years, she still seems to know how to get under your skin with those perfectly-timed critical remarks, just as she’s been doing since you were a child.

So what should you do? Snap back at your mom like you did as a bratty teenager or just hold it in? Maybe you should take cues from Jennifer Block, purveyor of “contemplative caregiving,” which applies Buddhist principles to the care of your loved one. Block is the founder of the Beyond Measure School for Contemplative Care and former director of education at the Zen Hospice project in San Francisco.

The New York Times’ New Old Age Blog posted a Q&A with Block, giving insight to the instructor’s techniques. Below are some experts from the interview.

On the challenges of caregiving:

People are for the most part unprepared for caregiving. They’re either untrained or unable to trust their own instincts. They lack confidence as well as knowledge. By confidence, I mean understanding and accepting that we don’t know all the answers — what to do, how to fix things.

We live in a fast-paced, demanding world that says don’t sit still — do something. But people receiving care often need most of all for us to spend time with them. When we do that, their mortality and our grief and our helplessness becomes closer to us and more apparent.

On the benefits of contemplative caregiving:

We teach people to cultivate a relationship with aging, sickness and dying. To turn toward it rather than turning away, and to pay close attention. Most people don’t want to do this.

A person needs training to face what is difficult in oneself and in others. There are spiritual muscles we need to develop, just like we develop physical muscles in a gym. Also, the mind needs to be trained to be responsive instead of reactive.

Skills learned via contemplative caregiving:

[One skill] is to become aware of how much we receive as well as give in caregiving. Caregiving can be really gratifying. It’s an expression of our values and identity: the way we want the world to be. So, I try to teach people how this role benefits them. Such as learning what it’s like to be old. Or having a close, intimate relationship with an older parent for the first time in decades. It isn’t necessarily pleasant or easy. But the alternative is missing someone’s final chapter, and that can be a real loss.

On caregiver needs:

I think every caregiver needs to have their own caregiver a therapist or a colleague or a friend, someone who is there for them and with whom they can unburden themselves. I think of caregiving as drawing water from a well. We need to make sure that we have whatever nurtures us, whatever supplies that well. And often, that’s connecting with others.

For more information, the article suggests picking up a copy of The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work.

Encompass Senior Solutionscurrently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

caffeine and elderlyStudies have found caffeine helps muscles produce more force for adults in their prime. But does the same thing apply to the elderly, whose muscles naturally become weaker due to age?

According to Science Daily, the answer is a soft yes. Sports scientists from Coventry University looked at whether age-related changes in muscle altered the effect of caffeine. By studying the performance in two different muscles from mice, they found that caffeine continued to enhance performances, but was less effective in older muscles.

“Despite a reduced effect in the elderly, caffeine may still provide performance-enhancing benefits,” Jason Tallis, the study’s primary author, told Science Daily.

With muscle decline in the elderly a major contributing factor in injuries, maintaining muscle tone is key. And those who do remain physically active likely will receive the most benefits from consuming caffeine, Tallis notes.

Other studies have found that caffeine can reduce the risk of heart disease in elderly people with normal blood pressure levels.

Can caffeine be dangerous?

Like other substances, caffeine is best in moderation. Excessive caffeine intake can lead to a number of health problems, writes LiveStrong.com, including:

    • Reduced bone strength. Too much caffeine can expel calcium from the body. Elderly women are especially at risk for caffeine-related bone problems, according to a 2009 study by the Journal of Bones and Mineral Research, as a lack calcium in a woman’s diet paired with high levels of caffeine intake lead to an increased chance of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

 

    • Increased blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic found that the amount of caffeine in two to three cups of coffee can raise a person’s blood pressure to levels that may be dangerous for people with high blood pressure or heart-related diseases.

 

    • Addiction. As most of us know who’ve gone a morning without our coffee, caffeine can lead to a physical dependence. Roland Griffiths, of John Hopkins School of Medicine, says the basic mechanisms that lead to people becoming dependent upon caffeine are similar to classic drug addiction. Caffeine withdrawal can have rather severe symptoms as well, including headache, lethargy, foggy thinking, depression, nausea and/or vomiting. Naturally, those who consume high amounts of caffeine are at the greatest risk for addiction.

 

If you’re curious or concerned about the effect caffeine is having on your elderly loved, it’s best to consult with a doctor.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

Photo credit: Martin Gommel via photopin cc

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”