senior health
As therapy becomes more widely accepted in American culture, seniors are more open to seeking psychological help, The New York Times reported. It’s really all about being healthy. From a senior’s perspective, why not try to work out difficult issues that have been burdening you for years, especially when the stigma once associated with counseling has lessened dramatically? From a therapist’s perspective, the idea that a people in their 70s or 80s are stuck in their thinking has been rejected within the professional community. It also doesn’t hurt that Medicare pays for psychiatric assessments and therapy.

In a companion piece in the Times, seniors give firsthand accounts of the health benefits they’ve received from therapy — from dealing with the death of a spouse to making new friends. We’ve gathered a few of their selected quotes below.

Therapy has unlocked a lot of things that I never thought would have unfolded for me at this time in my life. I have learned to be more open with myself and others about who I am and what I am, and I’ve learned that I’m a fabulous person, which I did not know till now. […] I was brought up in a very protected society and discussing things was not an option. So having someone that actually discussed things with me to death was extremely helpful. –Judita Grosz, 69

No individual doesn’t have problems. Some problems are monumental and some are very small, but aging is in itself a problem. You can’t do the things you used to do. You can’t go where you wanted. People look at you differently. What psychiatry does is help you go through the problems and adjust your thinking. –Marvin Tolkin, 86

The first time I went to a therapist was about, well I think it must have been 20 years ago. My husband was sick. I did not understand his illness. I needed to get some help. I had to understand what was happening so I went to a therapist. […] Should seniors consider therapy? Of course they should. They’re reluctant to go. They’re afraid of it. I don’t know why, but they’re afraid. –Miriam Zatinsky, 87

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 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.”

elderly care diabetes suppliesTreating the diabetes of an elderly person is decidedly different from treating the disease in someone under the age of 65. With many seniors already taking several medications a day, the potentially harmful side effects and drug interactions with diabetes medication are often overlooked by patients and doctors alike. What’s more, an elderly person with diabetes is also more likely to suffer from other conditions like heart disease, stroke, hypertension, kidney disease and depression — to name a few — conditions that can effect the way an elderly diabetic is treated.

To help, elderly care expert Sally Abrahms offered a few tips for those taking care of an aging loved one with diabetes, adapted from a post on the AARP’s Take Care blog.

    • Watch for hypoglycemia. Common symptoms for low blood sugar include sweating, over heating, shakiness and a rapid heartbeat. In elders, hypoglycemia can cause confusion, dizziness or changes in behavior, putting them at risk of falls or a decline in cognitive function.

 

    • Can they take care of themselves? Abrahms suggests making sure your loved one is able to take care of themselves in case of a diabetic episode. Can they take their insulin on time? Will they be OK if they’re sick? Are they eating? Also, check to make sure they’re taking proper doses of insulin and medication. If they’re not, it could be a sign of cognitive decline.

 

    • Take note of depression. Many senior diabetics are depressed. If this is the case for your loved one, talk to address the issue with them and take healthy steps to start treating it.

 

    • Is their medical plan and regimen too complicated? An elderly person with multiple conditions may have trouble remembering which medicine to take at what time. Abrahms suggests talking with the doctor to see if things can be simplified.

 

Are there any other tips for helping a loved one with diabetes? 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.

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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.”

assisted living omahaAs we mentioned in yesterday’s blog, 60 percent of older adults underestimate the cost of living in a nursing home. As such today we’ll look at the costs associated with three common types of long-term care — nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care.

According to a 2012 MetLife market survey, a private room at a nursing home now costs more than $90,000 a year on average in the U.S. — that breaks down to about $250 a day. The cost of an assisted living facilities averaged about half as much at $42,600 a year — still a staggering amount. (And for what’s it’s worth the survey found that the average cost for a private room was $184 a day in Nebraska and $171 a day in Iowa, respectively.)

At $170 day, around-the-clock care costs about $7 an hour with 65 percent of nursing care proceeds going to staff, elder care specialist Todd Bergstrom told a CBS news affiliate in Minnesota. Even with the majority of the cost going to wages, nursing home staff usually make significantly less per hour than the equivalent job at a hospital. Naturally, if staff salaries were raised facility costs would also go up. Other factors that also up the cost include insurance, food and building maintenance.

Assisted living facilities are a viable alternative for many who can’t cover the costs of a nursing home. Still, it’s worth noting that the level of care is less than that provided by a nursing home and family caregiving help may be required. The MetLife survey found that assisted living costs are also rising year to year, up 2 percent from 2011.

A slighter cheaper option — and one the senior needing care will likely prefer — is home care. A Genworth Cost of Care Survey found that the cost of in-home care is rising at a much slower pace than other options, reported CNN. Hiring a homemaker to assist an elderly parent or loved with daily tasks like cooking, cleaning and transportation costs around $41,000 per year, a 1 percent increases from last year and just a 4 percent increase in five years. Home health aids are a little more expensive as they provide more comprehensive care such as bathing, grooming, medication management and more. Home health aides average about $45,000 a year, up just 5 percent from five years ago.

With nursing home care costs currently so high, it makes sense why home health aides are in such high demand — according to the Department of Labor it’s currently the fast growing field in the U.S. Even so, it’s best to consult with a care professional to determine what type of care best suits your loved one.

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 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 omahaA new poll examined how Americans over 40 are preparing for their personal long-term care. In short, the majority of people are underestimating their own eventual need for care as they reach their senior years, according to the poll by AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. This appears in contrast to the fact that more than half of those polled have already been caregivers for an ailing relative or friend.

Here are some of the findings from the poll, adapted from the AP.

    • Two-thirds have done little to no planning for their personal long-term care.

 

    • 3 in 10 don’t want to think about getting older at all.

 

    • A quarter think it’s very likely they’ll need help caring for themselves during their elder years.

 

    • 6 out of 10 haven’t talked with family and other loved ones about needing long-term care (even though most people expect family take on the burdensome responsibility).

 

    • Half thought that everyone will need assistance at some point in their lives.

 

    • 60 percent underestimated the average cost of a nursing home.

 

    • 37 percent mistakenly thought Medicare will cover the costs of a nursing home.

 

    • Less than half didn’t think they’d need Medicaid

 

    • Only 27 percent were confident they’d have the financial resources they’ll need for their care.

 

Start that dreaded conversation

It’s crucial to start that conversation with those who will likely be responsible for overseeing your care when the time comes. The article suggests addressing questions like: Do they want to help ? Do they have the time, money and skills necessary to ensure your care needs are met? If a loved one likely won’t be able to be your primary caregiver, can they afford to hire help? And what if you’re unable to remain at home? It’s also good time to revise your living will if you haven’t done so already.

By 2050, the number of elderly Americans — those 65 and older — is set to more than double by 2050, according to the Population Reference Bureau. With a rapidly aging population, those older adults who are prepared for their personal long-term care should be the norm rather than the exception.

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 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 omahaA new study suggests that getting regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, may be one of the best ways to help prevent Alzheimer’s and other onset dementia in seniors. The findings from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences show that among more than 100 older adults, those who exercised several times a week benefitted from age-reversing effects beyond cardiovascular health, mainly in boosting their hippocampal volume and size. This is key because the hippocampus naturally shrinks in late adulthood which leads to memory problems and an increased risk of developing dementia.

Neuroscientist Art Kramer, an author of the study, took MRI scans the brains of 120 older adults. He found that those who participated in moderate aerobic exercise — just 45 minutes at a time three days a week, mostly walking — saw an average increase of 2 percent in the volume of their brains after a year, reported NPR. And those who didn’t exercise actually lost brain volume — about 1.5 percent on average.

In another article, neuroscientist Peter Snyder told NPR that evidence supports that moderate aerobic exercise is one of the best things older adults can do to maintain mental sharpness.

“What we’re finding is that of all of these noninvasive ways of intervening, it is exercise that seems to have the most efficacy at this point ” more so than nutritional supplements, vitamins and cognitive interventions,” Snyder told NPR. “What we find is that with exercise ” with aerobic exercise, a moderate amount on a regular basis ” there are chemical changes that occur in the brain that promote the growth of new neurons” in the hippocampus.

With a rapidly aging U.S. population and also taking into account that more than half of people over the age of 85 already have some form of dementia, boosting one’s workout regimen should be, well, a no-brainer.

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 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.”

national volunteer weekAs National Volunteer Week continues (April 21-27), we thought we’d take a look at some of the many ways you can lend your talents to help someone in need of care. While many have not yet encountered a situation where they’ve had to care for an aging family member long-term, it’s important to remember that there are currently around 65 million family caregivers in the U.S. — many of whom care for someone over the age of 50 — volunteering their time for a loved one who is sick, increasingly frail, has an illness, disability, etc. Without these people, many aging people would be forced to live in care facilities and institutions rather than enjoy the dignified confines of their own homes.

On top of this, Alz.org reported that caregivers are twice as likely to develop chronic illness than the general population. A large part of this has to due with the long bouts of stress that comes along with caring for a loved one. With that in mind, Caregiving Club CEO Sherri Snelling offered several ways you can support a family caregiver near you through volunteering.

1. Volunteer for an online care community — Online sites, such as Lotsa Helping Hands, can provide caregivers the respite they deserve and need. Through building private online communities, volunteers can help provide meals, rides and other help to caregivers using tools like HelpCenter. Other online volunteer communities Snelling recommends include CaringBridge, CareFlash and CarePages.

2. Make or deliver a meal — Every day, the Meals on Wheels Association of America utilizes help from more than 2.5 million volunteers to pack and deliver 1 million meals to those who cannot easily leave their homes (many of whom are elderly). The Red Cross offers some info on volunteering for Meals on Wheels in Nebraska.

3. Be a volunteer driver — With 83 percent of caregivers providing transportation to help their loved ones (more than 1.4 billion trips annually!) it’s no wonder that volunteer drivers are in high demand. Snelling recommends the National Center for Senior Transportation, ITNAmerica and SilverRide for driving opportunities.

4. Hospice volunteering — As we touched on in yesterday’s blog, hospices across the U.S. couldn’t function without an army of volunteers. Hospice volunteers can bring comfort and peace to grieving families, a job which can be very gratifying and emotionally fulfilling.

5. Give caregivers respite — Many caregivers don’t often get the time off they deserve to relax, recharge and refocuses their energies. However, there are many volunteer opportunities out there that can give that overwhelmed caregiver a much needed break. Snelling suggests that looking into ARCH National Respite and Resource Center and Respite Education and Support Tools (REST) are both good places to start.

6. Your pets can help, too — Many hospitals and care facilities have programs where pets (cats, dogs, rabbits, etc.) are brought in to brighten the day of patients. The largest nationwide directory for pet therapy programs is through Pet Partners.

Read the rest of Snelling’s article for more ways to volunteer.

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.”

home care omaha Hospice advocate Torrey DeVitto

All across the country, hospice providers are celebrating National Volunteer Week April 21-27, 2013. Each year, more than 1.65 million patients receive hospice care in the United States, which couldn’t happen without the support of dedicated individuals offering their time and helping hands to those facing a life-limiting illness.

The duties of hospice volunteers are many: serving patients and their families at the bedside, assisting with office duties, helping to raise awareness of issues pertinent to hospice care, helping with fundraising, contributing to educational programs and more. The vital role of volunteers is perhaps best reflected in the fact that it’s federally mandated under Medicare that 5 percent of all patient care hours be provided by trained volunteers, according to a press release from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

NHPCO president and CEO J. Donald Schumacher had this to day about the important role of hospice volunteers:

Hospice volunteers play an indispensable role in enabling hospice and palliative care organizations to offer the best care possible for patients living with life-limiting illness, their families and caregivers. By sharing their time, energy, and expertise, volunteers bring compassion and caring to the lives of those in need.

The National Hospice Foundation will present the Buschwald Spirit of Caring Award to actress and hospice advocate Torrey DeVitto on Friday, April 26. Besides serving as a hospice volunteer for six years, DeVitto has spent much of her time encouraging younger Americans to learn more about hospice and consider giving their time.

“As a hospice volunteer, I’ve seen firsthand the comfort, love and respect hospice brings to all the people they care for. I offer my thanks to all the hospice volunteers across the country who are doing so much for their communities,” DeVitto is quoted saying in the press release.

Encompass Senior Solutions salutes the effort of the NHPCO, DeVitto and volunteers across the country. If you have any questions about local hospice providers, feel free to contact Encompass for help.

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. 

Image via Torrey-DeVitto.org

 

“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.”

senior care omahaA recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine further supports what many of us have believed for years — a diet high in fat and sugar, aka a typical Western diet, can take years off your life. The research looked at the eating habits of more than 5,000 adults in the UK and found that those who ate large amounts of foods that are fried and sweet food as well as processed meat, red meat, white bread, butter, etc., doubled their risk of poor health (including developing chronic conditions like heart disease) and premature death during old age, the Daily Mail reported.

While the impact of diet on age-related diseases has already been studied extensively, this new research has adopted a more holistic approach. From 1985 to 2009, the study followed 3,775 men and 1,575 women with a mean age of 51. By examining and assessing their diets over the years, as well as conducting health screenings every five years, investigators were able to identify death rates and chronic conditions among participants. In short, those who ate a Western diet were far more likely to be physically unfit, develop chronic conditions and even die than participants who stuck to a healthier diet.

Senior nutrition tips (via HelpGuide.org)

    • Reduce sodium — Helps prevent water retention and high blood pressure.

 

    • Eat “good” fats — Monounsaturated fats found in foods like olive oil, avocados, fish, walnuts and flaxseed help protect the body against heart disease.

 

    • Add fiber — Found in many raw foods and whole grains, fiber helps avoid constipation and lowers the risk of chronic diseases.

 

    • Avoid “bad” carbs — White flour, refined sugar, white rice, et al digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar.

 

    • Steer clear of hidden sugar — Added sugar can be found in bread, canned soups, frozen fruit, pasta sauce, fast food, instant mashed potatoes — the list goes on and on.

 

    • Cook smart — Prepare foods in ways that preserves nutrients.

 

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.”

In a companion piece to U.S. News‘ e-book How to Live to 100, three experts from the publication recently provided advice on living a long and healthy life. As one might imagine, a good nourishing diet ranked high on their list (the Mediterranean diet in particular). Ranking low were mentally unhealthy behaviors such as social isolation.

In the video, e-book author Phillip Moeller talks to a panel of experts that includes Nancy L. Keating, associate professor of medicine and health care policy at Harvard Medical School and an associate physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Anna Medaris Miller, Washington, D.C., health writer and associate editor of Monitor on Psychology magazine; and Jay Olshansky, professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=413i536DMN8&feature=player_embedded

Takeaways from the video

On the Mediterranean diet:

    • A recent study showed the participants who followed the diet — which is heavy in beans, legumes, fresh fruit, fish and “good fats” such as olive oil —  benefited from a 30% reduction of the risk of heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular causes.

 

    • Longterm, the diet is associated with lower caloric intake which is often associated with longevity.

 

    • No diet can guarantee you’ll live to 100, but it can help you live a happy and healthy life — a worthy aspiration.

 

Lifestyle behaviors likely to be linked with longer life in the near future:

    • Subgroups of the population that are highly educated and wealthy will add years of life over the next couple of decades. The opposite is expected to happen to those who are less-educated, not wealthy, have a poor diet and lack access to proper health care.

 

    • High intensity work outs aren’t as beneficial as we are led to believe. Rather, do whatever it takes to get up and move as often as possible, as a sedentary lifestyle is linked to many, many health problems.

 

The health effects of an active social life

    • Having strong social connections is linked to a full range of positive health effects like decreased risk of mortality, better pain tolerance and a stronger immune system.

 

    • This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, as human survival is dependent upon other humans.

 

    • Even so, living alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing — especially with access to technology that easily connects people.

 

Are there any other keys to living to 100 the experts didn’t address? 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.

“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 omahaA new study found that doctors in the United States routinely prescribe potentially harmful drugs to elderly patients. The study, by the National Center for Biotechnology, also shows that this practice is more problematic in the southern United States particularly.

Researchers looked at the data of more than 6 million older adults who were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. Among these seniors, roughly one in five (1.3 million) had been prescribed at least one high-risk medication in 2009, even though safer substitutions were available. Around 5 percent of the elderly in the study were prescribed two or more risky medications.

Elderly Americans in the southern U.S. — from Texas to South Carolina — were roughly 12 percent more likely to be prescribed a high-risk medication than older adults living in othe regions. The reasons behind this are unclear but researchers suspect factors like education, socioeconomic status and access to quality medical care could be factors. For example, as socioeconomic status shrank the likelihood a patient was prescribed high-risk medication grew.

Among the harmful drugs include anti-anxiety medications like Valium, a benzodiazepine that is difficult for elderly patients to metabolize and in turn can lead to prolonged sedation and potentially devastating falls. Also on the list: many muscle relaxants and diabetes medications.

“We started this study because we know that these medications are likely to have more harms than benefits in older patients, Dr. Amal Trivedi, an author of the study, told the New York Times.

It’s also worth mentioning that many older adults are likely to take multiple medications at once, resulting in a heightened risk of dangerous interactions.

The Times article also noted that there are several lists of drugs that are harmful to elderly patients readily available on the internet and that patients should take ownership of their medications and regularly review them with pharmacists and physicians.

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: sparktography 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.”