Top 20 Online Resources for Alzheimer's

It’s a difficult time for a family when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Besides the stress and the grief, there are more than enough tasks to deal with: numerous visits to the doctor, mapping out a long-term care plan, and, above all else, making sure that your loved one is as happy and comfortable as possible.

During the early stages of Alzheimer’s and other dementia, many family members know relatively little about this chronic condition that slowly deteriorates a person’s cognitive function. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is not easy, so it’s very important to be familiar with modern treatments, as well as how to interact with someone in the late stages of the disease.

Many families turn to the internet to find helpful information on Alzheimer’s and other conditions. Of course, some websites are more useful than others.

To help you sift through the noise, we’ve put together a list of the top 20 online resources on the subject below (in no particular order):

1. National Institute on Aging’s Alzheimer’s website–http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers

2. Alzheimer’s Care & Dementia Resource Center–http://www.adrccares.org

3. Alzheimer’s Association–http://www.alz.org/

4. The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation–http://www.alzinfo.org/

5. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Alzheimer’s website–http://alzheimers.gov/

6. This Caring Home–http://www.thiscaringhome.org/

7. PBS’ “The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s”–http://www.pbs.org/theforgetting/

8. Caregiver Action Network Video Resource Center–http://caregiveraction.org/resources/alzheimer-videos/

9. “Mayo Clinic on Alzheimer’s Disease” (book)

10. Alzheimer’s Disease International–http://www.alz.co.uk/

11. Help for Alzheimer’s Families–https://www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com/

12. Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Resource–http://www.alzheimersdisease.com/index.jsp

13. Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center–http://www.alzheimersswfl.org/index.asp

14. Healing Well (online community, support, and other resources)–http://www.healingwell.com/alzheimers/

15. Senior Journal (the latest Alzheimer’s and dementia reports)–http://www.seniorjournal.com/Alzheimers.htm

16. Alzheimer’s Foundation of America–http://www.alzfdn.org/

17. Mayo Clinic’s online Alzheimer’s resource center–http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers-disease/DS00161

18. Alzheimer’s-In-Your-Home–http://www.alzheimers-in-your-home.com/

19. Alzheimer’s Reading Room–http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/

20. Alzheimer’s Association Midlands–http://www.alz.org/midlands/

Do you have a resource that you find useful, but don’t see on the list? Or, do you have any questions about Alzheimer’s in general? We’d love to hear from you–and we’re always here to help.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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What to Do When Your Elderly Father Refuses Help

The parent-child relationship is a dynamic that is hard to change, even in old age (or perhaps especially then). Many of us have elderly parents who are used to being in control. And who could blame anyone for refusing to change their lifestyle?

Dad should take pride in looking back on a life where he was in charge, whether it was at work, home, or elsewhere. But that doesn’t always happen, and there can be negative drawbacks to holding on to such a brazen attitude.

For one, failing to accept help when it’s obviously necessary can make a bad situation worse. I’m sure that your father would rather have taken the necessary steps to prevent a hip fracture than suffer through its painful and frustrating aftermath.

Another drawback can surface in the form of damaging the parent-child relationship. Even as older adults, we are susceptible to our parents’ behaviors. If they set a bad example by being uncooperative and cranky about giving up a small freedom like taking out the trash, many of us–like it or not–can expect to act the same way when we are our parents’ age.

Dr. Barry Jacobs offers some suggestions as to what you can do to help your aging parent or loved one while also being sensitive to his or her prideful ways:

  • Empower Your Parents. Emphasize that receiving help can actually be empowering, rather than the opposite. By showing Dad that you’re his ally, perhaps you can convince him that accepting some help can allow him maintain his self-sufficiency, and to live independently for much longer than he could on his own accord.
  • Enable Growth. Oftentimes, taking care of an elderly parent allows the family caregiver to personally grow through valuable life experience. And when your aging mother allows you to care for her, she is in turn giving you an opportunity to learn and grow. When Mom refuses your help, Jacobs believes that she is actually depriving you of the aforementioned growth. It’s likely that Mom took care of her parents when they were elderly. Remind her of this and the pride she felt in having done the right thing.
  • Remind About Role Models. Throughout every stage of our lives–from childhood, to middle-age, to nearing retirement–we learn by the examples set forth by our parents. When your father is refusing help that obviously could benefit him, remind him that he’s always been one of your role models, and that preparing for the complexities that come with end of life–physical and cognitive decline, etc.–is just another step in your journey together.

Are there any other helpful ways that you can think of to overcome your aging loved one’s pride? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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Senior Health: Is There a Shortage of Primary Care Doctors?

It’s been reported time and time again: A gradual increase in life expectancy, paired with a booming aging population, will lead to record demands for senior health care providers in the U.S.

But something that isn’t mentioned as often in the news is the fact that America’s primary care physicians are aging as well, with more than half of U.S. physicians being over the age of 50 in 2012.

This is expected to lead to shortages of primary care doctors over the next decade or so, as even the number of young doctors finishing medical school is projected to fall short of demand in the coming years.

Edward Pullen, M.D., shared his thoughts and predictions on the doctor shortage on KevinMD. A few of his key points are adapted below.

  • Pullen predicts that as soon as early next year, it will be increasingly more difficult for seniors to find a primary care doctor.
  • He recommends keeping your current primary care physician, or finding a new one as soon as possible if your doctor is nearing retirement.
  • Even though there are several new medical schools opening across the country this fall, Pullen believes that with the limited number of residency positions available, along with the lack of financial incentive for young doctors to go into primary care, new doctors will only marginally help the shortage situation.

Of course, primary care doesn’t rely solely on physicians–the services provided by nurses, nurse assistants and professional care aides cannot be understated. Still, Pullen has plenty of notable points.

No one wants to be put in the position of scrambling to find a new doctor when Mom’s care needs are more pertinent then ever. If you have any questions about your aging loved one’s primary care doctor or ongoing care needs, a senior care agency in your area is always there to help.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living — currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa — provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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Caregivers Learn Empathy Through Virtual Dementia Tour

When helping to care for a parent with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, the once clear cut parent-child dynamic can be completely reversed.

This can be a confusing and frustrating scenario for an adult son or daughter caring for a parent. Oftentimes, even extreme patience isn’t enough for a family caregiver to know how to manage this situation.

Instead, developing empathy towards an elderly loved one’s condition is important. Through empathy, family caregivers can begin to understand how dementia has altered their parent’s everyday life, where once easy tasks like setting the table have suddenly become extremely difficult.

One way to effectively learn empathy for dementia is take the patented Virtual Dementia Tour, created by geriatric specialist P.K. Bevillea. Through the tour–which uses goggles, gloves, headphones, and shoe inserts–you can feel what it’s like to live with dementia.

Here’s how it works, according to NextAvenue.org:

  • Goggles make your surroundings appear in a yellow-orange haze, the same thing many experience as they age. The goggles also simulate macular degeneration, i.e., a decrease in depth perception and peripheral vision.
  • Shoe inserts simulate the “pins-and-needles” many dementia patients feel in their feet. This uncomfortable sensation affects a person’s gait.
  • Gloves inhibit sense of touch, especially the ability to feel through the fingers. Dementia impairs the part of the brain sending sensory signals to the hand, leaving a person to struggle with once-easy everyday tasks.
  • Headphones cover the wearer’s ears, making them feel like they’re in a bubble. A tape playing confusing noises–a mixture of voices, laughter, and background noise–adds confusion to the mix as well.

The Virtual Dementia Tour was developed using actual feedback from people suffering from dementia. You can order the Virtual Dementia Tour for individuals or groups. Prices start at $100.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living 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.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


Many Factors Influence the Medical Decisions of Cognitively Impaired Elderly

As we mentioned in an earlier post, your aging parent should have a designated family member who is responsible for helping make important financial and medical decisions in case your parent is unable to so.

Today’s post will focus on medical decision-making, and what to do regarding end-of-life preferences in case your loved one becomes cognitively impaired.

As reported in Medical News Today, surrogates who make important medical decisions for an impaired loved one often over-complicate the process, as they are prone to relying on their own personal needs and preferences.

A study by the Regenstrief Institute, Indiana University Center for Aging Research, and the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics of Indiana University Health found that the following factors influence a surrogate’s decision-making:

  • Respecting the patient’s input.
  • The patient’s wishes prior to their impairment.
  • Taking the patient’s best interests into consideration.
  • Using their own wishes as a guide.
  • Their personal religious and spiritual beliefs.
  • Their own interests.
  • Family consensus.

As America’s elderly population continues to grow, life-sustaining medical technology will becomes available to an increasing number of people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other chronic conditions. And yes–it will be a stressful and emotional time when ailments from Mom’s dementia land her in the hospital.

While it may be next to impossible for you, as a surrogate, to completely remove any personal feelings when making medical decisions that can directly affect the lifespan of your parent, you’ll find that the job will be at least a little bit easier if you and your loved one have planned in advance for such a time.

If your parents are still in good health, now is the perfect time to ask about their end-of-life preferences. You might even want to consider your own while you’re at it. And as always, if you need any help figuring out your parents’ end-of-life preferences, feel free to contact us here at Encompass Omaha Senior Solutions.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living 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.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


Financial Questions You Need to Ask Your Aging Parent

According to legal and financial solutions agency ARAG, one of the top family-related legal concerns is providing care for an aging family member.

With a rapidly-rising elderly population in the U.S., 70% of people will need some form of long-term care during their lives. Add that with the 66 million (and growing) unpaid family caregivers in the U.S. each year, and it’s easy to see how financial matters related to elder care should be addressed sooner than later.

Don’t be caught off guard if your aging parents’ health takes a sudden turn for the worse. If you haven’t yet done so, the best time to talk about caregiving financial and legal issues with them is now.

Mainstreet.com has six questions to start the dialogue, adapted below:

  • 1. What’s your parent’s current financial situation? Where are their checking and savings accounts held? Also, be sure to find out where any financial planning documents are stored which may provide instructions for your parents’ long-term care.
  • 2. Do your parents have a Durable Power of Attorney? This document gives a trusted loved one some decision-making power in case your parent becomes incapacitated, including the ability to write checks for your parent in case there are bills and other financial responsibilities that need to be taken care of.
  • 3. What about Healthcare Power of Attorney? This gives a designated person the ability to make medical decisions if your parent is unable to do so. Be sure you know your parent’s preferences though (see question four). It is their life after all.
  • 4. Does Dad have an advance directive in place? The advance directive is an outline of the person’s wishes about medical and life-sustaining procedures.
  • 5. What will happen if your parents becomes incapacitated? If they haven’t done already, map out a plan that states their preferences as to where they wish to live in case they become incapacitated (assisted living, nursing home, home hospice, etc.). Make sure they’ve also designated where the necessary funds to pay for their care will come from.
  • 6. Is their will up to date? Many people haven’t updated their will since they were first married or their first child was born. Make sure everything is up to date for present-day end-of-life preferences. Also, as a family caregiver, make sure you and other family members know where the will is located so everyone knows who is responsible for managing the estate.

Long-term care and end-of-life care is very expensive. As such, you and your parents will likely need to find ways to be creative to make resources last. A good discussion with a professional senior care company can help create a plan that everyone can live with.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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AElderly Diabetes: An Overview

There are nearly 11 million seniors in the U.S. living with diabetes, a chronic condition that occurs when the body can’t produce or effectively use insulin.

These numbers are only expected to rise as the elderly population continues to grow.

As a family caregiver, however, there is much to learn about diabetes besides glucose levels and needles. Today’s blog will go over the basics of what you and your aging loved one need to know about the disease. Of course, if you have any questions, you should consult your doctor.

What causes diabetes?

The exact causes of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are unknown, although genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors are believed to be large factors. What is known is that as a person ages, their risk of developing diabetes rises. And some ethnicities are at greater risk, including American Indians, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

Type 1, or type 2?

There are two main types of diabetes:

In type 1 diabetes, the body is no longer able to make insulin due to the body’s immune system attacking and effectively destroying the cells where insulin was once made. Type 1 typically first occurs in children and young adults, who must inject insulin into their blood every day to control glucose levels. Without the insulin, people with type 1 diabetes will die.

Type 1 diabetes can develop suddenly in some cases. Common symptoms include (via idf.org):

  • Abnormal thirst, dry mouth
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained increase in appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Recurring infections
  • Frequent urination

While young to middle-aged adults with type 1 diabetes can lead a normal life through strict monitoring and treatment of their condition, the same is much more difficult for older adults with type 1. Older adults are far more prone to developing other chronic conditions, which can drastically affect their ability to properly care for themselves.

The other, most common form of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. With this type of diabetes, the body can produce insulin, but it either doesn’t produce enough, or the body isn’t able to use it as well as it should. Type 2 can take years to surface, with subtle symptoms that often go undiagnosed. It’s during this time that the body is being damaged due to excess blood glucose.

Common risk factors for type 2 diabetes include (via idf.org):

  • Poor diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Increasing age
  • History of family diabetes
  • Ethnicity (see above)
  • Poor nutrition during pregnancy (may affect developing child)

People with type 2 diabetes (usually) do not have to take daily doses of insulin to survive, it’s still common to be prescribed insulin with other medication.

Of course, a healthy diet and regular exercise help manage the condition as well. But like type 1, senior diabetics, who are more prone to developing other ailments such as heart disease and dementia, face a new set of challenges in managing their diabetes.

An increasingly complicated medication regimen, paired with deteriorating health, vision and motor skills often leads to a family caregiver or professional health care service stepping in to offer much-needed help.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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Advice for Elderly Diabetics

Diabetes affects more than a quarter of older adults.

Elderly diabetics are also at a greater risk of suffering from a heart attack, kidney disease, blindness, et al–leaving them much more likely to end up in a nursing home later on.

Because its treatment is complicated, diabetes becomes more difficult to manage as a person ages. All of this can leave a family caregiver frantically worrying about their elderly parent, especially if glucose numbers are slightly off.

But perhaps you should stop worrying so much. Take into account that diabetes is rarely the only ailment that people in their 70s and 80s are suffering from. On top of this, there is likely to be a complicated medication regimen which has the potential to produce unwanted side effects.

Treating diabetes too aggressively can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can actually be more dangerous than a high glucose reading to seniors who are already frail. Add it all together, and achieving the exact blood sugar level can become a complicated task.

So instead of worrying that Mom isn’t taking her diabetes as seriously as you’d like, it may help to focus instead on factors that are easier to control, such as ensuring that she has a high quality of life.

In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Medha Munshi, who oversees geriatrics at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, offers the following advice for elderly diabetes and their families, adapted below:

  • Be wary of medication that is prescribed to attain tight glycemic control. In seniors, low blood sugar can increase the risk of falling and also aggravate existing medical conditions such as heart disease and cognitive impairments.
  • Diabetes requires much more self-care than other diseases. As such, it can be difficult for an elderly person to manage, especially if they are suffering from poor vision, memory loss or depression.
  • Talk to the doctor and work out a medication cycle that revolves around times when a home care aide or other caregiver is present.
  • Everyone will say that exercise is crucial to meeting desired glucose levels–and it is. But getting regular exercise is difficult for many seniors who have limited mobility. In this case, encourage as much exercise as is reasonable, such as walking around the house for a few minutes before each meal.
  • Be tolerant of your loved one having the occasional sugary snack.It’s not just one disease they’re dealing with. It’s life, Munshi told the Times.

How have you learned how to best handle your loved one’s diabetes? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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Study Links High Blood Sugar with Alzheimer's

It’s widely accepted that those with diabetes–people who don’t make enough insulin to turn food into energy, causing heightened blood sugar levels–are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s.

But even so, new research suggests that those over the age of 65 who keep glucose at healthy levels, diabetic or not, may be helping prevent themselves from developing Alzheimer’s.

The results of the National Institute on Aging‘s study adds evidence that controlling your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol could all be viable ways to help prevent dementia.

The study examined the blood sugar tests of more than 2,000 participants aged 65 and older. At the start, 232 participants had diabetes. Over the course of nearly seven years, the blood-sugar tests of participants were averaged out.

At the end of the study, just over a quarter of participants had developed Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Researchers found that those who started the study without diabetes, but whose blood sugar levels increased over the years, were around 18% more likely to develop dementia that those with lower glucose levels.

Participants who had diabetes at the beginning of the study, and whose blood sugar levels increased throughout the study, were around 40% more likely to develop dementia.

The key takeaway? Diabetic or not, those who focus on keeping their blood sugar at normal levels by eating a well-balanced diet and getting regular exercise will likely live a longer, healthier life those who do not.

Make sure your aging parent is eating healthily (which is a good idea anyways), and you may very well be helping prevent them from getting dementia or Alzheimer’s later on.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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What You Need to Know About Financially Supporting Your Aging Parents

While caring for an aging parent has its benefits, like being able to spend more time with your parents, it also can mean making personal sacrifices.

Being a family caregiver can cause stress because of large investments of time and money, and in some cases, can even result in bitterness towards your loved one and other family members.

Most experts agree that to be able to effectively help with your parents’ care, you must first help yourself. As a recent article from US News points out, this means that you should protect your finances, well-being, and time when mapping out a care plan for one or both of your parents.

Luckily, MetLife’s Mature Market Institute (MMI) put together a list of things that you should consider when facing the financial consequences of caregiving:

  • Explore of all your options before quitting your job to help a parent. Sure, gaining time to help your parent is good, but losing your income could damage your personal retirement savings. If you leave your current job, how easy will it be to find comparable work in the future?
  • What other benefits would you lose if you leave your job? Besides health insurance, what about employee disability, life insurance, and other policies that would be costly to replace? Be sure to check your employer’s family leave policies before making any rash decisions.
  • Make a budget for caregiving. Before making any drastic changes to your own life, make a comprehensive caregiving plan that includes what you’ll be spending (or losing) out of pocket. Do the same with your parent’s finances. You’ll find that there are many ways to allocate resources to support caregiving needs.
  • Don’t forget about free or low-cost public benefits. MMI recommends checking out several websites that can provide info on getting caregiving help, such as the National Council on Aging and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
  • Learn more about Medicare and Medicaid. This will help you answer questions like “Does Medicare cover nursing home stays?” (No, but Medicaid does to those who’ve exhausted most of their assets.) “What kind of coverage do my parents currently have?” “What are the co-pays for medication?” “How does their insurance affect their government benefits?”
  • Understand the costs of in-home care. Naturally, most people prefer growing old in their own home. Today, you might be surprised that the cost of hiring health care professionals to provide comprehensive in-home care may actually cheaper than checking your loved one into an assisting living facility.
  • Seek out professional help (if needed). If your parent has increasingly challenging needs, there are many professional geriatric-care agencies, such as Encompass Senior Solutions, who will put together a comprehensive care plan.
  • Keep an eye out for financial scams. Sadly, financial abuse of the elderly is on the rise. Be sure that you and your loved ones are aware of potentially harmful scams.
  • What do your parents want? Don’t forget to include dad in the discussion of his ongoing care. Who does he want to have power of attorney in case he becomes unable to make critical decisions? Does his living will need to be updated? A senior care provider can help you answer these questions.
  • Don’t forget about your own retirement plan. How will caring for your parent affect your own financial future? What steps do you need to take to deal with any implications?

If the above points aren’t enough to open your eyes, consider that the average personal loss for a family caregivers hovers around $300,000 in lifetime wages for a working American.

By taking the necessary steps to understand all that goes into caring for your aging parents–both emotionally and financially–you’ll be well-prepared for the difficult task ahead, much to the benefit of you and your entire family.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living 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.private-duty.pchhc.com.”