How to know if an aging friend needs help

When caring for an aging friend or relative from afar, it can be hard to know when your help is needed. Sometimes, your relative will ask for help. Or, the sudden start of a severe illness will make it clear that assistance is needed. But, when you live far away, some detective work might be necessary to uncover possible signs that support or help is needed.

A phone call is not always the best way to tell whether or not an older person needs help handling daily activities. The person may not want to worry you or may be embarrassed to admit that he or she cannot handle certain daily activities.

With the person’s permission, you could contact people who see the person regularly, such as neighbors, friends, doctors, or local relatives, for example, ask them to call you with any concerns. You might also ask if you can check in with them periodically. When you visit, look around for possible trouble areas.  It’s easier to disguise problems during a short phone call than during a longer visit. Make a list of trouble spots you want to check on, then, if you can’t fix everything during your visit, see if you can arrange for someone else to finish up.

In addition to safety issues and the overall condition of the home, try to determine the older person’s mood and general health status. Sometimes people confuse depression in older people with normal aging. A depressed older person might brighten up for a phone call or short visit, but it’s harder to hide serious mood problems during an extended visit.

Holiday Hints for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Holidays can be meaningful, enriching times for both the person with Alzheimer’s disease and his or her family. Maintaining or adapting family rituals and traditions helps all family members feel a sense of belonging and family identity. For a person with Alzheimer’s, this link with a familiar past is reassuring.

However, when celebrations, special events, or holidays include many people, this can cause confusion and anxiety for a person with Alzheimer’s. He or she may find some situations easier and more pleasurable than others. The tips below can help you and the person with Alzheimer’s visit and reconnect with family, friends, and neighbors during holidays.

Many caregivers have mixed feelings about holidays. They may have happy memories of the past, but they also may worry about the extra demands that holidays make on their time and energy.

Here are some ways to balance doing many holiday-related activities while taking care of your own needs and those of the person with Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Celebrate holidays that are important to you. Include the person with Alzheimer’s as much as possible.
  • Set your own limits, and be clear about them with others. You do not have to live up to the expectations of friends or relatives. Your situation is different now.
  • Involve the person with Alzheimer’s in simple holiday preparations, or have him or her observe your preparations. Observing you will familiarize him or her with the upcoming festivities. Participating with you may give the person the pleasure of helping and the fun of anticipating and reminiscing.
  • Consider simplifying your holidays around the home. For example, rather than cooking an elaborate dinner, invite family and friends for a potluck. Instead of elaborate decorations, consider choosing a few select items.
  • Encourage friends and family to visit even if it’s difficult. Limit the number of visitors at any one time, or have a few people visit quietly with the person in a separate room. Plan visits when the person usually is at his or her best.
  • Prepare quiet distractions to use, such as a family photo album, if the person with Alzheimer’s becomes upset or overstimulated.
  • Make sure there is a space where the person can rest when he or she goes to larger gatherings.
  • Try to avoid situations that may confuse or frustrate the person with Alzheimer’s, such as crowds, changes in routine, and strange places. Also try to stay away from noise, loud conversations, loud music, lighting that is too bright or too dark, and having too much rich food or drink (especially alcohol).
  • Find time for holiday activities you like to do. If you receive invitations to celebrations that the person with Alzheimer’s cannot attend, go yourself. Ask a friend or family member to spend time with the person while you’re out.

Ways to Prevent Wrinkles

You can avoid some of the factors that make wrinkles worse by following this advice:

  • Always protect your skin from the sun. That means limiting how much time you spend in the sun, slathering your body in sunscreen any time you’re outdoors, and wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and wide-brimmed hats to keep the sun off your skin and guard against wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer.
  • Don’t smoke. When it comes to smoking, it’s best never to start. But if you are a smoker, stopping now will help keep your skin looking young and prevent wrinkles. It’s never too late to reap the benefits of quitting smoking.
  • Stay out of the tanning bed. Don’t use tanning beds, period. Those rays will damage your skin, leaving you more prone to wrinkles (and possibly skin cancer as well).
  • Keep skin hydrated and moisturized. Drink lots of water all the time. Make it a healthy habit while you’re young and continue into your senior years. It’s also important to use a daily moisturizer if your skin is dry to keep it supple and smooth.

Getting Your Affairs in Order

 

Ben has been married for 47 years. He always managed the family’s money. But since his stroke, Ben is not able to walk or talk. His wife, Shirley, feels overwhelmed. Of course, she’s worried about Ben’s health. But, on top of that, she has no idea what bills should be paid or when they are due.

Across town, 80-year-old Louise lives alone. One night, she fell in the kitchen and broke her hip. She spent a week in the hospital and 2 months in a rehabilitation nursing home. Even though her son lives across the country, he was able to pay her bills and handle her Medicare questions right away. That’s because, several years ago, Louise and her son made a plan about what he should do in case Louise had a medical emergency.

Plan for the Future

No one ever plans to be sick or disabled. Yet, it’s this kind of planning that can make all the difference in an emergency.

Long before she fell, Louise put all her important papers in one place and told her son where to find them. She gave him the name of her lawyer, as well as a list of people he could contact at her bank, doctor’s office, insurance company, and investment firm. She made sure he had copies of her Medicare and other health insurance cards. She added her son’s name to her checking account and safe deposit box at the bank. Louise made sure Medicare and her doctor had written permission to talk with her son about her health and insurance claims.

On the other hand, Ben always took care of family money matters, and he never talked about the details with Shirley. No one but Ben knew that his life insurance policy was in a box in the closet or that the car title and deed to the house were filed in his desk drawer. Ben never expected that his wife would have to take over. His lack of planning has made a tough job even tougher for Shirley.

What Exactly Is an “Important Paper”?

The answer to this question may be different for every family. Remember, this is a starting place. You may have other information to add. For example, if you have a pet, you will want to include the name and address of your veterinarian. Include complete information about:

Personal Records

  • Full legal name
  • Social Security number
  • Legal residence
  • Date and place of birth
  • Names and addresses of spouse and children
  • Location of birth and death certificates and certificates of marriage, divorce, citizenship, and adoption
  • Employers and dates of employment
  • Education and military records
  • Names and phone numbers of religious contacts
  • Memberships in groups and awards received
  • Names and phone numbers of close friends, relatives, doctors, lawyers, and financial advisors
  • Medications taken regularly (be sure to update this regularly)
  • Location of living will and other legal documents

Financial Records

  • Sources of income and assets (pension from your employer, IRAs, 401(k)s, interest, etc.)
  • Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid information
  • Insurance information (life, health, long-term care, home, car) with policy numbers and agents’ names and phone numbers
  • Names of your banks and account numbers (checking, savings, credit union)

Steps for Getting Your Affairs in Order

  • Put your important papers and copies of legal documents in one place. You can set up a file, put everything in a desk or dresser drawer, or list the information and location of papers in a notebook. If your papers are in a bank safe deposit box, keep copies in a file at home. Check each year to see if there’s anything new to add.
  • Tell a trusted family member or friend where you put all your important papers. You don’t need to tell this friend or family member about your personal affairs, but someone should know where you keep your papers in case of an emergency. If you don’t have a relative or friend you trust, ask a lawyer to help.
  • Give permission in advance for your doctor or lawyer to talk with your caregiver as needed. There may be questions about your care, a bill, or a health insurance claim. Without your consent, your caregiver may not be able to get needed information. You can give your okay in advance to Medicare, a credit card company, your bank, or your doctor. You may need to sign and return a form.

Legal Documents

There are many different types of legal documents that can help you plan how your affairs will be handled in the future. Many of these documents have names that sound alike, so make sure you are getting the documents you want. Also, State laws vary, so find out about the rules, requirements, and forms used in your State.

Wills and trusts let you name the person you want your money and property to go to after you die.

Advance directives let you make arrangements for your care if you become sick. There are two ways to do this:

  • A living will gives you a say in your health care if you become too sick to make your wishes known. In a living will, you can state what kind of care you do or don’t want. This can make it easier for family members to make tough healthcare decisions for you.
  • A durable power of attorney for health care lets you name the person you want to make medical decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself. Make sure the person you name is willing to make those decisions for you.

For legal matters, there are two ways to give someone you trust the power to act in your place:

  • A general power of attorney lets you give someone else the authority to act on your behalf, but this power will end if you are unable to make your own decisions.
  • A durable power of attorney allows you to name someone to act on your behalf for any legal task, but it stays in place if you become unable to make your own decisions.

 

Encouraging Elderly to Have Adequate Nutrition

Elderly Nutrition Tip #1:  Try to opt for foods with stronger flavors but avoid excessive salt.  As we grow older we tend to lose approximately two thirds of our taste buds, which can in turn lead to a loss of both taste and smell.  This is one of the reasons why the elderly can have a loss of appetite and might not be as enthusiastic about eating their regular meals, which can put them at risk of malnutrition.  The taste buds cannot be recreated, but studies have shown that having a stronger flavor in foods, can make the meals more enjoyable again.  This can be a useful way to make sure that the elderly get adequate nutrition and definitely a preferable way than seasoning the food with more than safe levels of salt to the diet.  Having a more variety of textures in the meals can also make the food more appetizing.

Elderly Nutrition Tip #2:  The elderly and especially people dependent on wheelchair transportation should be provided with convenient and easy access to water.  Seniors and wheelchair bound people are especially susceptible to dehydration which can even result in hospitalization.  As people age, they lose their sense of thirst.  Also, if a person is immobile or depends on non emergency medical transportation for mobility, they need to have access to water easily and not have to ask for it at all times.

Elderly Nutrition Tip #3:  Being on medication also has an effect of loss of appetite in the elderly.  Being on a diet consisting of foods rich in nutrients can help to counter this effect.  Also, a person who is not very mobile or wheelchair bound needs a balanced and nutritious diet which contains adequate calories and all the necessary nutrients.  At times it may be difficult to convince the elderly or the wheelchair dependent to have large meals, so their diet should be planned such that they get the necessary nutrients and calories in the amounts that they are comfortable consuming.  They can be encouraged to eat small and frequent meals which are packed with nutrients.

One of the challenges in providing care for the elderly is to be able to maintain nutrition for the elderly that are experiencing confusion or forgetfulness, which in itself is a fairly common problem.  Assisting the elderly or those requiring disability transportation with grocery shopping helps provide fulfilling, nutritious meals while establishing set schedules of meal times helps it become routine.

Care Conextion non emergency medical transportation in Louisville Kentucky is focused on providing the most comfortable and compassionate disability transportation, wheelchair transportation, medical transportation, handicap transportation, and elderly transportation possible to all of our clients. Our drivers are fully trained to provide the most compassionate care possible. We serve many counties in Kentucky, including Jefferson county, Oldham county, Bullitt county, Henry county, Shelby county, Trimble county, Hardin county, Meade county, Spencer county and more.  Please contact us today!