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Chronic Diseases, Alzheimers & Dementia, Mental Health, Aging Life Care, Health Education, Global Public Speaking

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Tag: Caretaking (page 1 of 2)

How to Evaluate Senior Living and Care Options

When choosing an appropriate senior living option, make sure that the place you pick suits all your needs and those of your loved ones. Whether you’re looking for yourself, your parent or your spouse, the future resident’s needs take precedence in evaluating options.

Here are the steps to take.

1.     Determine All Your Needs

Before you even start looking for an assisted living facility, you should first assess your monetary, physical, and everyday life needs. Determine the things that are going to be important not only to you, but also to any loved ones it may affect. After establishing all your needs, you’ll certainly find it easier to evaluate senior living and assisted living facilities.

Use your needs to decide whether to focus on:

  • Assisted Living
  • Independent Living Communities
  • Memory Care Housing
  • Senior Apartments
  • Nursing Homes
  • Residential Care Homes

2.     Tour the Facility

Once you’ve selected some candidates, be sure to visit each location. Check out the kitchens, social spaces, bedrooms and the outdoors. Are there nice places to walk around in nature? Check out whether the rooms have pleasing decor, and are clean and safe. Observe safety procedures and security in general and check whether there are fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems that are operational.

3.     Find Out More About the Staff

Is there enough staff at the facility you’re considering? A great facility should have a lower staff-to-patient ratio. Also find out whether the staff is well trained and how long most of them have been working at the facility. A fast turn-over is a bad sign. If possible, check how staff is hired. Do most staff have multiple jobs, or do they get paid well enough to only work one job?

4.     Understand Contracts and Fees

Check out the services being offered and which ones are included and not included in the monthly fee. Take your time to look at and understand the contract well. If possible, hire an attorney to have a look at the contract.

5.     Look for Licensing or Accreditation Reports

If you’re in a state that licenses assisted living homes, ask for the inspection reports. Besides licenses, check whether the facility has been accredited by any organization. The more licenses and accreditations, the more confident you can be that the services provided are top-notch.

6.     Find Out About Activities Offered

Check what activities are available at the facility. What are some upcoming activities? Are the activities on the schedule ones that the resident would enjoy? How often do they happen? Find out whether there are onsite and offsite activities. Finally, ask about religious services if they interest you.

7.     Look into Their Medical Services

Does this facility pick up or drop off prescriptions for residents? Some do. There are also facilities that offer residents free transportation to the hospital or to the doctor. Some facilities allow for purchase of basic medical supplies on sight. Understand what exactly happens in case the health of a resident deteriorates. Find out what type of assessments are usually done.


Best Practices When Deciding for Seniors with Diminishing Mental Capacity

Ability to make one’s decisions is essential to individual autonomy. If ever a person loses their ability to understand choices and repercussions, that is when they begin to need help making decisions. You may find yourself having to make choices for a parent or spouse.

Seniors with diminished mental capacity may not be in a position to make their own decisions. However, they can still know what they want and express it. Not having the capacity to make sound decisions is based in ability to understand and evaluate options and predict repercussions. It does not mean that a person doesn’t know what they want.

When deciding for a senior loved one with declining mental capacity, you should always try to strike a balance between acting in the patient’s favor and respecting his or her autonomy. The following practices can help you do that.

Assess Them

The first thing to do is to have your aging loved one assessed professionally by a clinician. The specialist’s job is to determine whether the individual has the capacity to make sound decisions. If it’s found that they understand and make their own decisions, then always allow them to make their own decisions.

Act in Their Best Interests

This may include alleviating the patient’s anxiety, taking time to educate the individual and their family, considering lucid intervals and the person’s physical conditions like difficulty in speech, which can sometimes interfere with capacity. Doing so is the only way to act in the best interest of the senior with diminishing mental capacity.

Disclosure of Diagnosis

In the past it was an accepted practice for doctors not to speak directly to their patients about deteriorating mental capacity. That has now changed. Today, it’s considered a patient’s right to be informed about their health condition and treatment discussions. So, involve the patient and disclose to him or her results of diagnosis. When you’ve assessed diminishing mental capacity and found out that the patient has dementia, it is good to let the patient know of their condition. Especially when it is still at its early stages. In other words, the stage of the mental illness and the time of diagnosis should be considered.

As mental illness progresses, competency and decision-making capacity will definitely be affected, and this may make the patient’s ability to fully understand the diagnosis as well as its implications could be limited. When it the mental illness is at its advanced stage, there may be no need to disclose the diagnosis to the patient because they might not even care. This means that the disclosure would actually be futile.

Don’t assume that you should make all the decisions alone for seniors with diminishing mental capacity. Always involve them whenever possible. You should also ensure that you always act in their best interest when you are deciding anything for them.


Art & the Painter’s Dilemma

When the flamingoes danced, the irises swayed in joys… the history of painting came alive with …

With modern touches, technology advances, anyone can become a painter, a thinker, an artist??

Think again… A couple painting that I inherited when I took over an older Doctor’s practice hung on my office walls for a few years, until one fine day, I realized the person sitting to be examined in front of me, asked me if she could have the painting in the wall of the bathroom? To my utter surprise and shock, it belonged to her late mother, she had traded / bartered that painting in the 1950’s with the previous doctor in this office for medical care and treatment.

Paintings did have a story after all… Later those other paintings that graced the walls of the office, were treasured and do even today. Think about this, brings me back to painting, the arts as a social gathering, festive merry making, as seen in the renaissance, or culture, traditions upheld , or even so history of feasts, foods, animals, nature…

Elderly appreciate art, artistic things, artistic talk or people …

Here are some of the best known ways to celebrate art with/for/by seniors:

1. An art museum / theater outing day

2. Painting , ceramics, art at place movement, event, seminar,

3. Wine with art/ food and art gathering

4. Art display and sharing

5. Creating artistic impressions with objects, produce, flowers,

6. Painting in the park, outdoors

7. Commemorating painters, their works, local, state, country or international

8. Visit to volunteering at art centers in city, senior’s center

9. Art with children or family

10. Art with pets, animals, at the zoo or elsewhere.

Art in any form, is a joy to behold. Let us relive arts and revive arts for everyone. If you have an upcoming event, art to display, we would love to see, share, and empower people across the globe to embrace arts as part of healthy living and aging. Thank you.

Tips for Maintaining High Quality of Life with Deteriorating Health

Deteriorating health is common among the aging population. Declining health doesn’t mean that you can’t live as healthily and happily as possible, though. There are so many things you can do to improve and maintain high quality of life as you age, even with a serious health condition.

How to maintain high quality of life with deteriorating health:

1.     Eat Well

Eating well is critical if you want to maintain high quality health. As you age, there might be a decreased metabolism, slower digestion, and changes in your senses of smell and taste. All these can have a huge affect on the foods you eat, your appetite, and how your body processes the food you eat. But despite of these changes, you should understand that healthy eating is more important to you now than ever. Proper nutrition is the only way to maintain good health and energy. Avoid refined carbs and sugary foods. Instead, eat high fiber vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

2.     Get Plenty of Sleep

Lack of sleep can worsen your health condition and make you even more susceptible to other diseases. Getting enough sleep will go a long way in ensuring that your quality of life remains high. If you are experiencing insomnia, sleep apnea, or any other sleep problems, see your doctor. Make sure that your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Playing some calm music or taking a bath before you go to bed can act as a soothing bedtime ritual and will help you sleep soundly throughout the night.

3.     Take Medications as Required

You may have some known health condition that requires medication. Many of us do. To manage your health condition and to maintain high quality of life, always take your medications as recommended by your doctor. In case you notice that your condition is worsening, you should contact your doctor immediately, and if necessary, make a plan to change how or when you take your prescription with them.

4.     Exercise

According to recent studies, regular exercise is actually the number one contributor to good health and longevity. Exercise doesn’t just add more years on earth, but it also adds quality of life to those years. Exercise boosts your mental health and will help you maintain your physical strength and agility. It also increases vitality and improves sleep. What’s more, sleep also helps diminish chronic pain. Regular exercise can also have a positive effect on your brain,  helping prevent cognitive decline, memory loss, and dementia.

5.     Get a Change of Scenery

If you’re going to go through these changes at home, you might as well do so in a beautiful setting instead. Take advantage of mobility devices, prescription glasses, heating pads, hearing aids, and whatever other tools you can to let you out of the house comfortably. Bring a friend with you in case you need any assistance, and for good company. Just being under the sky, in your favorite restaurant, or cruising a museum in a wheelchair can bring a lightness of heart that can’t be found on the couch.

6.     Find Meaning in Your Life

The ability to continuously find meaning and happiness in life is a major component in the recipe for happy and healthy aging. With deteriorating health, your life changes as you age, and you may find yourself losing hope. Engage in activities that give you purpose in life and do things that make you happy. Start a gratitude journal or set aside a gratitude reflection time daily. This will help you remain positive through any health challenges you face. Positivity can have a huge positive effect on your general health and even reduce chronic pain.


Tea Time… Life’s Simple Pleasures

Tea time…is a much celebrated tradition worldwide. The elaborate tea ceremony of Japan, to the afternoon teas in England to the tea growing regions of rainy Assam in India…Tea time is a time of taking time for personal wellness, catch up on some energy, creative thinking, sharing, and companionship to continuing traditions.

When tea was a mystery, hundreds of years ago, to the current ways of shopping for tea, tea and specialty tea shops can stimulate many a taste bud…Tea time for seniors could be a sign of respect, festiveness, routine, memorable times and more…

Often in my office, seniors preferred not to be seen by me, the doctor at certain times of a day…With better understanding, I realized the evening tea had its’ place. Visiting families in Asia, Africa…tea time is considered part of social life, from tea stalls in roadsides to elaborate tea ceremonies to the everything café downtown.

Here are some truly humbling tea related things seniors shared with me in my decades as a geriatrician:

1. Tea times are not a thing of past, they are making a comeback

2. When you share an afternoon of tea, or meetup with someone, you are truly living not just being

3. A break for tea is worth every penny of time

4. Traditions and culture of tea times… part of healing, as tea contains certain chemicals, wellbeing, healthy living

5. Teas can be any, but the best tea can only be made with love

6. Tea time is special and miracles do happen

7. Hoping tea time is respected…

With those sayings… making time for life’s simple pleasures in any setting is settling, caring, showing love and paying attention to what matters to whom…Hope grandmother and grandfather’s traditions continue to grow, for our future generations… please share your favorite tea moments with grandma or grandpa. We would love to follow, and help the world fall in love with life’s simple pleasures once again,

Thank you

How Much Help is Too Much Help for Seniors?

When it comes to providing senior care for a loved one, you should know the difference between doing things for a person and doing things with a person. Most seniors (maybe all?) will appreciate when you do activities or tasks with them and not when you do things for them.

You can easily find yourself doing everything for a loved one rather than with them. Of course, its well-intentioned behavior. You’re doing what you can to make your loved one comfortable. However, this can sometimes have a negative influence on the life of the person you care for. In fact, they may feel incapacitated and start to rebel and become upset. That’s a clear sign that the “help” you’re providing is too much.

Help is too much if it doesn’t promote the independence of the other person. It’s important that you foster independence, even as you provide senior care services. There are so many reasons for this:

  • It helps fight feelings of futility and frustration, which can cause violence and rebellion
  • Your loved one will appreciate that you still see them as a person who is capable of making helpful contributions to the society
  • Promoting and sustaining a feeling of independence in your loved one allows them to retain maximum self sufficiency
  • This may soothe their fear of being a burden

So, ensure that the person you care for has the opportunity to do helpful things. Have them complete basic tasks for themselves whenever possible.

Promoting Independence

This involves providing and creating opportunities for them to contribute to maintaining their own quality of life. You can promote independence by encouraging your loved one to do certain things for themselves. Provide opportunities for activities and exercise, encouraging a healthy lifestyle, and supporting brain health through games and social interaction.

Maintaining Independence

Maintenance of independence in the person you are caring for is ensuring that the person is given all the tools to follow through with his or her willingness to perform a duty for himself or herself. For instance, you can help with ensuring home safety such as installing adequate lighting, handrails, bathroom grab bars, furniture placement, and home accessibility. These tools can help the person under your care to safely do some activities for themselves with the home, without help.


Real Differences Between Care From a Spouse and a Professional Caregiver

At some point in life, most of us will start to experience decline with aging. If your spouse experiences mental or physical decline first, you’ll have to decide between caring for them personally and hiring a professional caregiver. Your choice will depend on whether you’re able to provide the care they need without sacrificing yourself. If you can’t care for yourself and them adequately, it’s best to let a professional caregiver take over.

Care From a Spouse

You may be able to care for your partner when they experience physical and/or mental decline, and they may also do the same for you. Doing the care yourself can be appealing for financial reasons, or to skip the process of interviewing and hiring a caregiver. Maybe you’d rather not invite another person into your home. There are many possible reasons to choose caring for a spouse.

But it doesn’t come without stress. It may also feel like a necessity or an obligation.

Having to care for your aging spouse can sometimes cause strain in your relationship. You might also experience insufficient energy or sleep, and you may find it isolating or stressful. These effects are common among people providing care for their aging partners, and are known as “burnout”.

Some of the most common symptoms of burnout include:

  • Depression
  • Pains or aches
  • Sleep problems
  • Severe fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Stress

A Professional Caregiver

A professional caregiver can be a person trained to care for seniors at home. They often have nursing experience or other specialized skills that make them a great fit for the job.

One of the main differences between care from a spouse and a professional caregiver is that a professional is trained in specific areas of importance. They’ll know how to move, wash, feed your husband or wife in the safest, most effective ways. They’ll often have CPR and first aid certifications, and they work for an hourly fee.

Another benefit of professional caregivers is that they clock out and go home to recharge. You can’t just disappear for 16 hours a day to give your attention to other things. Your professional caregiver does, which means they’re better able to focus and keep perspective about day-to-day challenges. Being able to step away is very helpful for caretakers, emotionally.

This is unlike when you’re the one taking care of your partner. Besides being untrained, and always “on”, you’re also working for free.

When to Go To a Professional Caregiver

If you aren’t up to the task of taking care of your spouse alone, don’t do it. Whether it’s the emotional strain, physical demands, or mismatched skillset that deter you, it’s best to employ someone in this case.

Even if you started out fine with caretaking, when you realize that burnout may be affecting you, take it seriously. Cut back how much care you provide alone or hire help until you feel like returning to caretaking full time. If you ever do.

It’s okay to employ a professional, it has no bearing on your love or dedication.

A professional caregiver can help with many things:

  • Preparing meals
  • Light housekeeping (tidying up, dishes, vacuuming)
  • Grocery shopping
  • Hygiene and bathing
  • Incontinence care
  • Transportation to and from various doctors’ appointments
  • Changing bed linens
  • Laundry
  • Medication reminders
  • Mobility assistance

Whether to do caretaking wholley alone, employ part time help, or use the services of a full time caretaker is up to you. You can change your mind at any time, just keep in mind your partner’s health and happiness, and also your own.

Why Efficiency Matters in Senior Caregiving?

There is no one set of rules that defines a caregiver. In some countries, they are referred to as caretakers or carers…Caregivers are more often family or friends or neighbors than other people from the communities.  

Caregivers provide support in ways unexplainable… not all can be the best caregivers, as there are pros and cons of being one. In this age of instant gratification, everything in a person’s fingertips, is efficiency or does efficiency matter? That is tough question… a dilemma that can set you thinking for hours. One may argue, it does not if everything is a routine and known… Or does it is still a routine… why?? Because caregivers cost money, energy and time.

Ways efficiency in caregiving helps seniors:

  1. Save time, money, energy if using a routine, most important with seniors with cognitive disabilities or challenges?
  2. Planning ahead prepares for unknown and unwelcome surprises… like noticing no diapers at home , when one needs it instantly     
  3. Understanding intimately, the intricacies of the lives of the seniors … or even finding similarities or dissimilarities… for it can avoid unnecessary arguments
  4. Agreeing or disagreeing in advance of a plan like outside activity, indoors… Meals…events etc. can save lots of …..
  5. Avoiding confrontations, as seniors have a certain way of doing things, and being efficient also calls for avoiding these… so tasks happen, like going to a dr’s office or taking a certain medicine…
  6. Saving on energy, like appliances, transportation… planning showers, meals, shopping, recipes, …preventing wasting of resources, repurposing and reusing as needed, necessary or legally/ socially approved.
  7. Conversation times can be true conversations about wellbeing, life’s simple pleasures and not about undone stuff and wrongly done stuff or even wrongly planned stuff
  8. Social interactions, more peace of mind, better sleep, decrease or eliminate burnout, crisis…
  9. Better health for both the caregiver and the senior, more likelihood of asking for support, being vocal about expectations is a good thing…
  10. Power of bliss, happiness and joys of caregiving is not lost, instead the opposite happens…

This blog is to help… not to change, but we are open to hearing comments on experiences by caregivers, please share… Caregiving education and efficiency in caregiving are critical to the aging in 22nd century… and beyond. Thank you

Senior Wellbeing and Health

Wellbeing for all… is the new slogan. Seniors or a child… everyone deserves mental wellbeing, should be guided to wellbeing? Ancient sciences from across cultures, always have emphasized on wellbeing as the core of living, thriving or being. Certainly peace can help with health in many ways. A walk in the wooded area or across a grass field or a sip of favorite tea… are fine examples of living in the present and focusing on mental wellbeing.

Because wellbeing is the comfort of life’s simple pleasures, they are not costly, can be found anywhere, and solve human mind, body, soul, heart’s earthly cravings. In this world of material wealth, most seniors that I have worked with or known cared not for money, richness, glamour, or splendor…. But instead in the little things we all take for granted.

Senior wellbeing is directly related to their health… physical, emotional, spiritual, physiological and psychological. It will be ages and maybe never proven… as humans just know and feel, so the intuition is enough for people to cultivate or derive or get drawn towards the very basics of life on earth.  

What can one do or how can one help?

  1. Understanding wellbeing
  2. Understanding the need for wellbeing for seniors
  3. Assimilating resources to help seniors
  4. Continuing the practices, as before, if a senior can or finding a suitable substitute
  5. Encouraging holistic aging
  6. Understanding needs of an aged or stages of aging and its’ needs
  7. Making it a win-win situation
  8. Understanding the personality of a senior and tailoring individualized solutions

Some of the ways…

  1. Spirituality and spiritual/ holy events, prayers, music,
  2. Nature and natural being, a walk, gardening, driving a senior through some green pastures
  3. Communal eating, at religious facilities, home with family or at the senior living center
  4. Assigning a member with similar needs to champion wellbeing
  5. Any other activities that help with mental wellbeing, mental peace…

Practicing, advocating or preaching… because everyone can help someone… We would love to inspire others reading this with more ideas, ways… so feel free to share. Thank you

Planning Conversations That Can Begin at Any Time

Senior living, senior health, senior care, Geriatric care, Aging, Healthy aging…

Owning, renting or sharing a property…

Conditions, health, needs, wants, haves, future…

There is never the right or wrong time to start these planning conversations

Above all, these are some of the things I found helped my senior patients, their families, caregivers in the past…

  1. Personal details? Health care assessment details? Comorbidities?
  2. Financial / economics of aging? Savings, retirement, loans, gifts are certainly important to consider.
  3. City/ town, average retirement cost, plans for future- maybe it’s better to move or stay?
  4. Advance directives, senior’s end of life choices, care..?
  5. Strength / support of family, neighborhood, and likewise community?
  6. Personal interests, life, values, vision, goals, purpose?
  7. Understanding mental health, cognitive health..?
  8. What to expect 1, 5, 10 or 25 years from today?
  9. Downsizing plans, storing, selling, moving, sharing, renting, buying? Plans?
  10. Life’s simple pleasures? Aging gracefully, spiritual needs, social, psychological …?

Planning conversations are not simple, because most people put them away, and doing a little regularly will be beneficial for everyone. Plans can change and revisiting set goals with each setback or change in the trajectory of life can help substantially. Things are different in each country…we would love to hear your ideas, please feel free to send us some great ideas and the country… above all this is about world community building.

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