Senior Helpers' Fall Prevention Checklist

Friday, October 12, 2012 by sonia cohen

It is finally fall! Well… in some parts of the country more so than others, but it is October, so that counts for something. Right?

Well, the changing season kicks off our Fall Prevention Crusade to encourage families to safety-proof their homes to keep seniors from falling. Did you know that falls are the #1 cause of injuries, hospital visits, and deaths among those 65 and older? The silver lining, though, is that most falls are preventable.

That’s why we have come up with a “Fall Prevention Checklist” to help you keep this fall free of falls! Here are some specific ways families and friends can help prevent a senior from taking a fall around the home:

Senior Helpers “Fall Prevention Checklist

  • Install handrails on both sides of stairs and grab bars in bathrooms (1/3 of households in America with stairs do not have banisters or handrails. Only 19% of households in America have grab bars in tubs/showers).
  • Provide plenty of light at the top and bottom of stairs and throughout hallways.
  • Paint the bottom basement step white to make it more visible.
  • Secure rugs to the floor to prevent tripping.
  • Attach non-slip strips to the bottom of slippers and shoes.
  • In outside areas, check steps and walkways for loose bricks, cement or stone.

Other Tips To Help Prevent Falling:

  • Have Foot Size Measured – do this each time your senior buys shoes. Foot size changes with age and a shoe that is too big increases the risk of a fall.
  • Exercise Regularly – choose activities that increase leg strength and improve balance in seniors, such as Tai Chi.
  • Eye Check-ups – make sure senior loved ones have their eyes checked by a doctor at least once a year and have their eyeglasses updated as needed.
    • A good tip: consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for activities such as walking outside.
    • Review Medications – have a doctor or pharmacist review medications/prescriptions to learn what may cause side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness.

Have you made any changes to help your home stay fall-proof this year?

The “Can Do” Approach to Caregiving

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 by sonia cohen

We’re such social creatures, aren’t we? A hug at the right time or an unexpected smile can brighten a bad day. Being isolated in time-out is a child’s worst enemy. And a friend taking time out of their busy schedule to have a genuine conversation can mean the world.

When dementia sets in, this social nature doesn’t go away, even if your loved one doesn’t respond the same way they once did. Verbal reactions may decline, but the same love, affection, warmth and care make life meaningful. That supportive care is also essential to the well-being of people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s.

People with Alzheimer’s or dementia also tend to reflect the mood, tone and attitude of their caregivers or people around them. So, when you find yourself on the verge of a negative reaction (it’s inevitable – we’re only human, after all!), take a deep breath and reevaluate.

As author Charles Swindoll once said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” As caregivers, shifting to a “Can Do” perspective – focusing on what you’re loved one is able to do, rather than his or her limitations – can help keep that relationship warm and encouraging.

Here are a few ways you can intentionally put that “can do” lens on life:

  • Identify the “Can Do” list. It is important to understand your loved one’s stage of dementia and to encourage continuing regular activities. Not every day is going to be filled with activities, but take advantage of the ones that are.
  • Keep it simple. Consistency is a major player in this stage of life, so establish routines for your loved one to make this phase of life both peaceful and happy.
  • Recognize your limit. Patience is the other key player in a caregiver’s daily life, and it won’t always be easy. If you know your threshold and can identify that you are being pushed toward it, you can take steps to reset your positive mindset and prevent a meltdown by giving yourself a moment of grace to take a deep breath.
  • “These are a few of my favorite things...” Life isn’t just about what you are able to do, but what you enjoy doing… and that doesn’t stop when dementia sets in. Someone who loved to garden may not remember what the flowers are called, but may still love taking daily walks outside and describing the flowers they see. Find what your loved one loves to do and try to fit that in.

There is so much a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia can do, so keep that in the forefront of your mind and adjust as you need to. You may be pleasantly surprised by the activities and conversations you have if you keep a “Can Do” approach.

How do you “reset” that “Can Do” perspective when having a tough day?

Seniors Just Want to Have Fun!

Friday, September 14, 2012 by sonia cohen

Sometimes people just want to have fun, it’s human nature! The desire to interact or to be

entertained doesn’t vanish just because we are aging, even though it may change a bit. Because

life is all about balance, it is important to keep that sense of fun through leisure activities for

seniors, even as they progress. This may mean playing a game or simply enjoying a pleasant

and familiar old song,  either one adds a richness to life. Leisure activities promote having fun and

interacting. They are especially important to include in your everyday plan.  They keep life light through

the ups and downs and are a great way to fill your day and enjoy time with your loved one.

 

Leisure activities for those with early stage dementia can include:

  • Creating a family tree
  • Reading  
  • Shopping
  • Baking
  • Going out to eat
  • Arranging flowers
  • Arts and crafts
  • Music Activities  
  • Playing games or puzzles
  • Going to place of worship
  • Visiting a senior center

Leisure activities for those with moderate dementia can include

  • Walking (short walks)
  • Match photos with names on a family tree
  • Sorting Objects
  • Baking (mixing)
  • Looking at photo albums and catalogs
  • Snuggling with a pet
  • Arranging plastic flowers
  • Touching things with different textures (ribbons, fabric, carpet, etc.)
  • Listening to music
  • Dancing

Activities for those with more advanced dementia may include:

  • Listening to music that brings up positive memories
  • Looking at large photo albums
  • Tearing paper
  • Filling egg cartons with plastic eggs
  • Flying paper airplanes
  • People watching
  • Watching/listening to wind chimes/mobiles
  • Holding things that are soft to touch
  • Holding comforting objects

Remember, your senior’s ability and interest in different activities may vary day to day and he or she will need varying degrees of assistance with each activity.  Including activities that incorporate past hobbies and interests can be very comforting to your senior.  

What leisure activities have you found that your senior enjoys?

 

 

 

The Importance of Keeping Seniors Active

Monday, September 10, 2012 by sonia cohen

Caregiving is not just about activities of daily living, it is also about connecting with our clients and filling the day with meaningful activities.  At Senior Helpers, our caregivers are specially trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, with extra emphasis on incorporating activities into the day.  Our Senior Gems® program makes understanding the activity needs of clients at various stages of dementia easy to understand and easy to implement.

Activities are planned in the following four categories:

Productive – activities that provide a sense of value and purpose.

Leisure – activities that promote having fun and interacting.

Self-Care & Wellness – activities involving personal care of the body and brain.

Restorative – activities that re-energize and restore the spirit.

 

We know that activities instill feelings of competency and value, which makes for more enjoyable days for our clients and their families. Your senior’s ability and interest in different activities may vary day to day and he or she will need varying degrees of assistance with each activity.  At Senior Helpers, we have found that including activities that incorporate past hobbies or jobs can make be very comforting to your senior.  For example, we had a client who used to build ships and our caregiver would give him some sandpaper and wood to sand and he was comforted by that activity. 

 

Productive activities are especially important to include in your everyday plan.  A sense of purposelessness is one of the worst feelings any person can have, so as a caregiver, it is important to help your loved one know that they are valued. One of the ways to help them feel this way is to encourage productive activities. While these vary by age, stage and personal interests, these are the kind of activities that get us up and going in the morning. These are the activities that give a person the sense that they have value and purpose in life, so for as long as possible, keep an eye out for productive activity opportunities.

 

Productive activities for those with early stage dementia can include:

 

  • Getting the mail
  • Setting the table
  • Caring for pets
  • Finding, sorting and cutting coupons
  • Putting dishes away
  • Gardening
  • Doing laundry
  • Preparing food

 

Productive activities for those with moderate dementia can include:

  • Sorting buttons
  • Dusting/wiping
  • Sweeping
  • Getting the mail
  • Helping with pets
  • Rinsing dishes
  • Watering plants
  • Putting pillows in cases

 

Activities for those with more advanced dementia may include:

  • Rinsing
  • Wiping
  • Putting laundry in the drawer
  • Handing you items
  • Taking items out of the basket
  • Putting items in a box
  • Putting away unused dishes
  • Brushing/petting a pet

 

Productive activities help your senior feel purposeful and make them feel they add value to the world, their community, their family and their friends.

What productive activities have you found that your senior enjoys?

 

 

Power in Numbers: Alzheimer's Support Groups

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 by sonia cohen

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the following years for everyone involved can be a roller coaster of emotions. Some days will be great and feel like nothing has changed. Others will be heartbreaking and challenging. As a caregiver, you’ll feel everything from anger to fear as your loved one goes through days of confusion and loss.

If no one you know has taken on the role of caretaker, you may feel alone at times.

An Alzheimer’s support group is a great place to turn when you feel like no one understands what your life looks like and how you are feeling. These groups offer participants psychological and emotional support, as well as the practical knowledge that they will need as a caregiver. Support groups also give you a place to share stories, both hardships and successes, that only people who are familiar with Alzheimer’s will truly understand.

One of the greatest benefits of an Alzheimer’s support group is that it gives you a place to express the most difficult emotions. Not sure this is up your alley? We did some research for you, so check out these resources available from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and see if a support group might be a helpful thing as you care for your loved one:


Care Connection

Health Central Message Forum

AGIS Ask the Experts 

www.alzfdn.org/Connect/carecentral

 

What supportive groups and resources do you rely on as a caregiver?

Senior Helpers’ September theme is Senior Back-to-School Activity

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 by sonia cohen

This back‐to‐school season, families are scrambling to prepare their children to head back to the classroom. But in busy times, senior experts urge us to remember our elderly loved ones who are often left out of the hustle and bustle, and can feel lonely, isolated and mentally stagnant. So, while Mom and Dad may have already filled their child’s backpack full of pencils and other school supplies, they may have forgotten to stuff one very important backpack – that of their aging parent.

 

That’s why Senior Helpers, one of the largest in‐home senior care companies, is helping families create Senior “Back‐to‐School Backpacks” to keep elderly loved ones sharp and engaged. These backpacks are an easy, inexpensive way to keep seniors involved in activities that will keep their minds and memories sharp. According to the Mayo Clinic, seniors who engage in cognitive activities, play games or participate in crafts, have a 30‐50 percent decrease in memory loss compared to those who did not participate in these activities. In fact, studies show that even the “diseased brain” has the ability to make new neurological connections when kept active.

 

 “Families become so busy they can forget to include their elderly loved ones in all the activities. Studies show that without stimulating activity, seniors can lose memory, feel depressed and isolated and have a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” says Peter Mangiola RN, owner of Senior Helpers in Burlington and Ocean Counties. “That’s why these Senior “Back‐to‐School Backpacks” are a fun, easy way to keep the elderly engaged. If you can’t be there to join your elderly loved one in these activities, hire a caregiver who can take the load off you.”

Senior Helpers’ Senior “Back‐to‐School Backpack

(Experts suggest activities must not only be fun but give seniors a sense of accomplishment)

Backpack items can include:

  • Hand‐held computer games (such as Connect Four or Scrabble)
  • Books, magazines or crossword puzzles
  • Do‐It‐Yourself birdhouse kit
  • Fake flowers to arrange
  • Deck of cards
  • Etch‐a‐sketch (draw or play games such as Hang Man, Tic‐Tac‐Toe, etc.)
  • Paint by numbers (model cars or other objects)
  • Gardening seeds


Senior “Back‐to‐School Backpack for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s: Research shows seniors should play these games for stimulation, not for competition, and should be enjoyed by a group of two or three. Whenever possible, experts suggest children (or a caregiver) play with the older adults.

 

Recommended games include:

  • Bingo – studies show this game is highly therapeutic for those with cognitive disorders. People in the study performed slightly better on cognitive tests and showed an increase in alertness and awareness hours after testing (American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia).
  • Smart Brain – This game provides stimulation to cognitive facilities like attention and memory (Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry). The study shows this game improved cognition in a group of elderly people diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
  • Nintendo’s, Brain Age ‐ originally intended to improve the working of the healthy brain but it’s also effective therapy for those with dementia.
  • Qwirkle ‐ it can be played in many ways and by people at different stages of Alzheimer's. People in early stages can play by the rules or as a game of strategy. Later it can be used for color and pattern matching.
  • Board games, such as Monopoly – board games with a colorful playing surface and objects that can be handled (such as dice, money, cards, etc.) are preferred.

 

“Games at all levels – low tech to high tech ‐ can help dementia patients,” says Peter. “The Senior “Back‐to‐School Backpack” is one initiative in our dementia and Alzheimer’s program called our Senior Gems Program. We stress seniors should decide which games they want to play, whether they’re games they played as a child or games they played with their own children. This stimulates familiar memories which keep the brain sharp.”

 

Sources: Mayo Clinic (2009 study), Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, Best Alzheimer’s Products, Dementia Today

To learn more about how to care for your senior loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s through the Senior Helpers’ Senior Gems Program, please visit our website at www.seniorhelpers.com. There, you can also request a complimentary Senior Gems DVD.


 

Summer Survival Kits: A Message from Our CEO

Friday, August 24, 2012 by sonia cohen

“Seniors often won’t admit they can’t deal with extreme heat like they used to. If they have dementia or Alzheimer’s, they don’t even realize they’re thirsty, hot or dizzy. That’s why it’s absolutely vital that aging family members have the resources right at their fingertips to be healthy and safe,” says Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers, an in-home care senior company with highly trained caregivers specializing in dementia and Alzheimer’s care. “Take the time to prepare a Senior Summer Survival Kit. If you can’t be with your elderly loved one, you should hire a caregiver we call our Heat Helpers to make sure your senior drinks water, applies sunscreen and stays active and engaged indoors. This is crucial for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s.”

Aid & Attendence Pension for wartime veterans and/or their spouses

Thursday, August 23, 2012 by sonia cohen

The Aid and Attendance (A&A) Pension provides benefits for veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing and undressing or taking care of the needs of nature. It also includes individuals who are blind or a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity. Assisted care in an assisting living facility also qualifies.
The 2012 the maximum monthly benefits for those qualifying for the Aid & Attendance level of Pension is:
• Surviving Spouse of a Veteran: $1,094
• Veteran with no Spouse or dependent children: $1,703
• Married couple where the Veteran requires care: $2,019
• Veteran is healthy but Spouse requires care, Veteran qualifies for Income Improvement Pension: $1,337

Qualifications for A&A
• It must be established by your physician that you require daily assistance by others for dressing, bathing, cooking, eating, taking on or off of prosthetics, leave home etc.
• Must be War-Time Veteran with 90 days of active duty, 1 day beginning or ending during a period of War or a surviving spouse (marriage must have ended due to death of veteran) of a War-Time Veteran.
• The individual applying must qualify financially.

Contact Senior Helpers at 609-261-2995 or 732-657-3600. We’ll help you get the paperwork started!

WE SALUTE ALL VETERANS ANDTHANK THEM FOR THEIR SERV ICE!

Scammer Alert: Protecting Your Senior from Fraud

Friday, August 17, 2012 by sonia cohen

It is a sad and scary truth that in today’s society, senior citizens are often the victim of fraud. According to the FBI, seniors are a common target because they likely have a “nest egg,” own their own home and have good credit.

Personal values have changed as well. People who grew up in the 30s, 40s and 50s tend to place a higher importance on respect and good manners. Because of those common courtesies, many seniors have a hard time saying “no,” closing the door on someone or just hanging up the phone. Con artists are aware of these traits and unfortunately exploit them.

Scams geared toward seniors come in various forms, which make them somewhat difficult to monitor. The FBI, AARP and SEC track these frauds, and can give you a list of the specific scams that are trending now.

Common scams to look out for occur around healthcare and insurance, counterfeit prescription drugs, funeral and cemetery costs, “anti-aging” products, investment schemes and reverse mortgages. Seniors are sometimes targeted on the internet but more often through telemarketing and door-to-door scams.

So how can you protect your senior or help them protect themselves from these conniving scammers? We put together a baseline list of things to keep in mind:

  • Be wary of unsolicited goods or services.
  • Do not pay for services in advance.
  • Be careful of individuals who pressure you to make an immediate decision.
  • Do not sign anything that you do not fully understand.
  • Be cautious of sweepstakes or prizes that you did not sign up for.
  • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Shop around before making a big purchase.
  • Stay up to date on the scams that are trending, so you can recognize a scam faster.

So what is the biggest mistake you can make? I’ll tell you! It’s the most common thought around: “That will never happen to me.”

There is a reason “better safe than sorry” is such a well known cliché. And in this situation, they’re words to live by.

Have you ever experienced a scam-in-action? How did you protect yourself?

 

Dehydration and Fall Prevention in Seniors

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 by sonia cohen

As people age, the chance of a fall that is significant or causes injury increases so knowing how to prevent a fall is an important part of providing care

to aging seniors. In the hazy heat of summer time, falls can become even more of a threat due to the dizziness, blurred vision, and confusion that comes

along with even moderate dehydration. Rather than living reactively,a proactive approach to fall prevention can often make an enormous difference.

So, how do you plan ahead to prevent falls this summer?


•Hydrate and focus on preventing dehydration. The better the body feels, the more apt to maintain balance you are.

•Remove items that could be stumbling blocks.

•Know the side effects of your medications and have a plan to counteract any negative effects that could lead to falls.

•Have vision and hearing checked regularly so issues with balance due to eyesight and hearing can be addressed.

•Have your balance tested by a trained physical therapist.

•Learn strengthening exercises and practice them daily to maintain muscle tone for good balance. 

•Identify physical limits-dizziness, weakness, and any type of light headedness and have a plan in place including having something to hold onto or sit on nearby.


If you have any questions about fall prevention or would like a resource in your local area who can help you with your fall prevention needs,

please contact Senior Helpers at (732) 657-3600.

Sweltering Summer Heat Raises Dehydration Danger for Seniors

Monday, August 13, 2012 by sonia cohen

 

Seniors and Families on Alert for Elevated, Heat-Related Health Risks

 

As the thermometer continues to rise, dehydration for New Jersey seniors can be dangerous and deadly. It’s a serious health issue affecting millions of aging Americans – but it’s easily avoidable.

 

Locally, Senior Helpers, a national leading in-home senior care provider, is raising awareness to help seniors avoid the medical problems and hospitalizations that are a direct result of dehydration. These cases continue to make headlines every year, but they don’t have to.

 

“Seniors are bombarded with lists of things they can do to decrease their risk of health issues like a heart attack or a stroke  but we often forget to constantly remind our elderly loved ones to drink, “ says  Peter Mangiola RN, owner of Senior Helpers, a local in-home senior care company with highly trained caregivers specializing in dementia and Alzheimer’s care.  “This is especially important for the elderly with dementia or Alzheimer’s who have to be reminded to drink. Many don’t recognize they’re thirsty or don’t have enough energy to get water. They may have swallowing difficulties or incontinence problems. That’s why if you can’t be with your elderly loved ones, you should hire a caregiver who can keep them hydrated.”

 

Elderly Hit Hardest

 

A recent study by the Mayo Clinic found that seniors are far more likely to experience adverse health effects related to dehydration than younger people. The report shows the average adult loses more than ten cups of water per day and states that thirst isn’t always a reliable gauge of the body’s need for water, especially among older adults who have less acute senses. 

 

Dehydration can be largely prevented by paying attention to simple dietary measures and looking out for early warning signs. The most telling signs of dehydration include: dizziness, blurred vision, dry/sticky mouth, unusual sleepiness or tired feelings, muscle weakness, sudden or persistent headaches and decreased urine output.

 

“These warning signs are especially critical for families with elderly loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer's. That's why caregivers, trained in Alzheimer's care, can help keep seniors hydrated and make sure they stick to a routine,” says Mangiola.  “It’s all part of our dementia and Alzheimer's program called Senior Gems.  Families shouldn't have to worry about their senior every time they leave them.  With our caregivers, your elderly loved one is in good hands.”

 

 

For more information on Senior Helpers and to find out more about local in-home care services, visit www.seniorhelpersnj.com.

Sources:  Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (known as the Mayo Clinic)