The Misconception of Hospice Care

When the word hospice care comes up there is generally a negative connotation towards it. Its look as the junction between terminal illness and death. What they don’t know is that 17% of hospice patients are so-called live discharges, according to a report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. For the other unfortunate part of this group they may have passed on but the last days of their life were lived to the fullest.

Bryan Caldwell playing for the Dallas Cowboys in 1983

Former NFL player, Bryan Caldwell was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. He played for the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers, but his career was cut short due to injuries. In January of 2013 he was told by doctors that he had six months to live and chose to stop chemotherapy. He returned to his daily life by making his home suitable for hospice care. Bryan was going to enjoy the last six months to fullest with his wife and children, knowing that any day he may die. He had a regular visit of a professional hospice nurse who gave him the care that one would get in a hospital. In addition, there was a hospice social worker which would help with his mental and emotional state in dealing with the terminal illness. He loved fishing for trout and black drum near his home in Palacios on the Texas Gulf Coast. Breakfast, lunch, and supper always had the entire family around the table allowing a close bond to form. Most importantly, he and his wife spent lots of time together having fun and giving each other support.

Bryan lived until his final day on January 3, 2015. He beat out the doctor’s date by more than a year and a half. With gods help and proper hospice care he got an unanticipated life extension that formed an everlasting bond with his family. Many patients miss this opportunity and accept their prognosis without considering hospice care.

Misunderstanding hospice care

One misconception of professional hospice is that it’s not where you go to die, but rather these professionals are trained to assist patients in living their lives fully, completely, and without pain until the end of their lives. Dr. Simin Beg a physician at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI said it best, “it’s about people concentrating on the quality of life and choosing to focus on the things which make them happy and comfortable”. At the same time the medical staff who attends the patient gets a wholesome view of their needs. Doctors will now focus on what are their spiritual or social needs and treat the patent and not just the disease. You won’t see this in a hospital setting where they attempt to get rid of the illness through extensive treatment which takes a toll on the body.

The challenge for a care giver is to know when the time is right for hospice care. One cannot anticipate getting the same medical treatment as they would receive in a hospital. When a patient can still receive healing the situation becomes complex. People that apply to hospice home in most cases are terminally ill who wish for a better quality of life. Its only when the patient is deemed critically ill are they then eligible for hospice care which can then be paid by Medicaid.

When should the discussion take place?

When all medical options are near to being exhausted its time for the care givers to sit down and have the conversation. Most importantly the family should seek information from hospice advisors to educate those attending the meeting. Here are some questions to ask to assess the need for hospice care.

  • With all the excellent medical care that’s been administered have the patient’s symptoms and condition progressed to the point that it cannot be contained?
  • Did a medical practitioner advise that there is nothing else to do for illness?
  • After extensive treatment has the patient been exhausted and the side effects outweigh the benefits?

With the advance understanding in what terminally ill patients spiritual and emotional needs are more are getting discharged from hospice. According to government reports 1 in 5 hospice patients have been discharged before dying. This number has climbed steadily since 2000, peaking in 2012 and 2013.

Care givers should not think of hospice as giving up but rather it’s a unique opportunity to improve quality of life. If you or a family member needs help with finding a hospice care in Northeast Ohio get your hands on the Senior Comfort Guide. We list on our website hospice homes which have been verified to meet the highest standards here in Ohio. Please feel free to email us at info@seniorcomfortguide.com or call 216.292.8485 if you have any questions about hospice care.


What’s the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

On a typical fall morning Beth Reese waited for a car service at the window of her home in Bay Village, OH. She was scheduled to see a cardiologist for shortness of breath that had become a growing concern to her. The time for her appointment at the Cleveland Clinic got closer and Beth began to become very anxious. Eventually she made it to the waiting room with five minutes to her appointment. While sitting there she began to become confused and sounds of the busy clinic became staticky. Beth was totally unaware as why she was there in the first place. The receptionists ask for her name but she simply could not recall it. “Do you perhaps to be Mrs. Reese who is waiting to see Dr. Klarr?”. “Yes”, she replied. “The doctor should be with you in five minutes”. She advanced to the exam room and the doctor began discussing her issue of shortness of breath. At the same time Beth was totally unaware of why she had come to the clinic.

Was this the beginning stages of Dementia or Alzheimer’s? According to the WHO, and estimated 47 million people in the world experience Dementia. However, how to caregivers know what is Dementia and what is Alzheimer’s. If these questions are being asked it’s important that the patient sees a Neurologists as soon as possible. Someone who experience a serious loss of memory can become disoriented and even lost. This becomes more dangerous when the patient lives by themselves. They may forget if they took their medication or go outside for a walk and not know how to get back home.

According to the National Institute of Aging (NIA), “Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. It is the most common cause of dementia in older adults. While dementia is more common as people grow older, it is not a normal part of aging”.

Dementia is merely a symptom which could be the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or one of many neurological conditions. Like a toothache, the pain is the symptom while the source of what’s causing it may be a cavity or an infection. Other common causes of dementia are Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

When adults 65 and older sit with a neurologist the doctor may refer to thier condition as Dementia because the term Alzheimer’s can sound very overwhelming and frightening. Dementia is not a specific disease but rather a term that refers to symptoms of mental and communicative impairment. Alzheimer’s on the other hand disturbs the normal functionality of the human brain.

How do caregivers comprehend the pain of Dementia?

Friends and family can often get frustrated with the one who is experiencing Dementia. However, if they would be able to understand the pain of what the patient is going through their reaction may be a bit more moderate. An idea of tapping into Dementia is like was brought to life by the Virtual Dementia Tour which has been featured on many TV broadcast nationwide.

P.K Bevel, PHD/PSYD founded the Virtual Dementia Tour which allows caregivers to experience what Dementia is really like. Those who wish to take the challenge are first given swimming goggle to wear which only have light coming in through a nickel size whole for both eyes. Then their shoes are filled with hard corn, hands given latex gloves to wear, and the index and middle finger taped together on both hands. Finally, they are fitted with a headset which has annoying static played and are given 5 house chores to complete.

As you can imagine the simplest task like folding laundry and putting away dishes become a huge stress. These people even began speaking to themselves just like the patient they provide care for. We also take note of the extreme anxiousness similar to that of a loved one constant knee shaking. For all of the participants it was a huge eye opener which helped them empathize with the parent, grandparent, or spouse. The next time the caregiver gets frustrated with patient they will think twice before lashing out.

At the Senior Comfort Guide, we supply families with the proper guidance when it comes to Alzheimer’s care or general information on Ohio nursing homes.  It may be overwhelming taking care of a loved one and for their safety it may be wise to entertain moving to a memory care community. Please feel free to email us for support or assistance on the best option for your family at info@seniorcomfortguide.com.


How to deal with a loved one losing their independence?

When a parent or grandparent enters the ripe years of their life caregivers often deal with a very sensitive issue. For a lifetime these adults could help themselves and suddenly they begin losing their independence. Try and imagine waking up one day and not being able to walk to the bathroom. Besides for being extremely uncomfortable its outright embarrassing. Or how about putting together a morning breakfast. This requires going to the grocery store, bringing packages into the house, taking out ingredients, bending down to get a pot, and finally preparing the dish. These aspects now become a major challenge which is a blow to a senior’s self-confidence. No matter how the caregiver breaks it to them of how they have to begin to take a back seat it will break their confidence which ultimately leaves them feeling frustrated and angry.

As the family goes through this stage its essential to get their hands on the Senior Comfort Guide or reach out to a local senior adviser. Having proper guidance for what senior assistance is needed and which is optional is vital. Some advisers might suggest considering assisted living facilities while others simply say to get 24 hours at home help. Home aids often can be covered by Medicaid, if not fully at least partially. Perhaps rather come on to an outsider help then burdening the family.

However, living at home instead of a facility comes with its own bag of challenges. The home will have to be upgraded with supportive rails, stair lifts, ramps, and more. This could easily cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. Even with an aid that’s in the house someone still must make sure that meals are served and basic food supply is available. In addition, the parent or grandparent will begin to lose their social life that once thrived. Here in Northeast Ohio, the winter months are long and extremely cold. Not seeing friends could be a major blow to that individual overall mood.

It is for this reason that nursing homes and independent living facilities having become popular. Thank G-D, people are living longer and need to be cared for while keeping them upbeat. Besides for regular social interaction, your loved one will have access to an array of health care services. One important service offered in these facilities is physical therapy. Such activity can help muscles stay in shape which ultimately allows that individual become more mobile. Having an elder remain at home with lack of exercise might make their mobility deteriorate even more. Even if a physical therapist comes to the home it won’t compare to a therapist associated with a facility.

In any case scenario its essential that the caregivers should oversee that friends and family often visit. Scheduling visits and making a point to call your loved one regularly, can go a long way. Keep in mind let them know in advance when you come. It can be very stressful to a senior when a visitor pops in on them unexpectedly.

Here are some final imperative thoughts on this topic for the caregiver to keep in mind. Based on clinical studies, what an older adult fears most is not death, but rather losing their independence. The family needs to understand that this a traumatic event which needs to be dealt with patiently and carefully.

When you engage in the conversation about senior care with a loved one be sure that all communication lines are open. You need to understand their perspective first and represent the idea of independent living as an opportunity which sets them up to be the decision maker. Don’t focus on the CANT’S but rather on the CAN’s. Instead of telling them how they won’t be able to go out to the grocery store by themselves, tell them about the idea of having a vital social life. This will get your loved one thinking positively which will benefit both parties.

Whatever your family’s decision will be, the Senior Comfort Guide can be an aid when helping you with these decisions. Especially, when looking for senior care in the North-East Ohio region, we are the premier guide for Ashtabula, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull and Wayne counties.

You can always feel free to reach out to us at info@seniorcomfortguide.com

Allen Czermak, Head of Regional Marketing at SCG


Services to Hire When an Elderly Parent Loses Their Spouse

This article was written by Jackie Waters of Hyper-Tidy

Losing an elderly parent is one of life’s most difficult challenges. Besides the emotional burden, you carry the strain of taking care of the other parent, which is especially hard when that parent lives miles away. It’s hard to know if they have everything they need, and they might not always update you about their important health changes. They might also be afraid to admit that they need help with their regular routines. Thankfully, many of the day-to-day tasks can be accomplished through local businesses who are familiar with the needs of elderly customers. When you can’t be there yourself, consider hiring these helpful services:

  • Landscaping Company

Lawn maintenance is overwhelming and challenging for an elderly person. Unfortunately, they might try to maintain their lawn on their own, which can be dangerous due to extreme temperatures and physical exertion. Instead of allowing them to risk their health, consider finding a local company with a great reputation who can handle their basic landscaping needs.

  • Housekeeper

Cleaning the house is a significant amount of work that requires stamina, energy, serious muscle movement, and takes a lot of time. Research a local housekeeper who can commit to a bi-weekly schedule to handle the bulk of the cleaning tasks. This is specifically important during their mourning stage, as dusting little precious objects or finding their late spouse’s belongings can trigger painful memories.

  • Financial Advisor

Speak to your parent about their financial situation, and help them set up a financial plan. Budgeting and handling bills may have been tasks that their spouse handled, and they might have trouble locating important paperwork, account information, and passwords. Once you have created a list of the bills and necessities, schedule an appointment with a financial advisor. They can walk your parent through an achievable plan and give you ideas for how you and your parent can handle their money throughout the years to come.

  • Counselor

We never outgrow the benefits of counseling. Professional counselors are great for monitoring the mental state of an elderly person. They can walk them through the pain associated with the loss of their spouse and help them realize a stable, happy future. A counselor might also be a great listening ear for a sometimes lonely elderly person.

In-Home Caregiver

Consider hiring an in-home caregiver to take your parent to their doctors appointments, manage a medication schedule, and to help with daily tasks like bathing or changing bandages. Make sure they are also trained in basic first aid practices which are useful in the case of falls, or potential emergency situations. Consider asking them to assess the safety of your parent’s home using this guide, which provides room-by-room risks and ways to increase the safety of each potential hazard.

As an added bonus, this person will become a familiar face in your parent’s home, and will help provide a safer, more family-like environment.

  • Lawyer

The conversation of a parent’s living will is never an easy one to have. But if your parent wants to help decide the future of their inheritance, consider hiring a lawyer to help draw up the legal papers. You can at least set-up an initial meeting with an estate attorney to see if it is something your parent is interested in doing.

  • Repairman

From a leak under the kitchen sink, to a broken piece of siding, home repairs are inevitable. Home repairs can burden a window or widower, if they are unable to handle them on their own. Find a local repairman who is skilled in multiple types of home repairs and who can be on standby for all of the little chores than a home demands.

Make sure you and your parent both have the contact information for all of the services you wish to employ. It will make it easier for your parent to contact them if you keep one concise list in a specific location, or keep copies of the list in each room of their home. Their latter days still have the potential to be better than their former. Let them live their life peacefully while others help manage their well-being.

 


Diabetes Foot Care: How To Check and Care For Your Feet

Strains, cuts, calluses and ulcers are the enemy to diabetics’ feet and can lead to thing s serious as amputation. However, very often diabetics with foot problems can’t feel pain in their feet, so checking your feet is the key to prevention.

The best time to check your feet is after a bath or shower. After drying your feet, sitting in a well-lit room, check the tops and bottoms of your feet as well as your toes, in between your toes and your toenails. A lot of people find that using a mirror helps them properly inspect the bottoms of their feet especially if they have difficulty bending down. Begin by feeling your feet for bumps, lumps blisters or bruises. Next, examine closely for any cuts, sores or cracked skin. Remember that even the tiniest crack can become infected. Next you want to see if there are any patches of shiny/thin skin or areas of redness. Temperatures can also be an indication of lack of blood flow so it is important to feel if there are any temperature differences like one part warm and the other cold. You also want to take note if there is any loss of hair on the foot or along the leg. Nerve problems are also red flags, so attention should be given to any pain, tingling or numbness. Lastly you want to examine your nails, looking for ingrown toenails with red puffy skin along the nail or tenderness and pain.

Nurturing and conditioning your feet may help prevent all the things you are checking for. Begin by washing your feet daily, but make sure to do it the right way. Your feet should be washed in warm, not hot, water. Do not soak your feet because your skin will get dry and might crack. Before bathing or showering, test the water to make sure it is not too hot. You can use a thermometer (90° to 95° F is safe) or your elbow to test the water, we also recommend using talcum powder or cornstarch to keep the skin between your toes dry to prevent cracked skin and  infection. Caution should be used when drying your feet not to rub too vigorously. You also want to keep the skin soft and smooth. The best way to do that is by rubbing a thin coat of lotion, cream, or petroleum jelly on the tops and bottoms of your feet. Do not put lotion or cream between your toes because this might cause an infection. Toenail care is also a big deal, trim your toenails with nail clippers after you wash and dry your feet. Trim them straight across and smooth the corners with an emery board or nail file. This prevents the nails from growing into the skin. Do not cut into the corners of the toenail. If your toenails are thick or yellowed or your nails curve and grow into the skin it is recommended to have your doctor podiatrist cut your nails for you.


Seniors, Driving and Other Transportation Options

For many, the ability to drive is one of the biggest factors in quality of life. It gives a sense of independence as well as provides a way to partake in several daily tasks and social events, However, with age driving safety can become increasingly compromised. It is important for people to be aware of such changes, however the reality is most elderly people fail or refuse to recognise when their driving ability is compromised. It is therefore extremely important for family members and caregivers to have open conversations about driving safety.

What to take into consideration?

Here are a few key health factors to take into consideration:

  • Pain and stiffness can limit your ability to steer and use mirrors properly.
  • Fatigue can affect your ability to operate your car, especially on longer trips.
  • Vision impairment will greatly compromise one’s ability to drive.
  • Some medications will impair your ability to drive, ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.

What are some safety measures?

Taking a few safety measures doesn’t have to mean giving up driving entirely. Avoiding busy areas, bad road conditions and nighttime driving will increase driving safety and is recommended. Additionally, driving style such as leaving more room between cars giving you extra time to react and beginning to break early to avoid tight situations accommodates for difficulty to react when driving.

How can you learn more?

Contact your local DMV about a mature driver safety course. Such a course are designed to help seniors re learn some of the driving safety techniques as well as keep updated with state laws.

When might driving not be an option?

Some conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses can make it impossible to drive. Loss of vision and hearing, mental changes or the ability to react may cause the same.

What are some alternative options?

Losing the ability to drive is hard, but it doesn’t have to mean that you cant get out anymore, some transportation options include:

  • Public transportation
  • Paratransit
  • Getting a ride with friends or family
  • Car service
  • Residence transportation services (for those living in a care facility)

Five Tips for Preventing Falls

 

Falling is serious, and is a life altering event for many seniors. While there is no way of preventing falls completely, extreme measures can be take to help avoid falling. Like any major medical prevention, it is important to spend time with your loved one assessing the current situation and finding the rooms for improvement. When it comes to preventing falls, no safety measure is too drastic. There are many things to review and to account for when discussing falls, and they vary to each person’s specific situation. Here are five things that must be taken into consideration

  1. Proper footwear: The right shoe can make all the difference.Shoe technology has advanced to help both with balance and with cadence. Often times, a pedorthist will be able to recommend the best shoe.
  1. Light: A bright home is a safe home. Make sure all the lights in the home are working and should stay on s often as possible.A bright home helps seniors see where they are going and what is in the way as well as provide a sense of alertness and focus helping prevent falls.
  1. Stay active: While some people think being active raises the risk of falling, they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Staying active helps provide a sense of balance and ability to walk and stand comfortably for longer stretches. Additionally, in the unfortunate event of a fall, active people will have an easier time with recovery.
  1. Home safety: Make a checklist of everything in the house that can have an impact on falling and make sure it is constantly being updated. From proper shower support to tightening a stair rail, minor things can have a huge impact. Let your loved one know that if anything needs fixing you can take care of it or arrange to take care of it. The impact of these small tasks is tremendous.
  1. Vision: Vision and falls g hand in hand, most times people fall it’s de to not seeing something, whether it was an object or a stair. Make sure you or your loved ones vision is not impaired. Aside from all the benefits of vision from a quality of life sense,it can be a huge player in preventing falls.

Each person and home is unique and it is important to tailor your fall prevention plan accordingly. Discuss with your loved one where they feel a fear of falling and help determine what you can do to prevent that. Every fall avoided is another person granted a better quality of life.


Nursing Homes, Assisted Livings and Homecare Part 1

There are many options out there, but finding the right facility that fits the needs of your situation can be challenging. The many types of facilities and centers can be overwhelming, that’s why we’ve broken them down and put together checklists,to help you find the place that is right for your needs.

The two most common facilities are nursing homes and assisted livings(granted, those are broad terms) but what’s the difference between the two? How do you know which one is the right choice?

While the goal of both is two offer care, the method and focus of the two are very different. Nursing homes have a strong  focus on medical care, and often have medical assets assisted livings simply do not. Another major focus of nursing homes is personal care; assistance is offered for tasks such as bathing, grooming, dressing etc.

Nursing homes also function with security such as 24 hour supervision for both safety and medical needs and provides prepared meals and often transportation as well.

All this come at the price of independence, residents are given very little independence or privacy. Nursing homes work extremely well for residents in poor medical health or cognitive impairment. However, it can not be stressed enough how important it is to make sure they are at a point that they need such care, because it does come with a lack of independence and privacy that can be very hard to accept.

Assisted livings on the other hand place a strong emphasis on the residents freedom. While many of the amenities of a nursing home are often offered, residents may decline if they feel that they are self sufficient. They are not being watched or monitored nearly as closely, but many of the benefits such as physical or occupational therapy are usually not offered. It is always recommended to call the facility (nursing home or assisted living) in advanced to find out what services they offer.

There is clearly no one right answer to which is the right one. The key is to evaluate your loved one to determine which option is best for them. The 4 basic questions to answer are:

  1. How is their physical health
  2. Are they cognitively impaired?
  3. How independent are they?
  4. Do they need supervision for health or safety?

Once you have these questions answered, compare that to the benifits of each option to help determine which one work best for your loved one. Sometimes people start off in one and switch to another.

Find out more about your local option, some of the pros and cons of each, schedule an appointment with Senior Comfort Guide at info@seniorcomfortguide.com or give us a call at (216) 292-8485.

 


Key Signs of Dementia

Key signs of dementia

Dementia is a broad term, it is the term used to refer the overall symptoms of memory loss and decline in thinking skills. It is important to be aware of the tell-tale signs, although it usually starts with small symptoms; it often results in an inability to perform everyday tasks.

The leading form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, making up the majority of dementia cases. It is followed by Vascular dementia which occurs after a stroke. In addition to memory loss, dementia often causes a impairments in communication, language, focus and reasoning. It is therefore important to note even small short term memory struggles, while often attributed to a general “old age” thing, it may in fact be a sign of dementia. Having a hard time finding the right words can also be an early sign of dementia as it effects language and communication. It is important to note such instances and tracked to see if it is declining. Mood changes are also an early sign, and often very hard to accept. Many people struggle with their loved ones sudden mood changes and fail to notice that it is an early sign of dementia. It is difficult to accept mood changes and dementia, but it must be tracked so proper care can be provided. A lack of focus or confusion is also a red flag. This often presents itself in an inability to follow a story line.

While all these can be signs of dementia, it is by no means a sure thing. If you or your loved one are experiencing such symptoms, it is important to contact a doctor to begin examinations. While ot preventable, a rich diet in omega-3 fatty acids, fruits and vegetables along with whole grains have been proven tohelp. Recent studies indicate that Vitamin D is helpful as well. Today there are many facilities dedicated to dementia patients, often refer to as Memory care facilities. These facilities keep dementia patients safe, keep the residents engaged and are staffed with trained staff to communicate and care for dementia patients.

If you want to learn more about some of the signs and procedures of dementia, or learn more about memory care facility options, SeniorComfort Guide is always there for you at 216-292- 8485 or info@seniorcomfortguide.com.