ParentCare » Vol. 14

Caregiving Now! Research, Trends, and Products

By Erin Hansen

Programs, Services, and Grants for Elder Care

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If you are a caregiver for an elderly person, here are some resources that provide information on state and federal programs to help you with a variety of issues surrounding health care for your senior.

Eldercare Locator

The Eldercare Locator connects older Americans and their caregivers with sources of information on senior services. The service links those who need assistance with state and local area agencies on aging and community-based organizations that serve older adults and their caregivers. You may find the information resources you need by calling toll-free at 1-800-677-1116 or visiting the web site. The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging and is administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging in cooperation with the National Association of State Units on Aging.
http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx

Elders & Families

Elders and Families is designed to assist older persons and their caregivers quickly obtain information and resources on a variety of aging-related topics. The information will help you become more familiar with issues affecting older adults, and the services and opportunities available to assist them. www.aoa.gov/eldfam/eldfam.asp

Caregiver Resource Room

The Caregiver Resource Room provides caregivers and professionals information about The National Family Caregiver Support Program, including: where you can turn for support and assistance, and providing services to caregivers. www.aoa.gov/prof/aoaprog/caregiver/caregiver.asp

Alzheimer’s Resource Room

The Alzheimer’s Resource Room is where families, caregivers, and professionals can find information about The Alzheimer’s Demonstration Program, including: where you can turn for support and assistance, and providing services to caregivers. www.aoa.gov/alz

Aging Internet Information Notes

The Aging Internet Information Notes are intended to empower users to explore Internet resources. An effort is made to include links with information useful to consumers and professionals. More than 60 aging topics are currently represented in this series, including a note on care giving and death and dying. www.aoa.gov/prof/notes/notes.asp
National Institute on Aging

NIA is a branch of the National Institute of Health. They provide leadership in aging research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs relevant to aging and older people. They have resources for programs that offer federally and privately supported clinical research with human volunteers. www.nia.nih.gov

AARP

AARP is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to addressing the needs and interests of persons 50 and older. Site provides useful information and resources on topics such as: health and wellness; economic security and work; long-term care and independent living; and personal enrichment. www.aarp.org

American Society on Aging

The American Society on Aging is a nonprofit organization committed to enhancing the knowledge and skills of those working with older adults and their families. Site offers useful resources on a variety of aging-related topics. www.asaging.org.

Elderweb

The site is designed for both professionals and family members looking for information on eldercare and long term care, and includes links to information on legal, financial, medical, and housing issues, as well as policy, research, and statistics. www.elderweb.com

National Council on the Aging

The National Council on the Aging is an association of organizations and professionals dedicated to promoting the dignity, self-determination, well being, and contributions of older persons. The Senior’s Corner section of the site contains health related resources and tips. www.ncoa.org

Elder Rights – National Center for Elder Abuse

Site provides resources on elder abuse prevention, including information on reporting a suspected case of elder abuse. www.elderabusecenter.org

BenefitsCheckUp

Developed and maintained by The National Council on Aging (NCOA), BenefitsCheckUp is the nation’s most comprehensive Web-based service to screen for benefits programs for seniors with limited income and resources. BenefitsCheckUp includes more than 1,350 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, such as:

• Prescription drugs

• Nutrition
(including Food Stamps)

• Energy assistance

• Financial

• Legal

• Health care

• Social Security

• Housing

• In-home services

• Tax relief

• Transportation

• Educational assistance

• Employment

• Volunteer services

You’ll need the following information about yourself or about the person you are helping:

• State and ZIP code

• Date of birth for self and spouse

• Type of residence
(house, apartment, or mobile home)

• Length of time in current residence

• Veteran status for self and spouse

• Employment history
(specifically, whether or not the person ever worked for the state, local, county, or federal)

• Government or the railroads)
for self and spouse

• Names of prescription medications (we recommend having the prescription bottles or information available about the person’s medications from their health professional)

• Current income and assets from all sources for self, spouse and others in the household

•  Estimates of current expenses
(such as mortgage/rent, utilities, out-of-pocket medical bills, expenses for caring for someone at home while the person works or goes to school, etc.)

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Useful Feng-Shui for the Elderly

By Lynn N. Capri

If your elderly parent has a bit of dementia and tends to wander out of the home or into areas of the home that are off-limits because of potentially dangerous elements, a simple solution is to get a wind chime and put it on the door ~ when the door opens, the chime rings. This is an inexpensive way to have an audible signal that someone is leaving the house or entering a dangerous area.  There are many other ways of monitoring your elder’s whereabouts, but an alarm system is very expensive and sometimes both overkill and embarrassing for the elder.  A wind chime is inexpensive ~ and remember that in Asia wind chimes are considered good luck and a part of Feng Shui!

Ensuring the Safety of Elders’ Stairwells

The aging population is continuing to increase in number and will continue to do so until the mid 21st century. With many baby boomers approaching retirement, there will be an increased need for aging-related services especially that involving healthcare.

Anticipating this increase in the elderly population, many healthcare teams are focusing on research and development to improve outcomes in the long term. Because trauma, including slip and falls, are quite common among the elderly, finding ways in which to promote recovery, while also working with prevention, will be important to the long term outcome.

Falling is a common fear and medical risks for the elderly. In fact, a significantly number of hospitalizations for the elderly involves the treatment and recovery of injuries that have arisen out of a fall. While falls can result in soft tissue injury, some elderly adults suffer more complex health issues including fractures and breaks. If you are caring for an aging parent, it is important to know what your risk factors are and how best to prevent age-related injuries from occurring.

Stairs are a leading injury risk to seniors. While climbing up stairs rarely produces an injury, the descent on stairs can be quite risky for the elderly population. As a result, many seniors are opting to sell their homes or to buy homes that do not contain stairs. If, however, your elder is in a home that has stairs, and he or she is unable/unwilling to move, it is important to recognize what those risk factors may be.

Stairwells that are poorly lit are a significant concern. Because depth perception can be skewed with age, the descent down poorly lit stairwells can be a risk. Additionally, stairs that are not uniform in dimension can create confusion and result in injury as well. Therefore, if an elderly adult plans to stay in a home that has stairs, be certain the stairwell is updated with lighting and proper handrails and that any abnormal dimensions are repaired for improved descent.

When descending stairs the areas that create the most risk are the first three and last three steps; with these six steps there is a tendency to feel confident and, oftentimes, falls occur with over confidence. Without regard to the length of the stairway, these steps are the greatest concern. Therefore, making sure the lighting is adequate in these areas, and dimensions are correct on these steps, may further ensure your risk for falling is reduced.

As the aging population is anticipated to increase, so is the number of falls and injuries. With a healthcare system that is anticipated to be burdened, it is the focus of many elderly adults, and their families, to provide a safer home environment so as to reduce the risk and need for medical treatment. Because falls on stairs are quite common for the elderly, ensuring this one area is safe may provide for a greater safety outcome and reduce the need for medical care due to a traumatic event.

Thanks to associatedcontent.com.

Buying Furniture for a Senior with Special Needs

By Rick Garner

It may sound like an easy enough task, but if you are charged with buying furniture for an elderly person, there are a few things you should keep in mind as you start your search.

First, how is that person’s health and physical condition? Can he or she easily rise from and sit down into a chair? If not, explore furniture with special options: chairs and recliners with seats that rise to a higher level with the push of a button. The elderly person can simply back against it, then lower him/herself down to a seated position by pushing another button. Furniture technology is great, both in terms of result and ease-of-use.

Another thing to consider when picking out furniture for an elderly person is the fabric or upholstery on the item. If the elderly person tends to slide out of seating easily, a slick leather couch is not a good choice; instead, opt for one with a textured fabric that can help prevent slipping.

Make sure the furniture you pick out for an elderly person is easy to clean. If they have health issues that might mean occasional soiling of the furniture, they ~ or you ~ will need to be able to clean it quickly and thoroughly.

Most important when buying furniture for an elderly person is to remember that even though his or her eyesight might be a little less than it once was, the furniture should still be appealing to his or her taste. If your grandfather hates floral fabric, don’t buy him a room full of furniture with huge magnolia blossoms on it just because you happen to like it. If you are incorporating this furniture into your living quarters, do your best to get the new furniture in a complementary shade or fabric.  Compromise.  It doesn’t have to be an exact match. Use a solid blue lift chair to coordinate with your blue, burgundy and green floral sofa and loveseat. Make every effort to respect your senior’s taste while accommodating any special needs ~ while at the same time not calling attention to the “special pieces” as doing so might embarrass an elder in front of company.

If you are buying furniture for an elderly person with certain health and movement issues, ask questions of your furniture rep. Be up front about your needs and concerns. Furniture sales reps are trained to help you fill your needs. If your local furniture store doesn’t carry what you need, chances are the salesperson can refer you to a website or medical supply store that does. If ordering furniture from a website, be sure you know all the shipping and handling costs up front. Also, find out warranty information. Don’t overlook medical supply stores in your furniture quest. In addition to medical necessities such as oxygen tanks, portable toilets and wheelchairs, many carry furniture items like lift chairs and recliners that can greatly improve comfort and quality of life.

If at all possible, take the elderly person you are buying furniture for on your shopping trip or involve him or her in your on-line search.  Ask for input. This will ensure your furniture purchase is one with which both parties are satisfied.

Thanks to Bob Benson, founder of Furniture online @ www.my-cheap-furniture.info.

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