A Caregiver’s Guide: Assisting Seniors With Treatment Decision-Making

Seniors often have a difficult time adjusting to the reality of aging. As a caregiver, you are responsible for filling in the gaps and protecting your loved one’s interests. You are certainly energized and ready for the task. Yet, you find yourself grappling with increasing challenges in a daily battle for normalcy. The roles have been reversed; you are now an adviser, mentor, and personal care aide to someone who used to make all the decisions. With this in mind, we would like to share our best tips for assisting seniors with treatment decision-making.

Caring mid adult woman talks with her mom's home healthcare nurse. The daughter has her arm around her mom. The senior woman is shaking the nurse's hand.

The Importance Of Research

Empower yourself by learning the facts about your loved one’s diagnosis. Both PubMed and the Mayo Clinic offer extensive information about a multitude of conditions. Research the pertinent disease, treatment options, and prognosis. You need not be an expert about all three. However, knowing important facts will help you guide your loved one towards more informed decisions.

Assisting Patients With Treatment Decision-Making: Looking At All The Options

Hospitals and doctors often rely on first-line treatments or recommended treatment regimes for diseases. Be sure to research all first-line treatment options individually. For example, how will each option affect the body and the immune system? Is curative or palliative treatment preferable for a particular diagnosis? What about medications?

When it comes to the latter, understand that many medications list seemingly alarming side effects. Do not panic. Look up the statistics for patients who experienced particular symptoms. Keep in mind that most medications have been approved after extensive clinical trial testing. So, if your doctor has recommended a medication, there is a good chance that it will be safe.

In any case, print out a list of side effects that you can easily reference at a moment’s notice. Use the list as a guideline to determine if the medication is working or hindering your loved one’s progress.

Why Patient History Matters

It is absolutely essential that you familiarize yourself with your loved one’s medical history. Pay particular attention to allergies, especially those that cause reactions like Stevens-Johnson syndrome or anaphylaxis. They can be fatal. Bring a list of noted allergies with you, especially if you are accompanying your loved one to the doctor for the first time. It is especially important to keep the doctor updated about the emergence of new allergies.

Records And The Role Of Decision Aids

Keep careful records of symptoms and new developments. Shared decision-making is a process: be patient and listen to any opinions your loved one shares. Here, decision aids such as whitepapers, DVDs, and videos may be invaluable in facilitating communication. They can help you and your loved one be active partners in the healing process.

David York Agency Understands The Challenges Of Assisting Seniors With Treatment Decision-Making

For more about treatment decision-making, be sure to explore David York Agency’s blog.

If you need more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 877.216.7676. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

We’d also like to point out that you can get answers to your immediate concerns by contacting us today.

The Best Anti-Aging Spa Treatments For Seniors

Aging is a natural part of life. Yet, our cultural obsession with youth and beauty increases our collective anxieties about it. Today, retailers make millions of dollars from beauty products that promise to delay the inevitable. Sure, seniors want to look good. However, many are more concerned about feeling good. If your loved one suffers from debilitating diseases or conditions, it may be time to think about a spa visit. Below, we are going to discuss the best anti-aging spa treatments for seniors.

"Beautiful elderly woman receiving a gentle healing massage.Shot with Canon 5D2, processed with slight color saturation added."

The Importance of Touch

Touch is a gift. Seniors who are no longer sexually active find themselves bereft of this gift. They yearn for closeness, but their daily lives are devoid of caring touch. Those who don’t have frequent contact with grandchildren or family members often suffer in silence.

Did you know that our skin is the largest sensory organ we have? Those who are deprived of nurturing touch suffer higher rates of depressive disorders and stress. In fact, isolation is as harmful to seniors as a smoking habit.

Anti-Aging Spa Treatments For Seniors Can Help

Rejuvenating spa treatments may be the answer. Whenever possible, seniors should have access to massage therapies, facials, manicures, pedicures, and body wraps. Regular appointments also create opportunities for social interaction and therapeutic touch. The latter comes with markedly positive benefits, such as enhanced sleep at night. Studies suggest that therapeutic touch may reduce restlessness in seniors who suffer from dementia.

The Proven Benefits of Massage Therapy

A massage can provide general health benefits for elderly patients. Additionally, it may also alleviate symptoms of certain diseases that are associated with aging. Several studies suggest that massage therapy can reduce some of the symptoms of two conditions typically associated with aging.

  • Osteoarthritis (OA): Researchers conducted a controlled trial over a period of 8 weeks. They gave weekly massages to a group of 68 adults with osteoarthritis of the knee. The seniors ranged in age from 55 to 75 years. After the 8 weeks, the researchers found that WOMAC scores were up significantly. The WOMAC is a self-reported questionnaire that assesses pain, stiffness, and functional disabilities in OA patients. Unsurprisingly, the seniors who received massages reported 20-23 point improvements in OA symptoms.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease: The Hicks-Moore and Robinson study specifically highlighted how music and hand massages reduced agitated behaviors in seniors with mild to moderate dementia. Meanwhile, another study showed that 10-minute hand massages significantly reduced verbal aggression in dementia patients.

David York Agency Understands The Benefits Of Anti-Aging Spa Treatments For Seniors

For more about how touch can make a markedly positive difference in the lives of seniors, be sure to explore David York Agency’s blog.

If you need more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 877.216.7676. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Alternatively, you can also get answers to your immediate concerns by contacting us today.

 

7 Ways To Help Seniors Beat The Holiday Blues

As the leaves turn and winter approaches, many of us anticipate the holiday season with joy. We reminisce about the year and look forward to family gatherings. We also browse the Internet for gift ideas, thumb through our favorite recipes, and put on holiday music. Yet, for many, the holiday season inspires loneliness, sadness, and anxiety. Holidays can be particularly difficult for seniors. Many remember a past they can no longer duplicate. Meanwhile, others fret about the demands of holiday entertaining. So, if you’re looking for ways to help seniors beat the holiday blues, read on to discover some of our favorite tips for the season.

Back view of senior man leaning head on hand pensively while sitting at dinner table during Christmas holidays, copy space

Effective Ways To Help Seniors Beat The Holiday Blues

  • Find ways to keep active together. Mild exercise and group activities can help seniors stay upbeat. Alternatively, you can take fun trips to the mall, go out to dinner, attend a play, or even participate in a new hobby together. The goal is to help your loved one stay engaged and happily occupied.
  • Invite seniors to help in preparations. Many seniors are experts at cooking, decorating, and gift-giving. It’s important to realize that seniors often want to be included in holiday planning. So, invite them to make holiday cookies, create simple holiday crafts, or decorate the house.
  • Keep up regular doctor visits. Seniors often hesitate to ask for help during the holiday season. Assure them you’ll still be available to take them to doctors’ appointments. Keep your senior in good health to stave off the likelihood of depression.
  • Share special moments together. Make a simple, delicious dinner, and invite your loved one to share it with you. Reminisce about favorite foods, and ask questions about your loved one’s favorite childhood meals.
  • Plan activities with children. Seniors can benefit greatly from interactions with young children. Youthful antics can entertain and amuse seniors, and shared laughter will brighten everyone’s spirits.
  • Enlist the help of therapy animals. Service animals can inspire calm in people. They don’t have complicated needs and share affection easily. More importantly, they can help contribute to an uplifting atmosphere in your home.
  • Take advantage of natural light. Full-spectrum or natural light is soothing and can mitigate the effects of mood disorders such as seasonal affective disorder. Consider adding full-spectrum light bulbs to your living space during dark winter days.

David York Agency Understands Seniors And Depression

For more about how to help seniors navigate the holiday season, be sure to explore David York Agency’s blog.

If you need more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 877.216.7676. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

For immediate help about caring for seniors during the holiday season, contact us.

Intimacy And Aging: The Importance Of Touch For Seniors

Touch is an important part of life. Our well-being is often facilitated by compassionate human contact. However, our modern world overwhelmingly imbues touch with sexual connotations. As such, we have marginalized platonic touch in our daily lives. In this article, we will explore the importance of touch for seniors.

Woman Receiving a Facial Massage

The Importance Of Touch For Seniors

Nurturing touch is crucial to human survival. A 1962 Yale University study supports this important truth. Researchers discovered that touch-starved children suffered more developmental delays than those who received adequate adult attention. Touch-starved children struggle to adjust, even after they are placed with caring foster families. For seniors, touch can play a pivotal part in their well-being.

The Healing Power Of Touch 

Seniors often struggle to adapt to the challenges of aging. Many feel consigned to a life of loneliness because of their physical and mental impairments. They refrain from social contact and gradually become isolated from others. However, this can negatively affect their well-being.

Seniors need to know that they are loved. Studies show that hugging increases oxytocin levels in our bodies. This, in turn, reduces stress and boosts our immune systems. Hugging also lowers cortisol levels, making seniors less susceptible to heart disease and various infections.

How Touch Helps Seniors Stay Healthy

There are many ways seniors can receive their daily doses of healing touch. For example, they can indulge in spa treatments such as therapeutic massages, facials, pedicures, and manicures.

Massages have been shown to ease aches and pains. They also help improve our posture, balance, and circulation. Seniors who get regular massages often experience a greater sense of well-being. They see undeniably stark physical improvements and sleep better at night. A 2008 study shows that massage can decrease agitated behaviors in dementia patients.

Meanwhile, pedicures are particularly excellent for seniors with diabetes and circulatory issues.

As can be seen, touch is an essential part of human survival. We have the power to change the lives of our seniors. It is also important to remember, however, that even platonic touch requires consent. Therefore, we should do everything possible to ensure that our loved ones never feel violated. Touch should be pleasant, enjoyable, and uplifting.

David York Agency Understands The Importance Of Touch For Seniors

For more about how touch can make a difference in the lives of seniors, be sure to explore David York Agency’s blog.

If you need more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 877.216.7676. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

We’d also like to point out that you can get answers to your immediate concerns by contacting us today.

 

Seniors And Pain Management: The Importance Of A Supportive Network

Although aches and pains are a natural part of aging, chronic pain can lower one’s quality of life. Today, many people rely on opioids to manage their pain. There’s a downside, however: patients can become addicted to their painkillers. The CDC reports that prescription opioids are now involved in 66.4% of drug overdose fatalities. Meanwhile, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 115 people die daily in the United States from opioid overdoses. In this article, we’re going to focus on seniors and pain management and how a supportive network can help secure their well-being.

Elderly female patient talks with her Latin descent home healthcare nurse about treatment options in nursing home or home setting. Doctor or nurse gives prescription medication to woman.

Working With Your Doctor For Pain Management

Seniors must have regular checkups. However, a candid conversation about prescription drug usage is equally important. Below, we list some key questions to ask a doctor or healthcare practitioner during appointments.

  • What is the dosage and the duration of medication? Will it be short term or long term?
  • What is the alternative if the prescribed dosage isn’t enough?
  • How often can the medication be safely taken?
  • Are there any side effects to watch out for?
  • How will the medication interact with other substances if taken together?
  • What are other options for pain relief?

Although many seniors have a firm grasp of pain management, others are not so fortunate. The latter may particularly appreciate the support of a loved one or trusted friend during doctors’ visits. In any case, every effort should be made to help seniors overcome their fears and challenges.

How A Strong Supportive Network Can Help

If you’re a loved one or friend who is helping a senior with prescription pain management, here are some additional questions to ask:

  • How often can the medication be refilled?
  • Are there any resources available to caregivers who are helping their loved ones with pain management?
  • How can one help a loved one who is abusing prescription pain medication?
  • What can one do to encourage reluctant seniors to take their medication?
  • How can one help seniors prevent pain medication abuse or overdose?

It’s also important to realize that there are affordable professional resources to help caregivers.

We emphatically stress that pain should not rob anyone of comfort or stability in life. Seniors can enjoy an improved quality of life with a little teamwork and education. In short, pain management can be easily integrated into the daily routine of life.

David York Agency Can Help

For more tips about seniors and pain management, be sure to explore David York Agency’s blog.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 877.216.7676. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Last, but not least, you can get more help and information by contacting us today.

Caregiver Stress: Fighting Severe Consequences

Caregivers Have Their Limits

Many caregivers who experience caregiver stress try to keep going despite emotional and physical fatigue. They often put their patients before themselves, allowing their stress to grow and manifest in poor health.

caregiver holding senior patient's hands and comforting her. experiencing caregiver stress

It’s important to note that this avoidance is not necessarily sustainable. While the selflessness of caregivers is commendable, their dismissal of self-care could lead to severe consequences.

Driven to Care

There are some caregivers who feel personally driven by their work and believe they can handle the stress. They are typically very compassionate individuals who live by helping others. They might hope that their empathy for others is enough to push them to do nearly anything.

However, being in this state will eventually take a toll on both physical and emotional health. It’s estimated that one-third of caregivers will put others first, even while struggling with personal health problems.

Caregiver Stress can Lead to Self-Destructive Behavior

Stressed caregivers are more likely to develop problems with substance abuse and alcoholism. These are health issues in their own right, but they can also lead to additional health problems.

Caregivers will often run errands for others, a task that might be impossible or actively dangerous if they’re suffering from drug problems themselves.

It’s also true that caregivers are more likely to commit suicide than workers in other fields. Caregivers are ill-equipped to diagnose or manage their own stress and unprepared to combat escalating mental health issues.

Mounting pressures, avoidance, and relying on the help of pills are all ways which could lead a good caregiver down a path of self-destruction.

Refusing to Ignore Problems

Caregivers don’t ignore the problems their patients’ experience, so why should they ignore their own? They should seek treatment for the real problems that have presented themselves while trying to address the underlying problem of caregiver stress.

David York Agency Can Help…..

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 877.216.7676. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

For more helpful tips and information, contact us today.

Preparing To Age In Place

Many seniors prefer to age in place during their retirement years. As such, it’s important to prepare for this eventuality. According to an AARP survey, 87% of people 65 years and older prefer to stay in their current homes. So, if your loved one is on the cusp of her twilight years, take time to begin a conversation about aging in place. At David York, we understand that accepting sudden changes can be difficult. However, putting a plan in place now serves to empower your loved one, protecting his dignity, security, and peace of mind. Below are some tips to help a loved one prepare to age in place confidently.

Smiling senior man with cup of coffee talking to female caregiver sitting in front at care home. Aging in Place

Don’t Wait To Discuss Driving Privileges

Seniors consider this a touchy subject. Many bristle at the prospect of giving up the car keys. Undoubtedly, driving is equated with independence, and the feeling of freedom is greatly treasured. So, it’s important to communicate compassionately with your loved one. Express your concerns gently, and see if you can establish alternative means of getting to doctors’ appointments and performing the necessary activities of daily living (ADL).

Make Home Safety A Top Priority

Even if your loved one is feeling great, encourage her to set up a plan with her doctor for maintaining long-term safety at home. Discuss the possibility of home modifications to address mobility challenges, and take steps to help her establish a strong social support network.

It’s Possible To Age In Place And Stay Healthy

It’s important to begin a discussion about physical needs now, even if your loved one is in relatively good health. Have your family member talk with her doctor about dietary needs, personal habits, and exercise plans. In particular, discuss the possibility of rehab care or in-home assistance in the event of an illness or unexpected injury.

Help Your Loved One Maintain Good Mental Health 

It’s difficult to talk about mental health. Many seniors fear admitting any weakness in this area. However, beginning the discussion now can be a helpful experience. So, encourage your senior to share his ideas. Listen to what he has to say, and assure him that mental challenges need not define his identity. Next, try to get him involved in activities that protect his mental health. Suggest social events with friends, adult education classes, or weekly exercise regimes.

With a plan to age in place, seniors can be confident that their needs will be taken care of.

At David York, we understand the importance of securing your loved one’s future. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (877) 216-7676. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance your family needs. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Simple Tips for Healthy Dementia Care

Healthy Dementia Care Strategies

Dementia is a difficult condition to live with, but it also affects caregivers. Caring for patients with dementia leaves many caregivers overwhelmed and exhausted. Hard to understand and often invisible to the eye, dementia makes it hard to determine whether care is effective. But, if you practice healthy dementia care, you can reduce or overcome the intrinsic challenges and provide necessary care to the patient.

Senior woman with her home caregiver. Healthy Dementia Care concept

Use Smart Communication

Communicating with dementia patients requires simple, straightforward methods. Use easy-to-understand words and suggestions, and don’t overload your loved one with a string of questions or commands. Give them time to process your words so they don’t become overwhelmed or agitated. Simple yes or no questions or one-step directions are far more helpful than complex queries or multiple-step demands.

 

Play Music

Music has a profound effect on many people with dementia, particularly if that music is familiar. Music can soothe agitation, improve mood, and reduce stress. Even people with advanced Alzheimer’s have responded to music therapy when nothing else has worked, indicating that musical memories outlast other kinds of memories.

 

Practice Self-Care

Although people with dementia are not deliberately trying to test your patience, they often end up doing so. Caring for a person with dementia requires patience, compassion, and energy. Therefore, those who care for people with dementia must take the time and effort to preserve their own health.

It’s easy to let regular exercise and proper nutrition slide, but maintaining these habits is vital. The healthier the caregiver, the healthier the patient. People with dementia need a reliable, healthy person to depend on, so don’t forget to take care of yourself.

 

Understand Aggression

Dementia can often drive sufferers to respond aggressively. Unfortunately, this aggression is often directed at those who are trying to help. In these moments, it’s important not to take the person’s anger personally. Remember, though you can’t see it, the patient is in pain. Aggression is often a result of physical discomfort, confusion, poor communication, time of day, and environmental factors.

Never respond in kind and do not ignore the aggressive behavior. Instead, try to determine the cause of the aggression. Is the person in physical discomfort? Does the aggression always happen at a certain time of day or within a certain environment? If so, is there a way to relieve pain and discomfort, alter the environment, or plan ahead by scheduling naps or eating patterns to reduce sundowning?

 

Get Help from Professional Caregivers

Caring for a person with dementia is challenging, but it does not need to be overwhelming. Keeping a few of the above tips in mind can help you face the task with confidence and help you provide the support, and the quality care your loved one needs. If you find you still have questions or would prefer to work with a professional caregiver, David York Agency is here to help.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Ride-Sharing For Seniors: Motivator For Technology Adoption

One of the sad facts of aging is that people lose the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. This is largely due to deteriorating vision along with other health-related issues. Telling an aging loved one that he or she can no longer drive can be painful for all concerned (see our previous post Don’t Take Away My Car Keys, Yet!). Though it is a matter of safety it is also a matter of freedom. But ride-sharing for seniors offers freedom and safety at the touch of a button.

An elderly woman is smiling as she enters through the front passenger door of a car. Uber ride-sharing for seniors concept

Ride-Sharing For Seniors

The loss of mobility has been an unavoidable part of aging since the dawn of the automobile. Until recently, many elderly people depended on rides from friends, relatives 0r other community organizations (see our previous post No More Car for Dad or Mom, Now What?). However, technology is changing this old expectation. Ride-sharing services are now available in many communities, offering a cheap, easy, and reliable option for local travel. Offered by companies such as Uber and Lyft, ride-sharing is a convenient way for seniors to get around.

Ride-sharing for seniors ensures that your loved ones are not completely homebound or dependent upon others for rides. This option can also help lessen the blow of having to take away your loved one’s car keys. Thanks to ride-sharing services, the elderly no longer have to endure the loss of mobility that comes with age.

 

Teaching the Technology

Teaching your loved ones to use ride-sharing apps may be a necessary step to ensure their independence. Luckily, these applications they are simple enough for anyone to pick up with a few lessons. Also, they have the added benefit of concretely introducing technology to seniors and act as motivators for their adoption. Both libraries and senior centers offer technology classes to seniors, providing an excellent resource in this area. Additionally, home healthcare workers can help guide seniors through the ins and outs of the technology. With a little time and patience, you can get your elderly parent on the road in safety.

 

David York Can Help

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, please contact us at 718.376.7755. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Eldercare Planning: Your Parents & Home Healthcare

Many adult children start to worry about their aging parents. They see them struggling as they get on in years and believe they would be better off with help. Eldercare planning is a difficult subject to broach (especially with seniors who are resistant to such discussions see our post on the subject), but it’s also a necessary conversation for seniors who are experiencing a decline in health or finding it hard to care for themselves.

 

Eldercare Planning for Parents

Approaching Eldercare Planning with Your Parents

Conversations about diminished capacity can be very difficult to have with your parents. They may get offended that you are worried about them and they may have no interest in hearing your viewpoint. It can be frustrating for you to make your concerns clear. However, it doesn’t have to be that way!

Here are some tips to help you through this discussion.

  • Choose the right time. Don’t think that you are going to talk to your parents when you both have five minutes. This conversation cannot be rushed. Instead, find some time that you are all free to sit down and talk.
  • If possible, include all of the children. It can be helpful if all of the children are on the same page. Otherwise, it might look like you are ganging up on your parents.
  • Be prepared with the options. It is important that you are ready to have the talk. Write down the different options that are available to your parents. Prepare a list of pros and cons, as well as the costs associated with each of them.
  • If it gets heated, take a break. The conversation may get heated, and it may be better to take a break before things get said that can’t be taken back. Leave the list of options, pros, and cons, and plan on coming back in a day or two (after your parents have had time to think).

Difficult Now, Helpful When Necessary

Talking to your aging parents about getting help can be quite difficult. However, if you find the right time and come prepared, it is more likely to go well. If not, take a break and revisit the issue once everyone has settled down. David York Agency has a Checklist and Workbook to help guide you through the discussion. Please check them out on our website.

Remember, though this discussion is difficult now, it could lead to a better future for your parents. Decide on small changes that can be implemented now and others that will be helpful down the road.

 

If eldercare planning is a concern for you and your loved ones, please consider the David York Agency. Our qualified, compassionate caregivers are ready to help. Contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones with the assistance they need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.