Long-Distance Caregiving: Feeling Adequate at a Distance

At a time when seniors wish to remain independent  – and in their own homes – for as long as possible, establishing a support system is essential. The act of caregiving often falls on relatives or close friends, but these caregivers are not always local and long-distance caregiving is on the rise.

Grandparents talking on the phone at the table. Long-distance caregiving

But how can you provide adequate care from a distance while maintaining the balance of your daily life?

Remaining involved in your loved one’s life, providing long-distance care, and living your own life is a difficult balance. The “sandwich generation,” – identified as middle-aged adults “sandwiched” between caring for their children and their aging parents – can be full of overwhelming and thankless tasks, but maintaining your relationship and providing care at a distance can be done!

Here are a few ways to maintain the caregiver relationship when living far away.

 

The Reality of Long-Distance Caregiving

Long-distance caregiving is an undeniable stressor. The difficulty of balancing the duties of a caregiver with work and family can be daunting and exhausting. You will have to learn to manage your time and your loved one’s time simultaneously. You will also have to adapt your schedule to include travel time as well as care time.

Expect to make sacrifices if you plan to maintain significant involvement in your loved one’s life. From missing work to rearranging appointments, your job as a caregiver will be all-encompassing. Frequent phone calls at all hours of the day and night may become a new norm. You may also take on the added expense of additional home care in order to ensure your loved one’s well-being when you cannot be present.

 

What Can I Do?

How can we accept the reality of distance as a barrier but also incorporate ways to embrace it? Finding peace of mind away from your loved one is difficult, but not impossible.

Some ways may include purchasing new forms of technology such as a fall alert system. This is a small investment ensuring that emergency personnel would respond if a loved one suffered a fall. There are also various forms of medication reminders to help loved ones take their medications at the recommended time.

Establish methods of communication that are readily available and easily understood. When utilizing the telephone, your loved one may prefer a landline with multiple cordless phones and charging stations placed around their living area. If your loved one is receptive to video chat, ensure these newfangled programs are installed properly and simplified for ease of use. Many seniors suffer from hearing and vision loss so preset the volume on devices to ensure they can hear properly. Place telephones in locations that are accessible and uncluttered.

 

Helpful Tips from the AARP:

1. Maintain your identity and embrace the characteristics and strengths that you have while incorporating them into caregiving.

2. Reprioritize as circumstances arise.

3. Get organized. Check out these David York Agency publications for the task: Workbook & Checklist.

4. Be open to accepting help whether it be with minimal daily tasks, assistance from other family and friends or hiring a home care agency.

5. “Keep filling your tank.” Caregiving requires mental and emotional energy. Allow yourself to unwind and reboot.

 

Understanding the reality of caregiving and accepting ways to embrace it may ease the struggle of long-distance caregiving. David York Agency prides itself on individualized care and maintaining the dignity of your loved one. If you need assistance, support, or an open ear in the world of caregiving, reach out today!

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.

Managing Long-Distance Caregiving

If you live an hour or more away from a parent or relative who relies on you for some form of care, you are considered a long-distance caregiver. Managing long-distance caregiving is no easy task.  It is stressful and time-consuming and difficult to accomplish without additional help. Being far from your loved one when they need assistance can be draining and, as this role-reversal presents itself, you are thrust into a realm of new responsibilities.

There is no one right method to approach your new role. Every situation is different. But the task of managing long-distance caregiving doesn’t have to be daunting with these helpful tips.

managing long-distance caregiving

How will I know help is needed?

Regrettably, if your parents need care, they probably won’t tell you when they need help. The last thing they want is to become a burden to their children. Typically, a person will experience a health crisis or a “wake-up call,” triggering the awareness that they need assistance. Barring a sudden health event, difficulties and changes in performing ADLs (activities of daily living) will be a telltale sign that help is needed. Routine ADLs include:

  • Bathing and showering
  • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Transferring (for example, moving from a chair to the bed)
  • Self-feeding

 

What is my role?

As a long-distance caregiver, you will play the role of information gatherer as well as coordinator of assistance.

As the information gatherer, you can use websites and other resources to locate local community services that specialize in care for older persons or the disabled. You will also gather relevant data pertaining to your loved one. This information will be your go-to resource in the event of an emergency. David York Agency provides an excellent resource in the form of our Essential Documents and Emergency Information Workbook.

As the coordinator of assistance, you will make arrangements for care as well as set appointments. Consult with your loved one to determine their needs in the following areas:

  • Meal delivery
  • In-home care
  • Medical devices
  • Transportation
  • Help with Medicare/Medicaid claims
  • Support groups
  • Telephone check-ins
  • Financial Assistance

 

Additionally, David York Agency publishes a handy Essential Documents and Emergency Information Checklist to make your new role more manageable. This checklist provides a place to record pertinent information that will help you determine what your loved one can and can’t do. The AARP also offers a Caregiver’s Checklist that may be of use as well.

 

Evolving Care

It is never too early to start thinking about the future needs of your loved ones and how you will handle the evolving nature of your caregiving journey. Once you have completed the caregiver’s checklist and determined the wishes and needs of your loved ones, it will be time to speak to professionals in the caregiving industry. Check references and do whatever you can to make things as straightforward as possible for the caregiver. In-home caregivers help with a variety of household and personal tasks and will be in a good position to update you on day-to-day progress.

Remember that you are not alone.  An estimated 43.5 million Americans provide care, advocacy, and healthcare navigation for a relative or friend 50+ years or older.

 

For more information about David York Agency‘s qualified, compassionate caregivers, 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 TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Managing Long-Distance Caregiving

Taking care of ill or elderly relatives is a complicated and stressful situation. That stress is compounded in the case of long-distance caregiving. As more and more adult children care for their elderly parents, this issue is becoming more common.

Health visitor with smartphone and a senior man during home visit. A female nurse or a doctor making a phone call. long-distance caregiving concept

According to a survey conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving, long-distance caregivers experience negative impacts on their time, finances, and work schedules. Despite this, over half of these caregivers see their loved ones at least a few times a month, and over 75% help with basic services such as shopping, cooking, and transportation, spending 22 hours on these aspects of caregiving alone.

If you are managing long-distance care, here are a few things to keep in mind.

 

Recognize the Added Strain

Caregiving can cause major stress. Compounding this stress with the addition of travel, finances, and schedule increases the load for the long-distance caregiver. It is important to ensure that caregivers, as well as the patient, have the support they need.

In order to receive this support, the long-distance caregiver must acknowledge their added stress. Once the problem is recognized, steps can be taken to help relieve the pressure. Consider support groups, in person or online. These meetings can be an important source of comfort. Regular, healthy meals and exercise can also help reduce stress levels.

Remember: you can only care for others if you care for yourself first.

 

Gather Information

When medical emergencies arise, it’s important to have all the information you’ll need. Make copies of insurance documents and medical information, including medications and doctors’ orders and phone numbers. Keep these documents handy, so you don’t have to find them during stressful moments.

One important document to have is a durable medical power of attorney. This is particularly important if there are multiple siblings or you are taking care of an in-law. It is extremely important to clarify your right to make medical decisions if the patient is unable to do so.

DYA has handy publications for organizing you essential documents on our website.

 

Keep Communication Open

When possible, it’s a good idea to attend doctor’s appointments with the patient. They may not remember everything the doctor says or feel comfortable talking about the visit. If you can be there to hear the doctor’s orders and keep notes, it can help you see that the patient is getting what they need.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s important to keep lines of communication open. Some of the things they recommend are:

  • Speak with your loved one’s healthcare providers. A release signed by your loved one will allow their doctors to talk to you about their treatment. See if you can set up conference calls or log into their online medical records to stay fully informed.
  • Get support from friends. People who live nearby can check in on your loved one. Having a few people look in periodically can give you insight on how they are doing.
  • Consider hiring help. Someone to help with tasks such as meals and bathing can ease the burden on both of you.
  • Prepare for emergencies. Save time and money in case there is a crisis. Look into the Family and Medical Leave Act, which can provide you with unpaid time off with no threat to your job.

 

Maintain Your Relationship

Finally, remember to spend time visiting. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the tasks of caregiving and forget the relationship. Try to set time aside for sitting and talking, or doing an activity you enjoy together, such as taking a walk. The reason you are doing this monumental task is that you care so much about this person. Remembering that can ease the strain on both of you.

 

There are many difficult choices to make when taking care of a loved one. Living far away complicates those decisions. If David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers can help you in this process, please 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.

Determine What Type of In-Home Healthcare is Right for You

Determine What Type of In-Home Healthcare is Right for YouIf you are responsible for caring for an elderly loved one, you probably could use some help to lighten the load. But without experience in the medical industry, it’s hard to know what level of caregiver you need? In-home healthcare needs can be easily met with a little bit of research and the help of an experienced homecare professional.

Here is an easy-to-understand summary in-home healthcare roles that will help you determine your needs.

  1. A Personal Care Aide (PCA)

    provides general support but does not address any medical needs. They often assist with daily chores, bathing, preparing meals, cleaning, or just being a companion to someone who needs a friendly face to come visit on a regular basis.

  2. A Home Health Aide (HHA)

    is the next level up, and can do all of the above, and more. They take care of extra tasks like checking vital signs, or changing medical dressings. Home Health Aides have training and certification.

  3. A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

    has a higher level of education and provides basic medical and nursing care. They check blood pressure as well as insert catheters. An LPN also ensures the comfort of patients by assisting them to bathe or dress. They discuss health care issues, and report the status of patients to registered nurses and doctors.

  4. A Registered Nurse (RN)

    is the highest level of medical professionals typically available for home care.  They usually oversee the treatment plan and administration of medication. An RN can keep an eye on medical test results and handle most of the higher-level medical needs of a patient.

While the terms can be confusing, an experienced agency can work with you to determine your needs. With a consultation, an expert in patient services can ask questions and get to know your situation so the right recommendation is made for both the patient and the family members in need of support. Questions such as procedures, fees, and insurance payments are also covered during this initial discussion.

If you have a loved one in the New York City area who is in need of in-home nursing care, contact us. We can help determine the best course of action and provide any of the above support staff to help your loved one age in place.

 

Genetics + Environment ≠ Inevitable Health Profile

A new study gives insight into the role of exercise on overall health measures while controlling for genetics and childhood influences. A study out of Finland examined ten sets of identical twins for the effects of exercise on health and brain development while controlling for genetics and childhood influences. One twin was active physically and the other was sedentary.

AA052490Ten sets of identical twins from Finland, who grew up together, obviously sharing the same DNA, were examined. While their pasts were similar, their future exercise habits differed. While past studies of twins with respect to divergent exercise habits focused on their effects on aging, this study focused on factors that measured overall health: endurance capacity, body composition and insulin sensitivity. The sedentary twins exhibited lower endurance capacity, higher body fat percentages and signs of metabolic problems with respect to insulin resistance. The active twin had more grey matter than his sedentary counterpart especially in the areas having to do with motor control and coordination. Interestingly, the twins had similar diets. This led the research team to conclude “that the results strongly imply that the differences in the twins’ exercise habits caused the differences in their bodies.”

On the bright side, genetics and environment don’t equal inevitability. We can make significant changes with respect to exercise regimens that can dramatically impact our overall health and that of our brains.

David York Home Healthcare Agency is always on the lookout for tips on improving our overall health and alleviating the debilitating aspects of aging. However, when home healthcare becomes necessary, we provide certified home health aide services for the elderly. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit us on our website www.davidyorkagency.com to become acquainted with all we offer. We would be happy to discuss your case with you. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

 

Is It A Heart Attack or Something Else?

As we age, our risk for having a heart attack grows. We all should be acquainted with the signs of a heart attack.

  • Chest pain or discomfort like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Upper body discomfort in one or both arms, the back, shoulders, neck, jaw or upper part of the stomach.
  • Shortness of breath either while resting or doing any physical activity.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat.
  • Feeling unusually tired.
  • Light-headedness or sudden dizziness.

Heart attackThese symptoms vary from one person to another and they can come on slowly or all at once. Diabetics often have mild symptoms or none at all. A second heart attack in the same person doesn’t necessarily occur in the same way. Women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, extreme tiredness and nausea as pre-cursors of their heart attacks.

While we should never take the traditional signs of a heart attack lightly, there could be other explanations for those often frightening signs. The following are 7 alternative underlying causes for a racing heart, chest pains and sweating.

  • Panic Attacks: Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) can often accompany a panic attack making one believe they are having a heart attack.
  • Caffeine: It can stimulate the central autonomic nervous system which controls the heart rate. This stimulant can cause palpitations, lightheadedness or chest pain.
  • Decongestants: Those sensitive to these drugs can experience arrhythmia.
  • Dehydration: Serious dehydrations can lead to heart palpitations and muscle cramping. The resulting lowering of electrolytes also lowers blood pressure and an abnormal heartbeat.
  • Prescription Medications: Many, including those for asthma and thyroid regulation, can disrupt electrical conduction to the heart. It is important to read side effects for each.
  • Anemia: An iron deficiency means that there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to your cells. A fast beating heart aids the delivery of oxygen, but may feel like a heart attack.
  • Heavy Metals: Long term exposure to mercury or other heavy metals can cause inflammation leading to thrombosis (blood clots), electrolyte imbalance and other heart related problems that cause heart palpitations.

In the event of a heart attack, acting fast makes all the difference. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to call 911 to get an ambulance, the best way to get to the hospital during a heart attack. It is always better to be safe than sorry. The emergency operator might be able to give you advice such as taking an aspirin while you are waiting for emergency service.

David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  At David York Home Healthcare Agency, we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. A nurse is waiting to take your call. Contact us at 718.376.7755 and visit our website. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

 

 

Overuse of Benzodiazepine in the Elderly

The New York Times recently reported that even after 30 years of warnings regarding the dangers it poses to the elderly, use of benzodiazepine, sedative-hypnotic drugs like Valium, Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin, rises sharply with age. A study in the February 2015 edition of JAMA Psychiatry reports that 9% of those between 65 and 80 years of age take them and the proportion is even higher among women at 11%. These are astounding figures for any class of drug.

The known adverse effects of these drugs include increased risks of falls and fractures, diminished cognition in terms of memory and other neuropsychological measures, as well as an increased risk for car accidents.

497526103Yet, doctors persist in prescribing them. Why?

Doctors like to prescribe them because they work fast for such things as insomnia and nervousness. Doctors encounter resistance to employing alternatives like meditation and talk therapy by their senior patients.

Seniors don’t want to give them up. They are addicted to either the drug or the notion that a magic pill will cure any symptom that ails them. Moreover, the withdrawal process from the drug brings on some of the same symptoms such as insomnia, sweats and nervousness that prompted their use initially and patients don’t want to go through it.

Doctors are afraid to fight with their elderly patients about discontinuing the prescription. They are also under the mistaken notion that the process is too daunting. A Canadian study has shown that even a brochure with a schedule for weaning can have a dramatic effect on those wishing to make the change.

There is plenty of support out there if you want to find it. Doctors and healthcare professionals need to be more motivated identifying potential abusers and heed the long standing warnings of over prescribing these drugs. The elderly need to be fully counseled on the associated dangers and assisted in weaning themselves off these drugs.

David York Home Healthcare Agency is fully acquainted with all factors related to eldercare services and is always available to set up a senior care plan taking the whole patient into account. David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  Contact us at 718.376.7755 and visit our website. A nurse is waiting to take your call. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

 

New Blood Test for the Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease Blood Test

There is exciting news in the field of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research with the advent of a new blood test. This Alzheimer’s disease blood test can determine the presence of a key marker, brain amyloidosis. The buildup of amyloid proteins in the brain, as well as other blood proteins is associated with AD. Early detection of the disease can have implications in terms of benefiting from any current and new treatments, joining research trials underway and taking advantage earlier of any support services available.

Available Tests

T181985743he blood test can be administered after a clinical examination uncovers symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease including cognitive impairment such as dementia. This new blood test is safe, affordable and easy to administer in a variety of settings. Currently, the only definitive tests for AD either have major drawbacks or can only be done post mortem. The first method of extracting cerebrospinal fluid requires an invasive spinal tap. Furthermore, it carries the risk of nerve damage. The second is a PET scan testing for amyloids in the brain. It exposes the patient to radiation and is not usually covered by insurance. However, few centers have the technology. Autopsies can reveal brain beta amyloid proteins in the brain, a hallmark sign of AD, but, obviously, has no benefit to the sufferer at that time.

Benefits of the Blood Test

This new test also has the benefit of reducing the stress of not knowing for the patient and their loved ones. An important byproduct of the test is enhancing the integrity of research. It will ensure that only true AD patients are included in any treatment trials. These trials currently have an error rate of about 25% of non-AD patient inclusion.

Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is naturally extremely stressful to all concerned. Anticipating and planning for the eventual outcome of the disease is not easy. Please remember that David York Home Healthcare Agency can help. When home healthcare becomes necessary, David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly and infirm in their home. We would be happy to discuss your case with you. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

 

Prescribed Drugs: Possible Risk to the Elderly

A study out of Brown University finds that doctors in the U.S. are prescribing drugs to the elderly that can have harmful side effects and the problem is even more acute in the south.

122422920Many drugs such as valium are harder for the elderly to metabolize so they stay in their systems a lot longer and this lingering effect can cause lightheadedness in an older person. This compromised physical state can very well lead to falls which we all know can have deadly consequences for the elderly.

Furthermore, a problem now termed as polypharmacy seems to be taking hold as a public health issue. This relates to the fact that the average senior citizen’s treatment plan includes four prescription drugs at the same time opening endless possibilities for harmful interactions which are suspected to be responsible for almost 33% of all hospital admissions.

The elderly and their caretakers need to review their medications regularly to make sure they know all associated risks, possible side effects and negative interactions. This link from Merck can be a handy reference.

David York Home Healthcare Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Getting Important Documents Assembled for the Elderly

So often, when crisis hits, a family can be caught unawares by this emergency situation. Adult children are blindsided by not knowing where to find critical documents necessary for deciding on the care for their elderly parents and they feel handcuffed by not having access to assets or important essential documents that are needed. However, it is never too early to start that ‘just in case’ file.

While the holidays are a wonderful time for family sharing and bonding, it is also an opportunity for adult children to help organize essential information for their elderly parents. I think that in addition to feasting and spreading joy this holiday season, all of us, whether we be seniors, caregivers or potential caregivers, should take the opportunity to get some ‘ducks in a row’ and organize those all important documents and bits of information. David York Agency has compiled a handy checklist and a small packet of worksheets to assist in this task. Both are accessible through these links or on the Caregiver Resources page of the David York Agency website.

Essential Documents & Emergency Information Worksheets (pdf version)

Essential Documents & Emergency Information Checklist (pdf versionDec newsletter

  • Professionals List – All Contact Information for:

    • Doctors: Primary Care and Specialists
    • Accountant
    • Attorney
    • Financial Advisor
    • Insurance Brokers
  • Important Documents Packet (Originals and/or Copies):

    • Social Security Card
    • Birth Certificate
    • Driver’s License
    • Marriage Certificate
    • Divorce Certificate
    • Passport
    • Medical Information
      • Allergies
      • Medications
      • Treatments
      • Major Operations
      • Immunization Records
    • Medicare/Medicaid/Insurance Card
    • Life Insurance Policies
    • Military Discharge Papers
    • Deeds
    • Titles
    • Tax Returns for last 6 years
    • Instructions on Location of all files
  • Financial Accounts List – All Contact Information and Account Numbers for:

    • Bank Accounts
    • Investment/Brokerage Accounts
      • Stocks
      • Bonds
      • CDs
    • Credit/Debit Cards
  • Financial Assets List:

    • Car Ownership
    • Mortgage Documents
    • Real Estate Holdings
    • Loans Owed or Owed to them
    • Tax Returns
    • Insurance Policies
      • Home
      • Auto
      • Health
      • Long Term Care
      • Life
    • Original Invoices for Important Possessions
    • Partnership Documents
    • Jewelry and Valuables
    • Safe Combination and Directions
    • Location of Safety Deposit Key
  • Sources of Income:

    • Annuities
    • Social Security
    • Pensions
    • Annual Distributions from Retirement Accounts
    • VA Benefits
    • Disability Payments
  • Recurring Bills:

    • Mortgage
    • Loans
    • Utilities
      • Telephone
      • Electric
      • Gas
    • Insurance Premiums (monthly & quarterly)
    • Car Lease
    • Annual Expenses (i.e. home alarm)
    • Deliveries (i.e. newspaper, milk)
  • Computerized Information:

    • Email Accounts and Passwords
    • Password for Computer
    • Recurring Online Billing
  • Estate Planning Documents:

    • Will
    • Special Instructions regarding personal property
    • Durable Power of Attorney
    • Advanced Healthcare Directive/Living Will
    • Healthcare Proxy
    • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order
    • Retirement Plans
    • Disability Plans
    • Governmental Benefits for which they are eligible
  • End of Life Arrangements:

    • Cemetery Plot Ownership
    • Pre-Planned Burial Papers
    • Personal Statement regarding burial services

Most Important

All this information be easily accessible clearly labeled and a trusted person know its location. Also, if you choose to keep this all stored on a computer, make sure a back up is made and a print out is kept in a location known to a close friend or relative. Healthcare decisions are often quite pressing, so knowing where to find medical records and decision makers in time can be crucial. With respect to assets, at times the government takes possession of unclaimed assets and while you might be able to get a hold of something belonging to you that was overlooked, it is not always an easy process. It is best not to get into that situation and have everything organized ahead of time.

David York Agency Can Help
When home healthcare becomes necessary, David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services. David York Home Healthcare Agency can satisfy all your questions and would be happy to give you more information and discuss your case with you. Visit our website at David York Agency – providing healthcare professionals to the elderly and infirm, with the highest degree of personal service. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.