Music Therapy and End-of-Life Care

Music Therapy is becoming increasingly popular for end-of-life care. Twenty years ago, music therapy was just starting to gain popularity. Today, it is growing throughout the nation at a rapid rate. Let’s take a look at why music therapy has become so popular so quickly!

treating elderly woman with music therapy

What is Music Therapy?

The American Association of Music Therapy, (AMTA), defines Music Therapy as “the use of music to help clients reach their goals in a therapeutic setting. Music can treat the emotional, social, and spiritual needs of patients.”

  • A music therapist uses music in the following ways:
  • Writing new songs with their client.
  • Singing songs from the client’s childhood.
  • Helping patients dance along to music.
  • Listening to music with patients.

What are the Specialties of Music Therapy?

This type of therapy can be useful to anyone. Children with disabilities learn new skills with the help of music therapy. Additionally, music therapy has helped treat PTSD as well as mental health issues such as depression.

One of these fastest-growing specialties is end-of-life music therapy. One therapist, Ms. Kelly, was featured in The New York Times. The article highlights how her treatments have helped her clients and their families. One family member said Ms. Kelly “brought life and energy back to his suffering mother in the last days of her life.”

What are the Benefits of Music Therapy?

Music therapy can’t extend our loved ones’ lives. However, the AMTA has done numerous studies that take an in-depth look at its advantages. It has been proven to promote peace, hope, and spirituality. Listening to and creating music has also been shown to decrease pain.

The AMTA wants to make music therapy as prevalent in end-of-life cares as chaplains and social workers. Their goal is to increase the quality of life for their clients in their last days with their families. Having an outlet for their emotions and spirituality can bring peace to our loved ones in their last remaining days with us.

Treatment Options From David York

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 TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Enjoy a Safe Summer While Aging in Place

As the summer months quickly approach, vacations and outdoor activities are on everyone’s mind. Seniors who are aging in place while living far from family and friends know that the summer months are perfect for traveling. Take a look at these tips to ensure you and your elderly loved one are ready for a safe and enjoyable summer.

A mature woman in her 70's gets out of the car of a friend helping her with an airport drop off, the woman handing her her luggage at the departure car area. She has a cheerful smile on her face, holding walking cane for support. Aging in place travel day

Plan Summer Activities and Vacation in Advance

Start planning for summer activities and destination trips as early as possible. If you plan to engage in outdoor activities consider whether you will require assistance.  Keep a detailed schedule and make changes as necessary. Make copies of the schedule and keep one visibly posted for friends, family, and caregivers.

Discuss Your Summer Plans With Your Doctor

Discuss your plans to travel or engage in summer activities with a healthcare professional. Receiving a clean bill of health gives you peace of mind about participating in activities and traveling long distances. If you take prescribed medications, be sure to ask about refills and notable side effects. If traveling with a pre-existing condition, ask your doctor to write up your medical history and treatment instructions just in case.

Arrange for Special Accommodations Before Traveling

Make special accommodations for you or a senior loved one well in advance of your travel dates. Pre-boarding flights, special dietary needs, electric scooters, and cost-free wheelchairs are a few accommodations that are obtainable ahead of time. Note, summer is a popular time for traveling, so last minute accommodations might be refused by a hotel, airline, train, or car rental the day of travel or while en route.

Hire a Home Health Aide/Traveling Companion

Some seniors love to travel but have trouble doing so alone. Hiring a home health aide or travel companion is a great option. These hired professionals also help with numerous of daily living activities. Caregivers can also help schedule trips, make travel arrangements, carry luggage, and run errands.

Research Local Hospitals and Doctors

Create a list of the hospitals and medical centers that are closest to your vacation spot. Although summer vacations and activities are exciting, they can also cause stress and overexertion. Remember, it is best not to plan too many activities for one day. Space activities out and give yourself a chance to relax.

Stay Hydrated and Avoid Dehydration

Dehydration leads to all types of medical problems. Whether traveling by car, plane, train or engaging in summer activities, it is imperative to take in enough fluids. Always keep a couple of bottles of water on hand and sip constantly throughout the day. Don’t forget to calculate bathroom breaks when traveling by vehicle.

Contact David York Agency for Professional Caregiving

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.

Coping with Elderly Depression

Depression affects people of all ages and does not care whether you are 18 or 80. However, many do not realize how many seniors struggle with depression. Unfortunately, signs of elderly depression are frequently attributed to other conditions. As a result, elderly depression goes undiagnosed.

If you believe a senior you know is suffering from depression, you can help. Here’s how:

Start a Conversation

First, get your loved one to open up. Avoid words like “depressed,” “anxious,” or “mental health” if possible. These trigger words might cause them to become upset and shut you out. Begin by starting a conversation. Ask about their day, whether anything has been on their mind, or if anything is making them sad. Hopefully, you will gather information that highlights a potential problem. From here, you can breach the subject of getting help.

Getting Professional Help

Most seniors do not seek treatment for their depression. It is your job to convince your loved one to find professional help. However, do not immediately suggest therapy, as many elderly individuals may feel shame or guilt about their depression.

It may be easiest for them to consult a friend who has been through a similar experience. Many elderly individuals may also feel more comfortable talking about their depression to their primary care physician rather than a mental health professional.

Call David York Agency for Help

Follow our blog for more advice on how you can help an elderly loved one cope with depression, as well as information about the signs that can indicate elderly depression. Keep this in mind; elderly depression is often a result of loneliness and isolation, so call us to arrange unparalleled care and companionship.

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.

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.

Tips for Traveling with Dementia

traveling with dementia

Traveling, like other changes in routine, can be highly stressful for a senior with dementia. However, if your parent is in the early stages of dementia, an enjoyable getaway might still be possible. Here’s what you need to know about traveling with dementia.

 

Planning for Your Trip

  • Be sure to bring copies of important documents with you. Both you and your elderly loved one should have a copy of their identification. Similarly, you both should carry copies of doctor’s contact information, medication list, insurance information, and food and drug allergies.

 

  • Prepare your hosts. If you’ll be staying with family or friends, let them know of any changes that have occurred since the last time they saw your senior. Tell them how they can help you during your stay and how they can put their guest at ease. If you’ll be staying at a hotel, speak to the staff about any needs you might have. Inform them privately about your senior’s condition and ask them to let you know if they see him or her walking around without you.

 

  • Consider bringing someone else with you. Your elderly loved one will likely require a fair amount of attention and care. Bringing another person can help ease the stress and let you concentrate on other details of the trip.

 

  • Be patient, adaptable, and realistic. Things won’t go perfectly. Remembering that will help you to be less frustrated when problems do arise.

 

  • Have fun! While traveling with a loved one with dementia comes with its complications, it doesn’t mean you and your family can’t enjoy the trip and relish the quality time together.

 

If you come to the conclusion that your loved one is simply unable to travel, have you thought about getting a healthcare professional to care for them while you’re away? Please contact us today for information about our home healthcare services.

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 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.

Ageism and Dental Care

Senior woman at the dentist. Ageism and dental care concept

For many Americans age 65 and older, dental care is a necessity that they cannot afford. Some older adults live on Social Security benefits of just $850 per month. Unfortunately, the cost of dental insurance and associated copays are just too expensive with this limiting budget. Additionally, the link between ageism and dental care means the care seniors receive is less than what they require.

As a result, seniors live with cavities, cracked or damaged teeth, and periodontal disease. Some seniors will turn to the emergency room for help while others may rely on over-the-counter remedies, or perform their own tooth extractions.

 

Dental Issues That Affect Older Adults

Oral health concerns that are common in people age 65 and older include:

  • Dry Mouth Syndrome is common in older adults. Caused by over 400 medications, severe dry mouth can contribute to cavities, mouth sores, infection, and difficulty swallowing.
  • Periodontal disease causes the gums to become red and swollen. Over time, the gums may separate from the teeth, and bone, tissue and tooth loss may occur. The inflammatory processes associated with long-term periodontal disease have been linked to dementia.

 

Ageism and Dental Care

Ageism is a term that refers to stereotypes assigned to older adults. Typically, ageism results in unequal access to medical prevention, detection, and treatment. For example, seniors receive fewer screenings for colorectal cancer, skin cancer, and osteoporosis than younger people. Even taking into account balancing the stress of the procedure on an older person, there is still a disproportionate imbalance in care. This is also troubling because the senior population is at greater risk for these diseases.

Although concern about age discrimination in healthcare usually focuses on medicine, disparities also occur in dentistry:

  • Ageist beliefs are a major factor in the inadequate provision of dental care for long-term care residents. Studies found that nursing home administrators believed that dentists were reluctant to see older residents, while the dentists felt the staff did not reach out for dental consultation often enough.
  • A survey of over 300 dental students found that a significant number believed older adults are less vital, less adaptable, and less likely to actively pursue goals than younger patients.
  • There are not enough geriatric-informed treatment standards. There is also call for better education among dental providers, caregivers, families, and patients.

 

Challenging Ageist Ideas

Research shows that when dental hygienist students and dental students have an opportunity to work directly with seniors, negative stereotypes towards this group are reduced.

 

Finding Affordable Care

Several resources are available to seniors who struggle to pay for dental care. Some dental hygienists can see older adults in their homes or at care facilities. This ensures cost-effective preventative care.

 

 Providing Compassionate Care

  • Address dry mouth by encouraging the use of over-the-counter rinses, pastes, sprays, and lozenges. All of these simple remedies will help lubricate the mouth.
  • Caregivers must ensure their own safety when assisting agitated clients with oral hygiene. For some patients with dementia, small brushes or oral foam swabs may work best.
  • Give dental hygiene its due focus. Devote at least 2 minutes to brushing teeth each day.

 

Dental health is of utmost importance to seniors. The rising tide of ageism makes it difficult to ensure all seniors are receiving proper care, but 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.

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.