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.

 

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.

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 (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

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.