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.


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 important assets or 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 is that 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.
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.

For Seniors, It’s All About Companionship

For our most senior citizens, the way to their hearts and minds is through simple companionship.  Rather than wasting money and energy on new fangled gadgets for older loved ones, a visit and a simple dinner is the best gift in the world.  What they most want is time and friendship. 

CompanionshipA New York Times article entitled “What Makes Older People Happy” by Judith Graham, analyzes various studies on consumer behavior and psychology to posit that the reason older people shun new experiences and products that the young crave is, having lived most of their lives already, they now prize the simple pleasures and experiences in life. 

Contrary to public opinion, it is not about seniors cocooning themselves thinking that life has passed them by.   It is just that, according to a Journal of Consumer Research report entitled Happiness from Ordinary and Extraordinary Experiences, the type of experiences that make people happy change over time.  While senior citizens still enjoy being active and current, they do not use these experiences to solidify their identities as young people do.  The elderly forged their identities long ago and their maturity level and seasoned attitude toward life has allowed them to appreciate the here and the now all the more. 

However, when attempting new things, energy level is a real concern for those who are not as spry as they used to be and the fear of getting hurt is very real for them as they see others around them not bouncing back as they used to when they were young.  They know that a careless move can lead to an injury that sparks a whole chain of events that could have lasting, if not dire consequences.  In that instance, a home health aide in tow is a perfect solution for enabling them to have new experiences accompanied and in a safe manner. 

At David York Home Health Agency we understand the importance of companionship above all and our home health aides are quite sensitive to this as well as the host of other factors relating to senior home care.  They know how to make our clients feel appreciated in the safe and comfortable environment of their homes and familiar destinations. Please call David York Agency at 718.376.7755 or visit the website at www.davidyorkhomehealthcare.com to learn more about what they offer.  Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.


February 11, 2014, 4:01 pm
What Makes Older People Happy  By Judith Graham

Guardianship and Power of Attorney for Senior Citizens

What would happen to you if you reached a stage in life where you were no longer able to make decisions about yourself or your healthcare?  What would become of you?  Even if you have loved ones, do you trust all of them to make the kinds of decisions you would about your welfare?  This is a truly frightening prospect that few people want to think about, but we all need to. 

GuardianshipLegal guardianship is a stage that must be considered when someone is no longer able to make rational decisions for himself.  The court does this by hearing evidence, declaring someone incompetent and assigning a guardian, also known as a conservator. The guardian is then legally responsible for deciding the financial, living and medical arrangements for their ward.  When possible, the guardian is supposed to consult their ward with respect to certain decisions specified by the court. 

Appointing a guardian entails a dramatic loss of individual rights and may not be in keeping with the ward’s wishes.  Therefore, setting up a power of attorney (POA) designating someone of your own choosing to act on your behalf will ensure that the person you trust is in charge of your care.  The POA must stipulate that the appointed decision maker, known as the principal, should continue in the event of incapacity which would then make it a durable power of attorney.  The power of attorney can also be written to go into effect at a pre-specified time. 

David York Agency has dealt with both guardians and POAs in planning the senior home care of their elderly clients.  The agency is fully aware of the issues surrounding these senior care plans and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  Agency Intake Coordinators be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call the home care agency at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter or LinkedIn.



How to Choose a Home Healthcare Agency

When it comes to choosing the right Home Healthcare Agency for you or your loved one, it can sometimes feel like a daunting and emotionally charged task.  But, it does not have to.  If you have the right questions to ask, the answers will lead you to the right agency.  These six questions will make it easy. Choosing home health agency

  • Can the agency provide all the services you require?  Ask the agency if they will develop a personalized care plan designed to meet your individual needs and requirements as determined by you, your family and your doctor.  Ask that it includes the parameters for making revisions, should needs change in the future.  Then, request this plan in writing.       
  • Does the agency require special certification for their employees? For example, do the aides they send need to be certified and does the agency do anything in terms of checking that this certification is current.  All qualified agencies offer in-service classes to keep the aide’s skills current with new procedures and refresh their skills.  They also make sure that the aide’s work papers and state required medical forms are up-to-date.  
  • Is the agency licensed by the state?  All states require licensing of home health care organizations, except Idaho, South Dakota, and Vermont.  If an agency is supposed to have a state license, but does not, then you should look for another agency.  Check with your state health department to confirm.  
  • Is the agency certified by Medicare/Medicaid and/or The Joint Commission?  To become certified, an agency must meet specific state and federal requirements and quality standards for patient care.  Accreditation may indicate a commitment to providing a higher level of quality care.  An agency may also be contracted to accept Medicaid patients through a larger certified one.  It’s best to clarify your situation with each individual agency if you plan on Medicaid reimbursement.  
  • Will your insurance cover a home health aide?  Long Term Care Insurance plans usually cover home health aide services.  Your insurance company will likely require that you contract with an agency that is licensed by the State Department of Health and will probably not cover you if you hire someone privately.  You should call your plan to verify.  
  • How much can I expect to pay for this service?  A recent New York Times article on choosing a caregiver cited that the median rate for a home health aide that provides personal care such as bathing and dressing is $20 per hour. Of course, prices vary by location and agency.  

The Home Healthcare Agency that can answer all your questions and that you feel comfortable with will be the right choice for you.  David York Agency would be happy to give you more information about issues relating to home healthcare.    Contact us and visit our website where we have a resources page for further research.