Sunday, December 27, 2009

Don't Make Wintertime Danger Time for Seniors in Allentown, PA

Snow, cold disproportionately threaten older people

By Kathleen Ewald,

Winter storms bring new health hazards for seniors. Cold-related injuries, from frostbite to falls, are particularly common among older people who are more susceptible to the effects of winter weather than younger people.

The following tips can help seniors get through the icy, cold, wet weather that is winter.

Icy, unshoveled walkways.

Slippery and snowy sidewalks can be difficult, particularly for seniors with balance and stability problems, to navigate.

Solution: Keep sidewalks and driveways well shoveled; apply rock salt or sand to create traction on wet or icy patches. Shoveling is strenuous and shouldn't be undertaken by older or unfit people. Look to friends and neighbors to help shovel or hire a contractor to plow or shovel after a storm. Sturdy, waterproof boots with rubber soles and treads make walking on slippery surfaces easier and safer.

Frigid temperatures

Exposure to cold weather can lead to frostbite (white, frozen skin) or hypothermia (lowered body temperature, characterized by shivering, confusion and dizziness). Seniors, with less efficient circulatory systems than younger adults, are at increased risk.

Solution: Check a weather report before leaving home, paying close attention to the wind chill factor, which indicates how cold it feels outside. (A wind chill below -10 degrees F is considered bitterly cold.) Dress in layers to avoid losing body heat. Wearing a hat with earflaps and mittens (which allow the fingers to touch, promoting heat) or insulated gloves thwarts frostbitten ears and fingers. Thick wool or synthetic socks and waterproof, insulated boots will protect feet from frostbite. If you notice signs of frostbite, seek medical attention immediately.

Hypothermia can be life threatening for older adults. If you suspect hypothermia, take the person's temperature. If it's below 96 degrees, it won't register on an oral thermometer, an indicator the person must get to a hospital immediately.

Sun glare

Sunlight reflects off white snow, causing glare that can make it difficult to see.

Solution: Wear sunglasses with ultra violet (UV) filters, suggests Connie Harvey, an American Red Cross health and safety expert. Overexposure to UV rays can lead to cataracts of the eye. In addition, sun is damaging to skin, even in winter. Seniors (and everyone) should apply an SPF 15 sunscreen to their faces before engaging in outdoor activities on a sunny winter day.

Finally, don't lose contact with others when bad weather hits. "Seniors should always have a network of friends or family who will check in on them," says the Red Cross's Harvey.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Helping Seniors Deal with Winter Pains in Allentown, PA

How to dodge or deal with winter aches and pains

(ARA) - Happy holidays, time with friends and family, the freshness of a new year - there are many things to look forward to with the arrival of winter. If you're among the millions of Americans, however, who suffer from chronic pain, winter can bring on a whole new set of problems and pains.

Whether you suffer from chronic ailments like arthritis or fibromyalgia, or simply experience the aches, pains and stiffness associated with past injuries or with aging, winter's cold and dampness can exacerbate these problems. Plus, there's the potential to suffer painful injuries from winter activities like shoveling snow or hazards like slipping on icy ground.

Here is some simple advice to minimize winter's impact on chronic pain and avoid new pains from injuries:

Arthritis and fibromyalgia

While both conditions can cause excruciating pain, both also respond well to positive influences like exercise, diet and hot/cold therapy. To help minimize winter's impact on these two chronic ailments, be sure to stay active and maintain prescribed medications and therapies. Dress warmly when going outdoors, wearing layers that help trap heat near your body.

Turn to hot and cold therapy to soothe sore muscles and aching joints. You don't need to resort to a hot water bottle or an ice pack to get hot/cold therapy relief. The IMAK Therapy Wrap is a 38-inch wrap that fits virtually any part of the body. Insertable gel packs can be heated or chilled, depending on what works for your pain. Breathable cotton Lycra fabric keeps the wrap comfortable against the skin. Visit to learn more.

Hot and cold therapy had also proven useful in treating normal aches and pains associated with aging, and with pain resulting from injury. To avoid common winter injuries from shoveling snow or slips and falls, follow this advice:

* Stretch before you start, just as you would if engaging in a workout.

* Shovel while it's still snowing and shovel repeatedly throughout the snowfall. That way, you're not trying to move a large amount of heavy, wet snow when the snowfall is over and the accumulation greater.

* Use a small shovel - a large one may tempt you to overdo it - and let the stronger muscles of your legs do most of the lifting and pushing work. Bend at the knees to avoid excess strain on your back.

If you do overdo it and wind up with some aches and pains, turn to hot and cold therapy to soothe sore muscles.

Other outdoor dangers

Raking leaves, shoveling snow, even sitting for long hours in the cold on stadium bleachers watching a football game - all can put undue strain on your neck and shoulders. When performing outdoor physical activity that could strain your neck, be sure to take regular breaks, and let your strong leg muscles do as much of the work as possible. If you're sitting for long periods in the cold, dress warmly in layers and be sure to protect your neck with a warm scarf. Shift position often, standing up when possible, bending forward and gently stretching your neck, arm and shoulder muscles to avoid stiffness.

Hot and cold therapy can also help alleviate neck pain if you do end up straining muscles. IMAK's Hot/Cold Neck Support allows you to put the therapeutic effects of heat or cold directly on sore neck muscles. A microwave-safe gel pack can be heated or chilled as needed.

Finally, be aware of the risk and dangers of inclement winter weather. Slips on ice and frostbite from snow send thousands to emergency rooms every winter. If you must walk on ice, take measures to ensure your footing is good, such as using special cleats that attach to your shoes or wearing thick-soled snow boots. Never shovel snow, play in snow or spend time outdoors in snow unless you are appropriately dressed in warm layers, including hat, gloves and warm boots.

With a few precautions and the right therapy, you can enjoy winter months free of the aches and pains associated with colder weather. Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Planning for Your Elder Years.

If we were to ask an older person what his or her most important concerns for aging are, we would probably get a variety of different answers. According to surveys frequently conducted among the elderly, the most likely answers we would receive would include the following three principal concerns or life wishes:
1. Remaining independent in the home without help from others
2. Maintaining good health and receiving adequate health care
3. Having enough money for everyday needs and not out living assets and income

To address these concerns or wishes and maintain the quality of life wanted in the elder years, it simply takes a little preplanning. But few people do this kind of planning.
It is human nature not to worry about an event until it happens. We may prepare financially for unexpected financial disasters by covering our homes, automobiles and health with insurance policies. But few understand Long Term Care Insurance or consider it in their long plan. No other life event can be as devastating to an elderly person’s lifestyle, finances and security as needing long term care. It drastically alters or completely eliminates the three principal lifestyle wishes listed above.

The majority of the American public does not plan for this crisis of needing eldercare. The lack of planning also has an adverse effect on the older person's family, with sacrifices made in time, money, and family lifestyles. Because of changing demographics and potential changes in government funding, the current generation needs to plan for long term care before the elder years are upon them.

Here are a few facts to consider:
1. The population of the "very old,"--older than age 85--is thefastest growing group in America. This population is athighest risk for needing care. (Statistical abstract of the United States,2008, population)
2. Medical science is preventing early sudden deaths, whichmeans living longer with impaired health and greater risk ofneeding long term care.
3. The Alzheimer's Association estimates the risk ofAlzheimer's or dementia beyond age 85 to be about 46% ofthat population.
4. It is estimated that 6 out of 10 people will need long termcare sometime during their lifetime.
5. Children are moving far away from parents or parents moveaway during retirement making long distance care givingdifficult or impossible.
6. Government programs--already stretched thin for long termcare services--will experience even greater stress onavailable funds in the future.

One of the important things for planning is how to maintain your lifestyle as you age. You may be healthy enough to stay in your own home with help provided for the following activities of daily living: maintaining a home, providing meals, supervision, companionship, transportation and shopping services. This type of care at home is non-medical and must be provided free of charge by family, friends, or volunteers or the care is privately paid for by the family.
Government programs such as Medicare will not pay for this kind of care. It is estimated that 80% of all long term care is non-medical, with 90% of that care provided in the home. It is most likely that your long term care will begin with some type of home care.

It is wise to plan now how you will pay for care when it is needed. In evaluating your future income you may find it necessary to add some resources such as Long Term Care Insurance to pay for home care, assisted living or nursing home costs. Long Term Care Insurance must be purchased while you are younger and healthy. Failing health, stroke or other aging issues can cause you to be turned down for this insurance.

A reverse mortgage will also help pay for home care if staying in your home is an option. Consider where you may want to live in your elder years. Many assisted living facilities offer complete care alternatives with a nursing home wing if needed. Senior retirement communities also offer many amenities with some including home care options. But don't be too surprised with the financial outlay needed to enter some retirement communities. Look for those that don't require a buy-in fee.

Now is the time to do estate planning. A professional estate planner will give you direction on how best to protect your assets for future needs and for Medicaid planning. Do your paper work. Now is the time to create your trusts, will, medical directives in a living will and any other documents you want noted for future use. Gather Insurance policies and bank records where they can be found by family members in case you are not able to get them yourself. We don’t like to think of our elder years in terms of health problems, but a sudden stroke, heart failure or onset of dementia could make it impossible to carry out our own wishes if preparation was not made ahead of time.

The process of long term care planning involves the following four principles:
1. Knowledge and preparation are the keys to success. 2. Having funds to pay for care expands the choices for care settings and providers. 3. Using professional help relieves stress, reduces conflict, and saves time and money. 4. Success is assured through a written plan accepted by all parties involved. Quoted from "The 4 Steps of Long Term Care Planning." National Care Planning Council.

For more information about Long Term Care Planning speak with a Geriatric Care Manager at the Family Caregivers Network. Geriatric Care Managers are specialized nurses and social workers how assist families with LTC planning. Start today, become educated about your future and share the information with family and friends. Live your elder years well my friend, live well.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Medication Problems and the Elderly

At 83 years old, Martha still lived in her own home, and enjoyed working in her garden and canning peaches. It was becoming harder to motivate herself, to get up in the mornings and accomplish the day's tasks. She confided to her daughter that she felt anxious and tired. Her daughter, who was taking medication for her anxiety, took Martha to her own doctor, not Martha's and got her a prescription for Valium. In doing so, the daughter's doctor, who had never seen Martha and who did not have her medical history, was only aware of a few medications they told him she was taking.

Martha, in fact, was taking 9 different medications as well as herbal supplements.

The addition of Valium to her existing list of prescribed drugs sent her to the emergency room with respiratory distress. If she had gone to her own doctor, he would have found that a dosage adjustment of her current medications would have solved her anxiety.

Medication errors are common in the elderly. Many seniors take on average 6- 8 different prescriptions as well as over the counter drugs. Many times the elderly will not go back to their doctor to have their dosage evaluated and changed if necessary. Family members should be aware, that elderly parents may tend to take the family's advice over going to their own doctor. Even though children want to help increase the health and stamina of their parents, they may in fact be causing damage by misdirecting their loved ones.

An on-line article on , Titled "Drugs and the Elderly," talks about physical symptoms and medications.
“ Among the first signs that a drug may not be working properly in an older person is a change in mood, energy, attitude, or memory. Too often, these alterations are overlooked, ignored, or chalked off to "old age" or senility. Older people may themselves feel that their blue mood is caused by something external such as the death of a friend or simply by boredom. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Virtually every heart medication, blood pressure drug, sleeping pill, and tranquilizer has been known to trigger depressive symptoms.
When a psychological symptom appears in an older person, examine his or her medication or drug use first. Consider, too, factors like alcohol intake, poor nutrition, and hormone imbalance. And never dismiss the possibility that a real psychological problem has developed and may itself require medication.”

There are many things family members can do to help monitor medications for their elderly parents.
Make a list of medicines prescribed and all supplements being taken.
Give this list to the doctor and pharmacist and have one on hand for emergencies. Use the same Pharmacy to fill all prescriptions. Pharmacies keep a record of your prescribed drugs and will verify your doctor's instructions. They will also tell you if foods or over the counter supplements will interact with a prescription.
2. Dispense pills in a daily pill organizer box.
3. Have a family member be responsible to call or physically monitor the taking of medication
4. Family members who live long distances from their elders have available to them
new technology in medication monitoring.
5. Alarms for pill boxes, watch alarms, medical alarm bands and necklaces that ring a reminder. Computerized pill box dispensers that ring a designated number if the pills have not been taken.

For more information on these products go to FAMILY CAREGIVERS NETWORK, Inc.

Home Care Agencies offer a variety of service options in helping families care for and properly dispense medication to their elder parents, don’t let your loved one suffer from medication mismanagement.
Find a home care agency in your area

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Online Caregiver Support Group

At Family Caregivers Network we provide family caregivers with a monthly support group. It is a night out away from caregiving. We provide a free meal and valuable educational information. Our Registered Nurse is present to give advice to our caregivers. In the past 9 years there have been many family caregivers who have come and gone. Then there are the select few who continue to come each month for the support, guidance, and friendship of the other caregivers.

Support groups are an important part of the caregiving process. Whether you are a direct caregiver providing hands on care, or indirect caregiver providing supportive care from afar, you need to be part of a support group. But with today's schedules and family committments not everyone can take the time to attend a support group meeting. Many family caregivers don't want to ask for help with a loved one so they can attend a support group meeting. And so the stress continues to build and the support structure falls apart. Eventually we see "caregiver burnout", signs of elder abuse, and health issues with the caregiver.

At Family Caregivers Network we felt the need to do more than just hold our community support group meetings. While community support group meetings remain the most important way for caregivers to obtain respite and support once a month, we wanted to reach all caregivers. With the development of our online support group will be able to reach any interested caregiver. Watch our blog and website for more info on the future of our Online Caregiver Support Group. Until then enjoy reading our blog and share our info with a friend.


Monday, April 20, 2009

The Working Caregiver

A survey recently done at Boston College of 2200 employees ages 17-81 found that the working caregiver caring for an elderly loved one had less flexibility in their work schedule than younger employees caring for children. The older caregiver was hesitant to ask for flexibility and time off when needed to care for an elder. Many felt they could not even talk about the problems and felt they had less job security than the younger employee. Why? Maybe it is because as young mothers and fathers caring for children there is a community based support system in place. There is school, church, sports, and other activities where you go and socialize with other parents. But there are little support systems in place for the older caregiver except for church, friends, or joining a caregiver support group. But many individuals providing eldercare don't feel they need a support group, or feel they don't have time for a support group. But with less community socialization it becomes even more critical for these individuals to join support groups. Without the help of support groups the individual has a greater risk of decreasing performance on the job, and decrease job security. The "burnout" an individual feels affects the care one provides to the elder. There is an increase chance of Elder Abuse due to the stress of caregiving.

The signs of caregiver burnout are not always easy to see. Often the individual just feels fatigued. This often leads to getting to work late, the inability to stay focused on task, the loss of interest in outside activities, and ultimately depression. According a study done by the National Family Caregivers Association, elder caregivers note depression as the number one feeling. All the more reason why employers need to start paying closer attention to employees between the ages of 40-65. Employers need to offer benefits for eldercare, such as flexible work schedules, consultations with Geriatric Care Managers, and education on how to care for elders. Employers can form caregiver support groups onsite for employees.

There is alot of talk but little action. Act now. If you are an employee speak up. Ask your employer for help. Be an advocate for elder caregiving. Tell your employer to contact our organization, Family Caregivers Network, we can help them focus on you, the elder caregiver.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease is the now the 6th leading cause of death in America. By 2010 there will be more than 500,000 new individuals diagnosed with Alzheimers each year. And right now there are more than 5.3 million individuals with the disease. The need for hands on care is so great that families are loosing time from work to care for loved ones. The safety of an individual with Alzheimer's disease becomes the number one issue for families. Individuals forget simple tasks such as cooking, turning off a stove, or they may put metal into a microwave. Yet families take too long to make the decisions to keep their loved one safe. Usually an accident occurs before action is taken. We know that healthcare costs are 3 times higher for people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia's than for other individuals age 65 and over. Understanding how to obtain help and how to pay for help can be confusing. The best thing you can do for your loved one with Alzheimer's disease is to plan ahead. From the moment you learn of the disease you need to start planning. Learn about what care options are available to you. Anticipate the costs and find resources to pay for them. And obtain support through a support group or network of others battling the disease with their loved one. To find out more information go to the Alzheimer's Association. Learn the 10 signs of Alzheimer's disease. Family Caregivers Network offers many educational videos's and resources to families at no cost. To find out more information contact one of our geriatric specialists for a free phone consultation.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Veterans Benefits

Today I attended an educational seminar about the Long Term Care Benefit that Veterans and their spouses are entitled to. It is call the Aid and Attendance Benefit. If you are in need of assistance with Activities of Daily Living such as, bathing, dressing, meals, medication management, doctor appointments, laundry, etc. or plan to go to an Assisted Living or Nursing Home you may receive up to $1949.00 per month towards your LTC finances. That is over $19.000 a year to put towards paying for your long term care help. It is a benefit rarely used. Veterans Administration is usually backlogged with other benefit applications and do not always understand this benefit available to their own Veterans and spouse of Veterans.

Part of the qualifying factors is you must have served during a time of War, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, or Golf War. That does not mean serving on the front lines or overseas. You may have been a Veteran and served in the states. It just means you were in the service during wartime. Though you need to complete some forms about your income and healthcare costs, and your assets such as bonds, IRA's, etc. most individuals even with substancial assets can be approved for these benefits.

You need to call today if you are a Veteran or a family member of a Veteran who wishes to find out more information about these benefits. If you don't you are missing out on getting some of your Long Term Care paid for. You earned these benefits, please don't let them slip away. For more info contact our office 866-539-7515 or contact the Veterans Financial 800-835-1541.

Thanks for reading our blogs. Check back daily for updated blogging.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Crabby Old Woman-the poem

Everyday in the work I do in eldercare I am reminded the poem written by an anonymous woman in a nursing home in Scotland. It speaks from the heart and soul of a woman who lived a long happy life. Let us remember all elders whether male or female came from somewhere, and have many wonderful stories to share about life. Soak them up, speak kinder to your elders, and don't judge them for their handicaps in aging. You will be there one day.

What do you see, nurses, what do you see, what are you thinking when you're looking at me? A crabby old woman, not very wise, uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes.
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply when you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!" Who seems not to notice the things that you do, and forever is losing a stocking or shoe.
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will with bathing and feeding, the long day to fill. Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see? Then open your eyes, nurse; you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still, as I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will. I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother, brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet, dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet. A bride soon at twenty - my heart gives a leap, remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now, I have young of my own who need me to guide and a secure happy home. A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast, bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty my young sons have grown and are gone, but my man's beside me to see I don't mourn. At fifty once more babies play round my knee, again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead; I look at the future, I shudder with dread. For my young are all rearing young of their own, and I think of the years and the love that I've known.
I'm now an old woman and nature is cruel; 'tis jest to make old age look like a fool. The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart, there is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells, and now and again my battered heart swells. I remember the joys, I remember the pain, and I'm loving and living life over again.
I think of the years - all too few, gone too fast and accept the stark fact that nothing can last. So open your eyes, nurses, open and see, not a crabby old woman; look closer - see ME!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I spent the past week in Chicago at the National Private Duty Conference. There was alot of information shared amongst colleagues, business owners of agencies, lawyers, geriatric care managers, and caregivers. The highlight of the conference was when David Wolfe our keynote speaker spoke, on Ageless Marketing. He spoke mostly about ageism in our society and it's perceptions. We spoke about healing not only for the aging population but for the caregiver especially the children of aging parents. Yes, we all need healing. When caring for a loved one we must take care of the whole family. Family Caregivers Network understands exactly that. We focus on being the advocate for consumer and their families. We understand that help is needed for not only the patient but also the caregiver and family. Education and Support are a big part of what is needed for the family caregiver. Addressing the spritual and emotional aspects of aging is so important and often neglected. Most family caregivers don't allow enough time for themselves which depletes their inner cup of energy. So for all family caregivers out there I ask you to take a few hours each week for yourself. If you are unsure how to replenish your inner cup let me know. At Family Caregivers we can help you. The hardest part is just asking for help.

Until I hear from you remember we are all aging, each hour, each day, each year. You can never get back yesterday but you can plan for tomorrow. Take care!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Did you know?

Did you know that one out of every nine individuals will live to the age of 90? In 2 years the first of the baby boomers will reach retirement age. And did you know that 60% of caregivers are women.