Acupuncture Beneficial for Many Age-related Illnesses

Acupuncture originated in China more than 5,000 years ago and continues to be a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The acupuncture points provide gateways to influence, redirect, increase, or decrease the body’s vital substances, qi (energy) & blood, to help correct many of the body’s imbalances.

You are probably thinking "ouch" but actually, the needles used for acupuncture are very thin and delicate.  You will not even feel most of them go in if you have a good practitioner.  And once the needles are in, you still won't feel them except for feeliing maybe extra pressure in that area for a moment.  On one of my visits for acupuncture, I started to get up, thinking all the needles were out.  The ones I could see were gone but there was still one in my forehead, which I didn't realize was still there.  It is a very relaxing experience and not at all painful.

I saw a presentation on senior care in China recently and it was noted that most of their nursing homes offer acupuncture treatments for everything from stroke to memory loss to depression.  It is routinely provided as part of the senior's daily activities- grab breakfast and then show up for an acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture is beginning to be covered by more health insurance plans in the U.S. and offered in integrative medicine programs at hospitals and clinics.  In addition, more acupuncture research studies are being done to provide us westerners with the proof we seem to need before giving something new a try.  And much of this research is studying the benefits of acupuncture for age-related illnesses.  If it benefits the elderly in other countries, it can benefit the elderly in our country.

One national study showed half of 78 stroke patients receiving standard rehabilitative care, who also received acupuncture treatment recovered faster and to a greater extent, spending 88 days in a hospital or nursing home compared to 161 days for those without acupuncture treatment.  And guess what?  This saves dollars for insurance companies which is another reason acupuncture research is taking place and the reason there is a movement to incorporate it into health insurance plans.

I have found acupuncture to work amazingly well and to be the most cost-effective treatment for ailments.  I fell on my elbow a couple years ago and several months later still had a bump on my elbow along with shooting pain, at times, when my elbow hit something just wrong.  One acupuncture treatment later and the bump disappeared, along with the pain.  All for just $35 at my local college of oriental medicine.

As a caregiver, you may want to find out what acupuncture offerings are available in your area and if there are discounted pricing for seniors - the clinic near me does offer senior discounts.

 

, ,

Look Good to Feel Good

The American Cancer Society provides a health tip to patients with terminal illnesses - take the time each day for personal care because research shows when you look good, you feel better.  I think we all have probably always known this as everyone feels a little better when they are dressed up and ready to head out to a party.

Doctors usually urge seniors to stay active and engaged each day and this is a reminder to Caregivers to make sure to assist loved ones and clients to shower daily, dress in clean clothes, put on makeup and style their hair.

It is also essential for seniors to get some form of exercise each day, as long as thier doctor approves.  If able, a special treat of a massage, manicure and pedicure also does wonders to make a person feel better.

Caregivers can even arrange for these services to be performed in the home if a senior is unable to go out.  Call your local salon or massage spa and ask for referrals to massage therapists and cosmetologists who visit the home - many do.

, ,

World's Oldest Woman Dies at Age 115

The world's oldest woman, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, died on Friday, January  2nd, at the age of 115 years and 114 days. Maria de Jesus, of Portugal, died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.  She started the day with breakfast and then went to the hospital for swelling, her daughter said (and she did not elaborate beyond that so the exact details for cause of death or unknown).

The Gerontology Research Group at the University of California, Los Angeles, tracks supercentenarians and verifies birth dates through birth certificates and other documents.  Now the oldest person status falls to American Gertrude Baines, a 114-year-old daughter of former slaves who still has a very good memory and is healthy except for arthritis in her left knee.  She was proud to vote for Barack Obama and lives in a nursing home in Los Angeles.

Researchers say that definitely for these seniors healthy aging is in their genes - they chose parents who also lived long lives.

It is kind of cool to think that living to be 100 is no longer all that big of an accomplishment.  However, this means savings must last longer, along with good health and presents new challenges for health care and government, primarily making sure we have enough caregivers and enough money for the aging population!

, ,

NFL Begins to Help Former Players with Dementia

Frank DeFord reported on NPR this past week that former Baltimore Colts football star, John Mackey, suffers from dementia.  And, due to efforts by John Mackey's wife and other players and their wives, the NFL and the player's union have started the "88 Plan" (named after Mackey's old football number).  The 88 Plan assists players with dementia.

The NFL does not admit that perhaps head injuries in football and the helmuts that were worn back in the early days of the game, which were not as protective as today's helmuts, contributed to player's experiencing dementia, but at least they are willing to help now.

The NFL has also developed a comprehensive study of brain damage and dementia in players and the results will be revealed in 2010.

John Mackey's wife, Sylvia, also went back to work as a flight attendante when she was 56 to help make ends meet while caring for John, and to get the benefit of health insurance.  Finally, she had to place John in a nursing home to provide for his care.  Caregivers have even more challenges when caring for a physically large person, and former football players fit into this category.  And, when dementia starts when someone is younger, the challenge of financially providing for care is also presented as often they continue to be healthy physically.

The "88 Plan" has now been written into the NFL's labor agreement and provides up to $88,000 a year for nursing care or day care for ex-players with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or $50,000 for home care.  This will help both former football players who suffer dementia as part of aging and those who are not yet elderly.

Let's hope the NFL's move to provide for their employees who develop dementia will also spread to other industries to prevent financial devastation to families when memory loss develops - and remember that long-term care insurance, which can be purchased privately, also helps pay for these care costs.

And, cheers to Sylvia Mackey for successfully advocating for change in NFL benefits.

 

 

, , , ,

Quality Hiring Practices for Caregivers

Professionally hired Caregivers have a few advantages over those who do not work for a quality licensed Senior Home Care Agency or senior living community.  And, so do the seniors who they serve.

As corporations carry insurance coverage for liability and provide a Fidelity Bond, they are required to follow certain procedures for hiring.  In addition, in order to provide quality care and maintain a dependable staff, they have implemented hiring practices which screen Caregivers for dependability, skills and trustworthiness.  Many systems must be in place to properly screen a Caregiver for hiring purposes and to actively manage a Caregiver to provide them with all the resources they need to deliver quality senior care.

Did you see the movie "Catch Me if You Can"?  Frank Abagnale is the star of the movie and a con-artist who poses as an airline pilot and medical doctor, to name just a couple of his disguises, to successfully steal from companies and individuals.  Frank served his time in prison and now advises companies and is hired to train the FBI on how to avoid scam artists.  Frank has also written a book called "The Art of the Steal" to advise companies and individuals on how to protect themselves.  (Tom Hanks acted in the movie and provides a testimonial for reading the book saying anyone with money in their pocket or in the bank should read it).  My business banker actually gave me a copy of the book and I have found it to be fascinating reading.

Caregiverlist promotes the need for professional background checks to be conducted on all Caregivers.  In addition, we provide information on background check laws in each state and try to educate consumers about the need for a multi-state criminal background check - - - many of the nanny websites and direct-hire caregiving websites that provide background checks simply do not provide multi-state criminal background checks - they just provide the good ol' social security name match and many of those are not even complete to include addresses where the person has lived, going back for at least 7 years.  I won't name names but if the background check is free, ask questions and click fast to another website that explains the depth of their background checks and discloses the costs.  That is especially true when you are hiring a Caregiver to come behind closed doors to assist your family.  You need to know who you are bringing into your home and who will have access to the senior's personal information.

Frank Abagnale's book provides solid information about hiring employees and putting controls in place to prevent improper conduct.  After owning a senior home care agency and hiring more than 1,000 Caregivers during that time, I agree that proper systems are necessary so that even an honest person is not tempted.  Caregiving is stressful and when a comfort level is developed with a client relationship, if proper systems are not in place, opportunities for taking advantage are presented.  Caregivers for seniors also need to be protected from false accusations by seniors with memory loss who can become paranoid.

Frank's book also mentions a study which found that 10 percent of employees would steal all of the time if given an easy enough opportunity, another 10 percent would never steal and 80 percent would steal if given the right motive.  That means companies must be concerned about 90 percent of their workforce and have systems in place which prevent the opportunity for theft from being offered.

This is why, especially with senior care in the home, a professional senior home care agency provides great value.  Senior home care agencies have created hiring procedures which keep people with dubious backgrounds out of their companies and they know how to do quality background checks and how to go beyond background checks with reference checks and interview questions which enable them to only hire trustworthy caregivers.  And, they coach clients and set-up controls so that invitations for theft and other improprietary activities cannot take place.  They supervise the caregivers and check-in on the client and caregiver to keep the care on track.  Career caregivers working for professional agencies receive benefits and want to maintain their employment and in my experience, will call immediately to report even activities by  a senior's family members which may not seem appropriate.  They also want proper system in place.  Senior Home Care Agencies, for instance, require Caregivers to call for approval before accepting any client gifts, even at the holidays, just to name one of the policies which protect both the client and the caregiver.

You may learn more about background checks on Caregiverlist.com and find the laws for background checks in your state which may over-ride the FCRA when senior care or child care is being provided.

 

 

 

, ,

Longevity Secrets (or, How to Age Well)

Explorer and writer Dan Buettner has written a book called The Blue Zones which profiles the areas of the world where the most people have lived the longest - and lived those years with happiness and vitality.

More seniors have reached 100 years of age in these “blue zones”, which include towns in Italy, California and Costa Rica.  The book brings to light their lifestyles that seem to suggest why they are living longer.

The website also offers a Vitality Compass so you can find out how well you are doing with healthy aging right now.  This provides a great tool for both seniors and their caregivers.

Included in The Blue Zones top-10 list for healthy aging are growing a garden, eating nuts, drinking Sardinian wine (has the world’s highest levels of antioxidants), meditating and having a personal mission.

, ,

Evaluating Nursing Homes

Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes are required to complete government inspections at least once every 15 months.  The government provides information on the results of these inspections on Medicare.gov.

The nursing home inspection information provides a nice starting point for evaluating a nursing home but they do not include information on many violations and incidents of abuse which may be reported.  You must visit a nursing home and question staff and family members of other residents to find out more information.

This week, the news media reported a group of teens working at a nursing home in Minnesota sexually abused and humiliated elderly residents with dementia.  This information will not be found on Medicare's website of inspection results for this nursing home, for example, yet it is valuable information to know if you are considering placement at this nursing facility.  Many caregivers who work for Senior Home Care Agencies have worked in nursing homes at some point in their career.  If you know a professional caregiver, ask them about the nursing homes in your area.  Caregivers also know other caregivers, expecially if they completed a nursing aide certificate, and can be a valuable resource for letting you know the inside scoop on the care at local nursing homes.

You may search the recent nursing home inspection reports on Caregiverlist's Nursing Home List.

 

, ,

Considering Caregiving Needs at Holidays

As you gather with your family for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, remember to take time to really talk with the seniors in your family and notice if there are any changes they are experiencing as they age, and think about what you can assist them with to age well.  Remember, some age-related illnesses, if caught and treated early, can be given the proper medical attention in order to slow progression.  Take the time to think about any care needs your senior relative may need as their health conditions change.

It is sometimes easier for those who do not see their parents and grandparents often to notice changes than for those who have daily interactions with them.  Take the time to notice hearing, vision and overall appearance.  Are your elder relatives keeping up with their home maintenance as well as their own appearance?  Are they taking their medications at a regular time each day?  Are they incorporating physical exercise into their daily routine?  Are they maintaining social activities?

Healthy aging requires maintaining physcial and mental exercise and socialization, along with eating a nutritious diet.  Many seniors will find it necessary to change their lifestyle some to make sure they are keeping up with both health needs and social needs as they age.  And, sometimes, it is necessary to involve a family member or caregiving service to assist with care needs, at least part-time, as abilities change.

If you live far away from senior family members, take the time to investigate senior care options in their town when you are visiting.  Find out what quality Senior Home Care Agencies are in their area and learn about senior service programs.  Obtain names and numbers so you will be able to contact someone to assist if the need should arise.

 

, ,

Mini-Mental Exam Can Detect Memory Loss

In only ten minutes time, a mini-mental exam screens seniors for signs of dementia.  Referred to in the medical community simply as a "mini-mental", the official name is the Mini-mental State Exam and it is copyrighted by Psychological Assessment Resources (PAR).  Geriatric care doctors will give this exam to their senior clients to keep ahead of any signs of memory loss.

The mini-mental test asks questions about the time and place of the test, and incorporates math and language skills to test cognitive and memory abilities.  It asks questions like how many nickels are in $1.25 and if you can spell a certain word backwards.

Many times memory loss in seniors can be connected with an illness or with medications.  If properly addressed, senior memory loss can be slowed or reversed. Because of age-related diseases, seniors are more at risk for memory loss and should be sure their medical doctor is conducting a mini-mental at their annual check-ups.

If you are a caregiver for a senior, you can also find a variety of memory exercises at the Alzheimer's Store.

One of my Aunts suffered a stroke a few years ago and after being air-lifted to a metropolitan hospital,  she received excellent care and made nearly a full recovery.  Now she enjoys telling how in the days following the stroke, the doctor would check on her each day and ask her if she knew who the president of the United States was.  Each day, she would answer "George Bush".  Finally, she told him he needed to ask her something new.  He then asked her if she knew what the Gettysburg Address was, and............she began reciting it.  She had memorized it in grade school.  He told her she indeed knew it better than he did!

, , ,

Planning for care after an Alzheimer's Disease Diagnosis

Alzheimer's Disease is not an easy one for the senior with the diagnosis or their family.

The very best strategy, though, is to talk about the disease and to develop a plan of action for managing the memory loss and the care needs.  This will allow the senior to feel they are still involved in the decision-making and enable the family to implement safety measures from the beginning (i.d. bracelet, medication management, regular caregiving schedule).

And, even more importantly, this will allow the senior's family to talk to prevent misunderstandings which could cause gaps in care because perhaps not everyone has the same strategy.   Usually there is "water under the bridge" with various family members after years of living.  These realities must be addressed.

One Salon columnist very openly shares his desire not to be the caregiver for his Mother-in-law, who has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.  It is nice to find someone express their honesty - he is definitely not alone.

Often when families hire a Senior Home Care Agency to provide care services, they are able to lessen the stress for family members because a third-party caregiver simply doesn't come with the baggage a family caregiver brings.  Each family must find the right solution for them but the first step is to start the conversation.
, ,
Log in