Angels on Earth: 2016 Be a Santa to a Senior

bastas2015-1Although our Minnesota weather may not admit it, it’s time to kick off the 2016 Be a Santa to a Senior® program! Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is proud to announce we will set up trees around the Minneapolis area and ensure seniors who are alone or in need receive a gift this holiday season. As once described by a senior who has received a gift from us, the Be a Santa to a Senior® program “shows there are angels on earth!” Join us in our movement once again this year to ensure seniors feel the love and be a part of our campaign.

This program targets seniors in our community who may not otherwise receive gifts or visits from family during the holidays and was first launched by our parent organization in 2003. Partnering with local non-profit and community organizations, Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis identifies seniors who perhaps live alone, do not have family members nearby, or are experiencing financial difficulties and ensures they receive a little TLC during the holidays.

Home Instead Senior Care® network is the world’s largest provider of non-medical in-home care and companionship services for older adults. The Minneapolis, Minnesota Home Instead office has partnered with local non-profits such as East Side Neighborhood Services in Minneapolis, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Meals on Wheels, low income housing, and several nursing homes to offer gifts and companionship to seniors in need.

You can help us brighten a senior’s life too! Home Instead Minneapolis will set up the gift trees beginning November 14th in the local businesses and retail stores that are partnering with us. The participation of the busy retail stores allows for great visibility of the program and provides a convenient way for shoppers to be part of the gift giving during the holiday season. Here’s how it works:

Head to any of the following locations:

senior_giftsLocate the Christmas tree decorated with ornament tags within the store. Select any ornament tag where you will find a senior’s name as well as gift suggestions printed on the tag. The next steps are to purchase the item(s) listed, place them in a gift bag, return to the store where the ornament tag was selected and deliver the gift to a store employee. We would also be delighted to take any donations of money or gift cards to ensure each gift wish is filled. To ensure timely delivery of all gifts, please return donations to the store by December 12th.

Since this amazing program began in 2003, there have been over 60,000 volunteers who have helped distribute over 1.2 million gifts to more than 700,000 deserving seniors nationwide. Join our movement and make a senior’s holiday special.

Home Instead Minneapolis is thrilled to partner with several local fire stations. Relief associations, retired and off-duty firefighters from Hopkins, Golden Valley, Wayzata, Minneapolis and St. Louis Park fire stations are volunteering their time by picking up and storing the gifts. Once the gifts are all collected, they will also help deliver the gifts to the nursing homes, assisted living and senior apartment facilities in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. THANK YOU once again to the firefighters, retired members as well as spouses and family members for being involved with our Be a Santa to a Senior® campaign! We could not pull this off without you! We appreciate your partnership and your volunteer time.

At this time of year, there are so many gift programs aimed at children and families in need, but we can’t forget the seniors! Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis understands there are many seniors in our local communities who have just as much need for a gift and companionship during the holidays, so join us and make a difference in the life of a senior!

For more information or to find a participating organization near you, visit the Be a Santa to a Senior® website and use the locator tool provided.

Let’s Talk About Driving, Part II

LetsTalkAboutDrivingLogoCaregivers say it’s one of the thorniest conversations they will have. A family scenario that is becoming more and more common is when the adult children feel it is time for their aging parents to give up the car keys, but Mom and Dad have no intention of doing so. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis’ latest public education program, Let’s Talk About Driving, takes a deeper look into the increased risk of our seniors when they continue to drive past a safe age, especially during Minnesota’s harsh winters. It also offers helpful resources and tips to help their caregivers manage this sensitive subject.

According to research conducted by AAA, fatal crash rates increase beginning at age 75, per mile driven, and increase sharply after age 80. This is largely due to the increased risk of injury and medical complications with seniors, not an increased tendency to get into crashes. AAA also reports that in 2014, approximately 5,709 senior drivers were killed and 221,000 were injured in traffic accidents. These facts and others show alarming trends when our senior loved ones are on the road past an age where their ability to drive safely is compromised. Most older adults recognize their driving limitations and avoid situations that may put them or others at risk, but not all are willing to give up the keys so easily and that is where family members and caregivers need to step in.

To understand what it means to give up driving, it’s important to also understand what the privilege of driving means to a person. The ability to drive offers independence, control, pride and freedom for many seniors, but when their keys are taken away they will feel frustrated, depressed, defensive and helpless. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis offers resources to help with this difficult transition, such as:

  • Be prepared with new options – there are several senior ride program options, stores and pharmacies that deliver, or find a carpool schedule
  • Make it fun – public transportation can be a whole new adventure when the city bus or an Uber ride are a senior’s new way of getting about town
  • Think outside the box – encourage new activities that don’t require transportation like gardening or walking

thumbnail-4-misconceptionsHome Instead Senior Care Minneapolis first offered advice on the sensitive subject of our senior’s continued ability to drive safely in last month’s blog article by discussing some warning signs that may help you know that seniors may be unsafe on the road.  Situations such as confusing the gas and brake pedals, difficulty staying within the lanes, and driving the wrong speed are just a few things to look for. Learn information on these and other important warning signs by visiting www.caregiverstress.com. While some seniors might not like the idea of giving up their driving privilege, others may consider it a relief and will welcome the idea.

4 Misconceptions About Giving up the Car

  1. Driving yourself is cheaper than paying for alternative transportation.
  2. Driving is more reliable; alternatives are less convenient.
  3. “I can’t give up the wheel. I’ve been driving my whole life!”
  4. “I won’t be able to go anywhere or see anyone!”

Read more about how to handle these typical senior responses.

The dedicated CAREGivers to our senior loved ones are often asked for assistance from the family members to help them navigate the often difficult conversation about this important issue. Home Instead’s CAREGivers can help by offering an objective voice when family members may disagree about a senior loved one’s driving future.

4 Ways to Help Families Navigate Senior Driving Concerns

  • Encourage families to learn the facts first and then decide the best course of action
  • Recommend the CarFit program
  • Discuss conversation starters and strategies for a talk with an older adult
  • Encourage families to put a plan in place before taking away the car keys

Using the above mentioned Let’s Talk About Driving program resources Home Instead Senior Care offers, as well as the Safe Driving Planner families and caregivers can help the seniors make this a smooth transition.

Five Vehicle Technologies for Keeping Seniors Safer on the Road

  1. Smart Headlights
  2. Emergency Response Systems
  3. Blind Spot Warning Systems
  4. Assistive Parking Systems
  5. Drowsy Driver Alerts:

Read more about these assistive technologies recommended by Hartford Funds and MIT AgeLab.

Proud to help bring awareness of important topics that affect the seniors in our Minneapolis, Minnesota communities, Home Instead Senior Care has launched many other informative public education programs such as:

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis provides services such as transportation and supports the caregivers to ensure the protection of dignity of the aging senior receiving care. Unlike some senior transportation services that just offer door-to-door service, our professional CAREGivers make sure they get all the way inside, provide any assistance required at the destination and return them home safely. Companionship, dementia and Alzheimer’s care and other services are also available. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is a local business offering friendly, responsive care right in your Minneapolis, Minnesota community.

To inquire about senior services, call us at 763-544-5988. Also, visit www.letstalkaboutdriving.com for more helpful information and let’s begin talking!

Let’s Talk About Rx, part II

Imagine your senior loved one trying to juggle the daily dosing schedule for their many medications. Several pills must be taken at various times ranging from twice to four times a day, some must be taken with food and others on an empty stomach, add in an occasional multi-vitamin or inhaler and this is a lot to manage! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 100,000 North American older adults end up in the hospital each year due to an adverse drug mishap. Furthermore, 1 in 10 seniors surveyed by Home Instead, Inc. reported making mistakes, although unintentionally, when taking their medications and of those making a mistake, 11% have experienced a medical issue or emergency as a result. These numbers are alarming and should not be ignored. Preventing unnecessary trips to the hospital will not only save a lot of money, but more importantly, will help to keep our Minnesota seniors safe.

In an effort to provide families with the resources needed to help identify potential pitfalls facing seniors and their medications, the Home Instead Senior Care network has introduced the public education program Let’s Talk about Rx. This program will help family caregivers begin the often difficult conversation about this important issue and offers a number of resources to the family and their senior loved ones. Medication management can be a touchy subject to broach because it is personal and something your senior loved one has taken care of daily on their own for a long time. This just got easier with access to helpful tips and resources, such as:

Senior Emergency Kit
Conversation starters
Simple Meds by Home Instead

Understanding the sensitivity of approaching medication management and the challenges families face, the Home Instead created the Let’s Talk about Rx program with many resources and easy to follow medication guides and trackers. One such resource is the Senior Emergency Kit. This Home Instead kit ensures that family caregivers have access to important information about their loved ones in the event of an emergency call. The Senior Emergency Kit includes various worksheets and checklists, medical insurance tips and resources, as well as helpful links to additional resources.

Conversation starters such as “I’d like to help ensure you’re safe at home. Do you know why you’re taking this medication and what it’s supposed to do for you?” and other examples can be found on the website www.LetsTalkAboutRx.com. This helpful and easy to navigate website is brought to you by the Home Instead Senior Care network, and serves as an online resource, tools, and solutions center for families and caregivers of seniors. Here you will find informative articles, such as How Family Caregivers Can Help and 10 Signs Medications Could be to Blame for a Senior’s Health Issues. These articles and others found on the website mention using a medication tracker worksheet, using a pill organization system, and introduces Simple Meds by Home Instead. Simple Meds is a simple and convenient way to take medication correctly. Medications are sorted and conveniently organized into single serving packets by a Simple Meds pharmacist, as well as labeled with the date and time they should be taken. Even using something basic like a weekly pill organizer that has 4 compartments labeled with the dosage time of day would be helpful to keep several prescriptions and dosage amounts, times straight. Our friends at Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment have several items that may be helpful, such as a pill splitter or pill organizers. You can stop in at any of their eight Minneapolis/St. Paul metro locations to find these and other products to help keep your senior loved one safe and healthy in their Minnesota home.

This is the second article in a series focusing on the Let’s Talk about Rx program and helping to prevent medication mishaps with aging adults. To learn more about this public education program and access even more resources including helpful conversation starters, take a moment to read our first article in the series. Our senior loved ones are one of society’s greatest resources – together, let’s make sure they receive the best care you can give. Visit www.LetsTalkAboutRx.com today and start the conversation.

Let’s Talk About Rx

According to a study recently conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care network, for seniors 70 years and older, as the number of prescription medications increases, so does potential health risks and challenges with medication management. This research found the majority (57%) of seniors in North America who were surveyed are taking four or more prescription medications daily, with more than one-fourth (27%) taking six or more medications. We find this statistic to be consistent with our Minneapolis home care clients.

The research goes on to show that nearly 20% of seniors surveyed who are taking five or more prescription medications have reportedly experienced challenges in managing their daily medication regimen, including keeping track of which medications they have taken and when. This alarming statistic appeared to increase when both the age of the person and the number of prescribed medications increased.

In order to provide families with the resources needed to help identify potential pitfalls facing seniors and their medications, the Home Instead Senior Care network has introduced the public education program Let’s Talk about Rx. This program will help family caregivers begin the often difficult conversation about this important issue and offers a number of resources to the family and their senior loved one. Sometimes just having the conversation is difficult since medication management can be personal and something seniors may have taken care of on their own for many years. Raising the question of possible medication issues with your senior can be a touchy subject, but can be made easier if approached the right way. Asking any of the following questions may help to open the door to a discussion about these potentially difficult topics:

  • “I want you to be as healthy as possible. Do you ever feel unusual after taking your medications, like dizzy, light-headed or confused?”
  • I’d like to help you better understand your medications. Is there anything about your prescriptions that concerns you?”
  • “That’s an awful lot of pills. How do you manage to keep track of them?”

Conversation starters, like these above, as well as other resources are available on the website www.LetsTalkAboutRx.com. This helpful and easy to navigate website is brought to you by the Home Instead Senior Care network, and serves as an online resource, tools, and solutions center for families and caregivers of seniors.  Here you will find informative articles, such as 10 Tips to Help Seniors Avoid Medication Mistakes.
This includes:

  • Make one doctor the gatekeeper to manage medications
  • Know why your loved one is taking the medication
  • Call the doctor about any changes in how your senior is thinking, feeling or looking
  • Keep regularly scheduled appointments and an open dialogue with your loved one’s health care provider
  • If your senior is having trouble paying for medications, talk with the doctor
  • Tell your senior loved one’s health care provider if you suspect he/she is depressed
  • Discuss any problems an older adult may have in taking a medication, such as the inability to swallow or difficulty opening a pill bottle
  • Tell a health care provider if you suspect a loved one is forgetting to take a medication
  • Consider a caregiver
  • Get a pill organization system or service

Consider using a medication tracker worksheet, a pill organization system, or Simple Meds by Home Instead. Simple Meds is a simple and convenient way to take medication correctly. Medications are sorted and conveniently organized into single serving packets by a Simple Meds pharmacist, as well as labeled with the date and time they should be taken. Even using something basic like a weekly pill organizer that has 4 compartments labeled with the dosage time of day would be helpful to keep several prescriptions and dosage amounts, times straight. Our friends at Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment have several items that may be helpful, such as a pill splitter or pill organizers. You can stop in to any of their eight Minneapolis/St. Paul metro locations to find these and other products to help keep your senior loved one safe and healthy.

The goal of Home Instead’s public service program Let’s Talk about Rx is to strengthen the role family members can take to help reduce the potential for medication-related health risks, and to help them feel confident about their senior loved one being safe at home. Don’t let your loved one be one of the more than 100,000 older adults in North America who are hospitalized each year due to medical problems. Plenty of programs stress the importance of talking to teenagers about the dangers of drug misuse. But who’s talking to Minnesota seniors? Visit www.LetsTalkAboutRx.com today and start the conversation.

Education and Resources for Preventing Senior Hospitalizations

To wrap up our series on preventing hospitalizations, we’ll focus on ongoing prevention and will continue to offer resources. In the previous two articles, we learned ways to prevent hospitalizations and risks to watch for. Many are basic, good-to-know ways to live that will help keep your senior loved one healthy and out of Minneapolis hospitals.

In January, we informed you of a survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., which indicated the problem of preventable hospitalization of seniors is viewed as very to extremely serious by nearly 75% of the North American nurses surveyed who specialize in senior care. Those same nurses estimate that almost half of senior hospitalizations (48.5%) could be prevented with early detection and intervention. In addition, the survey reflects the critical role that families play when helping to keep their aging loved ones healthy and out of the hospital. In fact, 99% of the nurses believe the role family plays, is as important as the role played by health care professionals.

In the February article, you learned of some top warning signs along with health and lifestyle risk factors that could place seniors significantly more at-risk of hospitalization. Skipping health maintenance and not having anyone checking in on the senior adult ranked highest for warning signs, according to the nurses surveyed. Home Instead also discussed some common actions by aging adults that can help keep them out of the hospital. Not waiting too long to see a doctor or ignoring symptoms, along with staying active, both physically and mentally were two of the most common positive actions aging adults can do to prevent unnecessary hospitalization.

5_ways_prevent_hospitalizationHome Instead, Inc. introduced their 5 Ways to Prevent Senior Hospitalizations guide, along with the Hospitalization Risk Meter in the previous articles as resources. The goal of the guide is to strengthen the role families can take in hospitalization prevention, and to help them feel more confident about actions they can take to keep their senior safe at home. Another tool available from Home Instead is the Hospitalization Risk Meter. This easy-to-read guide teaches you about various warning signs along the way. The risk meter also has resource links on each page to learn more about potential risks and ways to prevent senior hospitalizations. To complete the series, we’ll focus on ongoing prevention and provide additional resources, like the “Senior Routine Tracker” to keep your loved ones healthy.

In the survey conducted by Home Instead, results showed that family is key. In fact, the nurses surveyed believe the family’s role is almost equal to that of the medical community. Yet, less than half (48.6%) of the seniors they see have family members who serve as active advocates for their care according to the survey. Some of the most important actions families can take to help keep their senior parents out of the hospital are:

Watch this video to learn how to prevent senior falls with assessments and balance exercises.

Another important factor in preventing unnecessary hospitalization is following doctor’s orders. Two in five nurses surveyed (43.5%) said the easiest step that seniors can take to help prevent hospitalization is to follow their doctor’s orders. The surveyed nurses estimate that 47% of seniors put off their medical appointments or have problems accessing medical care. And, one of the most common barriers (89.5%) that prevent seniors from complying with doctor’s orders is their willingness to change their ways. The next most common barriers are dementia/Alzheimer’s (88.8%) and denial of health issues (86%). All of these barriers can be broken down and caring for your aging family member would be much more successful with the help of loving family. If the aging adult has loving family checking in regularly, ensuring they attend their doctor appointments and are following doctor’s orders, the outcome will be successful. To help the family members feel confident in the care for their loved one, Home Instead offers another resource in the web-based ‘Senior Routine Tracker”. This easy-to-use routine tracker will help the family caregivers tune into the habits of their senior loved ones in an effort to help them avoid the risk of being hospitalized.

risk meter-120x120The goal is to keep our loved ones healthy and at home. Hospitalizations can be prevented and with the assistance and instructional resources available to the caregivers from Home Instead Minneapolis, hospital stays can be minimized. If a family member is not available, home care services can help bridge the gap. Utilizing resources like the Senior Routine Tracker, 5 Ways to Prevent Senior Hospitalizations guide and the Hospitalization Risk Meter will help you better care for your aging loved one, keep your senior healthy and home instead.

3 Tips to Help Seniors Avoid Diabetes Complications and 10 Superfoods

In the midst of the holiday season with decreasing daylight hours and temperatures so cold in Minnesota you only want to stay inside and eat hotdish, it’s difficult to get motivated to eat right an exercise. Yet, with the rate of Type 2 diabetes among seniors over 60 continuing to grow, it’s imperative that seniors and their caregivers stay informed and vigilant in fighting the disease. Given that one-quarter of seniors over age 65 have been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s likely you’ll find yourself helping a senior and their home care team manage a disease that brings along a host of potential complications whether or not they’re living in a senior care facility or living independently in their Minnesota home.

home care mn3 Ways to Help Seniors Avoid Diabetes Complications

Type 2 diabetes rarely exists alone. It brings with it hypertension (high blood pressure), neuropathy (loss of feeling in the limbs) and vision trouble. Here are three ways you can assist seniors with diabetes.

1. Encourage adherence to the treatment plan As you probably know, when a senior receives a diagnosis of diabetes, their health care team will usually create a treatment plan that includes components like medication, diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications. According to the Mayo Clinic, adhering to the treatment plan can delay or minimize complications that may arise from diabetes. Offer seniors encouragement and positive reinforcement about sticking to the care plan.

2.  Advocate good medication practices Seniors with Type 2 diabetes may take medication not only for blood sugar control but also for coexisting conditions like hypertension or high cholesterol. Managing a lot of medications can become confusing, especially for people with memory loss or other cognitive decline. For seniors who need help monitoring their medication regimen, consider suggesting a non-medical helper or use this medication tracker. These home care aides can provide medication reminders to help seniors stay on track with the many pills they may need to take each day. This in-home assistance can be particularly useful if you’re unable to visit your senior loved one every day.

3. Encourage regular medical follow-up Some diabetes complications come on so slowly a senior may not realize anything is wrong until it’s almost too late to fix the problem. Encourage seniors to schedule regular follow-up care from eye professionals and primary care providers. These routine visits can identify ‘silent’ complications like diabetic retinopathy (decreased vision), high blood pressure and heart disease in order to secure prompt treatment. If transportation to appointments is an issue, our home care team can help.

People with diabetes have the same nutritional needs as everyone else. Eating well balanced meals is the main goal. While a healthy diet and exercise alone can help some with type-2 manage their diabetes, there are many who need medications to help keep blood glucose levels down. Insulin is required for people with type-1, and sometimes necessary for people with type-2 diabetes. With the help of your healthcare team, you can find an insulin routine that will keep your blood glucose levels under control. The good news is: with a proper management plan, you can control your diabetes and feel good.

Watch a Short Video

Even with proper healthcare, home care assistance and involved family care providers, it can still be helpful to access experts who can help you with specific issues. Dr. Amy D’Aprix, MSW, PhD, CSA, is the Executive Director of the DAI Foundation on Caregiving and hosts an “Ask Dr. Amy” program for Home Instead Senior Care. Recently, she was asked, “My husband is a very severe diabetic. He takes insulin four times daily. He suffers from severe depression and has chronic pain throughout his body. He sleeps a lot. What can I do to help him?”

Dr. Amy’s Response: You and your husband are facing a challenging situation. In terms of his physical condition, I encourage you both to speak with your husband’s doctor. Pain and depression can usually be managed with the right combination of medication, therapy, diet and exercise. Ask the doctor about all four of these. It’s important to get the pain under control, because people who suffer from chronic pain tend to manage their diabetes less well than others. Your doctor may need to refer your husband to a pain specialist. Once the depression and pain are being well managed, you can help your husband stay on track in terms of diet and exercise. You can also help by making time to enjoy the activities you used to enjoy as a couple before your husband became ill, as much as possible. Lastly, you can help your husband by taking good care of yourself. If you are rested and healthy, you will be better able to care for him.diabetes home care

Controlling Weight Key to Avoiding Diabetes

Researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, examined the relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI) at 50 years of age, weight, fat mass, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, and waist-height ratio and discovered that all factors were strongly related to the risk of diabetes. Participants who were obese (BMI 30 or greater) at 50 years of age and who experienced the most weight gain (more than 20 pounds) between the age of 50 years and entry into the study had five times the risk of developing diabetes compared with weight-stable participants with normal BMI (less than 25) at 50 years of age. Ask your doctor to recommend a good diet and exercise program. If you’re having trouble managing mealtimes, why not consider joining friends for lunch at a senior center or local coffee shop. Shopping, meal preparation and mealtime companionship are among the most requested services provided by local Home Instead Senior Care® CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured.

diabetes diet10 Diabetes Superfoods Seniors Can Say “Yes!” To

Seniors who receive a diagnosis of diabetes may feel they have to give up all the foods they love. That’s not entirely true. Sure, they may have to say no to ice cream and white bread, but you can help the senior you care for adapt by offering new choices that will satisfy his or her desire for sweets and starches while keeping blood sugar levels stable.

1. Berries Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries — they all offer a sweet touch to any meal without elevating blood sugar levels too much.

2. Skim milk and fat-free yogurt Choose milk fortified with Vitamin D, which can help seniors maintain bone health. When it comes to yogurt, look for sugar-free varieties.

3. Citrus fruits Avoid fruit juices (which almost all contain added sugar) and go for the whole fruit. Oranges, lemons and limes can be eaten whole or used to add zest to other dishes. The exception? Grapefruit. Most seniors should avoid this citrus fruit because it contains compounds that may interact with medications.

4. Sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes satisfy that craving for a starch with the meal but don’t cause post-meal blood sugar spikes the way white and red potatoes do.

5. Whole grains Whole grain breads, oatmeal, brown rice and barley allow your senior to enjoy bread with meals.

6. Tomatoes Tomatoes are loaded with Vitamins C and E, along with iron. Eat them raw or cooked. (Read the labels of canned tomatoes and spaghetti sauces, which can contain undesirable levels of added sugar and salt.)

7. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables These nutrient powerhouses include spinach, kale, collard greens, beet greens and many others. Seniors who take a ‘blood-thinning’ medication like warfarin (Coumadin) should avoid dark green leafy vegetables, but all others can consume these with abandon.

8. Beans Packed with fiber, beans of all types — navy, kidney, pinto — provide protein along with the essential minerals magnesium and potassium.

9. Fatty fish Choose fresh or frozen fish like salmon once a week or more to garner the healthful effects of its Omega-3 fatty acids.

10. Nuts Almonds, walnuts, pecans and other tree nuts provide nutrients and protein, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable. Go for unsalted varieties.

Changing one’s eating pattern can be very difficult, especially for elderly loved ones. Instead of telling them what they can’t eat, help your senior with diabetes overcome dietary challenges by suggesting foods they can say ‘yes’ to every day.

Having “The Talk”

home care mnWe’ve all heard about how important it is for parents to have “the talk” with their tween children. While conversations about puberty, sex and drugs may seem daunting to parents (and mortifying to the children), most make sure that their kids have the information they need and their values are heard. So why is it so hard to have “the talk” with our aging parents? You know, the one that starts out asking them if they should really be driving on snowy Minnesota roads and ends detailing their end-of-life plan. The answer is obvious, though the “aging parents talk” is equally as important. Many experts agree: by the time you approach age 40 and a loved one is around 70, you should have had the “talk” about issues such as home care, financial choices, health, driving, dating and end of life. The Home Instead Senior Care® network refers to this concept as the 40-70 Rule®, a program launched in 2008 to start important conversations early, before a crisis occurs.

Backed by new research with seniors, their adult children, senior care and legal professionals, Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis now wants to take those important conversations further. The 40-70 Rule: An Action Plan for Successful AgingSM and accompanying resources encourage individuals and families not only to start those vital conversations soon, but to finish them. You’ll come away with  a plan that encourages individuals of all ages to ACT (Assess, Consider, Talk) on their desires and wishes for the future, then put their plan into action. As high schoolers take their ACT to get into a good college, get your ACT to plan for your future and your Mom or Dad’s.

Interactive Conversation Tree

senior care mnHave you really had the conversation with your loved ones about end-of-life wishes? Finances? Future living preferences? When a family lacks clear communication surrounding a loved one’s choices as they age, frustration arises, most often at the worst time. If a senior never expresses his or her desires about end of life care, for example, bedside arguments between family members about “what he would have wanted” or “how she wanted to go” can result. Click here to walk through an interactive guide to find resources that can assist you with the aging considerations you have yet to discuss with your family. If you’ve already had a conversation about health (for instance), click Yes and move onto end-of-life. If not, click No and assess your Mom’s health, considering risks and genetics. Move on from there to making sure Mom is up to date on medical checks and preventative screenings. Each step links to the Action Plan for Successful Aging which includes checklists, thoughts to consider, conversation starters, and resources. This step-by-step approach will open the door to having “the talk” and ensure that all of  the important topics are covered.

Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis takes a look at the importance of planning ahead financially for your aging situation through the lens of a mother and her young daughter.

Action Plan for Successful Aging

4070_Aging_PlanBuilding on your conversation, the next step in the 40-70 Rule® is the Action Plan for Successful AgingSM.  Put your plan into action with the assistance of noted experts in aging, finances, health, end of life and communication. This resource will take the guesswork out of some of the issues that many families eventually face. Included are conversation tips and considerations for a variety of circumstances such as living alone, blended families, dementia and religious preferences – topics that so many families are dealing with in today’s world. This Action Plan is written for the individual who wants to face aging with confidence so you may be filling it out with someone you love including a parent, spouse or friend or even for yourself! Topics include:

Living Choices – Where would your patients like to live as they age? Will they stay in their Minnesota home or live in a care facility? Do they need to adapt their home for safety? Who would they call in the event of an emergency? These basic questions will ensure that the family is on the same page about the senior’s future living preferences.

Finances – Have your senior patients calculated the cost involved with meeting their retirement wishes? Have they met with a financial advisor to determine how much they will likely need to cover long-term health care expenses? Calculating the cost now and planning ahead financially can help yield greater peace of mind as they move forward.

Health – Have your patients outlined their goals for a healthy lifestyle as they age? Have they factored their current diet into this equation? Are they up to date on medical checks and health screenings? Addressing health concerns early can be a valuable, preventative tool in successful aging.

End of Life Care Wishes – Many families are not having this important conversation. Without it, they cannot gain a clear understanding of what their parents would like to accomplish before they die or where they would like to end their life. Discussing this difficult topic now will help ensure that the family has a unified plan and advanced directives in place moving forward.

Driving – Most seniors dread the idea of losing the independence associated with driving. Yet, families must be able to address their concerns about driving abilities, not only for the safety of their senior parent but for all with whom they share the road. While the driving topic can often be an emotional one, this chapter provides tips to navigate those emotions and discuss options for independence without a license.

Relationships and Dating – Perhaps Dad passed away and Mom has been spending a lot of time with an older gentleman friend. This can create family awkwardness if intentions aren’t clearly communicated. It’s important for families to talk about the nature of their parents’ relationships and their wishes for companionship as they age. Watch this hysterical video from Mary Maxwell to put yourself in the proper frame of mind!

We hope that completing this plan will help you be better prepared for the road ahead. Download the 40-70 Rule: An Action Plan for Successful Aging to share with your senior loved one, or explore the additional program resources available around these topics so that you and your family has the tools they need to create a successful plan for aging.

Senior Safety Starts at Home

Is home a safe place?

Falls are among the leading causes of death and injury in the senior population especially here in Minneapolis where icy sidewalks can be a hazard.  33% of trips to the ER are caused by falls and other accidents at the home. But families can greatly reduce the risks of accidents by ensuring that their older loved ones have the proper home medical care and support. In fact, Home Instead Senior Care polled over 100 emergency room physicians and 48% said home accidents experienced by seniors could be prevented. Unfortunately, the most common response from families when a senior visits the ER due to a home accident is “I was afraid something like this would happen.”  Yet 85% of seniors have done nothing to prepare their homes for aging.

Watch the video below, “Warning Signs that a Senior is Struggling”, to learn how to spot the warning signs that your parent or senior loved one might already be struggling with mobility and some ways to help. These are just the first steps to making your senior’s home a safe place to be.

Doctors Orders

Many people experience problems with their sense of balance as they get older. 100% of ER doctors said that poor eyesight, mobility problems, balance issues, impaired motor skills and dementia are all very serious risk factors for seniors as potential causes of injuries or accidents at home. In addition, problems in the visual and skeletal systems and the nervous systems can be the source of some posture and balance problems, medical experts say. A circulatory system disorder, such as low blood pressure, can lead to a feeling of dizziness when we suddenly stand up. Problems in the skeletal or visual systems, such as arthritis or eye muscle imbalance, also may cause balance problems. Set up a doctor’s appointment for your senior loved one to determine if he/she has any of these issues.

The CDC offers these tips on how older adults can remain independent and reduce their chances of falling:

grab bar
Some of the most common recommendations include installing assistive equipment in the bathroom and handrails on stairs, removing clutter and tripping hazards, and improving lighting.
  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
  • Ask your loved one’s doctors or local Minneapolis pharmacist to review her medicines — both prescription and over-the counter — to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Have her eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update her eyeglasses to maximize her vision. Read more about how a senior’s safety is affected by their senses.
  • Make her home safer by reducing tripping hazards and adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding stair railings and improving the lighting in the home.
  • To lower her hip fracture risk, make sure she is getting adequate calcium and vitamin D from food and/or from supplements, and that she gets screened and treated for osteoporosis.
  • Consider purchasing a medical alert system. Lifeline with AutoAlert provides an added layer of protection by automatically placing a call for help if a fall is detected and you can’t push your button because you are disoriented, immobilized, or unconscious.

Risk Factors at Home

65% of seniors’ homes have at least one potential safety issue, according to adult children. The most common issues are tripping hazards, bathrooms without assistive equipment, and storage that is too high or too low.  100% of ER physicians say it is very important that families of seniors invest in basic home safety modifications. Some of the most common recommendations include installing assistive equipment in the bathroom and handrails on stairs, removing clutter and tripping hazards, and improving lighting. Visit one of Liberty Oxygen & Medical Equipment’s 8 locations for a great selection in adaptive equipment.

Check out ways to help make your senior’s home safer by completing a room-by-room safety check.

This video shows simple things you can do to make life easier for your senior loved one using lighting, color and security measures. Suggestions include fixing lighting in dark pathways or rooms, using contrasting color on walls and counters, checking alarms and making sure all doors are secure.

Home Safety Considerations for Families Living with Alzheimer’s

If you are part of a family living with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to remember that one of the keys to aging at home is doing so safely. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease does not have to signal the loss of independence and freedom. As many as 70 percent of people living in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s today are doing so in their own homes.

Safety at home begins with adapting the environment to support the changing abilities of the person with Alzheimer’s. We offer some free resources for recognizing and dealing with the challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Be sure to re-evaluate home safety measures regularly as the disease progresses. Pay special attention to garages, work rooms, basements and outside areas. Inside the home, there are simple things you can do to modify your kitchen, living room, bathrooms and bedrooms to make them safer for the person with Alzheimer’s.alzheimers caregiver mn

  • Invest in installed, working fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.
  • Lock or disguise hazardous areas using child-proof locks and doorknob covers.
  • Limit access to places with knives, appliances and poisonous chemicals.
  • Add textured stickers to slippery surfaces, remove throw rugs, minimize clutter and limit access to stairs to reduce risk of falls.

Enroll the person with dementia in an emergency response service designed specifically for individuals with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia who wander or may have a medical emergency. Should the individual become lost, a caregiver can report the situation to an emergency response network including the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter and law enforcement agencies that will work to get the individual home safely. You may also want to consider a web-based GPS location management service to remotely monitor the person with Alzheimer’s. Learn more about these resources in this video.

If you enlist the help of caregiving professionals to provide care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, they’ll be able to point out additional suggestions to make your home a safe environment. Here at Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis, we provide a home safety evaluation as part of our initial in-home assessment to offer recommendations specific to your living space and the needs of the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

5 Housing Options for Seniors: The Advantages and Disadvantages

by John Stuck
When adult children are choosing housing options in Minnesota for their aging parents, there are 5 choices to consider, aging in place, living with family, assisted living, and skilled nursing homes. Each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages that need to be discussed and seriously considered before making any final decisions. Home care can supplement family and senior facility care to ensure that your loved one’s personal and nursing care needs are being met. This 5-part video series provides a glimpse into what each option would be like & will help guide you in making a senior housing option.

Aging in Place

This means seniors are able to remain in their own home safely and securely. This is a good option to consider if your parent is mostly functional in all areas of their life. When considering this option, it’s important you consult an Aging in Place Specialist to assist you in making any modifications to your parent’s home.

The advantages of this option are that it allows the senior to remain safely and securely in their own residence while keeping their independence. This maintains a familiar environment for your parents and fosters socialization with family, friends, and the community.

The disadvantages are the possible expensive financial investment and time needed to provide safe home modifications, and parents may be reluctant to make these changes to their own home. The average annual cost of this option varies depending on the modifications and home care services your parent may need.

Living with Family

This option can be a labor of love and very rewarding for the family members, but there are many things to consider with this option.

The advantages of this option are its low cost of care, intergenerational bonding, and keeping your loved one close to you in your Minneapolis home.

The disadvantages are the stress that becoming a primary care giver can place on that person, the wear and tear on your home, and caregiver burnout from caring for your parent, your own family and your job. Read more about Caregiver Distress. The average annual cost of this option is approximately $5,000 that covers out of pocket expenses such as transportation, food, extra utilities, etc. Read “Your Place or Mine?” to get helpful advice on making this decision.

Independent Living Communities

These are designed for seniors who are able to live on their own, but would like the convenience and security of living in a retirement community of their peers.

The advantages of this option are a smaller space to maintain, outside maintenance services, possible security of a gated community, enjoyment of being around peers, and it may offer activities, help and services that are needed as the senior grows older.

The disadvantages are the extra monthly fees to the residents, restrictions for grandchildren to visit, possible transportation options may be limited, and proximity to family. The average cost is approximately $3000/month.

Assisted Living Services

This includes 24 hour oversight, food, shelter, and a range of services for the senior. This is a good option when your parent requires more support from professional caregivers and needs help with basic living needs.

The advantages of this option are there are that many are available, on-site medical and pharmaceutical assistance, accommodations for the seniors’ changing physical needs, driving and housekeeping services, social activities, and exercise facilities.

The disadvantages are the financial burden of the monthly expenses, depression of the senior for the loss of independence, limitations of possessions that may be brought to the facility, and less socialization with friends and family members.

Skilled Nursing Home

This includes 24 hour care with registered nurses and medical professionals who are able to care for your loved one. This is an option if your parent is no longer able to care for themselves, and is in need of specialized medical care for physical, mental, or emotional conditions.

The advantage of this option is the skilled medical care that your parent will receive, 24 hour assistance with daily living needs, exercise facilities, and physical therapy. There is often a hospital or medical facility close by the home. Often times, there are separate living areas for seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease which can accommodate for the special care needs and advanced security precautions to ensure your loved one is safe.

The disadvantages are the financial expenses, the time it takes to choose which facility that would be best for your parent, availability of the facility, and the proximity for family members to visit. The average annual cost is approximately $77,000.

These 5 options need to be considered seriously and carefully by the senior and family members to make the best, most informed decision for your aging parent for the years to come.

Get Involved With Home Instead’s Initiatives to Help Minnesota Seniors

Be a Santa to a SeniorBy Home Instead Senior Care

The snow is just starting to sneak up on us here in Minnesota and the Be a Santa to a Senior®  campaign is in our sights! This popular campaign that delivered more than 2,500 gifts in 2012 to local needy Minnesota seniors needs your help to provide even more gifts and companionship this year to seniors in the Minneapolis area who otherwise might not receive either.

“Seniors faced with medical bills and the high cost of living can find they have little left at the end of the year,” said John Stuck, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Minneapolis and the Western Suburbs.

Senior SantaChristmas trees will be going up soon in which generous folks will pick up ornaments with the first names of seniors and their gift requests, buy items on the list and return them in a gift bag to the location. From there, gifts need to be collected, organized, stored & distributed and that’s where we need your help! If you are a corporation, church group, school group or senior care residence who has compassionate volunteers and space to store gifts, please consider volunteering your time and location to our Be a Santa to a Senior program.

The huge success of last year’s program would not have been possible without our partners which include Byerly’s & Lund’s Pharmacy locations, Starbucks, TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, Mulitband, Minneapolis Women’s Club, Park Nicollet Orthopedic Group, Sharepoint Credit Union, MN School of Business, Woodland Elementary. Please consider adding your name to this list and putting a smile on thousands of seniors’ faces.

Contact Us Today!

Join Our Book Discussion – cta-book-largeGaining the Confidence to Care

Subscribe to our blog, Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter to respond to discussion topics we’ll be posting over the next month. We’d love your feedback and fellow caregivers will love your ideas!

Get 3 Free Chapters now Or, Get the Entire Book for Free!

To request a free copy of the book, go to our Contact Us page, enter your information and, in the Comments section, provide your address and note that you’d like the Confidence to Care book. We’ll ship it to you for free!

What You’ll Learn from This Book

This book focuses on both memory and behavior symptoms that family caregivers often need help with, including their senior loved one’s resistance to common personal care activities. Each of these chapters offer plenty of care approaches and prevention tips, and begin with a relevant and moving real-life family caregiver story. The chapter topics include:

  • Aggression and Anger
  • Agitation and Anxiety
  • Bedtime Struggles and Sleep Problems
  • Confusion and Memory Loss
  • Delusions
  • False Accusations and Paranoia
  • Hiding/Misplacing Things/Rummaging
  • Hostility
  • Judgment (problems with decision-making and problem-solving)
  • Medication Mismanagement
  • Mood Changes
  • Repetition
  • Sexually Inappropriate Behavior
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Wandering

All profits from this book will be donated to the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation and designated for dementia-related organizations and causes.