Let’s Talk About Driving

LetsTalkAboutDrivingLogoHave you had the “dreaded talk” with your parents yet? I’m not referring to the birds and bees discussion we all had to endure as teenagers. The tables have turned – adult children are now caring for aging parents and the vital conversations are a little different, but still just as crucial.

To continue to bring awareness of important topics that affect the seniors in our Minneapolis communities, such as prescription medication management, Home Instead Senior Care has introduced their latest public education program, Let’s Talk About Driving. 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.

Recent research conducted by Home Instead, Inc. revealed that 31% of surveyed seniors 70 years of age and older who are still driving said that a recommendation from family or friends would make them reconsider driving, but 95% of these older adults have not been given this recommendation.

Having a conversation with your senior loved one is a good first step and needs to happen. Watch this video with Amy Huddleston, Home Instead Senior Care where she provides tips on how to address the very sensitive topic of seniors and driving.

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For many seniors, driving provides freedom, control, independence and even a sense of pride so giving up the keys can be a very difficult thing to do. When asked to discontinue driving, seniors may feel frustration, helplessness, depression and will often times become defensive or even refuse to cooperate.

Just having the conversation with your elderly loved ones can be very difficult and many people harbor feelings of guilt when they have to take away a senior’s ability to drive. When the driving skills have deteriorated to a point where it is dangerous to allow dad to continue driving we need to put our emotions aside, raise the topic, and have those conversations no matter how difficult it may be. The safety and well-being of your loved one and others driving our Minnesota roads are at stake.

It’s important to know the facts before making the necessary recommendations about continued driving. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help know when it may be time for the senior to stop driving:

  • Is their vision or hearing compromised by age or health to a point where their safety is affected?
  • Are poor judgements being made when driving or the gas and brake pedals being mixed up?
  • Are you finding dents or other damage on the senior’s vehicle that cannot be reasonably explained?
  • Is their reaction and response time delayed?
  • Can they physically sit in the car to drive safely?
  • Does the elderly driver ride the brakes when driving?
  • Would your senior loved one pass a driving test?

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis recommends using the Safe Driving Planner. It can be difficult to know if your senior loved ones are still safe when on the road or pose a danger to themselves and others. Watch the short videos, then click on “Learn More” for additional resources for each different situation.

When the time comes to begin making the transition, be patient and understanding but firm with your conversation. It is not wise to demand the keys immediately and remove all driving privileges at once, instead try these ideas such as:

  • Begin by taking away driving at night or when the roads are busiest.
  • Include the senior driver in the conversation and decision making while continuing to remain strong and ultimately the final decision maker.
  • Listen to their concerns about getting behind the wheel and treat with respect and dignity.
  • Remind your senior loved one “It’s not you, it’s the disease”

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis provides services such as transportation and supports the caregivers to ensure the protection of dignity of the aging seniors receiving care. Companionship, dementia and Alzheimer’s care and other services are also available. Home Instead Senior Care 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.

For many, conversations with our teenagers about safe driving and getting them on the road happen every day. But sadly, having that delicate conversation to help keep our senior loved ones safe by getting them off the road is not happening. 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.

Caring for Seniors: A Labor of Love

The aging population and their need for care have been overlooked for so long, that the demand for caregivers in the workforce is at a critical level. As the New York Times reports, more than 1.3 million new paid caregivers will be needed to meet the demand of the aging senior population by the year 2022. Caregiving is on track to become the largest occupation in the United States in the next 5 years and is expected to replace retail with the most people employed in the field, many of whom will work for home care agencies.


With our senior population aging and the ‘sandwich’ generation emerging, there is a great need for caregivers. The sandwich generation refers to the age group who are caring for their parents and simultaneously caring for their own children. When you factor in their daily job and family activities, they can quickly become overwhelmed. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis Client Care Coordinator, Lori Leigh, explains why this growing field is so important and what being an in-home care assistant involves:

In an effort to meet the demands of the healthcare industry, one health professional in Maryland is proving he can make a difference with the High School Health Education Foundation. Dr. William Leahy, a semi-retired neurologist, created this foundation and has rolled out an education program aimed at attracting new young people to the field of home health care. The program is geared toward high school seniors who otherwise may not attend college, and offers free classroom instruction followed up by on-the-job training at a local retirement community. Textbooks, scrubs, and equipment are also covered by the foundation. This foundation’s education program has proven to be very competitive with high application numbers as well as successful graduates and Dr. Leahy is planning to expand the program to a high school in Washington D.C next. We hope he brings it to Minnesota as well!

returning-home-nutrition-480x450As the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently reports, health care is a gold mine – it is an occupation industry in Minnesota that is expected to grow more than 40% by the year 2022. So, what does it mean to be a caregiver? The type of care will vary and the client’s needs will really dictate what an in-home caregiver will be doing on any given day. The caregiver may be assisting with transportation, doctor visits, errands, meal preparation, medication reminders or light housekeeping. Companionship is the most important aspect of the caregiver’s day and is a big part of the caregiver client relationship, as well as being an advocate for them within the community.

Caring for seniors is a labor of love that calls for just the right person with a special touch. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis hires dedicated CAREGivers who share our passion for caring for seniors and providing in-home care assistance to join our team. This caught the attention of Leah Beno with Minneapolis KMSP Fox 9 Evening News who featured our own Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis CAREGiver, Rebecca, and her client Liz and highlighted their very special bond.

Every day, families in Minneapolis are struggling to balance raising their own family, a demanding career, and caring for a senior loved one. The family caregivers eventually run out of hours in the day and the stress becomes unmanageable. This is where a Home Instead CAREGiver steps in to help. If you believe you are that special type of person who enjoys working with seniors and wants to make a difference in the lives of older adults as a career, being a Home Instead Senior Care network CAREGiver might be the career for you. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis provides training as well as on going 24/7 support to our CAREGivers. We also provide advanced training opportunities throughout the year, including dementia and Alzheimer’s specific training, which is currently in high demand.

Home Instead offers flexible work hours, a competitive salary and health insurance benefit package, including overtime pay and paid travel time between client appointments to our employees as well. We offer this and more to our CAREGivers through a holistic approach – caring for our CAREGiver’s mind, body, and spirit. We believe when we care for our CAREGivers, they are better equipped to have meaningful relationships with the clients and their families and it will allow them to do what they do best, which is ensuring seniors live independently as long as possible.

Home Instead Senior Care understands what it takes to provide care to seniors and we are dedicated to hiring the best individuals to fill our needs. To learn more about current openings at Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis, visit the Careers tab of our website where you can also apply online or contact us by calling 763-634-8247 today.

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.

Making the Minnesota Orchestra Hall an Alzheimer’s Friendly Business


With the lack of education and misunderstandings about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – which eventually impacts thinking, speaking, and behavior – many people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers would rather not fight the battle of dealing with the public. In fact, families often utilize our home care services to transport and accompany seniors to run errands and attend social events. Because our CAREGivers are educated through an acclaimed training program called CARE: Changing Aging through Research and Education®, they are equipped to handle sensitive situations that arise when people with Alzheimer’s are interacting publically. But family members are often not trained or equipped to assist their loved ones so instead, they either stay home and become isolated or they venture out and find themselves in uncomfortable situations. Home Instead Senior Care is hoping to change this with their public education program, Alzheimer’s Friendly Business. This program aims to offer training to the businesses in your local Minneapolis community which will help educate those serving customers with Alzheimer’s and related dementias and their caregivers, and ultimately ease the daunting task they feel when trying to complete daily routine tasks like banking, shopping, or attending appointments.Alzheimers-Friendly-Businesses-logo-embed

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis has been busy training local businesses and the latest to jump on board is the Minnesota Orchestra Hall. Beginning in January, 2016 and continuing through April, we are on track to provide training to more than 200 Minnesota Orchestra Hall employees when it is all complete. With the average age of the Orchestra Hall season ticket holder being mid-sixty, the Alzheimer’s Friendly Business program is a great fit. From the employee who holds the door for their guests as they arrive, to the greeters, coat check associate, refreshment servers, ushers, and musicians to the upper level of management, and everyone in-between, customer service is top priority for everyone. Every employee strives to ensure the guest’s experience at Minnesota Orchestra Hall is unmatched, each and every day and that is why they felt it was important to have their employees participate in this training program. The average age of the employees receiving training is 55 years and some employees have been with Orchestra Hall in some capacity for over 40 years.  The employees are patient, really understand what their guests need and try to anticipate their requests – the Alzheimer’s Friendly Business training seems to go hand-in-hand with a local business like the Minnesota Orchestra Hall.AFB5

Recent research conducted by Home Instead shows that 74% of surveyed caregivers for individuals with a dementia illness report they or their loved ones have become more isolated as a result of this disease, and that 85% of the seniors in this survey report feeling a reduced quality of life. These are disturbing findings that, as a trusted provider of home care services to seniors, we cannot ignore.

Do you want to know more about how your business can become more Alzheimer’s friendly? The Alzheimer’s Friendly Business program starts with a training session, which lasts approximately 45-minutes, conducted by our own Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis trainers. This program is designed to help local business’ employees understand the disease and provide simple techniques to ensure customers with Alzheimer’s or dementia are treated with compassion and respect. The training program will educate the local business staff in main areas, such as:

  • Becoming aware of behaviors commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Being understanding of the challenges an individual with Alzheimer’s may have
  • Assisting with interactions

Once the employees have completed the training, the business will receive a certification, which is valid for 2 years, reflecting the Alzheimer’s Friendly Business designation, and are also given window stickers and other materials to be used for display. Watch this short video to see a training session in action with our friends at Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment:

So, join our movement and make your business Alzheimer’s friendly by learning simple techniques to ensure customers living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are treated with compassion and respect. Help break through the misconceptions of Alzheimer’s disease and ease the challenges of going into the local community for those customers and their caregivers by completing Home Instead’s thoughtful and thorough training program. Call Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis today at 763-544-5988. Or, if you are a caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer’s, be sure to tell the local establishments you frequent about the Home Instead Senior Care network’s Alzheimer’s Friendly Business program.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

by Guest Blogger – Francis Sheehy, Owner, Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment

Much more than a case of the “winter blues”, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a medical condition, a type of depression. It affects many people who live in northern states like Minnesota, in the late fall, winter, and early spring due to the lack of sunlight during these seasons.  The Mayo Clinic defines seasonal affective disorder as a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons – SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. SAD is diagnosed more often in women, but men tend to have more severe symptoms. Most people with seasonal affective disorder feel the symptoms beginning in the fall and continue through the winter months, affecting their energy levels and overall moodiness. The good news is there are treatments to help fight this condition! One is the use of a SAD lamp so, to assist our Minnesota clients and CAREGivers who are affected by this disorder, Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment is offering 30% off all SAD lights during the month of January. lightbook-elite-300x240

The major cause of SAD is lack of sunlight. SAD has been referred to as many things over the years, such as winter blues, winter depression, and cabin fever. Seasonal affective disorder was made a clinical diagnosis in the early 1980′s. On average only 2% of the population has SAD, although the incidence of it goes up the farther north you live. Also, in Canada it is estimated that 20% of the population has some symptoms of SAD. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Increased appetite or weight gain
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Sleeping longer hours
  • Socially withdrawn
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low sex drive

One of the methods of treating SAD is with light therapy, also called phototherapy. The therapy is provided through use of a light box or SAD light, which a person sits within two feet of for thirty minutes per day – typically first thing in the morning. The SAD light (also called a SAD lamp) emits a bright light simulating sun light, and should be a minimum of 10,000 Lux (metric measurement of light intensity). The light stimulates a receptor in the eye that in turn causes a chemical reaction in the brain linked to mood, and is believed to help reset your circadian rhythms.

Sometimes referred to as happy lights, the SAD light therapy works for people with mild to very severe seasonal affective disorder. SAD light therapy is typically covered by most insurance companies, if the individual has a diagnosis of SAD, and a prescription for light therapy from their doctor.  Also,the light box must produce 10,000 Lux. Insurance companies tend to rent the light box for the first two months, and then purchase it if the therapy is successful. Contact your insurance company for specific coverage criteria – coverage may vary. Many people purchase light boxes at their own expense because it makes them feel happier and more energetic in the winter. A doctor’s prescription is not needed to purchase a light, unless you want an insurance company to pay for it.

Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment provides light boxes for purchase or rental at all eight of our Twin Cities metro locations and we are a provider for most insurance companies. So don’t miss out – take advantage of our great sale which features brands such as Carex & the Litebook Elite. During the month of January, Liberty Oxygen is offering 30% off all SAD lights. If you have questions on seasonal affective disorder or SAD light therapy, contact us today. Our knowledgeable employees can help you determine if this type of therapy would be good for you.

Francis Sheehy has owned and operated Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment in the Twin Cities metro area since 2001. He is dedicated to the senior community and is committed to delivering medical equipment solutions to your family and senior loved ones with compassion and care in Minnesota. Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis and Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment have partnered over the years on a variety of initiatives, such as the Liberty Oxygen crown contest and Home Instead’s Alzheimer’s Friendly Business program, to offer support to the senior community and our employees. This month, we asked Francis to contribute an article for our blog. His blog site containing education for seniors and their loved ones can be found at http://www.libertyoxygen.com/blog

Be a Special CAREGiver

A shortage of caregivers is bringing attention to an occupation that is expected to grow more than any other in the next 5 years, Personal Care Aids (PCAs). Leah Beno with Minneapolis KMSP Fox 9 Evening News featured our own Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis CAREGiver, Rebecca, and her client Liz and highlighted their very special bond.

As the New York Times often reports, more than 1.3 million new paid caregivers will be needed to meet the demand of the aging senior population by the year 2022. Many of these will be employed by home care agencies. In the next 5 years, it will become the largest occupation of the U.S., replacing retail. A research study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP shows nearly 44 million adults are currently caring for family members with disabilities or other needs in the home. That is one out of six adults!

Rebecca Hardy, a personal caregiver with Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis, compares the seniors she cares for to veterans. “We don’t want to forget”. Rebecca loves her job and finds the relationships with the seniors she cares for very fulfilling. Her client, Liz Heller, is a retired pastor from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Though she has a large congregational family, she has no children and knew she’d need some help living independently in her home. Rebecca and Liz are always on the go and their relationship of trust and respect grew into a friendship.

Advances in medicine and healthier lifestyles are leading to seniors living home care mn longer and more productive lives. Many Minneapolis families are trying to manage their own demanding jobs, raising children, as well as caring for a senior family member. Women, especially, are struggling to find the balance of caring for their aging parents and managing their own family’s daily demands and activities. The family caregivers eventually run out of hours in the day and the stress becomes too great to handle. This is where the help of a dedicated, loving person comes in. As a Home Instead Senior Care CAREGiver, you can help these Minnesota families restore the balance, order, and peace in their lives once again while allowing their aging loved ones to continue to live at home.

Caring for seniors is a job that requires a special personality with just the right touch. A loving CAREGiver provides so much joy in the senior’s life and gives relief to their family, but what’s in it for you? Our Home Instead CAREGivers also enjoy:

  • Flexible scheduling
  • Supplemental income
  • No experience or medical skills necessary
  • Training provided
  • A rewarding way to interact with others outside your home

Caregiving is anything you do to enhance the quality of life for seniors and helps to keep them independent. The specific responsibilities will vary depending on the client’s needs, but generally, you may be responsible for:

  • Preparing meals, light housekeeping tasks, and laundry
  • Providing companionship and conversation
  • Providing medication and appointment reminders
  • Accompanying the clients to appointments
  • Running errands

Other responsibilities may be asked of you, but the most important and rewarding aspect of your job is the value you bring to a senior’s life.

As a home care employer, Home Instead Minneapolis offers industry-leading CARE Training programs that will equip the new caregiver with the skills necessary to provide the best possible care to their senior clients. Developed with the help of experts throughout the United States, they also offer an Alzheimer’s and other dementias training program. And, as a Home Instead CAREGiver, you are bonded and insured.

Becoming a paid home caregiver is a unique job with many rewards, as well as responsibilities and challenges, both physical and emotional. As a Home Instead CAREGiver, you have the opportunity to meet wonderful seniors, build fulfilling relationships, and make a difference in the lives of your aging clients. Contact Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis today to learn more about the home care job opportunities and becoming a Home Instead CAREGiver.

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.

Handling Client Incontinence: How to Get Past the Awkwardness & Other Tips

Incontinence—the inability to control bladder or bowel movements—is a condition that commonly affects older adults, and many of you might care for clients with this condition. Your client may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable needing help with such a private and personal care task. For you as the CAREGiver, it can be unpleasant and awkward at first too. But there are ways to get past that awkwardness and help set your client at ease.

A few months ago, we asked members of the CAREGiver team who have had experience with personal care how they get past the awkwardness of helping a client with private activities like toileting and bathing. Thanks to Deidre and Kristi for sharing the following advice!

“Having a medical background, I was used to these kinds of situations before starting with Home Instead. But what I do is I make sure they know what I am going to be doing.
Then, while completing the task, I talk about something else like how their day was, what their plans for tomorrow are, or even something as simple as the weather. I think this helps the client see your confidence and helps keep their mind occupied with something else rather than the task that they may be ashamed of having to have help with.” –

“I have found being sensitive to a person’s feelings is number one. Create an environment of comfort. Keep the bathroom warm, have plenty of towels, light a candle, all this is making your client feel safe and pampered. My Ms. J didn’t like mirrors so I steered her away from mirrors, just little things that I found I could do for her. Incontinence–well we all sneeze, or giggle, so brush off the embarrassment with a hug and a ‘I know what you feel.’” – Kristi

Here are some additional incontinence caregiving tips to keep in mind:

1. Be empathetic. Losing control of bodily functions ranks among the most stressful health issues, so approach the situation with patience, dignity and respect to ease your client’s anxiety. You may find it helps reduce your own stress level as well.

2. Adopt a matter-of-fact approach. This technique can help you overcome a client’s shyness or embarrassment. Use reassurance and a straightforward manner: “Oh, that’s too bad you had an accident, but don’t worry. It happens to a lot of people. Let me help you get cleaned up and into some dry, comfortable clothes.” You may have to fake this matter-of-fact attitude at first, and that’s OK. Pretty soon, you’ll find it comes very naturally.

3. Encourage your client to wear clothes that are easy to get on and off. Slacks with an elastic waistband can be pulled down quickly, enabling your client to get on the toilet faster and possibly avoid an accident. And if you do have to help your clients with cleanup, easy-off garments make it simpler to undress and re-dress them. On the other hand, clients with dementia sometimes remove their clothes at inappropriate times and places. In those situations, you obviously would not want to encourage your client to wear clothing that’s easy to remove.

4. Watch your client’s diet. Some foods make both bladder and bowel incontinence worse. Steer your client away from caffeine (coffee, tea, and some sodas), chocolate, spicy foods and a lot of fresh or dried fruit. However, it’s still important to make sure your client stays properly hydrated.

5. Always be prepared. Pack a small tote bag with supplies such as incontinence briefs or pads, wipes and even a change of clothes in case an accident happens when you’re out and about together. Don’t allow your client to become a hermit because of incontinence issues.

It’s important to note that CAREGivers who work with incontinence care situations should complete the Home Instead Senior Care personal care training. If you have questions about your training or a client care situation, please call our franchise office.

CAREGiver Training Refresher


Using the restroom is a private activity, so requiring assistance while toileting can be very upsetting to a client. She/he may feel that her independence is in jeopardy, so treat your client with dignity and respect when assisting her in the bathroom. Here are some additional points to remember:

  • Clients may have a difficult time getting to the bathroom due to lack of mobility. Make sure the pathway to the bathroom is clear of clutter and throw rugs, and make sure lighting is sufficient.
  • Encourage the client to wear clothes that are easy to remove.
  • Provide privacy by either leaving the room or putting a towel over her lap.
  • Be patient. Allow your client plenty of time to use the restroom.
  • If available, encourage your client to use grab bars near the toilet and a raised toilet seat as these may help with physical limitations.

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.