Fall Prevention

by Guest Blogger – Jon Burkhow, Director of Senior Community Services’ HOME program

senior safety mnDid you know according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) one-third of Americans aged 65+ falls each year?  What can you do to help prevent a senior loved one from falling?  With the annual Fall Prevention Awareness day, just around the corner on September 22, 2017, now is the time to take some simple steps to reduce the risk of falls for our Minnesota older adults.

  1. Find a good balance and exercise program. Many local community centers in Hennepin County offer classes specially designed for seniors.  Also consider a Matter of Balance class in your community.  Find more details including locations near you:  http://mnhealthyaging.org/en/FallsPrevention/MatterBalance.aspx
  2. Talk with your health care provider. It is important to tell your doctor or family members if you have fallen recently.  Certain medications can increase fall risk and your health care practitioner can review these and give you an overall assessment for fall risk based on your situation.
  3. Check your vision and hearing annually. Your eyes and ears are key to navigating your environment.
  4. Get a free safety assessment from the HOME program. Learn how we can help make safety improvements to your home, such as installing grab bars, improved lighting, new smoke alarms, reducing tripping hazards inside and outside the home, and more.

It’s human nature to procrastinate but we urge you to consider being proactive and reduce your fall risk.  Perhaps, you know someone who has suffered from a fall.  The recovery can be difficult and severe.  Falls can cause serious physical and psychological injury and are common during the Minnesota winter months.  In addition to the action items above consider a quick check of your physical environment.  Here are a few things to look for:

  1. Assure that you have adequate lighting on all stairways and going in and out of your home.
  2. Make sure that you have sufficient hand railings or grab bars in these locations and use them! Try to avoid carrying heavy loads when using these transition areas as your balance and line of sight can be impaired.
  3. Remove all objects from stairways.
  4. Remove loose rugs or put a non-slip backing under them. Make sure all pathways are clear of clutter.  You shouldn’t have to walk around things to navigate in your home.
  5. Make sure that you have a good pair of indoor shoes that have non-skid soles.

Do what you can to mitigate your fall risk.  Make today the day to take action and stay safe!  If you would like more information on the HOME program, visit our website: www.seniorcommunity.org. Contact us by email at home@seniorcommunity.org or by phone (952) 746-4046.

Jon Burkhow is the Director for the HOME program. The Senior Community Services HOME (Household and Outside Maintenance for Elderly) program provides affordable home maintenance and chore services delivered by trusted professionals and community volunteers. The goal of the HOME program is to provide reasonably priced services to help adults aged 60 and older continue to live independently in their own homes.

Home Instead Minneapolis is proud to partner with and exclusively support Senior Community Services and specifically their HOME program, which applied and was carefully selected to be a recipient of a $5,000 matching grant during the 2017 GIVE65 crowd-fundraiser.

GIVE65: 2017 Crowd-Fundraiser

GIVE65LogoJoin the crowd! The Home Instead Senior Care Foundation has created the GIVE65 crowd-fundraiser exclusively devoted to help non-profit organizations raise money geared toward caring for seniors. GIVE65 is the first of its kind for Home Instead Senior Care with a goal to raise money online for programs and services related directly to helping seniors and creating hope for them. Home Instead is expecting it will be a catalyst for social change and we will continue to see fundraisers like this for seniors in the future.

The GIVE65 event is a 65-hour online charitable fundraising event aimed at inspiring greater giving to non-profit organizations serving seniors. In its second year, GIVE65 2017 will take place from July 11 – 13, 2017. During this time, a limited number of approved, participating organizations compete for up to $100,000 in matching grants and are also eligible for one of two $10,000 financial rewards which recognize outstanding small, medium and large-size non-profit participants. Wondering how you can join the crowd and help make a difference for seniors? Beginning July 1st, you can schedule your 100% tax deductible donation to be given to an approved non-profit of your choice during the fundraising event July 11 – 13, 2017. By scheduling the donation in advance, you ensure the organization of your choice will receive your donation during the event time period and it also may be eligible for matching grants and additional financial reward prizes.

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is proud to exclusively support Senior Community Services and specifically their Household and Outside Maintenance for Elderly (HOME) program, which applied and was carefully selected to be a recipient of a $5,000 matching grant during the GIVE65 crowd-fundraiser. The goal of the HOME program is to provide reasonably priced services to help seniors continue to live independently in their own homes. Their network of reliable workers and volunteers provide indoor and outdoor chore services to residents age 60 and older in a wide service area of communities in Hennepin County, Minnesota.

A majority of the HOME program clients are low-income. Assisting residents with home and yard chores such as home repairs, safety checks, raking, snow shoveling, and yard projects, will allow the seniors to stay in their own home and community longer. The money raised through the GIVE65 crowd-fundraiser will help the Senior Community Services HOME program keep their services affordable, with a focus on staying safe in the winter months. Donated funds will be specifically used towards winter fall prevention and the incurred expenses during the Minnesota snow season.

Each year, one-third of Americans aged 65 or older fall. In fact, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. In 2000, the direct medical cost of fatal and non-fatal injuries totaled over $19 billion and $28.2 billion in 2010. This financial toll for older adult falls is only expected to increase as the population ages and is expected to reach as high as $54.9 billion by the year 2020. The HOME program will use the GIVE65 donated funds to help keep the driveways and sidewalks of over 300 seniors clear during the upcoming winter season. Ensuring fall prevention by removing the snow and ice will not only maintain safe access to and from the home, but will provide a great relief to the seniors in our Minnesota communities by providing the gift of security and independence this winter.

Jon Burkhow, HOME Program Director, says “Our snow removal program is a vital part of keeping older adults safe in their home and community. Please help us continue to prevent falls with your donation!” If you are interested in getting involved and being a GIVE65 donor or would like to learn more about Senior Community Services HOME program, you can find more details here: https://www.give65.org/SCSfallprevention

The Minneapolis area senior population needs our help and your donation to the Senior Community Services HOME program through the GIVE65 crowd-fundraiser will help. Lori Hogan, Home Instead Senior Care Foundation Vice President says “The need is great. I think GIVE65 is a rallying cry for all of us – the public and private sectors – to come together and create hope for our seniors in need.” Home Instead Senior Care understands the challenges faced when raising money for social service programs that focus on seniors in need and believe they can lead the charge in charitable giving and inspire others to work together towards a common goal.

Programs like GIVE65 are important to our local communities as the senior population grows, non-profits need financial support to maintain the programs and services they provide that give hope for seniors. Every gift will make a difference, from the minimum donation of $10 to the larger donations. Those who want to help our local seniors, including businesses, corporations and other foundations, can visit GIVE65.org to invest in the growing Minnesota senior population. And don’t forget to save the date! Beginning July 1, 2017, you can schedule your GIVE65 event donation to ensure your donation will be given to the non-profit of your choice during the fundraising time period and be eligible for matching. Together we can make a difference in the lives of the seniors in our local communities!

Get Mom (and Dad) Moving!

SeniorExerciseStudies show that staying physically and mentally active can be a challenge for seniors, but incorporating more movement into their daily routine can help prevent and even reverse the signs of frailty. According to a women’s study in 2009, researchers at Columbia and Johns Hopkins Universities discovered the important role mental & physical activity plays in the fight against frailty in seniors. Keeping an older adult’s mind, body and social life active can prevent or even reverse frailty.

WebMD states that frailty is more than just “slowing down.” Growing older typically means the body will get tired faster and overall move slower than before. But for some older adults their body becomes very weak and everyday activities are hard to do, this may be a health issue called frailty. A senior loved one may be frail if:

  • The person is experiencing weight loss without trying
  • The person feels constantly tired or weak and has very low energy

The benefits of routine physical activity for seniors are well-documented. Improved strength, more steady balance and decrease in risk of falling, to name a few positive effects an older adult will experience with regular exercise.

InHomeSeniorExerciseRegular exercise can keep older adults healthier and reduce the risk of falling by strengthening their legs and improving balance. Staying physically active during summertime in Minnesota is easy. Commit to a day and time each week with a fellow senior friend or loved one and take a walk to a local cafe, walk laps at a local mall when the weather isn’t perfect or pick a favorite Minneapolis or St. Paul metro area lake to walk around – we have over 10,000 to choose from! Another way to stay active is through the community you live in. Many communities that Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis serves offer various classes which are geared toward seniors, such as water aerobics, yoga, meditation, dance and many others. On the days where getting out of the house is not realistic, here are 6 Easy, At-Home Exercises to Reduce Senior Fall Risk.

It’s just as important to keep a senior’s mind from becoming frail as the body. Fun and simple activities that provide a challenge will help a senior’s mind stay active. Working on a daily crossword puzzle, playing card games, or changing up the routine in the grocery store will keep the mind sharp. For example, next time you are grocery shopping with your senior loved one, suggest walking a different route through the store. Even simple activities such as brushing their teeth with the opposite hand will help the brain re-think daily tasks. Click here for more activities and resource tools to keep your senior loved ones sharp as a tack.

We at Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis understand not all seniors have access to the same living environment and economic status and it may be harder for some to get out and be active. These social determinants of health can negatively affect an older adult’s participation in community wellness activities. Here are 5 Common Social Determinants That Can Impact Senior Exercise:

  • Unsafe neighborhood
  • Lack of financial resources
  • Poor literacy skills or primary language barriers
  • Lack of transportation
  • Cultural devaluation of exercise

Learn more about each of these common social determinants that may prevent your senior loved one from complying with an exercise plan and tips to overcome them.

According to AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), 40 percent of people between the ages of 45 and 64 are considered sedentary. This is a troubling number, but for those over the age of 64, that number jumps to 60 percent. Seniors and family caregivers, as well as doctors and other health care professionals see the positive effects of staying active, both mentally and physically, as we age. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is committed to reversing these numbers and preventing frailty by helping the seniors in the Minneapolis metro area communities we serve become more active. Our in-home care services help people at any point within the aging process, is tailored to your unique situation, and adjust as your needs evolve.

We at Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis provide dependable, compassionate care at all levels, including specialty care for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Our dedicated CAREGivers will help restore peace, order and balance to your lives and help your loved ones remain at home. Contact us today to inquire about the senior services we offer by calling 763-634-8247.

Be a positive role model, be supportive and encourage your senior loved one to get moving!

Prevent Wandering, Part II

prevent-wandering-logo“Not all those who wander are lost”. This line taken from a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien has become famous in itself and seems appropriate when thinking of our senior loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease and their family. Wandering is one of the potential symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia and is a very serious issue that should not be taken lightly. This is the second Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis article focusing on the prevention of wandering, click here to find the first article in this series as well as many other articles related to senior safety and health.

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that may take those who are diagnosed with it to a different time and place. Wandering is very common as people can become confused about their location and wander or get lost while searching for something, at any stage of Alzheimer’s, even the very early stages of dementia. Typically, those who wander are trying to get to a familiar destination with a specific purpose in mind. To the person who is wandering, they are not lost at all, but instead on a mission.

Watch this touching video about a man with a special mission in mind.

Continuing their effort to bring awareness of important topics that affect the seniors in our Minneapolis communities, such as the risk of our seniors continuing to drive past a safe age and the Sunday Dinner Pledge, Home Instead Senior Care has introduced their latest public education program, Prevent Wandering. This program is full of valuable resources and tips to help family caregivers manage this common issue.

To a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia, once familiar territory can suddenly feel foreign and the individual may walk away in search of the place they are looking for. There are many factors, such as fatigue or overstimulation, that can trigger a wandering episode. Taking proactive steps to safeguard the home and reduce the risk of wandering will help families be prepared if a wandering incident occurs.

Quick Tips to Reduce the Risk of Wandering:

  • Paint doors and door frames the same color as the walls to camouflage the exits
  • Use alarms to alert you when a loved one is on the move
  • Install doorknob safety covers
  • Create pathways to steer clear of wandering opportunities

missing_senior_networkTo help ease the stress and fear for families and the loved ones they care for, Home Instead Senior Care provides a free service called Missing Senior Network, which allows you to alert a personalized list of contacts if your loved one wanders or goes missing. This amazing service is part of the Prevent Wandering public education campaign and allows you to set up a private network including relatives, friends, and nearby businesses to help locate your senior loved one quickly when he or she wanders away. To learn more and sign up for the Missing Senior Network service, visit the website www.missingseniornetwork.com today! There are many other tips and services available, learn more about each one by visiting the helpful website www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com where you can also find personal experience and tips from readers.

Learning of a loved one’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia is scary. Educating yourself and being prepared for the behaviors that can result will not only help the individual living with Alzheimer’s, but also help the family cope with the disease diagnosis and keep your senior loved ones safe in their home. There are many resources available for Alzheimer’s family caregivers. Learn more about these resources, such as the Home Instead Senior Care Alzheimer’s Friendly Business program, by visiting this resource page.

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis provides services such as companionship, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, as well as support for the family caregivers, to ensure the protection of dignity of the aging senior receiving care. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is a local business offering friendly, responsive care right in your Minneapolis, Minnesota community. To inquire about any of our senior services or becoming a CAREGiver, call us at 763-544-5988 today.

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!

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.

Risk Factors with Senior Hospitalizations

Minnesota winters can be harsh on all of us, but seniors especially run a much higher risk of hospitalization during the bitter cold winter months. We think of their vulnerability to colds, influenza, pneumonia and other respiratory infections which is far more prevalent in senior care facilities compared to seniors living in their home. Weather-related falls and accidents partly due to icy Minnesota roads and sidewalks are also a high risk factor for seniors, but there are several other warning signs to look for to help prevent hospitalization.5_ways_prevent_hospitalization

To provide families with resources to minimize the major risk factors and to play an active role in hospitalization prevention, Home Instead, Inc. has created the Five Ways to Prevent Senior HospitalizationsSM guide. This guide identifies potential warning signs and risks and offers five key actions to help prevent senior hospitalization. Click here to download your copy.

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. Just slide the button between lower risk to moderate risk to higher risk and be sure to check out the resource links on each page to learn more about potential risks and help prevent senior hospitalizations.risk meter-120x120

Whether you’re a family member of a senior or a patient advocate, there are top risk factors and warning signs to watch for. The most common actions by aging adults that can help keep them out of the hospital are:

There are top lifestyle and health factors that could place seniors significantly more at-risk of hospitalization. The top lifestyle factors are: (The percent refers to nurses who said each factor puts seniors significantly more at risk.)

  • Skipping health maintenance – 85.8%
  • No one checking in on the senior adult – 77.5%
  • Being physically inactive/frail – 76.0%
  • Living alone/isolation – 73.3%

The top health factors are: (The percent refers to nurses who said each factor puts seniors significantly more at risk.)

  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s – 88.3%
  • Having 3 or more chronic health conditions – 86.8%
  • Mobility issues – 78.3%
  • History of hospitalizations – 73.5%

If your senior loved one is not tracking their daily medications, not following doctor’s orders, show a major change in behavior or is isolated, they are experiencing the most serious warning signs that indicate high risk of hospitalization.

Each section of Home Instead’s guide outlines some warning signs and risk factors, as well as specific preventative steps and resources. The goal of this guide is to strengthen the role family can take in hospitalization prevention, and to help them feel more confident about steps they can take to help keep their senior safe at home.

A hospital stay may be necessary and beneficial. But if there are ways to safely avoid it, most seniors and their caregivers would prefer that. Keeping a watchful eye on your aging loved one is important any time of the year, but especially in the winter months when their risk for hospitalization is greatly increased. Using Home Instead’s 5 Ways to Prevent Senior Hospitalizations guide and the Hospitalization Risk Meter can help family members and care providers reduce that risk and ensure your loved one stays healthy and safe at home.

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.

Senior-Friendly Home Adaptations

by John Stuck
adaptive_remodeling_mnIf after reading our blog post, 5 Housing Options for Seniors: the Advantages and Disadvantages, you’re considering the Aging in Place or Living With Family options, you may need to make some home adaptions to keep your senior loved one safe in their (or your) Minnesota home. As we mentioned, home modifications can be expensive but armed with expert advice, a solid plan and a clear vision that both you and the senior share, the experience can be positive. Most importantly, you will be rewarded with a sense of safety and security.

Research conducted by Home Instead, Inc.  provides a compelling look at senior home safety. The survey of ER doctors, seniors and adult children reveals that home isn’t always the safe haven that seniors and their loved ones dream about.  100% of ER doctors in the U.S. and Canada say it’s very important for adult children to perform a safety check of their aging parents’ homes once every year. But in the last year, only 44% (41% in Canada) have done this. Watch the Aging in Place video shown on our Housing Options blog post for some special considerations. To help families reduce the risk of injury in a senior’s home, we’re offering a free home safety checklist, an online safety assessment and recommendations for inexpensive modifications that could ensure the safety of older loved ones as part of the organization’s Making Home Safer for SeniorsSM program. To request a free home safety checklist and other materials, please call us at 763-544-5988 or fill out our contact form.

To gather this important information, we worked with specialists such as Dan Bawden, a remodeling contractor and the founder of the Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) program for the National Association of Home Builders. He offers some concerns for bringing your senior loved one into your home, along with affordable and easy fixes. (Prices are “typical” but may vary somewhat by geographical area.) Click here to download this information, print and share with a senior.

Comfort and Safety: Senior-Friendly Homes
Security Osteoporosis changes the height of some seniors, making it difficult for them to look through a door’s peephole. The Fix Add an additional, lower peephole to your front door at a cost of about $40.
Glare Glare from windows in a living or family room also can be a problem for seniors, whose eyes are more sensitive. The Fix Mini, micro or Venetian blinds can be purchased for as low as $35 to $50 and installed for about $35.
Inadequate Storage Wonder what to do with all of your elderly loved one’s possessions when they move in with you? The Fix Turn your attic into a storeroom for your senior’s possessions by installing 3/4 inch plywood sheets to your attic floor beams. Use screws, not nails, so they can be removed to get to wiring and plumbing in the future. Cost for a 150 square foot storage platform: $900.
Falls Seniors may be vulnerable to falls, particularly on or near stairs. The Fix Remove area rugs on and near the top and bottom of stairs. Make sure railings are on both sides of the stairs. Cost to add railings on one side: between $200 and $300.
Lighting Macular Degeneration and other eye issues can make older adults susceptible to vision problems. The Fix Recessed lighting — four lights placed about four feet from the corners of the ceiling — provides excellent bedroom light for older adults. Cost installed: about $150 per light fixture or $600 for a bedroom. Remodeling using contrasting colors (e.g. on stairs) can help with depth perception.
Tripping Changes in floor height between a hallway and bedroom door entry can be a tripping hazard. The Fix A wood transition strip can be installed to even out the difference. Cost? About $100.
Burns Older adults with mobility issues can be vulnerable to cooking accidents. The Fix Ovens on the market now open from the side, making it easier for someone in a wheelchair or with a walker. Cost: between $800 and $1,000.
Scalding Hot water from older faucets and valves in the shower and tub could scald a senior with neuropathy. Too cold and it can startle a senior, leading to a fall or other injury. The Fix A device in newer faucets controls the temperature and equalizes pressure when someone is showering and another family member flushes the toilet. Cost to replace older faucets and valves: about $500. Add another $500 if tile work and repairs are needed.
Slick Surfaces Bathrooms are the most dangerous rooms in the house because of slick surfaces that can contribute to falls. The Fix Install grab bars. Very attractive decorative grab bars are available at home improvement stores for about $50-$75 each. Cost to install, including the bar, about $200.
Arthritis Older adults with arthritis often cannot open round door knobs. The Fix Put lever handles on interior doors and in and out of the house. If you don’t want to replace the entire door knob, lever door knob adapters cost around $20 and can be purchased at online specialty equipment companies.
Entry Hazards Seniors coming to the front door with groceries or other packages may be at risk of dropping their merchandise or, even worse, falling. The Fix Family members or a contractor can construct a shelf on the outside of the house on which to set keys and packages. Shelves and brackets can be purchased at home improvement stores. Cost for materials and installation, $75.
Kitchen Faucet Navigating a kitchen faucet and separate spray hose can be difficult for some seniors. The Fix Kitchen faucets may be replaced with an all-in-one faucet and spray hose for easier use. A soap dispenser can then be placed in the hole that once held the spray hose. Cost for the improvement, about $350.
Kitchen Tasks Kneading bread and other kitchen tasks that might require sitting are more difficult for seniors in wheelchairs. The Fix A rolling island can be safer and more convenient. Cost: about $500.
Carpets Thick family room carpet can be a safety hazard for some seniors. The Fix A low-pile commercial grade carpet is cheaper than conventional carpet, is easier to keep clean and safer for walkers and wheelchairs. Cost: about $20 per square yard; half the cost of regular carpet and pad.
Doors Hinged closet doors may be more difficult for seniors to navigate around and take up more space. The Fix Replace hinged closet doors with bi-fold doors that fold back onto the wall for full access, and add a light to the closet; for an estimated cost of $500.
911 Emergency Could your senior loved one get help fast in an emergency if he or she were home alone? The Fix A telephone is available that prompts the numbers plaque on your house to flash when a caller dials 911 so the ambulance can more easily locate the house. Cost: about $450.

5 Fixes Under $500

In addition, Bawden offers the following safety suggestions for budget-conscious families.

  1. Replace wall-mount shower heads with handheld shower heads on a hose.
    Handheld shower heads are both convenient and safe because a senior can use the device as a fixed shower head – adjustable to the proper height – or convert it to a handheld one.
    Cost: generally less than $100. With a plumber’s help, could be up to $175 to $200.
  2. Install grab bars on the wall near the shower or tub.
    Seniors who become unsteady on their feet or start to have balance problems could be tempted to grab on to a towel bar or shower curtain and put themselves at risk of falls. Head to a big box store or super center.
    Cost: typically $30 to $60 for a good quality bar. With a pro’s help, an estimated $175 to $200 per bar for parts and labor.
  3. Convert to lever handle faucets.
    Water flow and temperature could be easier for arthritic fingers to control with a lever faucet, rather than one that twists on and off.
    Cost: usually between $170 and $250. Add about $150 to $200 for a plumber to install.
  4. Add lighting to closets and pantries.
    Dark closets could not only be safety hazards, they could make dressing more difficult for seniors.
    Cost: With attic access, a qualified electrician could install a light for around $250. Cost to add a battery-operated light: typically less than $25.
  5. Add swing clear hinges.
    Narrow doorways could be difficult for walkers and wheelchairs to navigate. Replacing standard hinges with “swing clear hinges” allows the door to swing completely clear of the door opening. This can add an extra 1.5 to 2” of clearance without widening the doorway.
    Cost of a handyman or trim carpenter: about $150. A pair of these hinges generally costs between $20 and $30.

Note: Estimates shown are U.S. only. Costs may differ in Canada. Contact a local Home Instead Senior Care franchise office in Canada for more information.

Many issues could impact an older adult’s ability to remain at home, including the effects of aging on the senses. Don’t shy away from talking with an aging parent about sensitive issues such as home safety.

A little extra help at home could be just what an older adult needs to stay safe. In fact, doctors estimate that 61% of seniors in the U.S. (66% in Canada) who come to the emergency room could benefit from more help at home.