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.

Join the Crowd: Give65

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 towards caring for seniors. GIVE65 is the first of its kind for Home Instead Senior Care and was created 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. It will take place from July 12-14, 2016. 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 12 – 14. By scheduling it 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 financial reward prizes.

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is proud to exclusively support the Park Nicollet Foundation, who applied and was carefully selected to be a recipient of donated funds during the GIVE65 crowd fundraiser. The Park Nicollet Foundation is located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota and for over 40 years has partnered with schools, nonprofits, community organizations and the local government branches to solve complex issues in the community including health concerns of seniors. The Park Nicollet Foundation is the philanthropic branch of Park Nicollet Health Services which supports hospitals and clinics and a variety of community programs in Minnesota. By donating to Park Nicollet Foundation you are helping them continue to live by their mission of improving the health and wellbeing of their patients, families and communities, right here in Minnesota.

Park Nicollet Foundation has decided to use the donated funds to implement a Senior Safety Post-Hospital Discharge Visit Program. Understanding that the time after being discharged from the hospital can be a very challenging transition for seniors, Park Nicollet Foundation is partnering with local fire departments to provide patients with a visit that gives the extra care and support they need. Area fire departments have committed to provide a visit to patients within 12-24 hours after being discharged from a hospital stay. During this visit, local firefighters ensure the elderly patients:

  • Understand how to take their medication
  • Have a follow-up visit with a medical professional scheduled and have transportation to the appointment
  • Know who to call if they are in need and understand any symptoms to be aware of
  • Have enough food to take their medicine
  • Have hazard-free homes and will replace all non-working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

The funds donated to Park Nicollet Foundation through the GIVE65 crowd fundraiser will be used to provide specialized training to the fire departments involved, obtain the technology needed for the program to be successful and the development of infrastructure and protocol for digital information exchange. The program fundraising goal is $26,000. Home Instead Senior Care Foundation is offering a $5,000 match and the opportunity for an additional $10,000 if Park Nicollet Foundation either raises the most money or has the most donors. If you are interested in getting involved and being a GIVE65 donor or would like to learn more about Park Nicollet Foundation, you can find more details here: https://www.give65.org/parknicollet

The benefits of a program such as this are great for all involved. The seniors will see decreased readmission hospital rates and a better understanding of their care and transition plan. The firefighters involved have an opportunity to build relationships with their community members, improve the safety of our local aging population and reduce the costly emergency calls to their department. Park Nicollet Foundation and Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis are proud to partner with fire departments from the St. Louis Park, Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Minneapolis communities to roll out the Senior Safety Post-Hospital Discharge Visit Program

The Minneapolis area senior population needs our help and your donation to Park Nicollet Foundation through the GIVE65 crowd fundraising program 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, 2016, 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. Together we can make a difference in the lives of the seniors in our local communities!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Tips for Initiating “The Talk”

Having trouble talking to your aging parents about issues that might arise from trying to maintain independence in their Minneapolis home? You’re not alone. Last month, we provided resources that will aid you in having “the talk” such as an interactive guide to find resources that can assist you with aging considerations. But for some, the barrier is just getting the conversation started.home care mn

Biggest obstacle to communicating difficult issues with parents:

31% Continuation of parent/children role
16% Parents refuses to talk
12% Physical issues
10% Child feels unprepared
8% Distance
5% Fear

Last month, we heard from a woman who’s parents had difficulty discussing aging issues with her. It can be just as difficult for the children of seniors to face their parents mortality as it is for the seniors themselves. Whether you’re a child of aging parents in Minneapolis or a senior  yourself and need help getting these important conversations off the ground, visit our Conversations Starters page for more information.HomeInstead_40-70Booklet_Web

Seven Tips to Help Boomer Children Communicate With Their Aging Parents:

Home Instead Senior Care has teamed up with communication expert Jake Harwood, Ph.D., from the University of Arizona, to offer tips to help family caregivers communicate with their aging parents on sensitive subjects.

Get Started.
If you’re 40 or your parents are 70, it’s time to start observing and gathering information carefully and thoughtfully. Don’t reach a conclusion from a single observation and decide on the best solution until you have gathered information with an open mind and talked with your parents. Even if you’re younger than 40, it still may be valuable to initiate a conversation on healthy aging. Watch this humorous video about two young children having “the talk” with their parents.

Talk it out.
Approach your parents with a conversation. Discuss what you’ve observed and ask your parents what they think is going on. If your parents acknowledge the situation, ask what they think would be good solutions. If your parents don’t recognize a problem, use concrete examples to support your case.

Sooner is best.
Talk sooner rather than later when a crisis has occurred. If you know your loved one has poor eyesight or has trouble driving at night, begin to address those issues before a problem arises.

Maximize the Independence.
Always try to move toward solutions that provide the maximum amount of independence for the older person. Look for answers that optimize strengths and compensate for problems. For instance, if your loved ones need help at home, look for tools that can help them maintain their strengths. Professional caregiving services, such as those offered by Home Instead Senior Care, provide assistance in a number of areas including meal preparation, light housekeeping or medication reminders. Or find friends who can help.

Be aware of the whole situation.
If your dad dies and soon afterward your mom’s house seems to be in disarray, it’s probably not because she suddenly became ill. It’s much more likely to stem from a lack of social support and the loss of a life-long relationship. Make sure that your mom has friends and a social life. The Minneapolis area is full of opportunities for senior activity!

Forget the Baby Talk
Remember how much you disliked being spoken to as a child when you were a teen? Patronizing speech or baby talk will put older adults on the defensive and convey a lack of respect for them. Put yourself in your parents’ shoes and think of how you would want to be addressed in the situation.

Ask for Help
Many of the issues of aging can be solved by providing parents with the support they need to continue to maintain their independence. Resources such as Home Instead Senior Care, Minneapolis Area Agencies on Aging and local senior centers can help provide those solutions.

home care mnIdentifying Mom’s Needs Key to Reaching Family Consensus

The signs all point to trouble for Mom. You and your siblings are concerned, but not sure how to proceed, especially because your mother is reluctant to leave her longtime Minnesota home. Leaving home, though, is only one option, and the least popular among older adults, many of whom just need a little help around the house. Read more about the 5 housing options for seniors.

Q. My 75-year-old mother’s house seems to be in a progressively worse state of disarray each time I make my monthly visit. My sister tries to help out a couple of times a week, and Mom has told her that she’s not ready for a care facility yet. Our brother, who lives 800 miles away and seldom visits, thinks we might be overreacting. Our minds are racing — is it time to persuade her to move out or does she just need more help?

There’s no need to panic since it appears that your mother is not in immediate danger. Take a slow and steady approach that involves observation to try to pinpoint the exact nature of your mom’s issues. Make it clear to Mom you want to work together on a solution so that she isn’t fearful that decisions about her fate are being made behind her back.

Then ask yourselves these questions: Is the problem simply that your mother is physically challenged by strenuous housework or is she deteriorating mentally? Does she just need help tidying up around the house or are other aspects of her personal care, such as bathing, going downhill?

Be on the lookout for warning signs that a senior could be in trouble including:

  1. Neglected personal hygiene resulting in wearing dirty clothes, body odor, bad breath, neglected nails and teeth, sores on the skin.
  2. Neglected home that is not as clean or sanitary as you remember growing up. Remember, senior safety starts at home.
  3. Changed relationship patterns such that friends and neighbors have expressed concerns.
  4. Physical problems such as burns or injury marks resulting from general weakness, forgetfulness, or possible misuse of alcohol or prescribed medications.
  5. Changed eating habits within the last year resulting in weight loss, having no appetite or missed meals. Learn the 10 warning signs a senior’s nutrition is in danger.
  6. Decreased or stopped participation in activities that were previously important to them such as bridge or a book club, dining with friends, or attending religious services.
  7. Forgetfulness resulting in unopened mail, piles of newspapers, unfilled prescriptions or missed appointments. This could be the start of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.
  8. Mishandled finances such as not paying bills, losing money, paying bills twice or more, or hiding money. Watch this video to learn more about the importance of having “the talk” about finances.
  9. Unusual purchases such as buying more than one magazine subscription of the same magazine, entering a number of contests or excessive purchases from television advertisements.
  10. Inappropriate behavior including being unusually loud or quiet, paranoid, agitated and making phone calls at all hours.

If the problem is physical, then begin the conversation with an offer to have someone come in more often to help with things such as light housekeeping chores and meal preparation.

Good luck with your conversations. Careful observation, communication and a plan of action all will help your family make the best decisions. What’s more, your Home Instead Senior care can serve as a resource by providing a free in-home evaluation.