All posts by Samantha Colaianni

6 Ways to Make Traveling with Older Adults Smooth Sailing

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to start mapping out vacation and travel plans for the coming months. Just because someone’s reached a certain age, it doesn’t mean they can no longer travel. Traveling with aging loved ones just takes a little more planning and preparation. These tips for aging travelers will make traveling and vacationing more comfortable and less stressful for all involved.

There’s No Age Limit on Travel

By Patricia Charles, LMSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member

Whether you have fond memories of lazy days on the beach or adventures in exotic locales, now that your loved one is getting older taking a family vacation may seem difficult. You may even wonder if your days of family vacations are over.

While your family vacation will be different than before, it doesn’t mean you can’t travel with an aging loved one. Let’s explore some tips to make vacationing easier for the older traveler.

1. Schedule a check-up.

An important first step is to make sure your loved one is cleared for travel by his or her primary care doctor, especially if they have a health condition that requires accommodation. Visiting the doctor before travels allows time to assess and address any medical conditions that could hinder travel plans.

If travel is taking you out of the country, your loved one may need vaccines recommended for the countries being visited. Check the Center for Disease Control for the most updated information on necessary shots required for specific countries. Take this information with you when you visit the doctor.

2. Compile a list of medications in advance.

Ask the doctor for specific travel tips as well as any necessary medications. In addition to keeping up  regular medication regimen while traveling, the doctor may also recommend additional medications such as remedies for motion sickness, altitude illness, or diarrhea. Remember – it’s important to watch out for possible drug interactions between daily medications and any new medications that are recommended for travel!

If you are checking luggage, it’s recommended to travel with medications in a carry-on in case checked luggage is lost. Pack enough medicine for the duration of the trip, plus a few days extra in case of travel delays.  Additionally, if your loved one has health concerns and you are traveling out of the country you may want to consider purchasing a travel health insurance package.

3. Strategize your flight times.

Older adults may not have the stamina to handle multiple connections and/or travelling early morning or late at night.  Booking a nonstop flight reduces travel time, while planning a mid-morning or early afternoon departure can help avoid fatigue before you’ve reached your destination.  Anticipate your loved one might be anxious about the travel experience, so talk to their doctor about a mild anxiety medication. Even the most experienced travelers can find travel to be an anxiety-inducing experience.

4. Request assistance ahead of time.

Before you travel, consider accommodations your loved one may need. Does he or she use a wheelchair or need special seating? You can request an escort from airport staff to help get your loved one to their seat, stow their bags, or simply enjoy the ease of boarding before other passengers.

Seniors are able to request assistance in the airport from the time they arrive to the time they board,  and can request assistance getting to the gate by asking at the check-in desk for a ride on a cart or assistance with a wheelchair. Additionally, seniors requiring special assistance can board before other travelers through priority boarding.

Don’t forget to plan for accommodations at the destination as well! Contact hotels or tour companies to make sure they can handle your needs.

5. Plan activities sparingly.

When traveling with an older loved one you may have to take it slower than you normally would, accounting for time to rest and relax . Everyone is different, but in many cases planning just one activity before lunch is enough and include downtime between lunch and dinner. This same schedule often works well for families with young children, so inter-generational travel can work out surprisingly well!

Think about planning indoor activities, whether to account for possible bad weather or extreme temperatures, or because your loved one simply doesn’t feel up to going out one day.  Building in time for watching old movies, playing card games, or creating a memory book of your travels are all possible activities.

If your loved one receives care at home and you will be traveling without hired assistance, speak with the caregiver  to get some ideas about things they like to do, as well as their daily routine. And don’t forget to ask about favorite foods and snacks!

6. Consider hiring help.

An Aging Life Care Professional™ can help you develop a personalized plan for your travels including identifying potential challenges and options to make the best of your travels – even with medical and functional challenges. For example, a care manager can help connect you with companion help at your destination, secure durable medical equipment, and ensure you have appropriate documentation and accommodations in case of emergencies.

Finally, don’t forget to have the time of your life.  Safe travels!

 

About the author: Patricia Charles, LMSW, CMC is the Lead Training Consultant with SeniorBridge. She  has been a social work professional in nonprofit and philanthropic organizations for the past 30 years and a member of ALCA since 2008. She is a highly skilled Aging Life Care™ Manager, as well as a lecturer and educator. You can email Patricia at pcharles@seniorbridge.com and follow SeniorBridge on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

5 Tips for Planning for the Future When a Parent Is Still Healthy

It’s easy to put off planning for a parent or loved one’s care when that person is still healthy and able to care for themselves. Rather than wait for a crisis to strike, take time to plan for how you can maintain your loved one’s  safety and quality of life. Here are five strategies to keep status quo. 

When An Aging Parent is Fine…Strategies to Maintain Status Quo

by Miriam Zucker, LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM – Member of the Aging Life Care Association®

As an Aging Life Care Specialist™, I’m often contacted by family members asking for reassurance that they are not overlooking a need of an aging loved one. Because these are not emergency or crisis calls, these meetings give me an opportunity to discuss current care and future planning.

During a thorough assessment, I evaluate a broad array of areas including medical history, cognitive function, financial status, familial and community supports, as well as status of critical health and legal documents. When these questions don’t raise any red flags, I find myself having to reassure the family that they fortunate. But, at the same time, like a good scout – be prepared and practice prevention.

So just what is it I am telling families? It’s something like car maintenance. No squeaking brakes, or dashboard lights on, but you still bring your car in for maintenance. Some older adults, if you excuse the analogy, are just like that. Blessed with good health – realistic and accepting of their needs – they can remain safely in their homes.

To maintain status quo, Aging Life Care Specialists suggest five strategies:

1. A medic alert pendant or bracelet. Look for a system that has a fall alert built into its sensor. Unlike the commercials, there is no need to dial the phone, the sensor picks up on the fall and calls the designated numbers immediately.

2. Maintain a current list of all medications (and know where to find the list).

3. A notation of any food, medication, or latex allergies .

4. Prominently display a Community DNR (this is different than a hospital DNR).

5. A daily check-in call. Such calls allow for an adult child (or designated caller) to pick up on the slightest of changes in a parent’s cognitive status. Infections in older adults travel at lightning speed with altered mental status as one of the hallmarks that something is wrong. Urinary tract infections are notorious for causing this altered status.

One particular service that facilitates much of the above is Vial of Life . The Vial of Life program helps individuals compile their complete medical information and have it ready in their home for emergency personnel to reference.

These small but essential steps go a long way in helping an aging adult maintain his/her independence while at the same time living safely in their beloved home. Don’t wait for an emergency to seek the help of an Aging Life Care Specialist. Connect with one now to start the assessment process and build a maintenance plan that maximizes quality of life for everyone. Search for an expert at aginglifecare.org.

About the author: Miriam Zucker, LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM, is an Aging Life Care Specialist practicing in Westchester County, New York. A social worker by training, she also serves on the faculty of The Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity where she helped found the Certificate Program in Geriatric Care Management.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Last Minute (But Thoughtful) Gift Ideas for the Older Adult

The last few shopping days are here and you’ve found yourself stuck thinking about what to give that special elder in your life. Here are some different and thoughtful holiday gift ideas for seniors that won’t clutter the house or require  an  engineering degree to assemble. 

Last Minute (But Thoughtful) Gift Ideas for the Older Adult

by Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC — Aging Life Care Association® Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy

Many older adults say they really don’t need anything, but you feel you should give them a gift. What should it be?   Mom and Dad have the sweater you gave them last Christmas still hanging in the closet with the tags on…they say they want to save it for a special occasion.

Here are some gift ideas for seniors that are just a little bit different:

1. Pre-plant a large pot with spring blooming bulbs and help them place it where it will get the rain it needs now and necessary sun in the spring.

2. Buy tickets to an afternoon concert in a small, easy-to-access venue (a local college or church). Include a gift card for lunch at a favorite spot.

3. Make a scrapbook of pictures of you and your siblings as children over the years and add comments of “gratitude” on the pages about your memories of that day or event. What you remember might be different than what your parent remembered.

4. Give an iPod programmed with music from the time your parents were young adults. Include a good pair of headphones (not earbuds) and teach them how to use it.  This is also a great gift for those with dementia. If your loved one resides in a living facility or at home with caregivers, teach the caregivers and aides how to use the iPod and ask that they have music time once a day.

It is important to realize and understand that an aging adult’s inability to reciprocate gift giving often makes them feel “bad.” You being creative and sensitive to those seniors who express not wanting gifts shows respect, not lack of love.

About the author:  Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC, is the Founder and President of Eldercare Services in Walnut Creek, CA. She is also a partner of the VillagePlan. Linda is a Fellow of the Leadership Academy and a past-president of the Aging Life Care Association™. Linda has more than 30 years experience working as a Care Manager. You can reach her at linda@EldercareAnswers.com, or connect with her via social media: FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Be Prepared: Making a Plan for Winter Weather

2017 has been the year of severe weather , and this winter may bring with it snow, freezing temperatures, ice,  or heavy rains. All of this greatly impacts the safety and well-being of the elderly, especially when weather events strike unexpectedly or with speed. Here are some tips from the experts in aging well to help aging adults get ready for winter weather.

Before a Storm
  • Stay informed and sign up for severe weather alerts through your local city or state resource
  • Refill prescriptions and have an extra supply of other medical necessities
  • Buy extra food, including non-perishables, and bottled water (and don’t forget pet food or supplies if needed)
  • Keep vehicles filled with gas and have tires checked for safety
  • Clear debris from downspouts and gutters
  • Have trees inspected and remove any dead limbs
  • Have evacuation routes planned with identified medical centers
  • Identify an individual or company to shovel snow from driveways, stairs
  • Make sure outside furnace vents are clear and carbon monoxide alarms are working
  • Inspect outside plumbing, insulating any exposed pipes
Prepare for Power Outages
  • If using oxygen, bi-pap, c-pap or other equipment, you will need a generator
  • Purchase battery operated, plug-in lights that automatically turn on when the power goes out
  • Make sure you have working flashlights within reach and extra batteries
  • Keep cell phones charging so you have a full charge at power loss
Plan for Caregivers
  • If you rely on caregivers, consider the following:
  • Arrange for a live-in caregiver
  • Build a relationship with neighbors that may be able to temporarily fill-in
  • Plan temporary or respite stay with a nursing home, assisted living community, or hospice
Safety
  • Keep areas around space heaters clear
  • Use space heaters with automatic shut-off
  • Gas stoves or ovens should never be used as a heating source
  • Do not attempt to climb ladders
  • Do not walk on frozen stairs, sidewalks, or driveways

For more winter weather tips and planning, visit the public safety website of Massachusetts – a state very familiar with severe winter weather.

With knowledge of local resources, An Aging Life Care Professional® can  build an emergency weather plan for your aging loved one. Find one to consult at aginglifecare.org.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Making the Most of the Holidays When a Loved One Has Dementia

Celebrating the Holidays with Dementia

by Lisa Mayfield, MA, LMHC, GMHS, CMC, Principal, Fellow Certified Care Manager

The holidays can often be a time filled with high expectations, requiring lots of energy and engagement in non-stop activities. For the individuals and families living with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, it can be challenging and a time of high anxiety. Festivities can agitate, confuse, and overstimulate persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Meanwhile, caregivers can feel anxious, frustrated, and lonely.

To minimize the anxiety and encourage a happy holiday season for the entire family, a little advanced thought and planning can go a long way in ensuring everyone has a wonderful time. Remembering that the holidays, at their best, are a time for enjoying one another’s company and sharing gratitude for each other can make some advanced planning go a long way.

Here are some stress busters that have worked for other families and might prove successful for your celebrations:

  1. Let guests know what to expect before they arrive. If your loved one is in the early stages of dementia, it’s likely family and friends won’t notice any changes. The person with middle or late stage dementia may have trouble following conversation or tend to repeat him- or herself. Family can help with communication by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish his or her thoughts. Make sure visitors understand that changes in behavior and memory are caused by the disability and not the person. Understanding, acceptance and patience go a long way.
  2. Adjust expectations. The challenges of caregiving responsibilities combined with holiday expectations can take a toll. Invite family and friends to a conversation ahead of time. Be honest about any limitations or needs, such as keeping a daily routine, or making modifications to plans to minimize holiday stress. The goal here is time together. Your loved one will enjoy the company of friends and family. Let their presence be their present!
  3. Be good to YOU! This is often the hardest step. But giving yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage is one of the most precious gifts you can give yourself. If you’ve always had a large group at your home, consider having only a few guests for a simple meal. Let others participate by having a potluck dinner or ask them to host at their home. This is the time to be especially gentle and kind with yourself. This is also a great time to practice saying “No” and pace yourself.
  4. Involve the person with dementia. Focus on activities, traditions and memories that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs or looking through old photo albums. Involve the person in holiday preparation. As abilities allow, invite him or her to help you decorate, prepare food, set the table, wrap packages, or address holiday cards.
  5. Maintain a normal routine. Sticking to the person’s normal routine will help keep the holidays from becoming overly stressful or confusing. Plan time for breaks and rest. Make sure to have favorites at the ready: holiday music, movies, clothing and food. All these familiar favorites can bring comfort and build enjoyment into a holiday celebration.
  6. Use the buddy system. Plan ahead to have family and friends take turns being the buddy to your loved one. This is a great way to encourage one-on-one time as well as to shield the individual with dementia from distress. It also gives a break to the primary caregiver.
  7. Engage an Aging Life Care Professional®. Aging Life Care Professionals are the experts in aging well.  We understand dementia, aging, family systems, and the myriad of challenges and obstacles that families experience in caring for a loved one.  An Aging Life Care expert can help anticipate issues and address them before they happen, offering the options and wise counsel on how to navigate the holidays successfully. Our focus is on the well-being of the older adults in your life, while also helping you to care for yourself.  By engaging an Aging Life Care professional, you are working with someone who takes a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults. Visit the Aging Life Care Association website to locate an expert near you.

By setting realistic expectations, involving others, maintaining a routine, and keeping activities and traditions to a select few, you can ensure yourself, your loved one, and family and friends a low stress, memorable, and successful holiday season.

Author Lisa Mayfield, MA, LMHC, GMHS, CMC, Principal, Fellow Certified Care Manager, founded Aging Wisdom® in 2003, recognizing early in her career that problem-solving and thoughtful, personalized care management were what most people needed, not therapy, to address the challenges and concerns of aging. When she discovered the Aging Life Care profession (AKA geriatric care management), she immersed her herself fully in the profession, and Aging Wisdom was born.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Make the Most of Holiday Visits: What to Look for When Visiting Aging Adults

Holidays are occasions that many of us spend with family, whether we live down the block or across the country.  For those with aging parents or loved ones, these visits are an important time to take stock amidst the hustle and bustle, and to make plans. 

Make the Most of Holiday Visits: What to Look for When Visiting Aging Adults

By Heather Imhoff, MSW, LMSW – Aging Life Care Association™ Member

Notable changes in an aging person’s appearance, behavior, or environment can be warning signs that his or her health, mentation, and function are changing.  Make the most of your holiday visits and note any changes from your last visit. If you notice changes, dig in while you are there to further assess the situation and determine if intervention or help is needed.

Start by Making Observations

Person-centered:

  • Has your loved one’s hygiene changed?
  • Is he or she wearing clothing that is dirty, falling apart or inappropriate for the weather?
  • Has there been a significant weight change?
  • Has his or her gait changed? Are they “couch surfing” or using furniture items for support while walking through the home?
  • Any bruises or cuts that you can see?
  • Are they using mobility or other adaptive equipment properly?

Behavior:

  • Has mom or dad stopped going out for social engagements? Discontinued activities that were important to them?
  • Do they have any new friends or organizations who they have a lot of contact with? Is anyone or any organization asking for repeated or large donations or loans?
  • Do they seem forgetful or more repetitious in conversation?
  • Does he or she seem more withdrawn or sad?

Environment:

  • Looking at their home environment, are there areas of disrepair? Obstructed walkways?  Burned out light bulbs?
  • Any changes in cleanliness of the home, especially in the kitchen and bathroom? Are there items piling up on counters, table tops, or spare rooms?  Unopened mail?
  • Check the fridge to see if there are expired or spoiled food items.
  • Does their car have scratches or other areas of damage?
Important Conversations

If any of these questions lead to concerning answers, it is vital to start a conversation with your loved one about your observations.  Try to remain open and curious, not making assumptions or judgement since issues great and small can lead to similar presentations.

Here’s an example:

Dad is wearing light summer clothing even though it seems too cold.  This may be because his cognition is declining and he is not oriented to what month or season it is.  Alternately, you may learn that most of his warmer sweaters have buttons and his advancing arthritis makes it difficult for him to manage these closures.  Perhaps his winter clothing is stored in the attic or a high shelf that is difficult to access because of strength or balance issues.  Or he may relay that he’s been very busy with his men’s group and just hasn’t gotten around to switching out his wardrobe.

It is important to understand whether your loved one is aware of the issues you’ve noticed, and if he or she sees it as a problem or not.   What are her thoughts, has she attempted to address the situation? What are the barriers that he or she has encountered to resolving the problem.

It can be difficult for someone with a lifetime of independence to admit that they need assistance.  Many of these red flag issues are highly personal in nature, so depending on the circumstances and the personality of the older person, these topics may need to be approached gently and with compassion.

Preferences and Health Care Wishes

Also consider talking about what is important to your loved one.  What gives them a good quality of life?  And a vitally important question: What are their health care wishes?  People fall all over the spectrum when it comes to thinking about, talking about, and making legal documents specifying their health care wishes.  Wherever your loved one falls on this spectrum, it is important to check-in regularly or in some cases, for the first time about their thoughts and preferences about medical care, where they want to live, and what they want their lives to look like.

If dad has already prepared legal documents designating health care decision-making agents and even some advance directives about treatment options, does he still feel the same?  Do the appropriate people and organizations have copies of these documents?  If this conversation has never been broached, test the waters.  See if this is a topic your loved one avoids or welcomes.

The observations made and conversations that take place during holiday visits are most often starting points rather than final conclusions.  Most of these topics are on-going and evolving as your loved one continues to age.  There are resources available in all states to help navigate elder support services and having as clear a picture as possible about what your loved one is struggling with will help target these resources.

A good starting point is your community Area Agency on Aging offices or connect with an Aging Life Care Professional™ in the area who can offer assistance.  Most importantly, enjoy your time together celebrating and giving thanks!

About the author: Heather Imhoff has eight years of experience as an Aging Life Care Professional in both publicly and privately funded sectors.  She is currently a care manager at EGIS Care & Support in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Follow Heather on Twitter at @egis_care or email her at heather.egisnm@aol.com.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Choosing an Assisted Living Residence: Is Free Advice the Best Advice?

Choosing an Assisted Living Residence: Is Free Advice the Best Advice?

By Miriam Zucker LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM

Often when family members seek the guidance of an Aging Life Care specialist, it is at a time of change. The concerns may be about obtaining home care, learning of entitlements, a discharge from the hospital or a move from home to assisted living. With the latter, the ever-increasing prevalence of assisted living residences, can make the selection overwhelming.

The residences all look beautiful.  In fact, you jokingly say to yourself, “I wouldn’t mind living in one of these places myself.” Residents appear cheerfully engaged in a game of cards, attending a morning exercise class or eating what appears to be mouthwatering meal. They are attired in casual elegance with their snow-white hair coiffed to perfection. Beautiful places, beautiful people. Where to turn for advice?  In the back of your mind you recall a TV commercial or someone’s caring voice on the radio saying, “I’ve been there, I know how hard this decision can be and I can help.” You feel relieved, someone understands, there’s help and to make things even better, it’s free!

When this Aging Life Care specialist hears “free” it makes her think of those TV commercials. “Just add shipping and handling and we’ll send you the second vege-o-matic absolutely free.” There’s got to be a catch. And so it is with the free services offered in finding an assisted living residence. Let me explain.

The service is indeed free to the caller, but the offerings presented to you by the elder care adviser consists of only those assisted living residences that have signed on with the company. Those residences will pay a commission to the advisor representing the referral company, if you sign a contract with the residence they have recommended. So yes, it is free to you, with a commission coming from the assisted living once a contract is signed.

But this is the caveat, it is ONLY those assisted livings that have signed on to the referral program that the senior advisor will tell you about. What about the other senior residences that prefer not to sign on to this referral service? You, the consumer, may not learn about other assisted living facilities in the area and just maybe, they would be a better fit for your relative. Enter the Aging Life Care specialist.

The Aging Life Care specialist, is not bound by any restrictions. We have a familiarity with ALL the assisted living residences in the respective areas we serve. Often, we have had long standing relationships with the administrative staff. We have learned from our own experience and those of the families we have helped, the strengths and the weaknesses of each of these facilities. We know which ones to stay away from. The Aging Life Care specialists are looking to make the right match using their professional and experiential knowledge combined with their concrete knowledge of the array of senior residences.

So, two vege-o-matics may be nice to own, but when it comes to making the right choice for assisted living, the use of an Aging Life Care will bring a full spectrum of knowledge to the situation and only after a thorough understanding of the needs of the adult senior will recommendations be made.  And those recommendations will be based on ALL the residences in the desired geographic area.


Miriam Zucker, LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM is the founder of Directions in Aging based in New Rochelle, New York. She has been an ALC specialist since 1988. Throughout the years, she has been wined and dined by assisted living residences throughout Westchester County, New York.  But no matter the enticements, she has never been sidetracked by the fact that good food, aged wine and an annual Christmas gift, do not equate with quality care.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Where to Turn: Resources for National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a time to help raise awareness and education about Alzheimer’s and other dementias. For the families confronted with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it is easy to feel lost and overwhelmed with next steps. Find resources below to help provide information and support to those with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones.

Resources for National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is an opportunity to help spread awareness of educational tools and resources for families who are learning to live with the ever-changing stages of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. As Alzheimer’s develops, it can present new and difficult behaviors and challenges, which can feel overwhelming for the caregiver. The Aging Life Care Association® has many resources available to help caregivers navigate this difficult diagnosis.

Press Release: Aging Life Care Professionals® Provide Support and Answers During National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

The Aging Life Care Association has published a press release that contains useful resources and links for caregivers looking for help with a dementia patient. This article can be shared with local news sources, on social media, or with family, friends, and clients. Find the release here.

Blog Posts: Understanding the Stages of Dementia

ALCA member Heather Imhoff writes about the stages of dementia, how to recognize each one, and what types of behaviors and challenges accompany them. Alzheimer’s can be different for each person diagnosed with it, making it confusing or overwhelming for families and caregivers. Learn more about the different stages and their symptoms here.

Journal of Aging Life Care: Atypical Dementias

The most recent edition of the Journal of Aging Life Care contains information about atypical types of dementia, such as young-onset or frontotemporal dementia. These academic articles share information and personal accounts, bringing more light to these lesser known illnesses. Find the journal here.

Alzheimer’s Resources

Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest national voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research into the causes, treatments, prevention, and cure of Alzheimer’s disease and to providing support to the four million Americans with the disease, their families, and caregivers.

Alzinfo.org
Alzinfo.org is a tool of the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation to educate people about this devastating disease.  The mission of the website is to educate, engage, and create an online community with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access to information and support via online chats, message boards and the most comprehensive resource databases available.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Moving to a Nursing Home: Making the Right Choice for Your Family

Moving to a long-term care facility or nursing home can be a shock to an individual and to the family. And you’ve probably figured out how expensive it is. With questions ranging from cost to quality of care to food choices, you may feel overwhelmed or trapped. An Aging Life Care Professional™ can help you navigate the nursing home maze and be an extra set of eyes and ears.

Aging Life Care Professionals Know the Ins and Outs of Nursing Home Care

By Suzanne Modigliani, LICSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member and
Fellow of the Leadership Academy

 

 Why Nursing Home Care

There are many reasons someone may be living in a nursing home. After a hospitalization, your loved one may have been placed in rehabilitation; and during that rehab stay, it may have become clear the person can no longer live alone. If finances preclude in-home care, nursing home care can be covered by Medicaid if the individual is clinically and financially eligible. Or if the individual’s needs are so complex that the care of a registered nurse on a regular basis, a nursing home is a practical solution.

Paying for Nursing Home Care

All of a sudden you are told your loved one’s time in rehab is up and that he/she must go home or move to long-term care.  While the rehabilitation stay may have been covered by Medicare, the transition to a long-term care can be confusing. You probably have figured out how expensive nursing home care is. Medicaid will pay for long-term care if the individual meets specific eligibility requirements. There are very specific rules, some depending on if there is still a spouse in the community, as well as others regarding how much money the elder can have spent for certain things. If you are confused or unsure about the Medicaid application process, reach out for professional assistance from an Aging Life Care Professional or even an Elder Law Attorney.

Choosing a Nursing Home

Which nursing home is best for your loved one? A great place to begin your research is with Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website. Nursing Home Compare allows consumers to compare information based on yearly surveys conducted in person by the Department of Public Health. The website contains quality of care information on every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country – more than 15,000 nationwide.

For information beyond the survey, a local Aging Life Care Professional can offer up-to-date information and insider knowledge based on current or previous experiences with clients at particular facilities. Nursing home staff frequently turn over, so this personal, insider view is invaluable. Aging Life Care Professionals will know the little things like whether all those activities on the calendar actually happen.

Navigating the Maze

An Aging Life Care Professional can be your guide to all things nursing home. Whether you live in the same town or across the country, an Aging Life Care Professional can be your eyes and ears. These experts can also help you answer all of the questions that may be racing through your head, or that may come up along the way such as:

  • Does my relative get to choose a roommate?
  • Can she still have her favorite foods?
  • Who is my contact person at the facility?
  • Who do I tell that my mother never wears her hair that way, or that red lipstick makes her day?
  • Who is responsible for laundry and should clothes be labeled?
  • What if the roommate keeps the TV blasting late into the night?

Though nurses are on staff, the bulk of the care is provided by certified nursing assistants (CNA) who are taking care of a number of people on a daily basis. Forming a bond with the regular CNAs that assist your loved one will help you get timely information and also go a long way towards making sure your loved one is getting the care you hope for.

Nursing homes are required to have quarterly care plan meetings to establish exactly what they are doing for a resident. There need to be goals with progress towards those goals reviewed. Having an advocate attend with you – or in your place – can be invaluable. If the Aging Life Care Professional knew your relative before placement in long-term care, they may have important history to share with the facility staff.

With experience working in and with nursing homes, Aging Life Care Professionals are great partners to work successfully with nursing home staff. Find a local Aging Life Care Expert at aginglifecare.org.

About the author: Suzanne Modigliani, LICSW, CMC is an Aging Life Care™ specialist in Brookline, MA who works with families to find solutions to complicated elder care problems. She has been a leader in the Aging Life Care Association and quoted extensively in the media as seen on her website modiglianigeriatrics.com.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Journal of Aging Life Care Summer 2017: Atypical Dementias

In the newest edition of the Aging Life Care Journal, Aging Life Care Professionals examine the issues faced by those who are younger and diagnosed with atypical dementias. Jennifer Pilcher-Warren, MS, PhD, CMC, is the editor-in-chief. Her message to readers is below. To read the entire issue of the Journal of Aging Life Care: Atypical Dementias, you can find it here.

From Jennifer Pilcher-Warren, MS, PhD, CMC, editor-in-chief:

Greetings!  I am very excited to present this latest issue of the Journal of Aging Life Care which explores the unique challenges for Aging Life Care Managers who are serving younger clients with atypical dementias. Having grown up in a family where both my maternal grandmother and aunt were diagnosed with Young-Onset Alzheimer’s disease, this is a topic near and dear to my own heart. However, for many of us in the care management field who have traditionally worked with geriatric clients, this is a new and often challenging population to work with.

Whether because of improved detection, increased awareness among medical providers or the fact that incidences are more frequent due to early baby boomers, the reality is we are seeing an ever-increasing number of younger clients with dementia in our practices. There is a high likelihood that these clients will have a less common type of dementia. For example, in 75% of FTD cases, onset occurs before the age of 65 (Onyike, CU; Dhiel-Scmid, J: The epidemiology of frontotemporal dementia, International Review of Psychiatry, 2013: 25: 130-137).

These clients may have recently retired or even forced to leave work, often not on good terms and thus may be experiencing devastating financial consequences. Frequently, these clients have grade school or teenage children living at home, further complicating the situation. Caregivers for clients with young-onset dementias experience levels of stress, burden, and depression that some studies suggest are even higher than for caregivers of clients with late-onset (van Vliet, D., de Vugt, M. E., Bakker, C., Koopmans, R. T. C. M. and Verhey, F. R. J. (2010), Impact of early onset dementia on caregivers: a review. Int. J. Geriat. Psychiatry, 25: 1091–1100. doi:10.1002/gps.2439). As a result, these clients, and their families, deserve a different care management approach.

Resources for this population are scarce. We, as Aging Life Care Managers, are often placing these younger clients in facilities where they have no peer group, where programming is often inappropriate, and direct care strategies are either unclear or insufficient. Moreover, in addition to age, facilities are often resistant or simply unwilling to accepting clients with atypical dementias such as FTD or Lewy Body Dementia due to stigma about associated behavioral issues. In fact, according to the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, most adult day programs and residential care facilities are not prepared to address the special needs of a younger patient, especially if their behavioral symptoms are difficult to manage. It is understandable why facilities would worry about the safety of their other residents who are not as healthy, mobile, and functionally capable as this younger population. However, as very few placement options exist for these clients, it can leave the Aging Life Care Manager perplexed and in a very difficult position.

This issue is designed to highlight the particular struggles of this type of client and increase awareness of their unique challenges. We hope the authors’ expertise provided in this issue will serve to educate and/or reinforce each reader’s understanding of the different types of atypical dementias, present real life situations where Aging Life Care Management has been effective in working with these clients, provide some strategies and techniques for working with these clients, and inform you about new, innovative, and practical ideas being used to care for this population. On behalf of the entire board and my fellow Guest Editor, Ted Aransky, MEd, LSW, CMC, we hope you enjoy this latest issue and find it beneficial.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.