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  • Jeremy Brooker
  • September 29, 2015 06:36:54 AM
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A Little About Us

The Amada Senior Care blog discusses all things senior care - including in home care, assisted living, health and wellness, nutrition, long-term care insurance, and veterans programs.

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Travel during COVID: Tips for a Senior ‘Safecation’ 

The post Travel during COVID: Tips for a Senior ‘Safecation’  appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

Summer’s here and with it comes the itch to travel. But should you attempt to go on vacation if you are a member of the senior population who is advised to minimize their risk of exposure to coronavirus? With careful planning and adherence to COVID-19 guidelines, older adults should be able to enjoy a “safe-cation” – what’s defined by popular website Travelocity as a mini getaway to destinations that are cleared for safe travel during this time. 

Keep in mind that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) emphasizes that no form of travel is completely safe: “We don’t know if one type of travel is safer than others; however, airports, bus stations, train stations and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.” This CDC travelers’ guide will keep senior travelers informed on precautions and advisories amid the continuing pandemic.  

It follows that the first step a senior adult should take when making any summer travel plans is to assess your personal situationRisk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases for older adults and the elderly, according to the CDC. Having a chronic condition like lung, heart or kidney disease puts seniors at an even higher risk for complications, including hospitalization. If you feel confident of clearing yourself for takeoff, keep reading for essential tips for planning and enjoying a safecation. 

Stay Informed 

COVID’s shifting environment requires that all of us, especially higher-risk seniors, check a variety of resources for news and guidelines on travel restrictions and advisories. The U.S. State Department website issues advisories and reports on safety conditions for traveling domestically and internationally. Many travel portals like Kayak report on travel restrictions and include information on borders, airports and state regulations. Read up on the latest travel health notices and COVID-19 travel recommendations via the CDC.  

Protect Yourself and Others 

Senior or not, by now we all know the CDC drill! Wear a cloth face mask in public. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (If soap and water are not available, bring and use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.) Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Cover coughs and sneezes. Avoid close contact; try to keep at least 6 feet of physical distance from others. 

Forget About Cruise Lines for A While 

Under the No Sail Order, most cruise lines have suspended voyages worldwide until at least September 15 while they work to implement rigorous health and safety initiatives. Royal Caribbean, Princess and Carnival have suspended cruises to Alaska for the rest of the year. If you’re a senior who loves to cruise, it’s not too early to plan for next year. The industry is bullish on a strong return next year with outlets like Condé Nast Traveler reporting that booking is hot for 2021. 

To Fly or Not to Fly? 

Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, air travel is considered safe by most experts. The tricky part is maintaining the recommended 6 feet of social distancing space between you and other people while waiting in security lines and sitting on crowded flights. Seniors are encouraged to choose an airline that has protocols in place you’re comfortable with and try to book travel for mid-week to avoid big crowds. Bring wipes and clean your seat area before sitting down. Wear your mask the entire trip. Avoid standing in line to use the lavatory. Check out these airplane germ-fighting tips from AARP.  

Consider Hitting the Road 

Road trip vacations either by car or a recreational vehicle are picking up speed with seniors since you have more control over your personal space. One free online tool that can help you create your itinerary is Roadtrippers, which provides routes, calculates mileage and travel time, and identifies points of interest, restaurants and RV campgrounds. 

Make sure to pack hand sanitizer, several masks and disinfectant wipes, along with paper towels. Always wear a mask at gas stations and rest stops and remember to use hand sanitizer before you get back in your car. Use a paper towel if you must touch door handles and faucets at rest stops.  

Bring your own food if possible (provided you can safely store it). If you buy food, use drive-through or curbside service and clean your hands before and after eating. Pay for gas, food and other necessities with a credit card to minimize contact and disinfect the card afterward. Remember to clean the inside of the car, along with phones and tablets. 

Stay Close to Home 

Instead of embarking on a long road trip, consider a weekender or an overnight within a 100-mile radius of where you live. Several booking sites like Travelocity are including information on hotel cleanliness policies and hygiene amenities like contactless check-in, complimentary hand sanitizer and social distancing measures. 

Think about staying even closer to home with a day trip. Seize the opportunity to pare down your “senior bucket list” to a “backyard bucket list” and visit local landmarks and attractions, provided there are social-distancing and other safety protocols in place.  

Travel Virtually 

Armchair travel is the new black for seniors! Hundreds of portals can give you a tour of the White Housenational parks, museums and zoos, global cultural landmarks, and countries or provide experiences like taking a dogsled ride in Alaska, riding a rollercoaster or attending a concertHop on your tablet, PC or mobile phone and search “virtual travel” or “virtual experiences at home” and you’re there! 

Travel during COVID: Tips for a Senior Safecation,” written by Michelle Flores, Amada contributor.  

The post Travel during COVID: Tips for a Senior ‘Safecation’  appeared first on Amada Senior Care.


In Appreciation of Independence, Our Beloved Veterans and Unsung Heroes

The post In Appreciation of Independence, Our Beloved Veterans and Unsung Heroes appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

By issuing its “Declaration of Independence” on July 4, 1776, the United States claimed independence from England. Fourth of July wouldn’t become an official federal holiday until 1941, but that hasn’t kept Americans from celebrating Independence Day since the 18th century and the American Revolution. It’s a given that the holiday had to look different this year, with the pandemic prompting many cities and counties to cancel fireworks displays, parades and other festivities. We’re encouraged to stay safe and minimize risk by avoiding large groups, continuing the habit of social distancing, wearing a mask in public, and practicing hand hygiene.

We can still embrace a fresh appreciation for our nation’s freedoms and honor veterans who fought in a range of battles: World War II (about 325,000 vets are alive today, reports the Department of Veterans Affairs), the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and Operations Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). Our duty as Americans is to honor those who have made sacrifices to preserve our freedom and independence. This duty often is forgotten in the usual frenzy of festivities, but this pandemic year gives us the opportunity to contemplate the true meaning of Independence Day. In addition to honoring veterans, we can also pay respect to the countless unsung heroes — paid and family caregivers, nurses, doctors, social workers, hospital workers, pharmacists — and so many others who serve our veterans not only on this holiday but every day of the year.

At Amada Senior Care, we are honored to be in the position to care for those who have given so much. Our goal is to provide exceptional and compassionate caregiving to enable clients to live safely at home and as independently as possible. More than a few Amada franchise owners were motivated to pursue caregiving because of a loved one who served. Many more franchise owners continue to be inspired by the courage and commitment of veterans under their care. Continue reading to learn why:

“Helping people has always been my passion, especially working with our veterans,” says Glen Schecter of Amada Ventura County. “My dad was a WWII veteran and worked as a veteran’s advocate for more than 30 years. Thanks to his influence, helping veterans and seniors has been part of my life both personally and in business.”

Glen’s dad, Mort Schecter, was a tail gunner during the war, serving in the Army Air Corps from 1942-45. According to this article, he flew 35 combat missions in France and Germany aboard a B-24 Liberator.

Mort and his crew pose behind the B-24 bomber in which they flew during WWII.

As a member of Jewish War Veterans and the American Legion, Mr. Schecter would spend 25 years as a volunteer three times each week at the Sepulveda Veterans Ambulatory Care Center. On Nov. 3, 2012 at the age of 89, he received the Veteran of the Year Award from the County of Los Angeles Department of Military and Veterans Affairs during a ceremony at the Rose Bowl.

Mort Schecter (in brown jacket) receives the Veteran of the Year Award from the County of Los Angeles Department of Military and Veterans Affairs during a Nov. 3, 2012, ceremony at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

“I asked my dad ‘Why did you pick that position?’” Glen said. “He told me jokingly, ‘So I can go back and take a nap when I needed to.’”

Mort Schecter also was awarded the Legion of Honour medal (the highest decoration bestowed in France) that was presented personally by the Counsul General of France. Mr. Schecter passed away at age 93 in 2016, having helped hundreds of veterans.

Glen Schecter, VP of Client Relations
Amada Senior Care of Ventura County (CA)


“John told me of the difficulties he had to deal with caring for the men he led and protecting them with his own body,” said Bob Schricker of Amada Nashville about his client (and now close friend) John Tucker. “He said that the way he deals with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is that he had to do something that was bigger than him after he returned from Vietnam. He felt he would have been a suicide statistic like many other veterans if it weren’t for his grandmother’s earlier guidance as he was growing up. It is an honor to help John.”

Bob Schricker visits with Vietnam veteran John Tucker.

“I am a Vietnam veteran as well and we developed a friendship right away,” added Bob, who served as an Army drill instructor. John is confined to a wheelchair due to arthritic knees, and Bob was able to obtain medical equipment from the VA to assist with his mobility around his home. Bob installed a carpet runner so that he could wheel about easier. Bob also was successful in arranging local medical care for John who, although he can drive, was having difficulty making the long drive to the Nashville VA Medical Center.

John, who will soon be 77, has gained his upper body strength back since his hospitalization two years ago.  He is featured on the Wall of Heroes at the Veterans Clinic in Gallatin. About a year ago, John and Bob were guests on “PTSD Warrior Stories,” a YouTube series by veteran and country singer Chris Turner.

“We are honored to serve this patriot,” said Kevin Fehr, owner of Amada Nashville and founder of CommuniServe, a nonprofit that raises funds to help pay for services for veterans.

Kevin Fehr, Owner, and Bob Schricker, Caregiver and Director of Community Relations
Amada Senior Care of Nashville

 


“At Amada Senior Care of WV, we are so honored to have many veterans under our care. THREE of our clients are 99-year-old WWII veterans! Each of these veterans had outstanding military careers and it has been so enlightening to hear their stories of their heroic service.

Mr. Freeland is a Marine Corps veteran.

Mr. Freeland served in the Marine Corps and was a member of the Edson Raiders from 1940-44. This was a special unit for amphibious light infantry operations, typically landing in rubber boats and operating behind the lines. Mr. Freeland was a platoon leader who was present at the Battle of Iwo Jima. He will turn 100 in September and is still healthy enough to live at home alone with just a little help from the VA and Amada Senior Care.

Mr. Dumont served in the Navy Air Corps.

We started service earlier this year with Mr. Dumont on his 99th birthday! He served in the Navy Air Corps from 1938 to 1942.  After his military service, he went on to a long career with Union Carbide and is still a highly active member of the Putnam County community. He was flooded with calls on his birthday and continues to have many caring visitors call and stop by to check on him.”

Kari Peyatte, Owner
Amada Senior Care of West Virginia

 


Ways to Honor Vets and Celebrate Independence

Treasure your independence, the independence of others and sacrifices made by our veterans this Fourth of July. Here are easy ways to do that:

  • Take Time to Reflect on what independence means to you or what it meant to veterans who made sacrifices for it.
  • Read up on history to learn about the Revolutionary War and other conflicts our veterans have fought in to protect freedom.
  • Say “thank you” to any veteran you know or meet.
  • Listen to a veteran’s story with patience and attention. Let them share their experience, hardship and lessons to a kind, listening ear.
  • Hold a moment of silence with your family or friends at your Fourth of July get-together to reflect on fallen warriors and the value of independence.
  • Volunteer at a local institution that benefits veterans in need.
  • Donate to an organization that provides financial assistance to veterans.

 

“In Appreciation of Independence, Our Beloved Veterans and Unsung Heroes,” written by Michelle Flores, Amada contributor, with some content updated from “Treasuring Independence by Caring for Our Veterans,” by Michelle Mendoza, Amada Blog contributor.

 

 

The post In Appreciation of Independence, Our Beloved Veterans and Unsung Heroes appeared first on Amada Senior Care.


Memory Loss: When to be Worried and How to Help

The post Memory Loss: When to be Worried and How to Help appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

Here’s something to keep in mind: Occasional forgetfulness – aka “having a senior moment” – is a normal process of aging. Keys are easy to lose, so there’s no need to panic when you or your elderly loved one misplaces them. The same goes for forgetting names or mixing up words. Likewise, anyone can forget an appointment, fail to recall that one word “on the tip of their tongue” or become easily distracted. Still, signs of memory loss can trigger significant worry for aging adults and their families considering about 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and that one in three seniors dies with the disease or another of the 70 known types of dementia. 

Something else to keep in mind: There is a difference between normal age-related memory loss and serious memory impairment. As we age, our memory makers and keepers (our brains) change. The adult cortex starts to shrink in our 40s, neurons in the brain atrophy, aging brains get less blood flow, and some of our abilities to remember words, people and habits decline as a result. When these scientific, physical changes are near inevitable for almost every human, why is it still hard to accept changes in memory as at least partially inevitable, too? 

In addition to the normalcy of these changes, it is also normal for us to compare ourselves or seniors we love to more cognitively sharp, previous selves if memory loss happens. There can be embarrassment surrounding forgetfulness, making it seem like it’s detrimental to our intelligence or former reputation. This article will help you understand that many aspects of memory loss are nothing to feel embarrassed about. More importantly, it will teach you when to take memory loss seriouslyif it is an actual threat to you or your senior loved one. 

 What is Memory Care? 

Memory care is a “distinct form of long-term care designed to meet the specific needs of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other types of memory problems,” according to Alzheimers.net. Memory care communities are safe places for people with memory problems to receive special services accommodating their unique needs. Memory care communities often provide 24-hour supervision, assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) and medical monitoring. Staff members are trained particularly for assisting people with dementia or impaired cognition. Sometimes, assisted living facilities have a separate area or wing for memory care, which can be called a special memory care unit (SCU). 

While memory care can refer to the service and location where aging adults with memory problems can receive supervised long-term care, the act of memory care itself is just as instrumental in securing the wellbeing and safety of seniors with memory impairments. 

How can seniors and families of seniors take care of memory, preserve cognitive vitality and cope with the symptoms of memory problems? 

The Difference Between Normal and Serious 

Memory problems become apparent when an individual’s lifestyle is affected by it. This affect can be small; perhaps as you age you’ve noticed certain inconsequential lapses in memory when you communicate with others or misplace items. When the effect of memory problems exceeds a certain limit and negatively impacts your lifestyle, it is serious. You, as the senior undergoing the change or the family member observing it, must know the difference between normal age-related memory changes and serious cognitive impairment. 

You are undergoing normal, age-related changes in memory and if these signifiers apply to you or your elderly loved one: 

  • Can become easily distracted
  • Occasionally forgets times for appointments
  • Forgets names
  • Occasionally forgetting where you leave things
  • Able to function independently
  • Able to recall past incidents of forgetfulness
  • Has no trouble holding conversations
  • Doesn’t get lost in familiar places
  • Has the same judgment and decision-making ability

These are changes in memory that you or your elderly loved one may be suffering from or beginning to experience dementia or other serious memory problems: 

  • Difficulty performing simple tasks
  • Forgetting how to do things you’ve done many times
  • Having trouble making decisions
  • Showing poor judgment
  • Behaving socially inappropriately
  • Getting lost or disoriented in familiar places
  • Forgetting words frequently
  • Repeating phrases and stories in the same conversation

If you are unable to distinguish the difference between normal and serious, problematic memory loss, please speak to a primary physician about any of your concerns. You also can turn to an Amada Senior Care advisor for information and resources, whether you’re a current client or now. Here are complete lists of symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for your reference. 

Tools for Aging Adults 

It is scientifically proven that behavior changes can help people stay sharp for as long as possible. A study called “Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly,” also known as ACTIVE, found that short mental workouts improve mental performance and can even sustain it for up to five years. This means that challenging yourself mentally by exercising memorization, reasoning or visual concentration can promote cognitive vitality. So can other lifestyle strategies that you can read about here. 

Some people think good memory is the ability to recall things immediately. Good memory is actually good learning and retention of information. A strong mind can associate new information it encounters with other information it already holds. For example, making a mental note of where you leave your keys, like “They are by the fruit on the table,” will associate something new to remember (where your keys are) with something you already know (the fruit is always on the table). Besides making mental notes to remember things you’ll need later, here are some other memory care tools you can use to exercise your mental skills: 

  • Play strategy games you are new to like crosswords, simple video games, chess, checkers, puzzles or Sudoku.
  • Read something daily like the newspaper, magazines or books. Choose reading material that challenges you intellectually.
  • Be willing and dedicated to learning new things like taking a new driving route, new recipes, musical instruments, a foreign language or a physical activity.
  • Take on a project that requires planning, like designing and planting a garden, organizing a party or volunteering for community events.

Tools for Families and Caregivers 

Family members and caregivers, who may very likely be one in the same, are the frontline observers and responders to senior loved ones with memory issues. They are the people who will observe noticeable changes in their loved one’s memory, realize the shift from normal to serious memory loss and unfortunately, often be the ones to break the news of declining memory to the person experiencing it. Especially when seniors undergoing memory loss or diseases like dementia or Alzheimers will tend to deny any suggestion of their illness, family members breaking the news might also fear breaking the hearts of their loved one and all other people who will be affected by their mental change. 

Memory problems are difficult to accept, but to deal with them, families and caregivers can use several tools meant to maximize memory care and comfort the person experiencing it. Communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be excruciatingly hard to do. The person’s memory loss may inhibit them from speaking linearly, remembering things they have just said, or mixing up names and words to a point of confusion. Family members and caregivers also may expect the person to have the same intellect and speaking ability they have always had in the past, which can be frustrating. To communicate effectively with someone with memory loss, secure the person’s attention by maintaining eye contact, speak clearly and succinctly, be extremely patient, use kind, encouraging words, notice your body language and take a break if you get frustrated. 

Activities of daily living, or ADLs, are core to caregiving for the elderly needing long-term care, whether they suffer from memory loss or not. But while cooking, cleaning, bathing and dressing may be justifiably easy with a coherent, mentally healthy senior, these tasks can prove challenging with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. If you are providing care to someone who panics because they do not recognize you, it might even feel like your caregiving is harmful to the person in need. This and other mishaps can happen in the delicate situation of caring for someone with memory loss. These are good tips to keep in mind while providing assistance with ADLs for someone cognitively impaired. Remember that the key to good caregiving is to promote independent living as much as possible. 

  • Keep a routine and schedule to familiarize the person with an easy-to-remember pattern of events every day. This lessens anxiety and provides the person with a sense of security. 
  • Place dressing accessories in the person’s wardrobe to enable independent dressing, if possible. Such accessories include zipper pulls, elastic waistbands, slip-on shoes and Velcro closures. Lay out 2-3 outfits for the person to choose from, rather than letting them become overwhelmed by a closet-full of options. 
  • Manipulating silverware may cause anxiety for some people with memory loss, so try making eating as easy as possible by providing finger food items like sandwiches, wraps or pre-cut fruits and vegetables. 
  • Label doors of rooms in the house if you are providing in-home care. Leave the lights on in the bathroom at night or keep night lights on to guide the person if they need to go to the bathroom at nighttime. 
  • Keep them occupied by scheduling or stationing workstations, hobbies, exercise areas or other physical places to be in at certain times to engage in healthy activities. 
  • If you begin to start feeling overwhelmed by stress or anxiety, take a break from caring for a loved one by enlisting the aid of an Amada caregiver, who has the knowledge and skills to care for sufferers of Alzheimer’s or dementia through their specialized training.  

The Reality of Memory Loss 

As mentioned, there may be some degree of heartbreak while dealing with your own or a family member’s memory loss. Memories are precious, and when lost it can feel like losing parts of meaning in your life. While senior parents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may even forget who the most beloved people in their life are, the people they love suffer feelings of helplessness and mourning at “losing” someone who is familiar to them. Sometimes, families will grieve for the person with memory loss long before they actually pass away. The reality of memory loss is just that—a lossbut it’s also the making of room to create more memories in the time our loved ones have left with us. Use it well. 

 

“Senior Moments vs. Memory Loss: When to Worry,” written by Michelle Mendoza and updated by Michelle Flores, Amada blog contributors. 

 

 

The post Memory Loss: When to be Worried and How to Help appeared first on Amada Senior Care.


Dads and Pops: Your Good Health Matters to Us 

The post Dads and Pops: Your Good Health Matters to Us  appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

Did you know June is Men’s Health Month and Father’s Day anchors Men’s Health Week? Celebrate dad on Father’s Day and thank him for all he has done, but also make sure to seize an opportunity sometime this month to have a conversation with him about his health. This awareness campaign has the critical purpose of informing men that avoiding preventive healthcare puts them at real and serious risk of contracting a disease or acquiring a chronic condition. Studies consistently show the numbers go against men, particularly as they advance into their senior years. 

Even with dramatic advances in diagnosis and treatment over the past 100 years, men’s life expectancy still lags significantly behind women. According to Harvard Health, the gap is widening. In 1900, the life expectancy for women was 48.3 years vs. 46.3 for men. In 2017, it was 81.1 years for women vs. 76.1 for men. Harvard Health reports that at age 65, for every 100 American women there are only 77 men. 

While life expectancy has increased, experts disagree on whether it will continue among the aging seniors without dramatic advances against major killers such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that certain societies like Japan have achieved significantly higher life expectancies through a better educated population that has adopted a healthier lifestyle and takes advantage of modern technologies. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading causes of death of American men are: 

1) Heart disease 

2) Cancer (lung, prostate, colon) 

3) Unintentional injuries (from falls, impaired driving, home fire, etc.) 

4) Stroke  

5) Chronic lower respiratory diseases (like COPD)  

6) Diabetes 

7) Alzheimer’s disease 

8) Suicide 

9) Influenza and pneumonia 

10) Chronic liver disease 

Yes, it probably will be challenging to talk to dad or another beloved man in your life (stepfather, brother, uncle, grandfather) about transitioning to a health-conscious lifestyle. Many men of the Post War and Baby Boomer generations haven’t really concerned themselves with getting the right nutrition and exercise—instead being active by nature when they were young. Surveys by healthcare systems like Cleveland Clinic reveal that 60 to 70 percent of men queried would rather clean the bathroom, mow the lawn or even go shopping with their spouse than see a doctor. 

But talk we must because the leading health threats that men face are largely preventable. As always, early detection is key to nipping any budding disease. Even if dad or another loved one already is dealing with a chronic condition, you still can encourage him to adopt good practices. Caregivers with specialized training like those at Amada Senior Care have the knowledge to provide the right in-home care for a client who is trying to manage a health condition.  

In addition, leading health experts say it is never too late to take steps toward better health and to improve your quality of life. So, ease into “the talk” with your loved one by telling him you want him around for a long time because he makes your world a better place. Then, remind him of these easy ways to get started on the road to better health: 

Get enough sleep! Most people need seven to nine hours of sleep for optimum health. 

Stop smoking. Just stop. Doing so will reduce risk of cancer, COPD and other lung diseases. 

Eat more fruits and vegetables. The potassium in produce helps regulate blood pressure. 

Maintain heart health by avoiding foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats and salt. 

Keep up bone health by choosing foods high in calcium and Vitamin D (but check with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for your unique situation). 

Exercise more! Just 30 minutes of walking each day can keep blood pressure lower throughout the day. 

Know your health numbers—blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, weight—because if they are elevated, your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes go up. Positive health outcomes are more likely when you monitor your numbers since certain conditions like prediabetes have no symptoms or those of diabetes may already be severe before you experience any warning signs. With the help of your physician, you can develop a plan that may include medication, diet and exercises to keep your numbers in a healthy range. Knowing your numbers is critical to managing health, so stay on schedule for check-ups and screenings. 

 

Still getting resistance? Remind him it’s not just his own quality of life that’s at stake. All the fathers, stepfathers, husbands, brothers, grandfathers, male cousins, male friends and male mentors need to embrace the fact that their continued good health matters to all the people whose lives have been made more special by their existence. Happy Father’s Day and Happy Men’s Health Month! 

 

Dads and Pops: Your Good Health Matters to Us” by Michelle Flores, Amada Blog contributor. 

The post Dads and Pops: Your Good Health Matters to Us  appeared first on Amada Senior Care.


Caring for More Than One Senior: Sandwich Gen Squished 

The post Caring for More Than One Senior: Sandwich Gen Squished  appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

It’s no secret that adults of the sandwich generation – typically people in their 40s and 50s – are busy. Careers, multiple children with extra-curricular activities, and caring for an aging parent are just a few of the things that take up their time. Adult daughters and sons of aging parents are feeling the crunch even more so with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are at home working virtually, home-schooling their children and being family caregivers for elderly parents. 

As states are opening back up and adult daughters and sons start filing back to their places of employment, many are realizing they need to figure out care options for their parents. In fact as lifespans have lengthened, baby boomers in their 60s and 70s are increasingly caring for elderly parents in their 80s and 90s, according to Kaiser Health News. 

Since more than two-thirds of those over 65 will need assistance to deal with a loss in functioning at some point, there’s a good chance that many adult children will find themselves caring for more than one senior at once. The task can be daunting: according to a study by Northwestern Mutual, 59 percent of Americans feel that taking care of two parents between ages 85 and 90 would be even harder than handling two kids between ages three and five. 

While it may be tempting to drop certain commitments and handle all of the caregiving needs alone, it can sometimes have devastating effects on an adult child professionally, personally, and financially. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, more caregivers are hospitalized due to burnout and stress-related illness than from worsening medical conditions, simply because they tend to put themselves last. 

Caring for multiple elders at once may be inevitable, so being prepared and knowing all your options will ensure that your loved ones are well taken care of, while avoiding detrimental caregiving stress. During this time of pandemic, a trusted Amada Senior Care advisor would be happy to explain care options and funding resources available to you or a loved one, even if you’re not a current client. We’re here to help at 1-877-442-6232 or info@AmadaSeniorCare.com. 

Planning Ahead 

While it may be difficult to have “the talk” with aging parents, it is an important conversation that can save a lot of hassle and stress in the long run. Take advantage of this pandemic period to spur a conversation with family members about aging loved ones. While planning for the future, be sure to discuss financial needs, caregiving options, and the wishes of the aging seniors in your life. Each senior loved one should have an advance directive – a formal document stating their medical wishes in a life-threatening health situation – and establishing who has power of attorney in a situation where the senior can no longer make decisions. Talk to your aging loved ones about their preferences for in-home care or community care. 

Financial planning is also crucial. Without preparation, the costs of long-term care can be crippling. According to the Genworth Financial Cost of Care study, the national median cost for an assisted-living facility is $48,612 annually, and almost double that for a private room in a skilled nursing facility. The average cost for an in-home caregiver starts at around $21 per hour, according to CareScout. Even if a senior has retirement savings, that can be expended quickly, often leaving the financial burden on adult children. The Northwestern Mutual report found that 38 percent of those surveyed have not planned at all for handling the financial burdens of caring for their elderly parents. 

Long-term care insurance covers the cost of most in-home care and nursing home care, things which Medicare does not cover. While long-term care insurance may not cover all care costs, it will significantly reduce the financial burden on those paying for care, especially in cases where more than one senior needs it. There are other options for funding care as well, such as Veterans’ benefits and reverse mortgages. Even if your senior loved ones do not need help yet, planning ahead is one way to avoid conflicts with siblings and other loved ones when the time comes.  

Prioritize and Delegate 

Because caring for multiple seniors at once can quickly become overwhelming, it’s important to learn to prioritize needs and delegate tasks. First, consider the different needs of each senior. Your mother may need hours of help every day with getting dressed, bathing, and preparing meals, while your father-in-law may simply need a companion to sit with him a few hours a week. Identify these needs to find which method of care is right for the senior, with the goal of lessening their dependence on you or a loved one. While it’s important to focus on those seniors that need help, it’s just as important not to neglect healthy seniors who may not need help yet. The time you have to spend with your aging parents is precious and shouldn’t be lost just because another senior has more pressing needs. This is yet another reason why it’s important to reach out for help with caregiving. 

Delegating tasks will ensure that all caregiving doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulders, as often happens according to a 2019 Northwestern Mutual report. An adult child, their spouse, and their siblings frequently have busy lives and may live far away from the senior. However, even simple tasks` like checking in over the phone or weekly visits can be divided out. If one child is a full-time caregiver, then a sibling can offer respite care and use a week of vacation to take over caregiving duties. 

It’s important for adult children to reach out for help when it’s needed, and not to get overwhelmed by caring for multiple elders. Suzanne Mintzco-founder of the National Family Caregivers Association (now the Caregivers Action Network), said that most caregivers wait four to five years before seeking support. “We caregivers often struggle alone for years thinking this is just part of our responsibility before we reach out for help,” she said. 

Financial planner Kristi Sullivan, a member of the Financial Planning Association, recommends hiring a case manager to take some of the burden from caregivers, especially those caring for multiple elders. “For an hourly fee, these people can handle tasks quickly that it might take you hours to do – scheduling doctor’s appointments, handling medical payments and dealing with insurance, helping find a good nursing home or in-home care,” Sullivan said. “Spending this money may seem expensive, but it’s less than putting someone’s career on hold to become a full-time caregiver.” 

 

Caring for More than One Senior: Sandwich Gen Squished” updates “Caring for More than One Senior” by Amada contributor Taylor French.  

 

The post Caring for More Than One Senior: Sandwich Gen Squished  appeared first on Amada Senior Care.


Improving Brain Plasticity Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s and other Dementias 

The post Improving Brain Plasticity Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s and other Dementias  appeared first on Amada Senior Care.

June being Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month gives us an opportunity to learn more about this fatal disease that more than 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older are living with, according to the Alzheimer’s AssociationThe nonprofit research organization estimates that 13.8 million people age 65 and older are projected to have Alzheimer’s dementia by 2050. 

It’s difficult to face such sobering numbers let alone talk about them, but having a conversation about the brain, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is exactly what’s needed to combat this enemy. Know that all of us—seniorsadult daughters and sons who have an aging loved one in our lives, someone who wants to know how to avoid Alzheimer’s or another dementia—can help to end this epidemic by learning more, sharing what you know with others and adopting healthy practices that might stave off the disease. Keep reading for some thoughts on how the human brain works. 

Preserving the Brain 

Have you ever noticed how kids seem to pick up on things quickly; things that take most adults forever to learn? This is because brain plasticity (or the ability of the brain to build neural connections and develop in a positive way) is naturally much stronger in childhood and decreases as people age. For quite some time, the scientific community has held that brain plasticity slows down in the teenage years and comes to a near halt in adulthood. Though this is true to a great extent, growing evidence indicates that there are a variety of things an individual can do to significantly increase neuroplasticity in the adult brain. This realization is one that is of great interest to aging seniors who may have a genetic predisposition towards Alzheimer’s or dementia, as well as for adults who might have (or have inclinations towards) other mental or developmental disorders. 

What is BDNF? 

BDNF, or Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, is a secreted protein that is encoded by the BDNF gene in humans. Its role is to act on certain neurons within the brain to help support the survival of existing neurons and to encourage the growth and differentiation of new neurons (a process known as neurogenesis) and of synapses. High levels of BDNF will increase a person’s capacity for things like learning and memory by strengthening the communication between specific neurons. What if you could change your ability to learn easier and more quickly and could enhance the capacity of your own memory? Interestingly enough, you can. Several disciplines, practices and medicines have been shown to directly increase BDNF (or reduce or eliminate the reduction of BDNF) and to increase neurogenesis in humans. 

Physical Exercise 

Physical exercise has been shown to directly increase BDNF and neurogenesis, which in turn increases an individual’s memory and capacity for learning. A researcher and neuroscientist named Richard G. Morris demonstrated this in mice in an experiment called the “Morris water maze.” His experiment showed that mice who exercised (by running on a wheel) performed much better at tests of intelligence and mental fortitude than mice who had not. This has also been demonstrated in humans in multiple experiments, including one published in 2011 by the Journal of Translational Psychiatry. What this means is that exercise, even if only a few times a week, can drastically increase an individual’s capacity for learning and can significantly improve their memory. Because of this, exercise is vital to sustained mental health. 

Omega-3s: 

Omega-3 fatty acids regulate signal transduction and gene expression and protect neurons from death. Through several studies, Omega-3 supplementation has been shown to provide protection against reduced brain plasticity and impaired learning (i.e. after traumatic brain injury). What this means for individuals with a genetic predisposition towards Alzheimer’s and dementia is that Omega-3s can lower one’s risk and can help protect a person’s brain as they age.  Supplementing with Omega-3 pills once a day is an excellent way to provide an additional level of protection against the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Exercise Your Mind 

In a study by Joe Verhese, M.D. it was discovered that subjects who did crossword puzzles four days a week had a 47% lower risk of dementia than subjects who did a crossword puzzle just once a week. 

Constant mental challenges by various stimuli increase the production and interconnectivity of neurons and of BDNF, as well as preventing the loss of connections and cell death. The Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) clinical trial is the United States’ largest study of cognitive training performed to date. In it, researchers discovered that improvements in cognitive ability via mental stimulation counteract the degree of long-term cognitive decline among seniors. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2002, and showed significant percentages of the near 3,000 individual participants over the age of 65 who trained for five weeks for around 2 ½ hours per week improving information-processing speed, memory, and reasoning abilities. 

In short, keep your mind active. Do puzzles, read a book, or download an app on your smart phone that will allow you to exercise key areas of your brain (such as Lumosity’s “Brain Trainer”). 

Fast Intermittently  

Oddly enough, going hungry from time to time can also improve your mind. Research has shown that occasional fasting can improve BDNF. Individuals with diabetes or other conditions which might make skipping meals dangerous should not engage in fasting, which is why it is important to consult your doctor before doing so. That said, research on mice and in humans has found that an intermittent fasting regimen can normalize BDNF and protect against its reduction, against the onset of motor dysfunction, and can actually increase one’s lifespan. 

Eat Curry 

Like Indian or Thai food? An ingredient found in curry known as turmeric has actually been shown to increase BDNF and to boost brain health.  Also known as Indian Saffron, turmeric is the spice which gives curry its rich aroma and amber colorin, and contains an ingredient known as curcumin. Research has shown that even moderate consumption of curcumin can enhance BDNF and can increase neurogenesis. 

Meditate 

Mediation has been shown to reduce the production of stress hormones (such as stress-cortisol secretion) and can have neuroprotective effects which preserve BDNF.  This means that taking time to meditate a few times a day or engaging in activities such as yoga may preserve cognition and prevent dementia. 

A combination of all of the above practices is an excellent way to protect yourself against the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia in the later years of your life. At Amada Senior Care, our trained caregiversadvisors and placement specialists understand how the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia affect individuals and their loved ones and specialize in easing this burden for families.  For more information and tips on care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia, contact your local Amada office by visiting http://amadaseniorcare.com/locations/ or calling 877-442-6232. 

Those who want to spread awareness of brain health and Alzheimer’s are invited to “Go Purple” this month to help educate others and show your commitment to addressing this public health issue. This Alzheimer’s Association campaign encourages you to wear purple and share a photo of your outfit on social media with the hashtag #ENDALZ. When you wear purple on June 20, you’ll be raising awareness on The Longest Day, a sunrise-to-sunset event to honor those facing Alzheimer’s with strength, passion and endurance. Click on Go Purple to learn more. 

 

Improving Brain Plasticity Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias” by Jeremy Brooker and Michelle Flores, Amada Blog contributors. 

The post Improving Brain Plasticity Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s and other Dementias  appeared first on Amada Senior Care.


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