Do you know how much money you have in the bank? How about how much money your parents have?

As seniors age, financial decisions become crucial. Are your loved ones prepared to age in place? If they’re aging in place, can they afford to upgrade the house to make it safe and limited-mobility friendly? Would downsizing or moving to a refined residential community be a safer option? What happens if a medical emergency befalls a senior?

Unfortunately, as your loved ones age, they will most likely need help planning and managing their finances. It’s an uncomfortable topic for many, but having a rational, detailed conversation about expenses and savings now can prevent a great deal of stress for seniors and their caregivers in the future.

To fully take over finances, a caregiver must have the following:

  1. A plan. Seek out a financial advisor, and get a realistic portrait of the lifestyle that your loved one’s savings and earnings will allow. Know your options; learn how to make their money grow.
  2. An OK. Once you’ve discussed finances, it may be necessary or best for you to take over as the primary decision maker, depending on how comfortable your loved one feels about the idea. To properly take over finances, a loved one or caregiver needs a power of attorney or a living trust to begin making financial decisions. Consulting an Elder Law Attorney is highly recommended.
  3. The contents of accounts. Once you have the ability to help your loved one officially, it’s time for a full assessment. Go through documents and statements to get a full picture of how many bank accounts, stock portfolios, Long Term Care Insurance policies and other financial accounts your senior has. Once you have the full picture, it will be easier to understand the financial situation and move funds, should that be necessary.
  4. A breakdown of the bills. Finally, make sure you have a system for organizing and paying bills. One of the first signs that a senior may need help at home is failure to pay bills.

Ensure that your loved one stay on top of their finances so that they can age with confidence. If they need help, step up by helping them get organized, stay current, and invest in growth. With some careful financial planning, you can help your loved one’s later years become golden.

People are living longer. Medical advancements, a cultural focus on health, and progress in technology have allowed people to extend their lives. Seniors are becoming one the fastest-growing groups all over the world.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) predicts that seniors will become 17 percent of the world population by 2050. This population explosion will affect the whole globe in a myriad of ways.

In the U.S., the NIA estimates that our aging population will double in the next three decades, meaning 88 million seniors will be living here. Throughout the globe, the so-called “oldest old” population—seniors living to be 80 or older—will triple in the coming decades.

What does this mean for you and your aging loved ones? It’s time to prepare.

Unless lawmakers and the population of the U.S. prepare for this senior boom, the country will face limited or nonexistent resources for their aging population. Programs like social security and Medicare will be stretched to the brink, while hospitals and doctors’ offices will be filled with seniors who need specialized gerontology care.

Some industries are already preparing for the senior boom. Caregiving companies are increasing staff and focusing on helping seniors age at home successfully. Tech companies are developing senior-friendly devices that will help the aging and their caregivers monitor health, medication distribution, and even movement throughout the house.

The senior surge also affords you an excellent opportunity to discuss aging with your soon-to-be-senior loved ones. Make sure your loved ones have a sound financial plan for their later years, and consult with a financial advisor if you’re concerned about retirement funds. Nail down your loved one’s wishes ahead of time: Do they want to age at home? What would they want done in case of a health crisis? These topics are often uncomfortable but utterly essential to a happy, worry-free aging process.

Whether you’re a soon-to-be-senior or a caregiver to a senior, it’s time to prepare for the senior surge.

It can be devastating to see loved ones unable to care for themselves. If you are determined to find out what is wrong and figure out what you can do to fix things, here are a couple of things you should keep in mind:

  • According to HelpGuide, you should talk to your loved one. There may be reason for their resistance to take care of themselves. Maybe they are grieving or have chronic pain that make activities of daily living difficult? If they are finding it hard to move around, mobility issues may be the reason why caring for themselves is more and more difficult.
  • tips-on-getting-an-older-loved-one-to-accept-helpHelp your loved recognize the need to some assistance. Although it is hard to accept that our parents are not the invincible superheroes we thought they were, it can be even more difficult for them to come to terms with their limitations. Try to talk about the situation gently. Let them know how concerned you are and how much you care about their well being. This might make them rethink their stance, especially if they understand how much it is affecting you.
  • Depression is very common among the elderly population. If they are having a tough time getting to and from home lately, this can make them want to stay at home instead of venturing out or engaging in activities they enjoyed in the past. This way, they can easily succumb to depression.
  • Get help. The American Association for Retired Persons says that your loved one probably wants to be home for as long as they can. That is why finding help is crucial. You can get in touch with an agency like Capital City Nurses to provide you with the in-home nursing care services you need to help keep your parents home longer. With the help of a home care specialist, your loved ones can enjoy moving around again, which can keep them from succumbing to loneliness or depression.
  • Ask for their input. Make them a part of the decision-making process. They should be the ones to decide what to do, especially if they are still mentally capable. By providing them with suggestions, you and your loved ones can make a decision.

Also, do not forget to ask for help. Taking these steps alone can stress and exhaust you to the bone. So talk to others, join a support group, reach out for help. It will make you feel better.

Whether you have an elderly relative or you suffered an accident, hiring skilled nursing care can be the best solution for you.

4 Reasons to Hire Nursing Care

  • Rehabilitation and physical therapy support. With skilled nursing care, you can receive the rehabilitation services and physical therapy you need. If you slipped and suffered a bad fall enough to get your back out of shape, or if you were in a car accident that left you with temporary mobility issues, having a skilled specialist to look after your needs is essential.

  • Looking for nursing care for your elderly loved ones? With skilled nursing services, your grandparents or parents can have the assistance and support they need 24/7. This is important if your loved one suffers from a medical condition that requires round-the-clock care. This way, you know they are in good hands, and that whatever happens, someone with the necessary training will know exactly what to do.

  • Taking care of someone who is in recovery can take a lot of time. By hiring help, you are not just ensuring your loved one gets the best assistance possible, but you will also enjoy the benefit of having your recovery take place at home. Ask for help from friends and family or talk to someone. It can all help you deal with the rollercoaster of emotions you might be feeling, especially if you have not had time to process your emotions before you had to become a care giver to a loved one.

  • Caring for a sick relative is often an overwhelmingly stressful experience. According to HelpGuide, getting professional help can aid to relieve your stress or to keep burnout from happening. This is crucial because if you are someone’s primary care giver, then you need to be in the best shape possible. If you are in a run-down state, you can hardly look after anyone else’s needs, much less those of a loved one who requires medical attention and care.

For more details about skilled nursing care, contact us at Capital City Nurses.

Parents are invincible. That is what many children believe, at least. As you see your parents age, it can be difficult to see them struggling to feed themselves, clothe themselves or even take a bath. Caring for your parents also takes an emotional toll as well, says HelpGuide. Here you can find information about what you can expect when you take on the role of caregiver for your parents:

Ambivalence

You might be asking yourself how you can provide your mother with all the help she needs, or how you can even find the time to dedicate to her care. After all, you would do anything for your mom. However, the thought of the commitment required to do this can make you take a step back. It is perfectly normal to be uncertain whether you are able to provide all the care your mother requires.

Resentment or anger

4-common-emotions-caregivers-experienceTaking on the care of a loved one is really difficult work. It can make you feel like your life has taken a backseat. You may feel obligated or like you have been backed into a corner and you have no other choice. Still, you should know that there is another option: you can look into hiring private duty home care specialists to help. With capable and efficient help around, you should start feeling that resentment and anger lessen, according to WomensHealth. Caregiver burnout is common.If you feel that you are suffering from burnout, so seek out help right away.

Embarrassment

No matter how close you and your loved ones are, it can be embarrassing to see them at their lowest. Having to bathe them and change their adult diapers can be too much for you to handle. Again, private duty home care services can provide the help to do this for you. Dignity is important to maintain throughout one’s life. For many, their parent would prefer private duty, Certified Nursing Assistant to provide personal care for them, rather than their family members.

Frustration

Being a caregiver can be frustrating from time to time. There are lots of details to see to. Routines can help. Routines allow you to establish control, which is especially helpful when everything else in your life seems to be spinning out of control. However, if you find yourself stressed because of tiny deviations from routine, it might be time for you to get help and consider taking a rest instead.

At Capital City Nurses, we provide home care services to help families cope. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you.

Emotional health is as important as physical health. That is why keeping your elderly loved one healthy involves more than getting them their medication or ensuring their treatments are paid for. It means looking after their emotional health and well-being. One way to make this happen is to

Engage senior companion services.

How Can These Services Help?

  • tips-to-ease-care-giver-stressAccording to WomensHealth, you can ease your stress and your loved ones’ by learning better ways to help them. For instance, many elderly people live a full, happy life by taking part of activities and events in local recreation centers. If your loved ones are starting to find it a bit hard to move around, you can make sure they continue attending those activities and events for as long as they want to by providing them with companion services. A companion can provide your loved one with assistance and support to help them overcome mobility issues.
  • When a senior find it hard to leave their house without help it can make them prone to isolation, leading to loneliness and depression. Having a companion to go with them to catch the latest independent film or to the knitting class they love can provide them with the companionship they need to be emotionally positive and healthy.
  • It is convenient. You may not be able to take your grandma to see that play because of work or pressing deadlines. You will not have to worry about her going alone; companion services are readily available to help get your grandma where she wants to go.

Other Tips

Taking care of elderly relatives can lead to a lot of stress too. Here is what you can do to ease it:

  • Take time out for yourself. According to HelpGuide, giving yourself a break is one way to reduce burnout and stress.
  • Make yourself laugh. Find a way to distract yourself and release the tension: watch a film or read a funny book. Learn to look on the bright side of life.
  • Talk to someone. Do not bottle everything up inside. The more you hold onto your emotions, the more likely you will end up stressed, lonely, resentful and angry.
  • Pamper yourself. Get a massage or go on a short trip. Do whatever makes you feel special. This can help you relax and make all the stress disappear.
  • Look after your own health. If you do not take care of yourself, then your loved one will suffer too. So do not let care giving drive you to the ground in exhaustion. Ask for help if you must.

With these tips, you can take care of your elderly relatives and yourself even better. For information on home care assistance, contact us at Capital City Nurses.

What are you doing to make sure you’re aging well? Most people watch their diet, visit their doctors more frequently, and try to exercise more. But is that enough to make your senior years successful?

A documentary, Alive Inside, argues that to truly age well, one needs the arts. The film explores the role music plays in memory, citing cases of patients with dementia and even seniors with typically failing memories suddenly being able to recall vivid scenes from their past with the aid of familiar music. The idea is this: Playing favorite or familiar music for a subject will help trigger vivid recollections, even if the subject’s brain isn’t functioning as it once did. This musical therapy has even inspired the Music and Memory Project, which funds iPods for seniors who can deeply benefit from enjoying music that meant so much to them long ago.

But music isn’t the only thing keeping seniors young at heart. Both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Institute on Aging have programs that promote all forms of the arts to seniors. Whether painting, composing, dancing, or appreciating, an appetite for the arts seems to help seniors enjoy the aging process. Some seniors write novels or screenplays that a senior acting troop can bring to life. Some seniors paint abstract or classical art to decorate their rooms or local senior centers. The form of expression doesn’t seem to matter as long as something is being expressed creatively.

Some scientists believe that it’s not the art, but the social engagement that is critical to keeping seniors vital. But studies have shown that listening to familiar music, even without engaging with others, can improve memory.

So this weekend, why not plan to include a little art in your life? Catch a concert or go to the symphony with friends. Sign up for a painting class and learn a new technique. Or sit down and write out that story idea that’s buzzing around in your head. Expressing yourself creatively may be the key to keeping yourself happy as you age.

As your parents age, are you confident that they’re coping with the changes that come with age? Are you sure?

Many aging Americans don’t like to admit when they need help. Others can’t see that they might need some assistance with everyday tasks. While it’s important that parents know there is no shame in asking for help, there are a few ways you can assess your loved ones and make sure they’re still thriving while living independently.

  1. Check out the car. On your way into the house, take a detour to your loved one’s vehicle. Is there any noticeable damage? Did your parent tell you about scraping the paint or dinging a door? If a senior has a banged-up car and hasn’t mentioned any accidents, it may be time to take them for a driving evaluation.  
  2. Give a hug. You should, of course, always offer a hug to a loved one you’re visiting, but this hug isn’t only a show of love: Take the opportunity to gauge any frailness or weakness you spot in the hug. When you’re close, evaluate the senior. Are they brushing their teeth? Do they smell clean? If you notice anything odd, don’t hesitate to bring it up.
  3. Get a snack. Even if you’re not hungry, ask for a snack and something to drink. This gives you the chance to check out the senior’s kitchen, and evaluate its general upkeep and what’s in stock.. It also gives you the opportunity to watch your loved one in action. Can they make a cup of coffee? Are they struggling to cut up a piece of fruit? Pay attention to how they navigate the kitchen.

If you think your parents need assistance, it’s time to sit them down for a gentle, honest talk. Consulting experts in aging such as Capital City Nurses for home care, or A Geriatric Care Manager for other advice is a good idea. If there are any physical changes to your loved one or to their vehicle(s), it may be time to bring them to a doctor for an evaluation as well.

Whether you’re just checking on a relative or worrying about mom and dad, it can be hard to evaluate if a senior is thriving in their environment. With these tips, you can take a look at your loved one and determine if they need some extra help managing their home or their health.

Suzy Murphy debra levy

special contribution by Susy Elder Murphy, BA, CMC
owner, Debra Levy Eldercare Associates

One of the most difficult decisions that any family faces is making the decision about when, or if, moving a family member to assisted living is the right thing to do. As Aging Life Care™ Managers, this is often when we are called on, whether to schedule an office consult with concerned adult children to discuss options or to meet with a spouse in their home and assess whether or not their husband or wife can still be safely cared for there. It is nearly always an emotionally fraught decision. Sometimes adult children promised their parents that they would “never put them in a home,” whatever that may mean in today’s world where some skilled nursing facilities actually more closely resemble a Hilton Garden Inn with nurses, and long before being faced with the realities of a difficult diagnosis, such as Lewy Body Dementia. When I meet with couples who may have been married for 60 years or more, they are often wracked with guilt because they feel that they have in some way not fulfilled their wedding vows to care for their spouse “in sickness and in health,” promises made decades before the diagnosis of a chronic and progressive illness such as Parkinson’s Disease has begun to take its toll on the strongest of marital bonds.

I give talks on this subject at assisted living communities in our area and they are always well-attended by adult children and spouses who have the same questions for me: What are the options and how can we afford to pay for this care? More of us have long term care insurance which may cover most or even all of the cost of care, but many families are dipping into hard-earned savings, or looking to government benefits to help cover the costs. I recently met with a brother and sister who live in this area and were concerned about their parents who live in Florida. They began trying to look at different communities on their own and quickly realized that they needed the guidance of an Aging Life Care Manager to help them understand the alphabet soup of categories of care that their aging parents might need. As members of the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), we do not have a financial relationship with any community or resource that we refer our clients to, and our recommendations are based on our clients’ needs and our experience in the geographic area we serve.

To use the “Smith” family as an example, mom is age 85 and takes a few medications for chronic conditions such as hypertension and thyroid imbalance, but has had noticeable memory loss for the last several years. Dad, 89, also has some memory issues, but has also recently been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, including a hospitalization to treat that condition. Mom and Dad are both happy in Florida and have some extended family there, as well as many friends and activities they enjoy, although both of their adult children live here. “Don” and “Amy” wanted to know if they should continue to travel back and forth to Florida to deal with intermittent health crises such as their dad’s recent hospitalization, or, whether it would be better to bring their parents closer to them here.

We began with a discussion of finances. The Smiths have modest income of about $3500 per month, and are not eligible for the Aid & Attendance benefit through the VA, since neither parent served in the military. They have savings of about $50,000 and a condo worth about $100,000, which is fully paid off. They currently live within their means and cover their out of pocket medical expenses and living expenses out of their monthly income, usually with some left over at the end of the month. My first suggestion was that they get a more comprehensive assessment of their parents’ medical condition, particularly their dad’s congestive heart failure and their mom’s memory impairment. They plan to have a comprehensive assessment by a geriatrician of both of their parents, and I was able to refer them to an ALCA member in Florida who could assess how they are actually functioning at home. My colleague in Florida could assess if their memory issues are causing them to forget to take medication, compounding their other medical issues, and also identify what local resources they could tap into to support their continued care in their familiar home as an option that might be sustainable for another year or two.

At the same time, we explored different housing options in this area. I suggested that they look at communities that offer independent living (a private apartment with a full kitchen and a congregate dining meal plan of 1 -3 meals daily and weekly housekeeping) with the possibility of a subsidy, as well as the availability of ala carte services such as medication management, and assistance with bathing, as a way to stretch their savings out for as long as possible. Some of these communities also offer assisted living options (a private apartment but with only a kitchenette and 3 meals and snacks daily, as well as weekly housekeeping and laundry) with more comprehensive nursing oversight, as well as possible subsidies. In the event that one of them needs skilled nursing care, possibly Mr. Smith due to his advanced age and congestive heart failure diagnosis, I explained how Medicaid would come into play to pay for most of his care, and referred them to an elder law attorney who specializes in Medicaid for additional guidance. In the event that Mr. Smith predeceases Mrs. Smith, we also explored the possibility of a small group home to meet her care needs, due to her memory deficits and the strong possibility that she might have early to mid-stage dementia. Group homes offer private bedrooms, shared meals in a communal dining room and a less institutional setting than a skilled nursing facility, for about half the cost.

At the end of our 90 minute meeting, Don and Amy had a short list of communities near their homes in the metro DC area that could meet their parents’ medical and financial needs, as well as a referral to the Aging Life Care Manager in Florida to help them understand what options are available to their parents there, as well as to get a more complete assessment of their needs. We will remain in touch as they explore the options and, as a family, make the decision about when it is time to move their parents.

Susy Elder Murphy is the owner of Debra Levy Eldercare Associates, an independently owned and operated Aging Life Care Management practice founded in 1988. She is also President of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Aging Life Care Association. She can be reached at smurphy@care-manager.com

David Letterman was famous for his Top 10 lists on his late-night television show. Most of them often brought a chuckle, while some were downright awful. But what Mr. Letterman understood was the power of creating an easy-to-remember list that could be recited the next day at lunch or around the water cooler at work.

We’ve created such a Top 10 list, but it’s not intended to make you laugh. It is intended to be memorable and frequently discussed with your loved ones. While you may not want to recognize one or more of the signs on this list because to do so would be to admit that your aging parents need some help at home, it’s vitally important that you know what to look for so you can act before an accident happens.

Here is the list: 10 Signs Your Elderly Parent Needs Help at Home

  1. Stacks of unopened mail or unread newspapers and magazines
  2. Spoiled food in the refrigerator
  3. Empty pantry and cupboards
  4. Declining personal hygiene (body odor, unkempt hair, unbrushed teeth)
  5. Mood swings and unexplained changes in mood
  6. Lack of interest in hobbies, reading, and conversation
  7. A strong smell of urine in the house
  8. Piles of dirty laundry and beds without sheets or blankets
  9. Difficulties with standing, walking, or mobility
  10. Forgetfulness beyond a simple “senior moment”

If you’ve noticed one or a combination of the above signs, then it may be time to start the conversation about next steps for your aging loved one. Many options ranging from part-time home care aides to assisted-living facilities are available. There are many ways to help you protect your elderly parent when you notice the signs. This list of indicators is a place to start.