Living Wills vs. Power of Attorney

Seniors should make their wishes about medical care known in case they become incapacitated and are unable to communicate due to illness or injury.  No family wants to be left guessing about their loved one’s wishes during a medical crisis. A living will is about making your wishes known, whatever those wishes may be. Your living will should summarize your general wishes about your care in addition to clarifying specific preferences regarding:

  • Feeding and hydration while in an irreversible coma or in a terminal condition
  • CPR or defibrillation after cardiac arrest
  • Organ and tissue donation
  • Use of a ventilator when unable to breathe independently
  • Other medical treatments

 The document that specifies your wishes with regard to medical care is referred to as a living will, also known as a Health Care Directive or advanced directive.

DNR

You may have heard of seniors or people who are terminally ill who have put in place a “DNR.” A DNR tells medical professionals and family members that you do not want heroic measures to be attempted if your heart were to stop. But a DNR is just one possible wish that can be made in a Health Care Directive. You could just as easily direct that all feasible medical treatments should be attempted during a medical emergency.

Putting Someone in Charge: Durable Power of Attorney

When you create a living will, you may also want to designate a trusted loved one to make health care decisions on your behalf through a legal document called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. The person you designate in your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care will have the authority to make medical decisions during a medical emergency, and it is his or her job to make sure that health care providers carry out the wishes you have made in your Health Care Directive.  You may also consider creating a Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Care.  You may choose to designate the same trusted loved one to make both medical and financial decisions on your behalf.

Consult an Attorney

Each state has its own health care directive form, and regulations regarding these directives also vary state by state, so make sure you fill out the correct form and understand your state’s rules. You can get the appropriate paperwork to file a health care directive and designate a health care proxy from your local Area Agency on Aging office, which you can locate at www.eldercare.gov.  You can also download a do-it-yourself form here.

Because these documents are literally a matter of life and death, you should consult with an elder attorney if you have any questions or need assistance.

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Breast Cancer and Seniors

When detected early, breast cancer is treated successfully 98% of the time. Researchers continue to make impressive gains in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer. For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, the radical mastectomy, once a standard procedure for women with breast cancer, is now rarely performed.

However, breast cancer in seniors remains a very potent disease that will only be eradicated if women follow the recommended schedule and undergo annual mammograms. Recent statistics suggest that women are skipping annual mammograms, the key procedure to screening.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that 226,870 women will be diagnosed with and 39,510 women will die of cancer of the breast in 2012. The number of new cases has increased every year for the past thirty years, though death from breast cancer has decreased slightly. Breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancerous death after lung cancer. It is also the second most common cancer among women after non-melanoma skin cancer.

Like all cancers, breast cancer begins with abnormal cell growth. These “bad” cells develop too quickly and spread, or metastasize, throughout the breast, often entering lymph nodes located under the arm or even moving into other parts of the body.

There are several signs of potential breast cancer, including a bloody discharge from or retraction of the nipple; a change in the size or contour of the breast; and a flattening, redness, or pitting of skin over the breast. A lump in the breast remains the most common sign.

If a woman detects a lump, she should see her doctor; however, the Mayo Clinic recommends waiting through one menstrual cycle, as breast shape changes throughout the cycle.

The Importance of Screening

“I cannot stress enough the importance of early detection and screening,” states Dr. Constance Lehman, professor of radiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and director of breast imaging at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Unfortunately, Lehman sees a disturbing decline in annual screenings.

“Cancer is affecting more and more women, yet they are screening less,” she says. “It could be due to the costs of an annual mammogram for women with low or no health insurance or because, with new technology like targeted MRIs, women feel that mammography is no longer effective.”

Lehman says clinicians may also be partially responsible. Some, including all major cancer research centers, recommend annual screenings but others suggest a biannual exam. Lehman, co-winner of the Second Annual Ladies’ Home Journal”Health Breakthrough Award,” remains unequivocal: “There is no ambiguity-women past the age of 40 should be screened every year.”

Risk Factors

Several primary risk factors are believed to increase the likelihood of breast cancer. However, it’s important to keep in mind that most people with one or even several of these risk factors do not get breast cancer.

The Mayo Clinic and National Cancer Institute list these primary risk factors:

  • Age
  • Chest radiation as a child
  • Start of menarche before the age of 12
  • Adolescent weight gain
  • No pregnancy or late pregnancy (after 30)
  • Lengthy use of oral contraceptives
  • Post-menopausal weight gain
  • Late menopause (after age of 50)
  • Increased breast tissue density

Excessive exposure to estrogen, the hormone that promotes the appearance of female secondary sex characteristics, appears to be the leading factor in developing breast cancer. Exposure to a combination of estrogen and progesterone for over a four-year period also increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially significant due to trends in estrogen therapies to stave off premenopausal syndrome and other maladies. The more recent reduction of hormone replacement therapy has perhaps led to the recent slight decline in breast cancer cases for women over 50. Lehman believes women over 50 should consult their physicians about the apparent risks of hormone replacement therapies, especially if they have a family history of cancer.

Secondary factors, including smoking, obesity, alcohol, family history, diet, and stress, are also significant. As with reducing the risk of all cancers, a healthy lifestyle, including a good diet, frequent exercise, and moderate stress, is recommended.

Genetics may also play a role in breast cancer. Even though less than 10 percent of the breast cancer cases are inherited, women with a family history of the disease have a much greater risk of breast (and ovarian) cancer.

Breast Cancer in Seniors

Eighty percent of all breast cancer occurs in women over 50, and 60% are found in women over 65. The chance that a woman will get breast cancer increases from 1-in-233 for a woman in her thirties, to a 1-in-8 chance for a woman in her eighties.

“The average age of diagnosis is 62,” says Dr. Julie Gralow, associate professor of medical oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and medical oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. “So the majority of women getting breast cancer are over the age of 50.”

Gralow is especially concerned about the lack of women over 70 years of age in clinical trials.

“There are several situations unique to our older patients. We find it difficult to determine the toxicity levels of chemotherapy,” she explains, “because we simply don’t have enough information. This is significant because older women tend to have more tumors and thus be more sensitive to estrogen receptor positivity; or they might avoid chemotherapy altogether.”

Lack of information is just one of several issues surrounding breast cancer in seniors. An obligation as routine as visiting the doctor can prove challenging if the patient cannot drive or does not have anyone to take her to the appointment. This is quite significant with cancer treatment, as the patient must make six-to-eight weeks of daily trips to the hospital for radiation therapies.

“Nausea and other side effects are often much more severe with older patients,” explains Gralow. “And insurance of oral medicine can be spotty, especially if the patient depends upon Medicare.”

Gralow also notes the possible tensions between family involvement and doctor-patient discretion.

“I need to know what the patient wants shared because we need to respect patient privacy while keeping the family informed. So, as with all medicine, we try to bring the patient and her family together for a meeting at the start of the treatment.”

Treatment

Once cancer has been detected, the patient’s team of doctors will determine its stage and publish a comprehensive report. This highly detailed report should include everything from locations and descriptions of each tissue sample to the patient’s clinical history with the disease so far, according to the nonprofit website breastcancer.org.

Breast cancer treatment varies according to the stage of the cancer, or number and range of the malignant cells. The treatment regimen will also vary by organization, another reason why it’s so important to get a second opinion during every stage of the cancer experience.

The four traditional treatments include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone Therapy

Surgerywas considered the primary treatment for breast cancer for over 100 years. Only recently has this approach changed, as new first response therapies have evolved and doctors have begun to implement targeted treatment strategies in many cases. Surgery still remains an important option, however.

Lumpectomyis the least invasive surgical procedure, as only the tumor is removed. Lumpectomies are recommended when there is no sign of the cancer spreading to other sections of the breast or body. It is commonly followed by five-to-seven weeks of radiation therapy as a precaution.

There are three levels ofmastectomy, or removal of the breast. Total mastectomyresults in the complete removal of the breast. Amodified radical mastectomy, the most common surgical procedure, includes removal of the breast and the auxiliary lymph nodes.Radical mastectomy, long the standard procedure, requires removal of the entire breast, underarm lymph nodes and chest wall beneath the breast. After the surgery, doctors examine samples from each tissue group to determine further treatment, though radiation therapy is a routine follow-up procedure.

Radiation therapy, the use of intense light rays to kill cancer cells, has a 50-70% chance of reducing recurrence, according to the National Cancer Institute. Though less uncomfortable than most patients realize, radiation kills cancer and healthy cells in its path.

“We are beginning to reduce the length and intensity of radiation treatments, because of the development and continued improvement of targeted therapies,” Gralow explains. “In general, we are trending toward less toxic, less invasive therapies.”

Chemotherapyis a systematic, or whole body, treatment designed to kill cancer cells that have spread to anywhere in the body. Chemotherapy attacks rapidly dividing cells, both cancer and healthy cells, though recent developments have worked to reduce the infamous side effects. It is important to note that every chemotherapy treatment regimen is unique and depend upon many factors including patient and family medical history, current health and numerous other factors.

Hormone therapy, the use of certain hormones that attack cancer cells, is a systematic treatment designed to rid the entire body of cancer. Doctors use drugs to inhibit estrogen or progesterone from developing breast cancer cell growth or, in some cases, turn off production of ovarian hormones.

Hormone therapy is commonly used when the patient is hormone-receptor positive. It can be used to lower risk of the cancer’s occurrence for women at high risk, to lower the risk of recurrence, to shrink a large tumor, or to treat advanced disease.

There is also a newly developed regimen calledimmune targeted therapy, which mimics natural antibodies that attack specific characteristics of the cancer cell. Targeted therapies are added to chemotherapy, though researchers are also developing techniques to reduce the intensity of chemotherapy and even potentially eliminating it from the treatment regimen.

Gralow and Lehman both believe ongoing developments in hormone and other new therapies will greatly change the treatment of breast cancer in the future. The National Cancer Institute describes several. For example, the removal of the sentinel lymph nodes, the first node where the tumor is likely to spread, would prove a less invasive technique to stem the spread of the cancer.

A combination of high dose chemotherapy and replacement of the destroyed cells with a stem cell transplant is also in development, though the technique is as yet unproven. Use of certain kinase inhibitors that block the signals that tumors require to grow are also under study.

“There are some exciting changes in how we approach treatment,” Lehman says, “So if you are diagnosed with breast cancer you should go to a medical center with an expert reputation.”

“Andalwaysget a second opinion for your treatment regimen,” she adds.

“We are personalizing breast cancer,” says Gralow. She points to genetic research that targets specific cancer genes as well as genomic profiling to assess cancer relapse risk, which can help to reduce the use of chemotherapy in patients.

Gralow includes several other examples of research breakthroughs, including the use of MRI screening to detect preinvasive cancers and the reduction by half from six to three weeks of the radiation sequence, as patients receive a higher dose for a shorter period. This would greatly help with older patients, for whom attending six-to-eight weeks of daily treatment often proves a challenge.

“The lack of volunteers in study groups remains a significant obstacle in the development of therapy success rates for older patients,” states Gralow. “I would encourage older women to enroll in these trials, as they often receive new therapies and important information otherwise unavailable.”

Assisted Living vs. Skilled Nursing

flowersOne of the most common questions families ask me is “how do we know when it’s time to move from assisted living to a nursing home?” the following question is a question a concerned family member asked me.
My 88-year-old father has been in an assisted living community near me for the past two years. He has been declining slightly, almost imperceptibly, over the years. Recently he had a fall in his room and couldn’t get up or reach the call cord. When a staff person noticed he had missed dinner, dad was found after three hours on the floor, but with no problems other than general weakness.
The administrator called me the next day and said it was time for him to move to “skilled care,” also known as a skilled nursing facility.
What are my options? My dad loves his apartment and the people in his community, plus, he has many strong friendships there. His doctor says he may have had some small strokes over the years and has osteoporosis, which is successfully treated with medication. He doesn’t seem forgetful or have any other major complaints; he is just feeling the years. I want him to be safe but he actually burst into tears when I suggested that we visit the nursing home and now he refuses to even discuss the issue.
Can the facility actually force him to move? Is he better off being safer receiving nursing home care, or will he have optimum physical and mental health in a community he knows and loves?
These concerns are complex and unfortunately common. If you’re in a similar situation, ask the following questions:
What kind of contractual agreement do you have with the retirement community? For example, most free-standing assisted living facilities have month-to-month rental agreements, which often state that a person can be required to move if the community is not able to provide needed care, such as skilled nursing home care or 24-hour supervision. Assisted living varies widely in different states, and indeed even within the same state. One community will provide services right up through hospice care, while another can ask a resident to leave if he or she is unable to manage medications independently.
If it is a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), it is often stipulated in the contractual agreement that a nurse’s assessment will determine the location and level of care. It is more difficult for staff to provide services all over a large community and easier if all the people needing care such as medication and continence management are in the same building or on the same floor.
Will your loved one’s quality of life decline in a different setting? This, of course, is difficult to judge. Much of it depends on both the individual and on the type of nursing home care available. Some people find the additional attention and complete services in a nursing home desirable. Others find the lack of privacy and choice in a standard nursing home too restrictive. Because the level of cognitive ability will usually be much lower in a nursing home than in assisted living, it may be more difficult for your dad to find other people with whom he feels compatible.
Some possible interventions might postpone or preclude a move to nursing home care:
Many older people benefit dramatically from physical therapy and exercise. With appropriate guidance and strength training from a well-trained professional, he may get stronger and also learn how to get up from a fall unassisted.
Arrange additional help from an outside source, such as an in-home care agency that can offer trained companions, nursing care, and housekeeping.
If feasible, increase your own involvement and perhaps that of other family members as well. If the staff knows that you are visiting on a daily basis, they will have fewer concerns about safety issues.
Because we live in a litigious society, the facility may have liability concerns. Some communities allow a negotiated risk agreement or a “hold harmless” contract, where your family would basically promise not to sue if there is an adverse event.
Other factors might also influence this decision to move or to stay. Is nursing home care more expensive? Usually it is. Will it be harder for you and family member to visit your father if he is in a higher care setting? It might be farther away. In addition, some people find visiting a nursing home depressing or even distasteful. Please note that this is not the norm; many facilities are homey, helpful, and family oriented.
If your loved one has a progressive condition such as Alzheimer’s, congestive heart failure, or Parkinson’s disease, a move early in the disease process could be easier in the long run. It would give him an opportunity to master his new environment and make new friends while he is still relatively healthy.
As with any important decision, it could be useful to get other professional opinions. Have his physician do a checkup and suggest the best level of care. Also, all US counties have some type of senior information and assistance phone line and you could consider asking for their help locating a geriatric social worker to do an assessment. They may also be able to recommend some types of communities other than a nursing home, such as an adult family home or an assisted living facility that provides more oversight and care.
Lastly, work with your dad to minimize his need for assistance. Sometimes it might be the most troublesome resident who is asked to move-not the most medically needy. Most assisted living facilities will work hard to keep the friendly, easy to please, personable residents in the community.

7 Tips for Avoiding Elderly Heat Stroke & Exhaustion

Hot weather is dangerous, and seniors are particularly prone to its threat. Elderly heat stroke and heat exhaustion are a real problem. In fact, a recent University of Chicago Medical Center study found that 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were among people over 65.

There are several reasons for elderly heat vulnerability. People’s ability to notice changes in their body temperature decreases with age. Many seniors also have underlying health conditions that make them less able to adapt to heat. Furthermore, many medicines that seniors take can contribute to dehydration. Fortunately, a few simple precautions are all that’s needed to keep safe.

Here are some guidelines for keeping safe in hot weather:

1 Drink Plenty of Liquids
Dehydration is the root of many heat related health problems. Drink plenty of water or juice, even if you’re not thirsty. But remember to avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, as they can actually contribute to dehydration.

2 Wear Appropriate Clothes
An old Swedish saying says, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” When it’s hot out, wear light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes and a wide-brimmed hat.

3 Stay Indoors During Mid-day Hours

4 During periods of extreme heat, the best time to run errands or be outdoors is before 10am or after 6pm, when the temperature tends to be cooler.

5 Take it Easy
Avoid exercise and strenuous activity, particularly outdoors, when it’s very hot out.

6 Watch the Heat Index
When there’s a lot of moisture in their air (high humidity), the body’s ability to cool itself through sweating is impaired. The heat index factors humidity and temperature to approximate how the how the weather really feels. The current heat index can be found on all popular weather websites, and is also usually announced on local TV and radio weather reports during periods of warm weather.

7 Seek Air-conditioned Environments

8 Seniors whose houses aren’t air-conditioned should consider finding an air-conditioned place to spend time during extreme heat.The mall, library or movie theater are all popular options. During heat waves, many cities also set up “cooling centers,” air-conditioned public places, for seniors and other vulnerable populations. Seniors without convenient access to any air-conditioned place might consider a cool bath or shower.

9 Know the Warning Signs of Heat-related Illness

10 Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting and breathing problems are all warning signs that help should be sought .

7 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT A STROKE

  • Age makes us more susceptible to having a stroke, as does having a mother, father, or other close relative who has had a stroke.You can’t reverse the years or change your family history, but there are many other stroke risk factors that you can control—provided that you’re aware of them. “Knowledge is power,” says Dr. Natalia Rost, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and associate director of the Acute Stroke Service at Massachusetts General Hospital. “If you know that a particular risk factor is sabotaging your health and predisposing you to a higher risk of stroke, you can take steps to alleviate the effects of that risk.”

    Here are seven ways to start reining in your risks today, before a stroke has the chance to strike.

    1. Lower blood pressure

    High blood pressure is a huge factor, doubling or even quadrupling your stroke risk if it is not controlled. “High blood pressure is the biggest contributor to the risk of stroke in both men and women,” Dr. Rost says. “Monitoring blood pressure and, if it is elevated, treating it, is probably the biggest difference women can make to their vascular health.”

    Your ideal goal: Maintain a blood pressure of less than 120/80. But for some, a less aggressive goal (such as 140/90) may be more appropriate.

    How to achieve it:

    • Reduce the salt in your diet to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day (about a half teaspoon).
    • Avoid high-cholesterol foods, such as burgers, cheese, and ice cream.
    • Eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day, one serving of fish two to three times a week, and several daily servings of whole grains and low-fat dairy.
    • Get more exercise — at least 30 minutes of activity a day, and more, if possible.
    • Quit smoking, if you smoke.

    If needed, take blood pressure medicines.

    2. Lose weight

    Obesity, as well as the complications linked to it (including high blood pressure and diabetes), raises your odds of having a stroke. If you’re overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can have a real impact on your stroke risk.

    Your goal: Keep your body mass index (BMI) at 25 or less.

    How to achieve it:

    • Try to eat no more than 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day (depending on your activity level and your current BMI).
    • Increase the amount of exercise you do with activities like walking, golfing, or playing tennis, and by making activity part of every single day.

    3. Exercise more

    Exercise contributes to losing weight and lowering blood pressure, but it also stands on its own as an independent stroke reducer.

    Your goal: Exercise at a moderate intensity at least five days a week.

    How to achieve it:

    • Take a walk around your neighborhood every morning after breakfast.
    • Start a fitness club with friends.
    • When you exercise, reach the level at which you’re breathing hard, but you can still talk.
    • Take the stairs instead of an elevator when you can.
    • If you don’t have 30 consecutive minutes to exercise, break it up into 10- to 15-minute sessions a few times each day.

    4. Drink — in moderation

    What you’ve heard is true. Drinking can make you less likely to have a stroke — up to a point. “Studies show that if you have about one drink per day, your risk may be lower,” says to Dr. Rost. “Once you start drinking more than two drinks per day, your risk goes up very sharply.”

    Your goal: Drink alcohol in moderation.

    How to achieve it:

    • Have one glass of alcohol a day.
    • Make red wine your first choice, because it contains resveratrol, which is thought to protect the heart and brain.
    • Watch your portion sizes. A standard-sized drink is a 5-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce beer, or 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor.

    5. Treat atrial fibrillation

    Atrial fibrillation is a form of irregular heartbeat that causes clots to form in the heart. Those clots can then travel to the brain, producing a stroke. “Atrial fibrillation carries almost a fivefold risk of stroke, and should be taken seriously,” Dr. Rost says.

    Your goal: If you have atrial fibrillation, get it treated.

    How to achieve it:

    • If you have symptoms such as heart palpitations or shortness of breath, see your doctor for an exam.
    • You may need to take blood thinners such as high-dose aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin) to reduce your stroke risk from atrial fibrillation. Your doctors can guide you through this treatment.

    6. Treat diabetes

    Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels over time, making clots more likely to form inside them.

    Your goal: Keep your blood sugar under control.

    How to achieve it:

    • Monitor your blood sugar as directed by your doctor.
    • Use diet, exercise, and medicines to keep your blood sugar within the recommended range.

    7. Quit smoking

    Smoking accelerates clot formation in a couple of different ways. It thickens your blood, and it increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. “Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, smoking cessation is one of the most powerful lifestyle changes that will help you reduce your stroke risk significantly,” Dr. Rost says.

    Your goal: Quit smoking.

    How to achieve it:

    • Ask your doctor for advice on the most appropriate way for you to quit.
    • Use quit-smoking aids, such as nicotine pills or patches, counseling, or medicine.
    • Don’t give up. Most smokers need several tries to quit. See each attempt as bringing you one step closer to successfully beating the habit.

    Identify a stroke F-A-S-T

    Too many women ignore the signs of stroke because they question whether their symptoms are real. “My recommendation is, don’t wait if you have any unusual symptoms,” Dr. Rost advises. “Women should listen to their bodies and trust their instincts. If something is off, get professional help right away.”

    The National Stroke Association has created an easy acronym to help you remember, and act on, the signs of a stroke. Cut out this image and post it on your refrigerator for easy reference.

    FAST - Identify a stroke FAST chart

    Source: National Stroke Association, Harvard Womens Health Watch

    Other signs of a stroke include

    • weakness on one side of the body
    • numbness of the face
    • unusual and severe headache
    • vision loss
    • numbness and tingling
    • unsteady walk.

     

July 21, 2017 By Ketan Shah

Gloria and her daughter were enjoying a Sunday picnic in one of the many neighborhood parks that they had been to countless of times. They chatted about how beautiful the sun’s rays appeared as shafts of light pored through the branches of a neighboring pine. They spotted a cardinal nestled in its upper branches—the red a stark contrast against the evergreen. It was a good day. Her daughter left for a moment to use the nearby restroom. When she returned, her mother was gone. 

Wandering can leave those that love the people suffering from Alzheimer’s in a panic. If they are unprepared, it may feel like their whole world is crashing down around them. One in nine people over the age of 65 will develop this currently incurable disease. And six out of every 10 of those people will wander. And some will never be found.

Understanding the Problem

An article in Huffington Post quotes Kimberly Kelly, founder and director of Project Far From Home: “There’s approximately 125,000 search-and-rescue missions where volunteer teams are deployed…for missing Alzheimer’s patients every year.” Yet many families do not realize the number of people with Alzheimer’s that go missing or that their own loved one is at risk. Nor do they understand that most Alzheimer’s patients who wander do not consider themselves lost and, therefore, do not reach out for help. They are simply looking for something, often a place or time that feels familiar.

How you can Help

  • Enroll your parent in Silver Alert, or another program in their area that identifies missing seniors. If your loved one goes missing, call 9-1-1 immediately—you do not need to wait the 24-hour mandatory period usually required in missing person’s cases.
  • There are several GPS type tracking devices designed with seniors in mind. These can be worn as a bracelet, anklet or placed in a pocket. Some are even found in tennis shoes. There are some models that are designed to alert the caregiver should their loved one step out of preset boundaries while others that maintain a constant vigil of the wearer’s location. Of course, the trick is ensuring that your loved one is always wearing the device.
  • Create a daily plan and routine for your loved one to help them feel a sense of stability in their ever-changing world.
  • Include exercise and some time spent in the sunlight every day. Make their evening routine relaxing and enjoyable.
  • Avoid crowded areas such as shopping malls that may lead to confusion.
  • Provide supervision and use devices that signal when a door or window has been opened.
  • Consider installing a video camera system.
  • Alert your parent’s neighbors to the potential problem and ask one of them to be a point of contact should you be notified from a tracking or other device that your parent has left their home.
  • Consider obtaining the services of a senior care provider who can care for your loved one when you or other family members are not available.

Resources
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/26/wandering-alzheimers-_n_3653267.html
http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-wandering.asp

In the Spotlight

Feature Facility – Herman Health Care Center

March 21, 2017 By Ketan Shah

April 1, 2017 by Caitlin McAvoy & Ketan Shah

The Herman Health Care Center is a unique family-owned rehabilitation and long-term care facility that has been serving the San Jose area since 1944.

It started as a 17-bed skilled nursing facility and currently boasts 99 beds in three residential wings on the 2.5 acre property.

Herman Health Care Center provides many different services for their clients depending on their needs. Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Social Services and a beauty shop are provided on-site and 24-hour care is provided by RNs and LVNs. Clients have access to other healthcare professionals like podiatrists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and dental professionals.

This care facility stands out because of the open feeling of the beautiful facility grounds and the easy access for clients to enjoy the outdoors. When the weather is nice, doors and windows are open to provide natural light and fresh air for residents. Navi Orosco, the current Director of Business Development, showed off the recent plantings by the clients in their raised garden beds and mentioned that as the weather warms up more facility events will be hosted outside like movie nights, ceramics class and music in the court yard.

The staff focuses on building patient relationships and providing community connections as a vital part of high quality patient care. Located next to Presentation Catholic High School, Herman Health Care Center has an ongoing volunteer program with students participating in activity planning and events with the clients, fostering community between generations. The facility also offers local outing programs for residents to spend leisure time shopping or going to a movie in their surrounding community.

One client that Navi remembers from her time at the facility is a gentleman whose medical issues and behaviors became too difficult for his sister to continue caring for him in her home. At Herman Health Care Center, he received an individualized plan for rehabilitation and behavioral services and participated in facility events like gardening. With patience and care, his behaviors stabilized and he was discharged to return home and eventually found work as a local gardener. Giving people the support they need to return to the community as happy, productive members is what inspires Navi to continue working with this population.

Herman Health Care Center is contracted with a number of HMO programs like Medi-Care, BlueCross, Santa Clara Family Health Plan, and Health Net.

Contact Information:

Navi Orosco
Director of Business Development
navio@hermanhealthcare.com

Herman Health Care Center
2295 Plummer Ace
San Jose, Ca 95125

Tel: 408-269-0701
Fax: 408-269-2512
www.hermanhealthcare.com
The Elder Care Experts at Home Helpers are available to talk with you about your needs. We provide home care in San Jose, CA. For more information about senior care services call us at our office at (408) 259-5930.

Tips for Fall Prevention in Seniors

In our last post we discussed the horrifying statistics involving falls among the elderly. In this post we are sharing some tips for reducing those falls.

  1. Remove anything that’s a trip hazard.

Pay attention to any low to the ground items. Area rugs look nice, but are not worth the risk if they were to become bunched up and become a trip hazard.

  2. Open up space in rooms.

The more space in each room, the safer it is. Make clear walkways, that have plenty of open space to walk in without bumping into anything. Just keep what you need and get the rest of the unnecessary furniture out. Making sure your home has more uninhabited space.

  3. Add lighting. 

Do a walk-through survey of your house. Increase lighting throughout the house, especially at the top and bottom of stairs. Ensure that lighting is readily available when getting up in the middle of the night.

  4. Grab bars.

The bathroom is where you face the largest risk of a fall. Install grab bars in the tub/shower and near the toilet. Make sure they’re installed where your older loved one would actually use them.

  5. Ask about medications.

Ask your loved one if they are having trouble remembering to take their medication or having side effects. Some medication’s can cause vision changes and dizziness. Encourage then to talk openly with their health care provider about all their concerns and request an evaluation of current medications which may contribute to the risk of falling.

Ensuring you have a fall prevention plan in place for your loved one, should be a top concern as you or a loved one age. Home modifications are important for increasing your comfort, but also crucial in increasing your level of safety within your home.

 

10 Horrifying Statistics About Elderly Falls

These horrifying statistics feature the importance of preventing falls by taking conscious safeguards. Age related losses in flexibility, muscle strength, or balance can be easily addressed through strength assessments, steady gait training, and rehabilitation therapy.

  • One-fourth of seniors who fracture a hip from a fall will die within 6 months of the injury.
  • When an elderly person falls, their hospital stays are about twice as long than those of elderly patients who are admitted for any other reason.
  • The most discerning effect of falling is the loss of function associated with independent living.
  • The risk of falling rises with age and is greater for women than men.
  • Approximately 9,500 deaths in older Americans are associated with falls each year.
  • Annually, falls are reported by one-third of all people over the age of 65.
  • Among people aged 65 to 69, one out of every 200 falls results in a hip fracture. That number increases to one out of every 10 for those  aged 85 and older.
  • Two-thirds of those who fall will do so again in 6 months.
  • More than half of all fatal falls involve people 75 and older.
  • Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older.

If you find yourself or a loved one in need of rehabilitation therapy, ask your doctor about Herman Health Care Center. Our award-winning team of therapists use cutting age equipment and specific objective assessments to identify and treat deficits that may lead to a future fall.