What types of home health care will Medicare pay for?

Last time out, we took a look at the four conditions under which Medicare will help pay for  your loved one’s home health care services. We established that the recipient must be considered homebound; needs skilled nursing care or skilled therapy services as often as once every 60 days, or as much as once daily for up to three weeks; is receiving care at a Medicare-certified home health agency; or if your doctor signs a home health certification stating that you qualify for Medicare home care because you are homebound and need intermittent skilled care.

In this post, we will be taking a look at those types of home health care services Medicare will help pay for, and those it won’t pay for.

First, let’s take a look at those types of care Medicare will pay for:

  • Skilled nursing services and home health services provided for up to seven days a week for no more than eight hours per day and 28 hours per week (Medicare can cover up to 35 hours in unusual cases).
  • Medicare pays in full for skilled nursing care, including services that can only be performed effectively by a licensed nurse. Injections (and teaching patients to self-inject), tube feedings, catheter changes, observation and assessment of a patient’s condition, management and evaluation of a patient’s care plan, and wound care are some examples.
  • Medicare will also make full payment if you require the services of a skilled home health aide who provides personal care services like help with bathing, using the toilet, and dressing. If personal care is the only thing you require, you don’t qualify for Medicare home care benefit.
  • Skilled therapy services such as physical, speech and occupational therapy services that can only be performed safely by or supervised by a licensed therapist, and that are necessary for treating your illness or injury.
  • Medicare pays in full for medical social services ordered by your doctor to help with social and emotional concerns related to your illness. This might include counseling or help finding resources in your community.
  • Medicare will also make full payment for medical supplies like wound dressings provided by a Medicare-certified home health agency.

Now, let’s take a look at those types of care Medicare will not cover:

  • If you require 24-hour care at home, Medicare is not likely to cover the full cost of your care.
  • Medicare will also not pay for prescription drugs. To get Medicare drug coverage, you need to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan. There are two options available (stand-alone Medicare private drug plan (PDP), and Medicare Advantage Plan with Part D coverage (MADP).
  • All meals delivered to you at home and homemaker or custodial care services (i.e. cooking, shopping, laundry).
  • Unless custodial care is part of the skilled nursing and/or skilled therapy services you receive from a home health aide or other personal care attendant.

Medicare Can Cover the Cost of your Home Health Care. Here’s How.

In a previous post, we looked at certain questions that should be asked when considering home health care service in New Jersey. One of those questions was how much it would cost. A lot of people are not aware of the full range of options available to them to help pay for Home Health Care Services. Beyond what a loved one can afford from savings and income, a variety of options can be explored. Reverse mortgages, life and long term care insurance policies as well as Medicare and Medicaid are some of many options that can be explored to cover the cost of care.

In this post, we will be looking at the requirements of Medicare as a way of payment for home health care services.

Like most federal programs, to qualify for Medicare as a source of paying for your home health services, certain conditions must be met, including being homebound, need for skilled care, and for how long, a doctor’s order and the use of a Medicare certified Home Health agency.

HOMEBOUND

If you or your loved one is considered homebound, you are entitled to having Medicare pay for your home health care. To be considered homebound, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You need the help of another person or special equipment (wheelchair, walker, etc.) to leave your house, or your doctor believes that leaving your house would be harmful to your health.
  • If you find it difficult to leave your home and typically cannot do so.

SKILLED NURSING.

If you or your loved one needs skilled care, including skilled nursing care or skilled therapy services (physical, speech or occupational) as often as once every 60 days, or as much as once daily for up to three weeks.

DOCTOR’S ORDER

Also, you qualify if your doctor signs a home health certification stating that you qualify for Medicare home care because you are homebound and need intermittent skilled care. The certification must also say that a plan of care has been made for you, and that a doctor regularly reviews it. Usually, the certification and plan of care are combined in one form that is signed by your doctor and submitted to Medicare.

  • As part of the certification, doctors must also confirm that they (or certain other providers, such as nurse practitioners) have had a face-to-face meeting with you related to the main reason you need home care within 90 days of starting to receive home health care or within 30 days after you have already started receiving home health care. Your doctor must specifically state that the face-to-face meeting confirmed that you are homebound and qualify for intermittent skilled care.
  • The face-to-face encounter can also be done through tele health. In certain areas, Medicare will cover examinations done for you in specific places (doctors offices, hospitals, health clinics, skilled nursing facilities) using telecommunications (such as video conferencing).

AGENCY

If you or your loved one is receiving your care at a Medicare-certified home health agency (HHA).

Please note, if you only need occupational therapy, you will not qualify for the Medicare home health benefit. However, if you qualify for Medicare coverage of home health care on another basis, you can also get occupational therapy. Even when your other needs for Medicare home health end, you should still be able to get occupational therapy under the Medicare home health benefit if you still need it.

If you have any further questions about todays post, or you want to get to know more about what we do and how Elite Home Care can help, you can get in touch with us through our Contact Us page, we will be more than glad to be of assistance.

In our next post, we will be looking at the types of home health care services that Medicare will pay for, and services it does not cover.

Written by Elite HomeCare’s Admin

 

Professional Elderly Home Care Services: The Need of Modern Times

In recent times, most adult children with aged parents face an ever increasing and multifaceted challenge when their parents enter their golden years. This becomes particularly evident when they may also have to deal with other medical conditions, or even the unfortunate passing away of one parent especially if they were the primary caregiver for the couple. Also noteworthy is the push towards reduced length of stay at hospitals by most insurance companies, as well as the growing trend with the baby boomer generation to stay in their own homes, as against the traditional notion of nursing homes.  The question then arises as to how best to care for them while helping them maintain their privacy and dignity all in the comfort of their homes.

Professional elderly home care services are modern responses to these challenges as they aim to provide the best possible care for not just the elderly, but for the whole family unit in the comfort of their homes. Licensed and regulated to ensure adequate consumer protection, industry professionalism and standards, home health care services caring for seniors is fast becoming the main stay of our modern society.

Home care service providers take all the necessary steps to ensure your loved ones are properly cared for at home. From simple everyday activities like bathing, dressing, meal preparation, laundry, housekeeping, shopping, doctors’ appointments, to more professional services like assessments, medication and disease management and to something as simple, but very important as providing companionship to clients. The introduction of respite care also tries to solve the challenge of sometimes overburdened care givers, giving them time to relax and recharge away from the altruistic but sometimes challenging task of caring for a loved one. Working with your doctor(s) and family members, the flexibility of the process allows you to customize your care; activities and hours of the day, to meet your exact need and budget, cutting waste and allowing for conservative and effective use of resources.

 So, what are you waiting for? Contact the professional care team today and get the advantage of best home care agencies or services for your loved ones as they deserve nothing but the best. 

Should you have any questions regarding this post and or our services please click on the contact us page or make a comment below and someone from our team will reach out to you shortly.

Written by Elite HomeCare Admin

Via: www.theelitehomecare.com/blog

Elite HomeCare selected for 2016 North Brunswick Township Small Business Excellence Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

North Brunswick Township, NJ – January 13, 2017 — Elite HomeCare has been selected for the
2016 North Brunswick Township Small Business Excellence Award in the Home Health Care
classification by the North Brunswick Township Small Business Excellence Award Program.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each
category. The 2016 North Brunswick Township Small Business Excellence Award Program
focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both
internally by the North Brunswick Township Small Business Excellence Award Program and data
provided by third parties.
About the North Brunswick Township Small Business Excellence Awards Program
The North Brunswick Township Small Business Excellence Awards recognizes outstanding small
businesses that serve the North Brunswick Township area. Each year, our selection committee
identifies businesses that we believe have achieved outstanding marketing success in their local
community and business classification.
Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and
implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value. These are small
businesses that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers
and our community. These exceptional companies help make the North Brunswick Township area
a vibrant and vital place to live.
The North Brunswick Township Small Business Excellence Awards was established to reward the
best of small businesses in North Brunswick Township. Our organization works exclusively with
local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and
marketing groups. Our mission is to award the small business community’s contributions to the
U.S. economy.
SOURCE:
North Brunswick Township Small Business Excellence Award Program
CONTACT:
North Brunswick Township Small Business Excellence Award Program
Email: [email protected]
URL: http://www.SmallBusinessExcellence.org
###

What is the Sandwich Generation?

Tackling both elder care and childcare at once requires fortitude and patience. Despite the tremendous pressures faced by those with these dual obligations, millions of Americans have assumed this admirable role. Learn more about these caregivers who are a part of the Sandwich Generation.What is the Sandwich Generation?

Sandwich Generation Caregivers

Even if you’ve never heard the phrase “sandwich generation,” chances are fairly good that if you’re reading this article, the term describes you.

In the United States, from 1900-2000, life expectancy increased from 47-76 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since humans are living longer, the 21st century has produced a large population of older adults, creating a need for more caregivers.

Family members, predominantly female family members, have provided the majority of care to their aging loved ones. Today, there is a generation of middle-aged adults, known as the Sandwich Generation, who are caught between the demands of child rearing in addition to providing care to their aging parents for these reasons:

  • Delayed parenting – A new norm in today’s society of couples starting families in their mid-to late-30s
  • Increased life span – People are living longer in the 21st century as a result of better healthcare and technology

Sandwich Generation Defined

Sandwich generationis a term that seems extremely accurate and descriptive once you understand the context for which it’s used. So what exactly does the term mean?

The sandwich generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.

Social worker Dorothy Miller created the term “sandwich generation” back in 1981, and was originally referring to younger women in their 30s-40s who were taking care of both their children and parents. Then, journalist Carol Abaya continued to study and expose what the term means as America ages in present day.

Abaya breaks down the sandwich generation scenarios even further:

  1. Traditional: Those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.
  2. Club Sandwich: Those in their 50s-60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or those in their 30s-40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
  3. Open Faced: Anyone else involved in elder care.

Merriam-Webster and Oxford English officially added the term to their dictionaries in 2006, since the role has become even more commonplace and recognized across mainstream culture. So while sandwich generation caregiver may sound like a quirky word, the trend is becoming a phenomenon in aging America.

Sandwich Generation Characteristics

There are many emotions that go along with being a sandwich generation caregiver as stress, financial burden and burnout can be part of the job. However, there is a flip side of optimism for those with the title. In fact, Pew Research reports that of the caregivers who look after both their kids and their aging parents, “31% report being very happy with their lives, and an additional 52% say they are pretty happy.” Happiness rates are nearly the same among adults who are not part of the sandwich generation as “28% are very happy, and 51% are pretty happy.”

These statistics show that, in some cases, having both children and aging parents in the house can foster closer family bonds between the generations. It’s common for people to feel a greater sense of self worth and accomplishment when providing for their loved ones.

But, Pew Research also notes that adults who are part of the sandwich generation — specifically, those who have a living parent age 65 or older and are either raising a child under age 18 or supporting a grown child — are pulled in many directions. Not only do many provide care and financial support to their parents and their children, but nearly 38% say both their grown children and their parents rely on them for emotional support.

Sandwich Generation Demographic

Caring for an aging parent is an immense challenge, and one of the most profound tasks we can take on in our lives. The same can be said about raising children. So who are the people who fill this heroic role?

The sandwich generation is full of people from many different backgrounds and ethnicities, but there are trends. Here are some of the demographics, according to the Census Bureau:

  • Sandwich generation members are mostly middle-aged, or between the ages of 40-59
  • 19% of the members are younger than 40, and 10% are age 60 and older
  • Men and women are both members, although the caregivers are predominantly women
  • Married adults are more likely than unmarried adults to be sandwiched between their children and parents: 36% of those who are married fall into this group and 13% of those who are unmarried fall into this group
  • More affluent adults, or those with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more, are more likely than less affluent adults to be in the sandwich generation: 43% of those with incomes of $100,000 or more are affected, compared to 25% of those with incomes between $30,000-$100,000 a year
  • Hispanics are the biggest ethnic population in the sandwich generation situation: 31% of Hispanic adults have a parent age 65 or older and a dependent child, whereas approximately 24% of whites and 21% of blacks are sandwich generation caregivers

Sandwich Generation Issues

Tackling both elder care and childcare at once is indeed impressive. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t taken its toll on its sandwich generation caregivers. In fact, there are many sandwich generation issues to report. Some of the most common reported are the following:

  • Stress
  • Financial Hardship
  • Depression

Multigenerational caregivers experience high levels of stress, and many report simply not having enough time in the day to accomplish their multitude of responsibilities. Furthermore, Sandwich Generation members often see a negative impact on their careers and finances.

A survey sent out by A Place for Mom found that 23% of multigenerational caregivers would consider leaving their job all together, and a further 31% would attempt to reduce their hours, which can negatively impact salary. One caregiver, 41-year-old Kim Hunter, noted:

“Ten years ago, I would not have guessed my mother would live with us. We just didn’t think about what was down the road. The experience is equal parts challenging and rewarding. On one hand I am juggling work with the needs of both my mom and my kids, and it’s tough financially. On the flipside, my children are getting to know their grandma in a special way while I am getting to know my mom on a different, deeper level.”

Sandwich Generation Stress

Being a sandwich generation caregiver definitely requires a delicate balancing act, and stress is simply part of the job. Sandra Tsing Loh, author of “The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones,” columnist for The Atlantic, and sandwich generation caregiver, discusses some of the challenges faced by sandwich generation caregivers:

“A lot of women I know, they have these amazing superpowers. When they’re on, they can do the work of ten people. The problem is, occasionally they hit the bottom of the wave, and wake up on Saturday morning without the strength to reach over for their reading glasses to read the paper.”

The constant multitasking can be exhausting for caregivers. As Loh points out, many of them are women are suffering from the triple-Ms, or “middle aged mothers in menopause,” when biologically women lose their nurturing hormones and no longer want to take care of people. It becomes physically exhausting and mentally challenging to maintain the balancing act, and stress is one of the byproducts.

Learning how to tackle stress is a necessity for sandwich generation caregivers, which is why it is crucial for caregivers to take care of themselves by getting help from a family member, hiring respite care, or having regular breaks from caregiving. Lowering the bar is crucial for survival. Loh notes, “If you can get through even a quarter of the items on the to-do list on a Monday morning, you’re amazing… It’s hard to ask for help sometimes, because you think you failed. You’re blaming yourself. It helps to have a friend you can call and say, ‘I am terrible, I am crying today, I don’t know what’s wrong with me,’ and have a real conversation with them. And a regular class or luncheon with friends is great to get your mind of responsibilities.”

Everyone needs a break. But sandwich generation caregivers need to remember to take care of themselves first, otherwise they are no good to their children or parents because they are suffering from burnout. Taking care of you first is the golden rule of caregiving. Sometimes seeing a family counselor, psychiatrist or doctor is necessary for those who are sandwich generation caregivers.

We have also compiled a list of helpful books for caregivers for helpful tips, insight and information.

Tackling Finances as a Sandwich Generation Caregiver

Members of the sandwich generation may not have anticipated being in the position of helping to provide for their elderly parents. Whether the recession, lack of financial planning, or a combination of factors affected your parents’ bank account, there are creative senior care funding options.

Selling the family home, using investments, re-budgeting or using Veterans’ or government aid are just a few of the ways to help finance senior care. Discover how to prioritize and plan family financing ahead of time, and get financial tips for sandwich generation caregivers. It’s important for sandwich generation caregivers to put themselves first and not sacrifice their own financial well being for their children or parents.

Sandwich Generation Statistics

As America ages, more and more people are becoming multi-generational caregivers. According to National Alliance for Caregiving, 9.3 million Americans are a part of the sandwich generation today, and that number is expected to exponentially increase over the next 20 years as the baby boomer population gets older.

Here are some other interesting statistics, courtesy of Pew Research Center, to better understand the sandwich generation:

  • Nearly half, or 47%, of adults in their 40s-50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older)
  • About one-in-seven middle-aged adults, or 15%, is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child
  • Roughly half, or 48%, of adults ages 40-59 have provided some financial support to at least one grown child in the past year, with 27% providing the primary support
  • About one-in-five middle-aged adults, or 21%, have provided financial support to a parent age 65 or older in the past year
  • Among all adults with at least one parent age 65 or older, 30% say their parent or parents need help to handle their affairs or care for themselves
  • Among all adults with a living parent age 65 or older, 35% say that their parent or parents frequently rely on them for emotional support and 33% say their parents sometimes rely on them for emotional support

The statistics are proof that sandwich generation caregivers are an extraordinary group of people. Every caregiving situation and relationship is different and requires its own formula for day-to-day living.

Family support and financial planning are crucial for every sandwich generation caregiver. It’s important to reach out for help, when needed, and doctors, family counselors, psychiatrists and caregiving support groups are all excellent resources. A Place for Mom also has expert senior living advisors to answer a wide range of questions about elder care for each families’ unique situation.

What are some of the struggles you’ve faced as a sandwich generation caregiver? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

What is the Sandwich Generation? posted by Dana Larsen

Via: a place for mom

 #TheEliteHomeCare, #EliteHomeCareLLC, #EliteHomeCareNJ, #EliteHomeCare, #Generatiion, #CareGivers, #Seniors, #AgingParents, #BestHomeCareAgencyinNJ, #ElderCare, #HomeHealthCare, #AgingAmerica, #HomeCare.

Valentine’s Crafts for Seniors in Assisted Living

Valentine's Crafts for Seniors in Assisted Living

Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love and friendship, and it’s the perfect opportunity to get seniors out and about, connected, and having fun together. A very real danger to seniors is loneliness and depression, especially during the colder months. These Valentine’s Day crafts and activities are ideal for seniors in assisted living facilities looking for a fun way to commemorate Valentine’s Day with their neighbors.

1. Homemade Cards for Servicemen

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to share happy emotions and best wishes. While some seniors might be feeling lonely at this time of the year, connecting with other people can help reduce negative feelings. A great way to do just that is to create homemade cards for servicemen and women. Gather construction paper, glue sticks, magazine scraps, and other decorative craft items and let seniors create and sign cards for deployed servicemen. If you need a less intensive activity, consider purchasing premade cards in bulk and letting seniors simply sign and write a note. Organizations like Hugs for Soldiers make it easy to get the completed cards into the hands of members of the armed services far from home on Valentine’s Day.

2. Vintage Valentine’s Tea Party

Recent research has shown that creating an environment reminiscent of a senior’s past can help encourage conversations, memories, and positive emotions. Why not give your Valentine’s Day celebration a vintage theme and take residents back in time to very happy memories? Set the tone with some music from the era, and research some old-fashioned favorites for snacks, like petit fours, macaroons, and crustless finger sandwiches. Decorate with paper doilies and perhaps even borrow a nicer old-fashioned serving set. Encourage residents to wear a festive hat, or red clothing to help celebrate.

3. Deck the Halls

Now that the Christmas decorations have come down, you have a blank slate for decorating your facility’s shared areas, hallways, and residents’ doors. Gather up your interested seniors, put out some Valentine’s Day cookies, and let the crafting begin. The end result not only makes your facility look festive, but gives the participants a sense of pride every time they pass by their handmade decorations. Ideas include:

4. Gifts for Others

Seniors may be on limited budgets or unable to easily go out and shop for gifts. Give them the means to make small tokens for their loved ones or friends this Valentine’s Day. For example, small clean rocks can be painted for pocket-sized love rocks keepsakes or paperweights. Seniors may also enjoy making and giving the very useful gift of a Valentine’s Day bookmark, customizing it with small pieces of fabric and ribbon. A collection of leftover buttons make the perfect elements to create a button heart, glued to a small square of fabric, cardboard, or wood. With a little bit or preparation and some hands-on time, they can create a precious gift for the ones they love.

5. Pop-up Cards

From childhood all the way on up to our older years, Valentine’s Day cards are one of the most enduring of holiday traditions. This year, help your residents do something a little different with their Valentine’s Day cards. Any kids, grandkids, or other loved ones they want to write to will get a kick out of these pop-up cards.

6. Crepe-Paper Roses

Who doesn’t love roses? Real ones are nice, but they can get costly (especially in February) and will wilt eventually. Paper roses, on the other hand, can serve as pleasant decorations in your shared spaces throughout the entire month.

7. Floating Heart Backdrop

Add some hearts to your lobby or recreational areas with this floating heart backdrop. It’s colorful, whimsical, and easy to make – especially with a group of seniors to help out.

8. Lacy Votive Holder

Candles add such a nice ambience (and you can always go with the LED version for safety purposes). These lacy votive holders from Martha Stewart can add even more ambience to the candles, bring some extra color to the room, and add an aura of class to any space you put them in.

9. Felt Fortune Cookies

Everyone loves fortune cookies – most people less for the cookie part, and more for the fortune. These adorable felt fortune cookies double as both a nice decoration your residents can help make and a fun activity for Valentine’s Day. You can pass around a plate full of fortune cookies and see what the future has in store for your residents. Take some time to write up some fun fortunes for everyone. Here are some ideas you can borrow.

10. Valentine’s Bird Feeders

These Valentine’s Day bird feeders have the especially nice bonus of attracting some lovely birds to your community for everyone to see. They’re simple to make, fit in nicely with the Valentine’s Day theme and are a craft that even the Valentine’s Day cynics can get something out of. You can make some for the facility itself, and stock up on enough supplies for residents to make some as gifts for their loved ones as well.

11. Fabric Hearts

Finally, we have our fabric hearts craft. They’re small, but beautiful tokens your residents can hang onto after Valentine’s Day passes, or give out to loved ones as gifts.

Not everyone loves Valentine’s Day, but those that do will appreciate having a way to celebrate. Those who don’t normally get into the lovey spirit of the day may still appreciate some extra color in the facility or a few more birds stopping by outside.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Written by Kristen Hicks and Megan Hammons

Via: https://www.senioradvisor.com/blog/2016/02/valentines-crafts-for-seniors-in-assisted-living/

Gift Ideas for Seniors: Top 10 Holiday Requests Seniors Likely Want But Won’t Ask For

What do you get Grandma this year? A new blanket . . . again? How about a pair of slippers? While those gifts could satisfy the needs or desires of a senior loved one, why not choose a present that is even more meaningful: a gift from the heart. While you may not be able to add the following 10 gift ideas to a shopping list, you can bet they’re on your loved one’s wish list.

top-10-things-senior-wont-ask-for

 

  1. Take your loved one shopping. Whether a trip to the mall or an online shopping spree, make it a special day. Be sure to tune into your loved one’s limitations and don’t overdo.
  2. Lend a hand.  Carry on the holiday cooking traditions, asking your senior loved one to help where he or she can. Or, ask everyone to bring a favorite dish.
  3. Wrap and send packages. Arthritis can make wrapping those holiday presents a challenge. Schedule a gift-wrapping afternoon, complete with hot chocolate, cookies and plenty of family stories.
  4. Deck the halls. Bending, lifting and reaching to get those holiday decorations in place isn’t always possible for an older adult. Enlist the help of the grandkids and make decorating a fun multi-generational activity.
  5. Send holiday greetings. Offer to spend an afternoon helping your loved one address and send holiday cards, either by mail or as online photo greetings.
  6. Plan a fun event. Get a group of your senior loved one’s friends together to serenade other older adults in an assisted living facility or nursing home.
  7. Celebrate the reason for the season. Attend a religious program with your senior loved one. Be flexible with service times if necessary.
  8. Focus on others. Get your senior loved one and the entire family involved in gathering supplies for a homeless shelter or serving a holiday meal.
  9. Stay connected. Help an older adult connect with loved ones far away, whether over the phone or through a video-calling service like Skype.

Give the gift of time. Sometimes all an older adult wants is companionship. Show that you care by making room in your schedule to spend time together.

From: caregiverstress.com

Holidays with Seniors: A Successful Thanksgiving

The Original Thanksgiving Guest

The Original Thanksgiving Guest

It’s Thanksgiving again!  Millions of families across the country–and expats all over the world for that matter–are preparing themselves for turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, candied yams, and I won’t even mention the desserts!  Year after year, it’s the same routine that we all know and love and stress over.  That is, of course, until something or someone throws the routine for a loop.  The common cause: an aging loved one, who is perhaps no longer the independent, lucid and physically capable person they’ve always been.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans this year who is more worried about preparing for Nana or Uncle Joe than you are about preparing your pie crust, don’t worry; there is plenty of advice out there to help you.  I’ve sifted through much of it and plucked out what I think are the most helpful tips.

Preparing meals for seniors

There are some things you should know about preparing meals for seniors.  The first thing is that seniors do not metabolize food in the same way that they once did.  And what’s more, their taste buds might not be as sensitive to flavors as in years past.  Don’t be surprised or offended or upset then when your loved one doesn’t attack your casserole like he or she used to.  In fact, you might want to think about preparing something special for your loved one, to cater to his or her changing dietary habits and needs.  Here are some tips taken from http://www.associatedcontent.com/:

  1. Make food that is easy to chew and swallow.  Dentures and reduced saliva production might make tough and dry foods difficult.
  2. Use less salt.  You don’t want to cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure or worsen water retention.  Remember, you can always salt the food on your own plate later.
  3. Add more seasoning.  To make up for the lower salt, aging taste buds and the dulling affect of some prescription medications, use savory, but not spicy, seasonings to provide more flavor.
  4. Use recipes rich with nutrition.  Seniors need to eat food that is high in nutritional content and calories to make up for their often reduced appetites. nutritiondata.comis a good source for information on the nutritional and caloric content of food.  Check AARPs recipe site for great Thanksgiving recipes for seniors.

Ask questions.  Take a moment to ask your loved one what they enjoy eating these days.  If they always loved a particular dish, ask them if they still do.  Ask them if there is anything they don’t like.

Keeping an eye out for hints of dementia

If dietary issues are not your concern, memory loss might be.  Early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s are often first detected or otherwise confirmed at holiday family gatherings.  This might be for the simple reason that it is the only time of year the whole family gets together.  It might also be that with distant relatives around, and a disruption to the everyday routines, the conditions are optimal for noticing memory loss.  I found the following great tips on what to look for if dementia or Alzheimer’s is your concern from blog.ourparents.com:

  1. Look in the refrigerator. Is there expired food?
  2. Drive their car.  Check the state of the tires, oil, antifreeze.
  3. Investigate the house.  Check for cleanliness.
  4. Take note of how the pets are doing.
  5. Talk to the neighbors — this can be a bonus if you can ask them to keep an eye out on your aging loved one, even if just from afar.
  6. Identify any marked declines from the previous year, especially in organization, cleanliness, and personal hygiene.

Go to the source.  Sit down with your loved one.  Ask if anything has been bothering them.  Ask if you can help with anything.  Ask them questions about what they have been doing lately.  Ask, ask, ask.  Often hints will come out in what they say or what they can’t remember.  

And this is my own hint to add to that list:  Follow your instincts.  You know your loved one.  You know what their house normally looks like, how they normally speak and act.  If something is really out of place address it with them, but be delicate, as it might cause them fear or anxiety when you point it out.

If you already know that dementia or Alzheimer’s is taking hold in your loved one, here are some tips from http://www.alzhimersreadingroom.com/ that might help you cope:

  1. Stick with the familiar and maintain routines.  Avoid strange and noisy restaurants.
  2. Keep your gathering small, so as not to confuse your loved one with unfamiliar faces.
  3. Focus on the old memories.  Short-term memory is usually the most affected with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.  Ask them questions about their childhood and younger days.  They just might surprise you with what they remember and you might learn something new about your loved one.  

For an interesting narrative on how one woman discovered the early signs of dementia in her mother at Thanksgiving, go here.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!   – Lynn

By Deborah McLean in Home SupportInformation You Can UseSocial Seniors

From: maineseniorguide.com/holidays-with-seniors-a-successful-thanksgiving/

Additional resources:

http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2007/11/dementia-often-first-noticed-at.html

http://www.helpguide.org/life/senior_nutrition.htm