As we age, it is essential to have a plan in place for managing our finances. Financial planning for seniors can seem like a daunting task, but with the right information and guidance, it can be a straightforward process.Continue reading
What seems like a simple medical test to the average adult can be significantly more challenging to an elderly person. Here are a few reasons to take extra care when an older person requires a medical test.
- The elderly are more likely to have vision, hearing, and cognitive impairments that make it difficult for them to follow instructions or understand what must happen for the specimen to be properly collected.
- Older people have more problems with balance and mobility, factors that can make some samples physically harder or more dangerous to provide.
- Even a blood test can be more difficult because the skin is thinner, the subcutaneous tissue is less resilient, and the veins are more fragile and prone to tearing when punctured.
- For a person with dementia, even a brief sample collection procedure can be traumatic and lead to a catastrophic reaction by the patient. In this case, the need for testing must be even more carefully scrutinized.
- On top of all the physical and emotional challenges, financial constraints and details can deter an elderly person from undergoing testing.
If testing is a burden for someone you know, talk to the health care provider about the situation. Always discuss why the test is needed and how it will affect ongoing care or alter the course of therapy. Be sure that any test ordered will provide necessary information for clinical decision-making. The following items contain suggestions to help elderly patients through some of the practical matters of collecting a test sample.
The Challenge of Getting There
Transportation problems are common for the elderly, who may not drive and may be dependent on someone else to take them to their medical appointments. Reducing stress on the driver can make for a more positive experience.
Planning Ahead — If you must go somewhere unfamiliar for a test, get good directions on where you must drive and where you must walk; this will help eliminate stress. Find out if it will be easier for the person having the test to be dropped off at a certain entrance. You may also want to inquire about busy times and plan to avoid them.
Staying Home — If the person who needs the test does not drive and has difficulty arranging for a ride (or even for someone to transport the sample), inquire about onsite or home services.
Issues of Safety
Falls are common and especially serious in people over age 65, and bathrooms can be particularly hazardous. Pay attention to safety when you are collecting a urine or stool sample, particularly for individuals who have mobility or vision problems. Your focus on the collection process may prevent you from noticing hazards or unsafe conditions in the room, so gather what you need and plan ahead.
Tripping — Before you begin, you can remove scatter rugs and loose mats.
Slipping — Be on guard for spills and a slippery or wet floor.
Falls — Encourage use of grab bars or other supports near the toilet area to help prevent injuries from falls.
The Need for Help During Testing
It is not uncommon for an elderly person to need some assistance or accommodation when having a medical test. A person with arthritis, joint stiffness, or other mobility problem may find it difficult to obtain a urine or stool sample without some help. A woman with dementia may be unable to follow the instructions on obtaining a “clean catch” urine specimen; she may also become confused or agitated when someone tries to do this for her. A person who does not see well or who has poor manual dexterity can have trouble using the required equipment, such as specimen cups or blood glucose monitors for diabetes.
Here are some tips to make the sample collection process go more smoothly.
Instructions — An older person may have trouble hearing verbal directions, reading printed instructions, or remembering when a test is scheduled or what it is for. A voice amplifier can be used to improve communications with a patient whose hearing is impaired. Always ask for written instructions, preferably concise ones in large type. When giving oral instructions, take it one step at a time, and use a calm and reassuring tone; before you begin, seek to minimize noise and distractions and create a calm environment. Try playing soft music to soothe someone who is distressed or confused.
Special Equipment — Special equipment can make certain procedures easier and safer. A urine sample may be more easily collected in a receptacle placed in the toilet rather than in a cup or jar that has to be held. A magnifier with a bright light attachment can help a diabetic patient with vision loss perform self-monitoring of blood glucose. A different kind of lancet or needle may prove easier or less painful or intimidating to use.
Hired Help — Although nursing homes have personnel to assist with sample collection procedures, assisted living facilities do not always provide nursing support for these situations. If you need help where none is available, you may be able to hire a private nurse or home health aide who can provide the required assistance for a nominal fee.
Privacy — Helping a person obtain a urine or stool sample can be a task neither party finds particularly pleasant. The person needing the help may be embarrassed, and the person providing the help may find the odors and cleaning tasks offensive. Provide as much privacy as is safely possible to increase everyone’s comfort level.
Compassion — The caregiver involved in specimen collection may find it helpful to view the assistance provided as an act of kindness and love. If you are aware of a situation in which a patient is not treated appropriately, take steps to ensure that the patient receives competent and compassionate care.
This article was originally published by Testing.com and republished here with permission.
Elite Home Health and Hospice believes that choice always exists. Excellent quality of life is always attainable — people with illness can live fully and die well.
When death is accepted as a natural part of life, hope changes but does not disappear. A person faced with serious, life-limiting, or terminal illness need not stop reaching for wishes and dreams. Elite Home Health & Hospice has a bias toward saying yes, and we focus on enhancing and maintaining the quality of life as defined by each patient and family.
Hospice is a philosophy aimed at providing palliative (comfort) care to patients in their end-of-life stages. To carry out these services, Elite Home Health and Hospice utilizes a medically-directed Interdisciplinary Group that involves patients, their families, professionals, and volunteers. We believe that a “family” includes anyone significant to the patient, regardless of blood relation.
The goals of palliation are comfort, dignity, and quality of life. The difference between this and other treatments designed to cure or control a disease is that palliative care focuses on the person living with the disease rather than on the disease itself. People may choose palliation before “all else has failed” if, in their experience, the burdens of continued curative treatment outweigh its benefits. While Interdisciplinary Team members have expertise in hospice and palliative care, they are not experts in any individual situation. The only experts are the patient and family. They are in charge of determining how their care is planned.
Every effort is made by the hospice team to provide maximum physical comfort for the patient. Hospice then focuses on the heads and hearts of those experiencing the disease process–preparing emotionally and spiritually for death. Elite Home Health and Hospice considers it just as important to provide these services to family members as we do to our patients. This is one reason why we provide bereavement counseling for all those grieving the loss of a loved one.
Palliative care does not automatically include nor exclude any specific treatment or approach. Hospice looks at each difficult symptom–from physical pain to anxiety and isolation–and outlines options for addressing that symptom. Multiple choices are always available. The benefits and burdens of each option are considered, and the patient and family select the option that feels most comfortable.
Elite Home Health and Hospice was created by seasoned hospice professionals who are committed to providing care that exceeds all expectations. We do this without prejudice in an environment that supports the integrity and dignity of all people, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You may not think of yourself as a caregiver, but anyone who helps someone else because that person is no longer able to manage some or all of the activities of daily life is considered a caregiver. Whether the caregiver is a relative, spouse, friend, neighbor, volunteer, or medical professional, it is important to identify the caregiver role.
Your journey in the caregiving role may include a wide variety of experiences. While there are often many intrinsic benefits to caregiving – spending time with a cherished loved one, feeling needed, the opportunity to serve – there may also be challenges and special considerations you must take.
Your role as a caregiver is very important, as another individual depends on you. If your well-being suffers, you may become unable to care for another. So, if you’ve accepted the caregiver role, you also have a special responsibility to take care of yourself. That means assessing and taking care of your own physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, interpersonal, and financial needs. When you have attended to your own needs, you will have so much more to give to the person you’re caring for.
Your Physical Health
Physical health is a key caregiver concern. This begins with adequate rest every night. If this is not always possible, then try to fit in naps or break periods during the day. A regular bedtime and a light snack or warm milk may help you fall asleep. Beyond daily rest, you may need periodic breaks from caregiving, and you can plan for a period of respite, such as a long weekend. Discuss this option with a member of your hospice team.
Physical exercise is also important. Regular exercise, for instance, will strengthen you for the rigors of caring for another who needs assistance with their own movement. Generally, physical exercise will help you rest better. It is recommended that you aim for a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise four times a week. Fresh air and sunshine can also lift your spirits, and nature is a great healer.
Good nutrition will facilitate your own health and vigor and support a healthy immune system. If you receive offers of help from others during this time, request a nutritious meal – it is a simple way for others to support you. Any physical illness or healthcare needs should be attended to promptly in order to shorten your recovery time.
Emotional health is closely related to overall health, but may be overlooked. Caregivers experience the full range of human emotions – including anger, guilt, impatience, depression, helplessness, love, loneliness, and isolation – sometimes all at the same time.
At times you may tell yourself that some of these feelings are “good” and others “bad.” Rather than label them, it is important to know that all these feelings are normal. Acknowledge your feelings. Accept them. Realize that your situation is not unique and many other caregivers share these feelings.
It may help to have a close friend or confidant you can call daily. It helps to talk to another person so you don’t become overwhelmed. You might choose to create a list of people you can call. Remember, your Elite team is also available to listen and act as a resource for emotional support – we are here not only for the patient but for family and caregivers as well.
Due to the number of tasks that need to be completed, stress is almost inevitable in caregiving, and it is often compounded by inadequate rest. While there is often little to be done to change the circumstances creating stress, there are many ways to cope with it.
The following are some suggestions to help alleviate some of your stress:
- Keep a journal or diary. Writing about your feelings can reduce stress.
- Read a book or listen to music. These activities provide a pleasurable diversion.
- Take a long, relaxing bath with bath salts or aromatic oils.
- Consider getting a therapeutic massage; even a backrub from a friend can help.
- Listen to relaxation tapes – you can find them at a public library.
- Exercise. Physical activity naturally produces chemicals in the body that help reduce tension, anxiety and depression.
- Stay focused in the present moment. Don’t fret about work when you are caregiving or worry about your loved one when you are away.
- Take a few moments in nature to lift your spirits.
- Stroke or brush a pet – this is a therapeutic activity for you and the patient.
- Laughter is healing –watch a funny movie or read a humorous book.
- Pursue a creative outlet or enjoy a hobby, such as playing a musical instrument, singing, sketching or painting, or writing a short poem. These activities can do much to relieve stress and express emotions.
- Perform spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation or inspirational reading.
- Join a support group.
- When offered time off, take it without guilt or worry. The break will refresh you and help you be a better caregiver.
Spirituality is highly personal, widely defined, and important to many individuals. Some find their time as a caregiver reinforces and strengthens their spirituality. Others may be challenged to find the time to participate in their previous spiritual or religious practices while busy with the demands of caregiving. If your personal spirituality is important to you, you may need to temporarily adjust your caregiving. You might add a regular quiet time to your day for prayer, contemplation, or meditation. Time spent in nature can be rejuvenating. Inspirational reading or music may help you stay connected to your spiritual source. Your Elite Hospice chaplain is available to talk to you and direct you toward helpful resources.
Making It Happen
Who has time for all of this? Keep in mind that one activity may help to achieve balance in your life. For example, a walk with a friend provides physical exercise and social interaction and is emotionally and spiritually uplifting. Hobby groups may relieve stress and allow you to discuss current events. Singing in a choir provides a change of scenery, a creative outlet, and social contact.
The most important thing is to begin. It may be difficult to make many changes all at once, so select at least one or two areas to work on right away. Set a realistic goal for yourself to maintain your own well-being and regain a sense of control and balance. Elite Hospice team members know all about the caregiver role and can help you through any challenges you may encounter during this journey. Don’t hesitate to use them as your own resource.
How Respite Care Helps
Respite care services provide temporary in-home care for elderly or disabled individuals, allowing family caregivers to take some time off from their caregiving role while ensuring that their loved one is well cared for. At Elite, our in-home care program matches your loved one with one of our friendly and compassionate caregivers. Our professional staff can visit for a few hours a day or several times a week to provide family caregivers with the opportunity to run errands, go to work, take a vacation, or simply rest and recharge.
How We Help
You can feel exhausted while caring for an older adult loved one who needs help 24-hours a day. During these situations, Elite Home Health and Hospice can provide well-deserved respite services for family caregivers and offer necessary assistance to their loved ones. Our professional respite care services will restore your peace of mind and you can rest assured that you or your older adult loved one is in the caring hands of skilled professionals, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
When our caregivers visit, they will quickly put your loved one at ease. While engaging in friendly conversation, caregivers can also provide assistance with a wide variety of home care needs. Our caregivers can help your loved one with dressing and bathing, transferring assistance, and other personal care needs. They can also help around the house performing simple chores and preparing healthy meals. The valuable care we provide makes it easy for your loved one to look forward to these visits and can help relieve the anxiety or guilt you may feel by stepping away for a few hours.
Labor of Love
Caring for an elderly or disabled loved one is a labor of love that can prove stressful over time. Respite care can help prevent the troubling symptoms of caregiver burnout, including:
- Decline in overall health
- Disinterest in once loved activities
Learn about the differences between Home Health and Hospice.Continue reading
Learn about the individuals who make up the Hospice care team.Continue reading
‘Hospice’ is a term that describes a specific type of symptom management care for people who will eventually die as a result of a progressive disease. In order to make informed decisions and take advantage of the personalized level of care and services that hospice offers, we can correct our misconceptions.Continue reading
Measurable Results at Home
No matter your health needs, the Elite Rehabilitation Team is ready to help you. Our therapy team is passionate about bringing the latest techniques and programs to our patients. Through continuing education, our physical and occupational therapists apply the latest research to improve balance and reduce fall risk. They also utilize therapeutic modalities combined with a full-service therapy program for strengthening, balance training, pain reduction, wound care, urinary incontinence, and increasing patients’ range of motion.
Our Holistic Approach
Our therapists work together with your physician, nursing, social services, the business office, families, caregivers, and local communities to assess functional potential, and collaborate on the unique goals for every patient.
- Physical Therapists (PT) & Physical Therapy Assistants (PTA)
- Occupational Therapists (OT) & Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA)
- Speech and Language Pathologists
Our team works holistically with one goal in mind: to maximize your comfort and health.
The physical therapist’s role is to evaluate the patient’s condition, determine barriers and develop a plan of care to work towards goals.
- Conditioning Exercise
- Mobility Training
- Home Exercise Programs
- Joint Replacement Rehabilitation
- Orthotic / Prosthetic Training
- Gait training/ Ambulation
- Transfer Training
- BIG Therapy for Parkinson’s
The focus of Occupational Therapy is to improve your quality of life by maximizing function, safety, and independence in activities of daily living.
- Improve activities of daily living including dressing, bathing, grooming.
- Use of special equipment training
- Orthotic / prosthetic training
- Muscle re-education
- Home modifications and equipment
- Therapy for Parkinson’s
Speech-Language Pathologists work to improve communication and cognitive skills. Speech Therapists also work with patients to improve their ability to safely eat and swallow.
- Language and word-finding
- Communication Therapy
- Treatment for cognition and memory
- Swallowing Therapy
- LOUD Therapy for Parkinson’s
- Anger (at God, medical personnel, yourself, the deceased)
- Fear (of being alone, of leaving the house, of being in the house)
- Gradual Hope
- Tightness in chest
- Lack of energy
- Changing in eating habits
- Stomach aches
- Lump in throat
- Inability to sleep
- Lack of motivation
- Inability to concentrate
- Unpredictable and uncontrollable tearfulness
- Social withdrawal
- Busyness to evade reality
- Preoccupation with the life of the deceased
You may find yourself busy immediately following your loved one’s death. It is important during this time to take things slowly and enlist the help of friends and family.
You can expect to experience grief for a long time. Be prepared for the possibility of unexpected feelings of bereavement months and even years after your loved one’s death. This is normal.
Grief is a normal, healthy, and human response to loss. It is painful and can seem unbearable at times. Many emotions come and go. The length and difficulty of the grieving process varies from person to person. Grief does not follow a timeline, but it does ease over time. This process can offer an opportunity for personal growth.
A mourning period of a year or more is quite normal, but society often finds it difficult to tolerate a person’s grieving for more than a week or two. Family, friends, and colleagues may become concerned or even impatient if the grieving continues.
Support from friends and family may decrease after the funeral/memorial service. You do not have to go through the grieving process alone. The Elite Hospice Bereavement Team is available to you. They can offer support in any way you might find helpful.
If you need support immediately and have not heard from a member of our team, do not hesitate to call the Elite Hospice office at 509-758-2568 and express your need.
HEALING AND GROWTH
When ignored grief can continue to cause pain. It is important to recognize grieving, even though it is very difficult work. Allow yourself to feel all emotions that arise and be patient with yourself.
- Realize your grief is unique
- Get your rest
- Seek out friends who can encourage and support you
- Get involved in a support group
- Postpone all major decisions
- Give in to your pain
- Realize that grief has no timetable
- Talk about your sorrow
- Forgive yourself
- Eat well and exercise
- Indulge yourself by doing something that is frivolous and distracting that you enjoy
- Prepare for holidays and anniversaries
- Take steps to create a new life for yourself
- Change traditions that may no longer be comfortable