Live Life On Your Own Terms ®

risks ahead signHuman beings are born with an urge for independence and self-sufficiency, and they never outlive it. So when challenges of aging at home start becoming a bit too much for your parents, they often hate to admit it – not only to their children, but also to themselves.

It can be a vicious cycle: Feelings of isolation and loneliness can lead to depression, which could lead to decline and early dementia, which could lead to deeper depression…

Early dementia can be tricky and hard to spot, so when you’re with your aging parents, here are seven danger signs to look out for:

  1. Skipped meds – Check your parents’ pill boxes to see if they’ve missed a daily dose or two. Missing doses can be life-threatening. So can taking too many doses at a time to make up a missed dose.
  2. Unpaid bills piling up – Paying bills is one of the first chores that aging parents lose track of. Piles of unpaid bills can be a sign of early dementia or of disorganization.
  3. A grimy, messy house – As aging people lose mobility and vision, regular household tasks and tidying up get harder. When it’s hard to bend, it’s easy to let things that fall to the floor stay there. But a cluttered house can be a tripping hazard, leading to falls, broken bones, surgery, and extended rehab.
  4. What’s in the fridge, and what isn’t – The presence of spoiled or spoiling food in the refrigerator, or the absence of fresh foods like fruits, veggies and meat, can be a sign that taking care of themselves is getting harder. So is unexplained weight loss.
  5. A certain odor – Mobility issues, dementia or difficulty keeping up with laundry can lead older people to downgrade personal hygiene. Fear of falling can lead aging seniors to skip showers, and a lack of personal hygiene may result in urinary tract infections.
  6. Unexplained bruises – Seniors bruise more easily, so bruises on a parent’s arm or leg may be signs of falls. Holding onto walls or furniture as they walk through the house can be a sign they’re unsteady on their feet and could use a cane or walker.
  7. New dings and dents in the car – The older we get, the slower our reaction time, and the harder it gets to turn our heads to check blind spots. Signs of little fender-benders may mean it’s time for anything from blind-spot mirrors to senior driving classes to an Uber or Lyft account.

Spotting one or more of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean your parents need assisted living. Our detailed, person-centered, three-part needs assessment determines where they need help – and just as important, where they don’t. Since we objectively plan and manage senior care, we don’t have standard packages of services to sell you. Instead, we can recommend and arrange for the specific help at home your parents need – whether it’s bill-paying, light housekeeping, shopping assistance, home safety appliances, driving or whatever. That way, your parents save money and preserve their independence.

So please contact us for a free 30-minute consultation and see what a difference it can make in your parents’ health, safety and happiness.

male caregiverAlmost 20 percent of today’s workforce – one out of every five employees – is a family caregiver. And about 70 percent of those working caregivers report increased absenteeism, interruptions and distractions throughout the work day, shifting workload to co-workers, cutting back working hours, passing up promotions, taking leaves of absence or early retirement, and other conflicts between their work and caregiving responsibilities.

Nearly half of all working caregivers report emotional stress and take prescription medications for anxiety and depression two to three times more than the general population.

That’s what living in constant fear of making mistakes or letting others down either at work or at home can do to you. But with these coping strategies, it doesn’t have to:

In 2016, the American Geriatrics Society defined a new approach called “person centered care,” which involves finding out what’s important to the individual and basing a plan of care on that.

“Person-centered care means that individuals’ values are elicited and, once expressed, guide all aspects of their health care, supporting their realistic health and life goals. Person-centered care is achieved through a dynamic relationship among individuals, and others who are important to them [such as family], and all relevant providers. This collaboration informs decision making to the extent that the individual desires.”

Does this mean that seniors have been getting poor care all along? Not at all. Most care is very capably and lovingly given by health care professionals who humbly dedicate their lives to caring for others. What it does mean, though, is that there’s more to caring for seniors than delivering a regimen of care dictated by medical evidence, best practices, and organizational policy.

Depending on which set of statistics you follow, somewhere between 15 million and 40 million spouses, adult children, relatives and neighbors provide unpaid care for their ill or disabled spouses, parents, aunts, uncles and friends.

They help with dressing, bathing, cooking, medications, transportation, and much more. That adds up to 37 billion hours of care a year, with an economic value of $470 billion – $21 billion a year more than the government spends on Medicare – according to a 2015 AARP study.

A false economy?

But the fact is, family caregiving can be a false economy. As a 1999 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study reports, “Although family caregivers perform an important service for society and their relatives, they do so at considerable cost to themselves.” That cost is financial, physiological and emotional.

aid2793750 728px Pickpocket Step 7 300x199In 1951, a journalist asked Willie “The Actor” Sutton why he robbed banks. “Because that’s where the money is,” the bank robber replied. That answer helps explain why seniors are prime targets for fraud, con games, scams, and outright theft. They’re where the money is.

Today’s older Boomers enjoy a median net worth of $241,333. Households over age 60 own half of the nation’s discretionary investment assets. America’s 100 million consumers over 50 buy $230 billion worth of packaged goods, almost half (49%) of total sales. “You’d have to be an idiot to turn your back on this humongous market,” says an AARP spokesman. And too many criminals don’t.