Setting Up Care

Any time you’re trying to provide for an elderly family member and looking for a place for them to live, there are a lot of considerations to be made. Some of these have to do with the care they’re getting throughout the day, and some have to do with longer-term issues like estate planning or dealing with a legacy property. Others, though, have to do with funding. How do you make sure that the family has the resources that they need to keep a family member in a home?

 

Consultation and Care

 

The short answer is that you can get excellent advice from professional teams who know what they’re doing when it comes to elder care.

 

At River Oaks Homecare, we sit down with families and talk about various funding possibilities, because we feel like this is an important part of how they make decisions. This includes a range of options that the family might not know about unless they’re closely involved in this line of work. So we help to explain – because that’s what we would want others to do for us if we were in that situation. So many things today need specialized attention, where people who are most in the know have to “translate” things  to others, to some extent. With that said, here’s some of what can help families. 

 

Medicaid/Medicare Waivers

 

There are a number of waiver options available in the state of Pennsylvania. We often go over these with families.

 

One is simply an “aging waiver.” This applies to many seniors and can be a source of funding for long-term care.

 

There is also an attentive care waiver for individuals with some disabilities.

 

Another disability-based waiver is the Obra home/community waiver that also provides for disabled persons to stay in a community. This can apply to residential home care or other types of long-term care.

 

A fourth type of waiver is a “Commcare waiver” that applies to individuals with traumatic brain injury.

 

Other Funding

 

If an elderly family member had served in the military at some point, they may be eligible for some types of veteran’s aid or assistance.

 

In other cases, the individual had selected some type of long-term care plan that could help pay the costs of this type of service.

 

Where a family does have to self-pay for part or all of the care, we can help with consulting and ideas about how to get the right solution for a particular family.

 

You can see a lot more on the website for how to make the decisions around care. Reach out and we will help you as much as we can. That’s part of our mission, and a commitment that we make to families. 

 

How To Effectively Communicate With People Who Have Developmental Disabilities

There are over 6 million intellectually disabled individuals in the United States. If you are in charge of providing care for a friend or family member with a developmental disability, you need to learn how to communicate with them effectively. The approach you need to take when communicating with a developmentally disabled person will vary based on the individual. 

Generally, people who act as a caregiver for a developmentally disabled person will have to try a number of approaches before they find an effective way to communicate. Here are some things you need to keep in mind when trying to develop a way to communicate with a developmentally disabled person. 

Provide Clear Explanations

In the beginning stages of your job as a caregiver to a developmentally disabled person, you will be presented with a variety of questions. Generally, the individual in question will want to know why you need to do things like brushing their hair or help them get dressed. When confronted with these questions, you need to provide clear and decisive answers to avoid confusion. 

For instance, if you are trying to brush the hair of a developmentally disabled person, display the motion you will use to accomplish this task on your own hair. If the person wants to know why you need to do this, simply explain to them it is to help them look nice and presentable. This clear explanation and visual representation of what you have to do should be enough to get the developmentally disabled person to comply without any problems occurring. 

Avoid Using Abstract Language

As the caregiver for a developmentally disabled person, you will be in charge of helping with everyday tasks. You also need to help them express how they feel by using concrete language. Rather than asking a developmentally disabled person how they feel, simply ask if they are sad, happy or angry. If the person you are providing care to is attempting to explain something, ask them to show you if you are having a hard time comprehending. 

You also need to provide clear instructions when trying to get a developmentally disabled person to get dressed for an outing. Instead of telling the person to get ready, you need to lay out what they have to do step by step. This will help them clearly understand what is expected of them and will remove any confusion from this situation. 

Visual Aids Can Come in Handy

If you are having trouble communicating with a developmentally disabled person using words, you need to think outside of the box. One of the main things you should try when faced with this problem is visual aids. A developmentally disabled person should be able to grasp a concept better if they have a picture or a gesture to use a reference

Is providing care to a developmentally disabled person starting to wear you out? If so, you need to find out more about the respite care provided by the team at River Oaks Homecare.

How To Prevent Falls In Your Home

How To Prevent Falls In Your Home

Falls in the home can happen at any age, but the chances of serious injury resulting from a fall increase as we age. Six out of every ten falls occur in the home, which makes taking action to prevent falls vital to our wellbeing and the safety of family and friends. Often we tend to move about in our homes without considering the hidden dangers that exist that could cause a fall, but there are changes you can make to your space that will help you avoid accidents and ensure your safety.

Stairways And Hallways

Many stairways have a single-hand railing on one side; however, adding handrails to both sides of the stairs is recommended to prevent falls. Handrailing should be examined regularly to ensure it is tightly fastened and anchored. Use the bars every time you go up and down the stairs, even if you are carrying something in one hand, and ensure that what you are holding doesn’t block your view of the stairs.

Keep your stairways and hallways free from clutter, such as shoes, clothes, and other items. If you have carpets or stair runners, make sure they are firmly affixed to the floor so they won’t slip. While small area rugs are not advised, the use of no-slip strips can help you keep them in place on wooden and tile flooring.

Bathrooms

Installing a hand railing by your shower or tub and next to the toilet will give you something to grip while maneuvering in the bathrooms. Rugs that have rubber no-slip backing are best in these areas, never place towels on the floor to step on as they are prone to cause slipping.

Keep your bathroom well lit at all times; a night light can safely guide you in the middle of the night. Ensure your toiletries and towels are at arm’s length and easy to access; you may choose to use a small shelf or basket system instead of taller above the sink options.

Other Living Spaces

Consider how you move around your home and make sure your paths are free from clutter, cords, and furnishing. Arranging your furniture and everyday objects so that they accommodate an unobstructed pathway around your home is advised, especially for elderly homeowners. Less is more when ensuring your interior spaces areeasily maneuverable, keep clutter and small objects to a minimum.

Quick Fixes To Prevent Falls

Using grabbing sticks can help you reach the items you need that are stored in high spaces. Many people fall due to overreaching or climbing on step stools, so lowering your most needed items to an easier-to-reach height can help prevent a fall. If you live alone or are elderly, consider using an emergency alert system that can call relatives and emergency operators in the event of a fall.

Ways You Can Get Paid for Taking Care of a Senior Loved One

Ways You Can Get Paid for Taking Care of a Senior Loved One

Approximately 65 million Americans serve as caregivers to disabled or ill relatives annually. Caring for a sick relative can be extremely stressful and time-consuming. In some cases, the amount of care your aging relative needs may require you to stop working a full-time job. One of the main problems you face when becoming a full-time caregiver to a family member is the loss of income.

Instead of allowing yourself to get overwhelmed due to a lack of income, you need to seek out ways to get paid for being a caregiver to a senior loved one. Luckily, there are a number of programs designed to help caregivers get money for the services they provide. The following are some of the ways you can get paid for taking care of an elderly loved one.

Check Out the Self-Directed Services Programs Offered By Medicaid

When trying to get money for your caregiving services, one of the first things you need to do is assess your elderly loved one’s eligibility for Medicaid. This government-run healthcare provider has a variety of programs that are designed to help both elderly individuals and their families. The self-directed programs offered by Medicaid allow elderly people who qualify to use the money they are allotted on a variety of pre-approved expenses.

One of the ways this money can be spent is on caregiving services. This means that your elderly loved one will be able to pay you for your time, which can minimize your financial burden. If you want to assess your elderly loved one’s eligibility for these programs, then the best place to start is at your local Medicaid office.

Does Your Employer Offer Paid Leave for Caregivers?

Before you quit your existing job to become a full-time caregiver for an ailing relative, you need to see if temporary paid leave is offered for people in your situation. A recent study found that over 16% of private companies in the United States offered this type of paid leave for their employees.

This is why you need to speak with your employer to find out more about the programs they may have in place. While the paid leave may be for an allotted amount of time, it will still provide you with some form of income during this transitional phase.

Is Your Aging Loved One Eligible For Veterans Aid?

The United States government has created numerous programs over the years to directly help aging veterans. One of these programs, known as the Veteran Directed Care Program, allows veterans to manage their own care. This means that they can use the money from this program to pay a relative that is acting as their caregiver. If your elderly loved one has served in a branch of the Armed Forces, then you need to apply for this program. Contacting your local Veterans Affairs office is the first step in submitting this application.

If you want to find out more about caregiving services and how much they cost, the team at River Oaks Homecare is here to help.

What You Need To Know About the Medicaid Waiver Program

What You Need To Know About the Medicaid Waiver Program

The older you get, the harder you should focus on developing healthy habits. An integral part of being a healthy senior citizen is receiving the medical care you need. Without a comprehensive health insurance policy, you will have tons of out-of-pocket costs. For years, senior citizens around the United States have relied on a government program known as Medicaid to get the health insurance they need. Qualifying for Medicaid and Medicare can be difficult for some people, which is why strides have been made to make this government health insurance program more accessible.

The Medicaid Waiver Program provides states with the ability to tailor-make healthcare options for at-need people in the community. By waiving certain requirements and rules, the wider array of people who actually need healthcare coverage are approved. Here are some things you need to know about the Medicaid Waiver Program and what it offers.

In-Home Care Is Covered Under This Program

As previously mentioned, the federal government has left who gets this type of in-home and community healthcare coverage to the states. With these waivers, people who would not normally qualify for this government healthcare program are granted special access.  Under the guidelines of this program, states are allowed to issues as many waivers as they deem necessary if they meet certain criteria like:

  • The waiver is designed to offer a care-centered plan for the individual
  • The services in question don’t cost more than they would at a hospital or other approved medical establishment
  • The medical services in question will improve a person’s health/welfare

These waivers are generally used for non-medical services like adult daycares, home health aides and personal care assistance. If you or a loved one is in need of home care services, the professionals at River Oaks Home Care are here to help.

Who Is Eligible For These Waivers?

One of the main things most people want to know when they find out about the Medicaid Waiver Program is who is eligible. A variety of states have more than one office that handles these waiver programs and the dispersal of the benefits they offer. You need to realize that not everyone will be able to qualify for this waiver program. The average applicant has to meet various medical criteria before they are approved. In most cases, you will have to prove that your medical condition is so severe that in-home/community care is needed on a consistent basis.

What Do You Need To Apply For One Of These Waivers?

If you are in dire need of in-home care and have no way to pay for it, then applying for a Medicaid Waiver is crucial. While the application process for these waivers will vary from state to state, the information you have to provide to get approved is basically the same.

Ideally, you want to take in a report from your doctor that adequately describes your medical condition and the justification for the in-home/community care you are requesting. If you are ready to start this application process and get the in-home care you need, visit the Medicare/Medicaid website to find out how to contact an office in your state.

If you are curious about how in-home care can benefit you, it’s time to talk to a member of our staff.

Tips for managing caregiving responsibilities among siblings.

Tips for managing caregiving responsibilities among siblings

Caring for aging parents or relatives is no easy responsibility. It can be one of the most challenging roles you play. If you are an only child or relative to a senior and helping them manage care, it can be a heavy burden to bear alone. However, when there are multiple siblings or family members who play a part in care management, the waters can be even trickier to navigate.

Here are three tips for overseeing the care of your aging senior along with siblings or family members.

1) Start early

Benjamin Franklin said it best, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

If you can start discussions with your siblings even before Mom and Dad need a lot of (or any) care, you’ll start off on the right foot. You’ll likely head off many future arguments. 

In many families, when parents start requiring care, the adult children will either fall into their own assumptions about roles of caregiving (for example, the daughter does the caretaking, while the son covers it financially) or play into the “type” they were in childhood (for example, Sarah was the “responsible” child so she takes on care, while Claire was the “spontaneous” one and can’t handle helping at all.)

The problem with this is that it doesn’t take into consideration the current situation, strengths, or abilities of each person. Even if Sarah was the “responsible” one as a child, perhaps now she has a child of her own with disabilities who requires a lot of care.

Even if you can start the conversation of “What do you think taking care of Mom and Dad would look like for us?” that will set you up for future discussions. When the time comes for a serious plan to be put in place, you should arrange a family meeting with all those who would be involved (siblings, close friends, other relatives). 

When examining the situation and deciding solutions, be as specific as possible. Write down all the responsibilities and requirements of caregiving. When you’re deciding who should do what, be sure to take into account your own strengths, abilities, and limitations.

Another topic to review early on is any legal documents or decisions your parents have already made, such as a living will (also known as a healthcare direction) or power of attorney, and whether or not a will has been completed. It’s also important to know the location of these documents.

The key to everything is communication. One meeting or conversation is not enough. It’s an on-going process.

2) Develop your self-awareness

When it comes to caregiving, especially when it’s your own parents, there are a lot of emotions involved. Adjusting to the role reversal is difficult for most adult children, then added on are the everyday stresses of “normal life”, too. So, you’ll be experiencing a range of emotions, and then have to work together with other people, who you may be very close with or not so much. This situation is a stimulus for arguments.

Without being aware of and understanding your own emotions, you will simply react according to what your feelings tell you. This leads to acting out, yelling, blaming, and possibly even disengagement. None of these are productive for helping your loved one get the care they need.

Ask yourself questions about why you feel a certain way and what else might be causing it. Perhaps some old sibling rivalries are coming out again. Some clues that you might be acting out of feelings or fighting old battles include using phrases such as “You always do this!” or criticizing the way a sibling feels, such as “You donʼt care anything about Mom.” 
In these moments, in order to be able to switch to a more productive discussion, you have to be able to identify, pause, and adjust your mind and words. It’s a simple reminder, but try to pause and breath before you say the next thing. Then refocus back on the question or goal at hand.

If you find yourself really struggling, such as every discussion with your siblings turns into a heated argument, you might want to consider professional help. Even if your family doesn’t want to go to therapy together, going alone for yourself can be tremendously constructive. There is no shame in asking for help. When you are better able to manage yourself, your parents will win as well.

3) Discuss with your family how you will address problems

For someone who is conscientious and self-aware, it might come as a surprise to learn that not everyone is proactive about fixing or improving relationships. For example, many people just assume, “That’s just the way Sally is.” or “This is just how we interact.” It may never occur to them that if two people don’t get along they can take steps to improve their interactions.

As you get started on this caregiving journey, it could be helpful to ask your siblings, “If a problem arises among us, how should we resolve it?” You could also approach it as, “What would be the best way for me to discuss a problem with you?” showing that your primary concern is their feelings.

If you feel like you don’t make progress with that strategy, you could simply demonstrate it by saying, “If at any point you feel frustrated or hurt by something that I’ve done, please let me know so that I can correct it or not do it again.”

Another consideration is how each family member will alert the others about problems and how solutions will be made. For example, if you’re at an appointment with your Dad, and the doctor notices a decline and wants to adjust medication or treatment, how will you communicate it to your siblings? How will a decision be made? If you have established the process (for example, first you alert the others by sending an email to everyone providing the basic information, and then a family call or meeting is scheduled), there will be no surprises. No one will be left out. Furthermore, when people know what to look for, they’ll be less likely to miss important communications.

As humans, we’re bound to have disagreements, and in caregiving, there will almost definitely be problems. By addressing the situation early on, being aware of your emotions, and developing a process for resolving issues, you and your siblings will be better able to keep your focus on your parents and helping them to be as healthy and happy as possible.

If you have a senior living alone or far away, it’s likely that you feel concerned about their safety. Even with the diligence of several siblings taking care of mom and dad, it’s important to help reduce risks and increase safety in their living space. You can use our Senior At-Home Safety Checklist, which is a free comprehensive home safety checklist that will help you systematically go through each area of the home to check for common hazards and make sure the proper safety measures are in place. 
If you think your parents or relative would benefit from non-medical in-home care, you can learn more about our services here.

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1Russo, Francine. (2011). Caregiving with Your Siblings: As a Family, Carefully Consider—or Reconsider—the Caregiving Responsibilities. Family Caregiver Alliance. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/sibling-relationships-resolving-issues-while-caring-for-parents-2 03842.htm 

2 Family Caregiver Alliance. (2003). Holding a Family Meeting. https://www.caregiver.org/holding-family-meeting
3 National Institute on Aging. (May 09, 2017). How to Share Caregiving Responsibilities with Family Members.h ttps://www.nia.nih.gov/health/how-share-caregiving-responsibilities-family-members
 

4 Samuels, Claire. (April 25, 2020). How to Stop Family Disputes Over Elderly Parents: End-of-life care and inheritance conflicts emerge https://www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/family-disputes
5 Bradley Bursack, Carol. (2016). Sibling Relationships: Resolving Issues While Caring for Parents: The Powerful Emotions Involved in Caregiving. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/sibling-relationships-resolving-issues-while-caring-for-parents-2 03842.htm
 

6 Russo, Francine. (2011). Caregiving with Your Siblings: Clues That You Are Acting out of Emotional Needs or Fighting Old Battles . https://www.agingcare.com/articles/sibling-relationships-resolving-issues-while-caring-for-parents-2 03842.htm 

7 ibid

Helping your senior loved one use technology

Have you ever sat in the cockpit of a plane? Or perhaps you can picture a movie scene of a pilot sitting in the chair, flicking on switches, turning knobs, preparing for take-off.

As an outsider, someone who isn’t a pilot, your reaction to looking at the dashboard of a plane is probably something of overwhelm. What do all those buttons, knobs, lights, and screens even mean? How can anyone make sense of this?!

If you ever were sat down in front of this dashboard and told to operate it, you probably wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Well, for many seniors, this is the experience of using a computer or tablet or smartphone. 

Technology is a wonderful tool. This year has shown us the amazing ways that the internet and all these gadgets can not only keep us connected but also keep us working and learning.

However, many seniors haven’t taken advantage of these benefits of technology because the learning curve is so steep. What is disheartening about this is that right now seniors are the population most in need of new ways to stay in touch with friends and family.

The outlook doesn’t have to be so bleak, however, because it is possible for seniors to learn how to use technology and thus stay in touch with the people who love them. 

If you have a senior in your life who lives alone or lives further away or who simply doesn’t want to go out or have visitors right now, here are tips for teaching them how to use technology.

  1. Keep it simple. 

While you may enjoy replying to emails, setting your fantasy lineup for the week, checking the weather, and crushing candy to pass time all on your phone, your senior loved one probably doesn’t need to do all those things. 

When you are selecting a device for them, keep it simple. It’s better to go with a device that does a core set of functionality well and is reliable over one that can do everything but is more complicated. The main things that a senior might want to do with a device are make video calls, receive pictures, listen to music, and play basic games. Making and receiving video calls is probably the most important, so focus on that and find a device that can use a software that is very straightforward.

  1. Don’t assume anything.

The number one mistake people make when teaching a senior to use technology is that they assume a base level of technical knowledge. For people who have used computers for years, or even their whole life, they forget that it’s not just “second nature”, it’s something they learned.

Even something as “basic” as how to use a mouse might need to be explained. Some other commonly mistaken “second nature” understandings about devices are:

  • Overlapping windows. When a new screen appears, it’s not always understood that other screens are below it.
  • Nested menus. The fact that there are more options listed under the word “File” might have to be explained.
  • Power off versus sleep mode. This is important if you want your senior to be able to receive calls, which means the device has to be on. Many seniors will assume they need to turn it all the way off to preserve battery life.
  • Storage. Be sure to explain how they can access and use different things on the device, such as pictures or word documents.

The key is to ask if they are understanding and to keep things in everyday terms. Analogies will be very helpful in explaining these new concepts.

  1. Be mindful of physical differences.

The thing about aging is that it affects both the mind and body. Many seniors struggle with using their fingers due to arthritis or other diseases. A touchscreen device may not be best because maybe their hand shakes or they don’t have enough strength to hold up their arm. A more traditional computer with a mouse might be better. 

Hearing is another area to consider. If they use hearing aids, be mindful of the levels and frequencies of sound coming from the device. Ask the senior if it sounds okay for them.

  1. Have patience.

Above all, it’s important to have patience. It might be frustrating to have to explain something multiple times and on multiple occasions. If you feel yourself getting agitated, just remember the plane’s dashboard and consider how long it would take you to understand that.

You are probably busy and have errands to run or work to do, but just remember the benefits of what you’re enabling them to do. You’re giving them access to a whole new world. Loneliness is not just an emotional concern, but it can also lead to other significant health issues in seniors. By empowering them to use technology, you are enriching their life and increasing their overall well-being.

If you have a senior living alone or far away, it’s likely that you feel concerned about their safety. To help reduce risks and increase safety in their living space, you can also use our Senior At-Home Safety Checklist. Our free comprehensive home safety checklist will help you systematically go through each area of the home to check for common hazards and make sure the proper safety measures are in place. 

Download this checklist once and use it over again periodically to make sure your loved one’s home stays as safe as possible.

Elder Abuse and Neglect.

Elder abuse and neglect is very common in our society and around us, unfortunately due to the fact that little or no awareness is made about it to the public and our society in general, it makes it tough for us to see even when it’s happening close to home and around us. It shouldn’t be a surprise to us that most of this abuse and neglect occur within the family on a larger scale.

An abuse is the intentional cause of any physical injury inflicted on the consumer. Also, it is the unnecessary isolation or confinement of anyone as a punishment. Abuse can also be in the form of intimidation and also neglect.

Neglect is the failure to provide individuals with the most basic needs such as : Food , Water and Cleanliness. Neglect can also be when a caregiver fails to provide care and also to  keep the consumer from  physical and emotional harm.

Financial Abuse is another form of abuse that occurs with our seniors and this happens with the misappropriation of their properties, stealing their saved up money or cajoling them to sign documents and papers to favor them. Other kinds of abuse perpetrated to Seniors include: Verbal Abuse, Emotional Abuse and sexual abuse.

If you happen to live close by any senior, be on the alert to see if you suspect that there’s any form of abuse, depression or fear.You can also report any suspicious incident to the nearest county’s Aging and Adult services representative.

Keeping Seniors Warm this Winter.

❄️ Colder temperatures can be dangerous for seniors. Always keep indoor temperatures warm and if going outside, dress in layers and cover all exposed skin in very cold temperatures.

When venturing outside make sure you are outfitted with warm socks, gloves, a heavy coat, a hat and a scary. 🧣 A scarf does double duty–it will keep you warm but can also be used to cover your mouth and protect your lungs.

5 Must-Have Talks with Parents This Holiday.

Starting a conversation with an aging parent around long term care can be difficult. If you find yourself not knowing how to broach the subject with your parent, check out these tips to learn how to discuss things in a way that is sensitive and effective – at any time of the year.

https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/12-10-15-must-have-talks-with-parents-this-holiday/

A visit home for the holidays is an ideal time to connect with parents and family members you don’t see every day. It’s a time-honored opportunity to catch up, share old memories and create new ones. But sometimes these holiday gatherings can also be a time when you notice an elderly loved one is struggling.

Dad and Mom may be moving slower, forgetting things or showing signs they can’t take care of their home. Sometimes the signs of a struggling elderly person are more subtle. For instance, you may notice an overgrown lawn, a messy kitchen or a disheveled appearance. Adult children are sometimes afraid to confront these changes.
Will Mom or Dad be insulted that you think they can’t take care of themselves? Will “the talk” become an argument that ruins the holidays? These fears can make it easier to just avoid the topic altogether. But failing to discuss and plan for things like cognitive decline, physical ailments and other realities of aging can lengthen the time your parent suffers.

Fortunately, you don’t have to approach the tough conversations about aging with fear. In fact, you may find that it is easier than expected. But you can’t find out until you get started. Keep reading for tips to help adult children discuss things in a way that is sensitive and effective. We cover topics from retirement finances to end-of-life wishes.

Credit: “A Place for Mom”