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Top Health Concerns for Seniors

Top health concerns for seniors - Just Like Family Homecare

As we age, not only do we feel older mentally, but physically as well. For seniors, health conditions follow age, and the older we get the more susceptible we become. Fortunately, modern medicine has extended the average life span of humans in many developed, and non-developed countries.

In order to know what to look out for you need to be aware of the potential risk for disease as you age. We’re going to list the top health concerns for seniors and then talk about how you can lower your risk for certain diseases.

Health Concerns for Seniors

Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the biggest health concerns for older people. At least 50 million US adults have some form of arthritis, most commonly among women and the elderly.

If you want to learn more about what arthritis is and how to treat it, check out our article on managing arthritis.

Cancer

Cancer is not just affecting the elderly, it affects us all. As of 2014, it has been the second leading cause of death for those over 65 based on CDC data. It’s important to schedule regular checks and screenings to catch and treat early forms of cancer.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is typically known for affecting seniors. It’s a chronic condition that affects cognitive functioning and it’s still hard to diagnose correctly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 9 people over age 65 and a 3rd of those over 85 have Alheimer’s.

How to spot the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease

Osteoporosis

The National Osteoporosis Foundation has found that 54 million Americans have this condition. The disease is caused by multiple factors such as cancer, medicine, genes, age, and sex.

We have another article just on Osteoporosis, the types, and prevention methods.

Falls

Slips and falls are more likely and more dangerous as we age. A typical fall for a teenager may end with bumps and bruises, and it could mean broken bones for a senior. According to the NCOA, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for those over 65.

6 Steps for Preventing Falls Among Your Older Loved Ones

Pneumonia and the Flu

Seniors are not only more susceptible to catching the flu and pneumonia but also are more at risk of death due to them. It’s recommended that you get an annual flu shot and see your doctor for any flu like symptoms.

Shingles

The National Institutes of Health has found that one in three people over age 60 will get shingles. It can cause severe pain, rash, and blisters on one side of the body. There is a vaccine available so ask your doctor if it’s right for you.

What can I do now to lower my risks?

First off, you need to quit smoking. “But it’s just one cigarette every now and then.” This is a common excuse for those who say they’re not addicted to cigarettes. But why not just quit altogether? More and more research is coming out about just what cigarettes can do to our bodies….and it’s not looking good.

Second, get yourself in the healthy lifestyle mindset. Don’t just diet for a few weeks and say it’s not for you. You need to find a healthy medium that allows you to eat right, exercise, and eat the foods you enjoy every now and then. One of the leading risks of health disorders is being overweight. If you can catch it early and correct it, you’ll save yourself from the complications that come with being overweight or obese like diabetes, gout, certain heart diseases, and more.


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What you should know about Medicare

Medicare, it’s one of the few things you can actually look forward to as you age. Once you turn 65, all that money that you’ve been paying towards it finally comes to fruition. But what else do you need to know about it?

Application

Did you know you need to apply? Yes, you should actually start applying when you turn 64. The process is long and drawn out, like many things dealing with the government. You have to apply 3 months before your 65th birthday and enrollment ends 4 months after this birthday.

That’s why it’s suggested to start the process early so you don’t need to rush and worry about it on a strict deadline.

If you miss the enrollment period, you have to pay a penalty. This can vary from 10% for every 12 months you delay enrollment or 1% per month.

Here’s a guide to enrolling and avoiding those penalties.

Parts of Medicare

You probably have heard terms like Medicare Part D or Medicare Part B, but what do they mean?

Medicare Part A
This means hospital insurance, as well as skilled nursing facilities, hospice care, and home health. If you worked and paid Social Security tax for at least 10 years, you get this for free! But if you did less than 10 years, you have to pay a monthly premium.

Medicare Part B
This refers to medical insurance: doctor visits, medical equipment, x-rays, lab tests, ambulance, etc. You pay a monthly premium for this coverage.

Medicare Part C
This is the Medicare Advantage Plan. This plan is not provided directly by the government, instead it’s through private health insurance companies that contract with the government. According to MedicareInteractive.org, “Part C is the part of Medicare policy that allows private health insurance companies to provide Medicare benefits. These Medicare private health plans, such as HMOs and PPOs, are known as Medicare Advantage Plans. If you want, you can choose to get your Medicare coverage through a Medicare Advantage Plan instead of through Original Medicare.”

Medicare Part D
This refers to prescription drug insurance. It’s only provided through private insurance companies that contract with the government.

How do you pick a plan?

This is tricky because you now have 4 very different insurances that cover varying aspects of your health. You can choose to stick with Part A which just covers hospital-type care. But if you need many prescription drugs, you’ll want to add Part D.

With Part A, you can see a doctor, but ensure first that they take Medicare.

Here’s a helpful article from Medicare.gov that may help you make the choice.

Social Security and Medicare

If you are on social security, that you should automatically be enrolled into Part A and/or Part B once you turn 65. Just double check to be certain so you don’t miss the enrollment period and end up paying penalties.

Pay for extra expenses

If your Medicare coverage doesn’t pay for every expense, you can get something called a “Medigap” policy. This can help supplement your Medicare plan.


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How to combat isolation for seniors

We love our families and don’t know what we’d do without them. But for many of us that live away from our families, it can be tough to connect and see them more than once or twice a year. This is especially true for seniors, as many of them are not able to travel or are living in a specialized facility.

We want to see them often, but what can we do to help them not feel lonely or isolated when family can’t come to visit?

There are solutions! We will go through a few of them, and describe some that pertain to active, mobile seniors and to those who are living in a special care facility and aren’t as mobile.

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Active, Independent Seniors

For the active senior still living on their own, there are many options for combating isolation. If they can drive, that opens up a world of possibilities. Even if they can’t drive, there are often specialized transport services made just for seniors in certain areas.

Once transportation is figured out, seniors can get out and do things including:

  • Meetup.org
    A website where you can find groups interested in similar topics like books, fishing, knitting, etc. and meet up with them
  • Library
    Heading to the library, browsing for a book, and reading a while is a great way to get out. Libraries also tend to host events and lectures, check their website for more information.

Non-Active Seniors

A non-active senior is one who needs assistance getting around and shouldn’t be moving on their own. For seniors like this, there are still plenty of options for combating isolation:

  • Skype
    Get your loved one a tablet or Chromebook and set up Skype. That way you can have daily or weekly chats where you all can see each other. Seeing a friendly face and hearing your voice can really do wonders.
  • Companions
    Here at Just Like Family, our Companions are the perfect cure to isolation. They will come over to help do routine tasks, or just to keep your loved one company by playing games or doing an activity.
  • Send a care package
    This applies to both active and non-active seniors. Everyone loves getting mail, especially when it’s an unexpected package! You can send some nice snacks, a letter, and maybe a few activities like knitting items, books, or a puzzle.

There are plenty of ways to help prevent your loved one from feeling isolated or lonely. If they live in a senior living facility, being around other people and having planned activities can engage them and really help the loneliness abate.

 


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How can you help seniors in the community?

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Maybe you don’t have a grandparent nearby you can help out. Or maybe you understand the hardships that many seniors in our country and even our local community go through. Many are unable to drive, which prevents them from going to the store easily, or visiting the doctor, or just going out to eat or visit the library. Some do not have family members in the area and are alone for the holidays.

There are plenty of ways you can help seniors in your area though. You can volunteer to drive them to one place each week. You can spend time with them, watch tv, knit, play board games. You can donate gifts to senior charities during the holidays.

Since our Just Like Family headquarters is in southwest Florida, we are going to focus on how to help seniors in this area.

Alzheimer’s Support Network

The mission of the Alzheimer’s Support Network is to make the lives of caregivers easier and enrich the lives of patients. The Alzheimer’s Support Network exists to assist families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurocognitive disorders. Providing a compassionate and loving support system for families is our prime purpose. As a network, we connect families with each other, local resources, and wider coalitions aimed at caring for caregivers and establishing the best possible treatment for patients. As navigators we guide families through all aspect of the disease process, including providing educational programs to families and the community at large. As advocates, we strive to ease the burden of caregivers, enrich the lives of patients, and foster broader social awareness, respect and understanding of those with Alzheimer’s and their families.

JFCS of Southwest Florida

They run programs and services including mental health services, community services like financial assistance and a food pantry, and senior services like their Senior Center, outreach and support, and dementia respite support services.

As a volunteer you can be a driver, help in the Senior Center, visit adults who are isolated due to illness, age or disability, and more.

Click here to find more volunteer opportunities.

Collier Senior Resources

The Golden Gate Senior Center has plenty of volunteer opportunities:

  • Do Spanish-to-English Translations
  • Tutor / Teach Computer Skills
  • Lead Crafts and / or Art Projects
  • Play Music or Provide Entertainment
  • Be Handy, Garden, Paint, etc.
  • Lead Exercise Classes —Tai Chi or Other?
  • Help us with administrative work
  • Let Us Know Your Special Skills … We Need Help in Many Areas!

Reach out to Terry, the Volunteer Coordinator

Meals on Wheels of Lee County

They’re in need of drivers to deliver meals a few hours each week. They need more help in the spring and summer due to seasonal help moving back up north.

Harry Chapin Food Bank

Their mission is to fight hunger. Volunteers help with “product recovery, work in our fast-paced warehouse, provide administrative support, conduct their own food and fund drives, and assist with special events. The Food Bank depends upon volunteers who help us to distribute millions of pounds of food throughout Southwest Florida.”

They also cater to special interests like photography, computers, carpentry, and more.

Hope HealthCare

Our mission is to provide exceptional care and support to every individual and their loved ones as they fulfill life’s journey. Our vision is to create an environment in which life’s journey is cherished.

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities including:

  • Visitor &Transportation
  • Sewers & Artisans
  • Office Help & Special Events
  • Hope Chest Resale Store
  • Pet Program
  • Honor Gaurd for Veterans

Garden of Hope and Courage

The Naples Community Hospital Garden of Hope and Courage is looking for Concierge Volunteers. You will be providing patients going through clinical treatments with a respite in the garden.

Requirements

  • Outgoing personality
  • Ability to push a wheel chair
  • Coordinate patient garden tours with NCH Staff
  • Complete NCH Garden of Hope and Courage training program
  • Must also be willing to work on patient floors when not needed in the Garden of Hope and Courage

 

Do you know of an opportunity that we missed? Leave it in the comments and we will be sure to add it!

 


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How to make a beach trip safe for seniors

When you decide to live in Florida it’s most likely because you love the beach. You try to get out there as often as you can, and it never gets old! You can fish, swim, read a book, take a nap (under an umbrella with lots of sunscreen on!). The beach is a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

It’s a shame when you can’t take advantage of a beautiful sunny day. This is something many seniors must consider. The sun and sand are essential parts of the beach (what is a beach without them?). But those two elements make these areas dangerous for seniors and the elderly.

How can we make the beach safer for our senior friends and family members?

What to bring?

When you’re planning a trip to the beach with an elderly loved one, you will need a few extra items you might not normally bring. First of all, make sure they have on sneakers, loose fitting, light clothes to block the sun, and have on tons of sunscreen. Bring a hat and sunglasses to protect the face and eyes.

It’s a good idea to bring a cooler to keep water nice and cold all day long. Also, bring along a portable, battery-operated fan. These can be found at convenience stores and are a great way to provide a little breeze if there isn’t any that day.

Bring along enough food to last the time you will be there. Even an Ensure or other protein-filled drink is a good idea to provide maximum nutrients.

Battling the Sand

Before you can ever worry about what to do at the beach, you have to worry about actually walking onto it. The sand, for many of us, is just an uneven surface we plod through to get to our destination. For seniors, the sand can prove hazardous, especially for those that lack the mobility to get through it. Sand is difficult even for the fully able-bodied person.

How can you make it easier for seniors to get through the sand? First, pick a beach that will require as short a walk as possible. Don’t pick the beach where you have to trek a quarter of a mile in order to get away from the masses.

Next, make sure they are wearing sneakers. Nobody likes sand in their shoes, but sneakers will ensure that there aren’t any footwear issues.

Be sure to provide support as they walk. Have someone on either side helping them up just in case of any missteps.

The last way to solve this problem is to get a beach wheelchair (yes they’re a thing). Beach wheelchairs feature large wheels that are designed just for getting through sand. This is the safest way to get your loved one down to the beach.

Beating the Heat & Sun

As mentioned above, be sure your loved one is wearing the proper sun-protecting gear. This includes sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, loose fitting shirt and pants, and sneakers. If it is much too hot for long sleeves and pants, opt for shorts and a short-sleeve shirt.

You will also need an umbrella that they can comfortably sit under throughout the day. Every two hours you will need to reapply sunscreen to ensure it won’t wear off.

It probably isn’t a great idea to spend the next 6 hours at the beach. About 2 hours may be a good amount of time. Because as we age, our skin becomes more and more sensitive especially to the sunlight. We must be cautious of this when we plan trips to the beach.

 

There you have it! Some simple tips to help get your senior friends and family members out to the beach with you.


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4 Tips for Helping Seniors Maintain Their Independence—And Helping You Keep Your Peace of Mind

Some people are more stubborn than others, but most seniors don’t want to admit when they need a little extra help. For that reason, it’s often up to family members to identify when to step in and offer additional help. Encouraging loved ones to maintain their senior independence while keeping your own peace of mind might sound like a challenge, but there are steps you can take to make it easier on all parties involved.

Deliver the Essentials

There are tons of delivery services available that cover everything from food and toiletries to laundry and medication. Your loved one may not want to go grocery shopping but he or she might still enjoy cooking, and eating healthy meals contributes greatly to wellbeing. Determine what your elderly relative ought to have delivered, whether it’s groceries, prepared hot meals or prescription medication, and devise a schedule that works for everyone.

Modify the Living Space

Your loved one may still be fairly mobile and active, but a nasty fall can have serious repercussions for the elderly. Give yourself peace of mind by modifying the house as needed. Install rails in the bathroom, remove tripping hazards like area rugs, and lower the shelves in the pantry for easier access without a stepstool.

Get a Personal Emergency Response System

You can’t be with your aging relative 24/7, but a personal emergency response system can. PERS allow users to call for help in an emergency by pressing a button that they wear at all times. Some PERS even have two-way phone communication, automatic fall detection and GPS tracking on them, which can help locate an elderly parent who is lost.

Hire an In-Home Caregiver

If you can’t help out your loved one a regular basis, consider hiring an in-home caregiver from Just Like Family Home Care. We offer a variety of services that range from occasional visits to 24/7 care in Naples, FL, and the surrounding areas. This is a great strategy for helping someone who is adamantly against asking for it. Many people are too proud to approach their family members, but they have no problem talking to a caregiver.

Maintaining senior independence is hard, especially as people age, but it’s understandable why anyone would want to do so. It can be frustrating when loved ones are stubborn, but empathizing with them is often the best way to devise a compromise. By following the tips above and hiring an in-home caregiver to cover any additional needs, you can have the peace of mind that your loved one is safe and healthy.

 


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4 Signs It’s Time to Get In-Home Care for a Loved One

Recognizing that a loved one is aging and may need additional care is hard because it means recognizing a vulnerability in someone you look up to; however, in-home care services actually increase a individual’s quality of life, even if that means giving up a little extra freedom. Just Like Family Home Care in Naples, FL, offers a variety of in-home care services, from occasional visits to around-the-clock care, and we’re sure to have an option that meets your family’s needs.

Here are four signs it may be time to get in-home care for a loved one:

A Disheveled Appearance

If Mom has always prided herself on bouncy curls but they’re looking a little limp or Dad usually wears a pressed collared shirt but hasn’t lately, it could be a sign that they can no longer perform certain tasks or that they are depressed and personal hygiene is no longer a priority. Either way, they could benefit from in-home care.

Weight Loss

Significant weight loss might suggest that a loved one is no longer capable of making healthy meals or is forgetting to eat in the first place. If a loved one has not lost weight but the cabinets are often empty or the fridge is full of spoiled food, those could be signs that it’s time to consider additional help, as well.

Difficulty Getting up

Having trouble getting out of bed or standing up from a chair is not unusual as people age; however, if a loved one appears to have significant trouble getting up, he or she could definitely benefit from regular in-home care visits just to ensure everything is okay.

Incontinence

Getting to the bathroom on time is a daily struggle for many aging Americans, and it’s something most people don’t want to discuss with their family or friends. If your loved one appears to be going through a lot of laundry or the house often smells like urine, it could be a sign that it’s time to consider in-home care.

If you think a loved one might need in-home care in Naples, FL, or the surrounding areas, turn to Just Like Family Home Care. Locally owned and operated since 2006, we provide compassionate caregivers to those who need a little extra help but want to remain independent. Check out our website to learn more about the services we offer, and call us at 877-434-5530 to discuss your family’s needs.