ComForCare Home Care Serving Somerset & Northern Middlesex Countries

Posts Tagged senior care

Brighten the Day for an Isolated Senior

Monday , March 1 , 2021

Brighten the Day for an Isolated Senior

Visits from family and friends are often the only link isolated seniors have to the outside world. Yet now, in the wake of COVID-19, getting together face-to-face is considered unsafe and even dangerous.

Isolation and loneliness – already a problem for so many older adults – have dramatically ramped up worldwide. More than ever, these issues are taking a toll on the homebound, both mentally and physically. In response, we’ve put together this guide with a few ways to help older adults feel a little more connected to the world and their families.

Keep reading for some simple ways to help brighten up someone’s day.

Send a handwritten letter.

COVID-19 has limited our ability to see people face-to-face. Still, notes provide a simple way to maintain a connection – and in the age of email and text messages, receiving a handwritten letter or card in the mailbox is a fun treat. Not much of a writer? Try sending family photographs, interesting articles, or fun recipes instead. It’s more about making an effort than anything else.

Tip: If you want to help even more people, consider sending a note to an organization like Letters of Love. They sends cards and letters to elders all around the world to help ease loneliness.

Organize drive-by visits. 

Almost as soon as COVID-19 hit, people started coming up with new and fun ways to stay connected. One of our favorites is the “drive-by party,” in which loved ones and friends drive down the street honking horns, flying banners, and shouting greetings out the window. Traditionally, these are reserved for birthdays, graduations, and other special occasions, but why not set up a drive-by visit for your homebound loved one? It’s sure to brighten their day!

Try a video chat.

Just because you can’t get together with someone in person doesn’t mean you can’t see them! Phone calls and letters are great, but seeing someone’s facial expressions on a video chat creates a more intimate experience. Most seniors have a smartphone or laptop that can be used for Zoom or Skype. If they are interested in trying a video chat but don’t know how, hundreds of online tutorials can help.

Help them pick up a new hobby or get reacquainted with an old one.

Being stuck inside is a great time to learn a new craft or hone a current skill. From painting to scrapbooking to photography, art is one of the best things a senior can do from the comfort of their home. Many older adults also enjoy things like playing games, reading, doing puzzles, or even dancing. As a fun surprise, sign them up for an online class or club that caters to their interests – it will offer the opportunity to learn something new and a chance to socialize with others.

Run errands or help with chores. 

Many older adults have trouble running errands on their own, even under the best of circumstances. These days, due to social distancing, restrictions placed on businesses, and other factors, it can be even more difficult. So whether you’re picking up takeout and dropping it off or making sure your loved one gets their prescription refill from the pharmacy, the effort is sure to be appreciated.

Final thoughts

Being thoughtful doesn’t require a lot of time, effort, or money. A small, simple gesture is all it takes to let someone know that you’re thinking about them and to brighten their day. Tell us, how do you show your older loved ones that you care?

 

Posted in: Aging

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Aging in Place Safely After COVID-19

Monday , February 22 , 2021

Aging in Place Safely After COVID-19

Now that we’ve made it through almost a full year of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families are pondering the best way to care for their aging parents. Like many adult children, you may find that your own older parents are suffering from diminished reflexes and other health problems that leave them prone to accidents.

In the past, that may have meant taking up residence in a nursing home – but news of the rapid spread of illness in such facilities has left many people wary. In fact, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care, overall nursing home occupancy dropped from 83.4 to 74.8 percent in 2020.

The alternative? Aging in place.

Most seniors report that, given the choice, they’d like to grow old in their own home, surrounded by their treasured possessions and cherished memories. But now, more than ever, it’s important that these older adults have a support network in place.

Keep reading for our best tips on safety and support modifications that can help give you and your loved one peace of mind, during COVID-19 and beyond.

Physical changes to the home
About one in four adults aged 65+ falls each year: Many seniors have sensory impairments, like poor hearing and vision, or a physical limitation that contributes to this risk. To help create a safe environment, consider:

  • A stairlift or electronic chair lift
  • Handheld shower hoses
  • Shower benches
  • Raised toilet seats
  • Wider doors for wheelchair access
  • Ramps to replace (or in addition to) stairs leading into the home
  • Better lighting (a typical 85-year old needs three times more lightthan a teen)
  • Placing commonly used items where they can be reached without stopping or reaching
  • Grab bars wherever necessary (they’re not just for the bathroom!)

Nutritional support
Maintaining a nutrient-dense diet is important in older adults, yet many of them have a hard time preparing their own meals or even eating on their own. Here’s how to help them get the nutrition they need:

  • Arrange for more meals to be provided by family members or friends
  • Stock the fridge with protein-rich foods and meal-replacement shakes
  • Sign up for a meal delivery service
  • Contact Meals on Wheels or a similar programif you are unable to help on your own
  • Show your loved one how to use an online grocery shopping app
  • Ask their doctor about switching medications which may suppress appetite

Medication monitoring
According to a recent national survey, one in four Americans over the age of 65 take between 10 and 19 pills a day. That’s a lot to keep track of! How can you help?

  • Sign up for prescription delivery
  • Schedule reminder phone calls
  • Purchase an automatic dispenser with an alarm
  • Routinely clean out the medicine cabinet and get rid of expired or discontinued medications
  • Use separate medicine cabinets if more than one person is living in the home
  • Make sure a step stool isn’t needed to reach those cabinets
  • Save all of the written information that comes with the medications in one place

Transportation assistance
Without a reliable way to get to doctor appointments or go grocery shopping, seniors can’t realistically stay in their homes as they age. It’s essential that affordable transportation be available to help them maintain their independence. Options include:

  • Local senior centers
  • County public transportation
  • State Department of Health and Senior Services
  • Family and friends
  • Volunteers from a church or synagogue
  • Ride-sharing services (there are several options just for seniors)
  • And for those in our local area, there are these two fantastic choices:

– Middlesex County Area Transit (MCAT)

– Somerset County para-transit services and community transportation

Help with household chores
Due to pain, illness, injury, or other health issues, many older adults can no longer complete certain chores on their own. These tend to be the most difficult:

  • Carrying hampers or laundry baskets
  • Making the bed
  • Taking the trash or recycling to the curb
  • Cleaning the floors
  • Scouring the bathroom
  • Organizing/dusting high shelves

Services that come to the home
Today, many healthcare and personal care services can be provided in-home to help extend a senior’s independence, including:

  • Doctors who make house calls (even simple x-rays can be completed in the home!)
  • Traveling podiatrists and dentists
  • Hairdressers and nail technicians
  • Mobile pet grooming and veterinary services

COVID-19 safety
These days, more than ever, safety is of the utmost importance. While helping your older loved ones set up systems to keep them safely at home, it’s vital to keep their health and wellbeing top of mind.

If outside vendors or care providers will be entering the home, make sure everyone wears a mask the entire time and uses hand sanitizer as necessary. Whenever possible, set up no-contact delivery for goods such as groceries or takeout – most businesses are happy to leave deliveries on the porch and ring the bell. And always set up tele visits or video calls for appointments when it’s offered as an option!

Final thoughts
Planning ahead is the key to helping older adults live their lives to the fullest. A strong support system and adequate safety measures can keep your loved one independent for a longer time.

For many seniors, in-home care is the right answer. If you or a loved one are considering in-home care services, we can provide non-medical support and assistance to adults with disabilities or those recovering from an illness or surgical procedure. In addition, home care services often complement other types of care someone may already be receiving in their home, such as hospice or skilled home health care.

Posted in: Aging

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Is your elderly loved one at risk of being scammed?

Monday , December 21 , 2020

Is your elderly loved one at risk of being scammed?

The financial exploitation of aging adults is an increasingly large problem in the United States. In fact, The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) reports that one in twenty seniors have indicated some form of perceived financial abuse in the last year.

According to some experts, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is going to make things even worse.

Why does this happen? Scammers view the elderly as easy prey–especially now that social distancing measures have cut them off from family, friends, community centers, and other interactions with people who care for them.

To help protect yourself or a loved one from becoming the victim of a financial crime, it’s important to recognize the warning signs and know what to do if you spot them.

What is elder financial abuse?
As defined by the Older Americans Act of 2006, elder financial abuse is:

The fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an older individual for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving an older individual of rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets. 

In other words, it’s taking advantage of an elderly person for financial gain. Usually, it is in the context of a relationship where trust is expected, and it causes harm (both financial and emotional) to the older person involved.

Who is at risk?
According to 2017 study from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the people hit hardest by financial scams (for an average loss of $45,300) were ages 70 to 79, while people aged 80 and over suffered the second highest losses. All older adults can fall victim to financial abuse, however.

Scott Rahm, managing partner at RMO, LLP, says that these days “the economic strain of quarantine leads people to take advantage of others. It’s a perfect storm, with economic pressure on one side and economic opportunity on the other. Right now, these storm clouds are colliding.”

Issues that may leave your loved ones vulnerable include:

  • They may have mental disabilities or cognitive disorders
  • They are socially isolated
  • They may be unfamiliar with technology and not realize what they are granting access to or signing off on
  • They often have predictable financial patterns (for instance, they receive their Social Security check at the same time every month)
  • Perpetrators may assume that the elderly person will be too embarrassed to confront them or go to authorities

Who commits these crimes?
Typically, the perpetrator of financial crimes against the elderly is someone they know, such as a spouse or caretaker. They may feel as though what the elderly person has is “rightfully theirs” or that they are owed something.

Offenders can include:

  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Bankers or investment professionals
  • Health care workers
  • And more

How do you know if your loved one is being taken advantage of?
Just as physical abuse against elders has signs and clues, so does financial abuse. Just one indicator doesn’t mean that your older adult is being scammed, but if you notice several of the following, you might want to take a closer look:

  • Unexplained bank withdraws or transfers
  • Unpaid bills or utilities being disconnected due to nonpayment
  • Eviction notices
  • Lack of amenities the person could normally afford (food, clothing, outings, etc.)
  • Cancelled checks made out to an unfamiliar name
  • Forgeries on legal documents, including powers of attorney or last will and testaments
  • Loans or credit cards being opened in the older adult’s name
  • The elderly adult complains of missing belongings or cash

How is elder financial abuse carried out?
There are countless ways in which elder financial abuse is perpetrated. Here are some of the most common:

  • An acquaintance coerces the older adult into signing over power of attorney and then uses that designation to acquire money and assets
  • A caretaker who has access to a senior’s bank card or checks uses them to make purchases for themselves
  • Loved ones or friends may threaten to withhold care until they receive money
  • A scammer may tell the elderly adult that they won a lottery or sweepstakes, but they can’t claim the prize until they send in money to cover taxes
  • Thieves may pretend to be law enforcement, utilities workers, or building maintenance people in order to gain access to the senior’s home and steal physical belongings or cash
  • A perpetrator may claim to work for a charity foundation in order to collect donations
  • Scammers may pretend to be the elderly adult’s grandchild or other loved one and ask to borrow money due to an unexpected hardship

It happened to us: My husband’s stepfather was temporarily taken in by a smooth-talking guy who promised a wonderful investment opportunity. Luckily, he wizened up and didn’t send the money–but that didn’t stop the scammer from calling back several times and threatening to come to the house to collect his cash.

What to do if you suspect the financial abuse of an elder
These days, more than ever, it’s vital to check in our elderly loved ones. The earlier you spot the signs of financial abuse, the better. The first thing to do is discuss your concerns with your loved one but be patient: they are likely to be embarrassed about the situation. If the perpetrator is someone you know, ask them questions in a non-confrontational way–often just knowing that someone is on to them is enough to deter further activity.

If matters seem out of hand, contact the authorities. Medicare Advantage has a wonderful list of both state and national resources that can help if someone you know has fallen victim.

Tell us: have any older adults in your life been the victim of a financial scam?

Originally published February 2019, updated December 2020

Posted in: Aging

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