What It Takes Considering Care for an Elderly Parent

When considering care for an elderly parent, there are many things to consider. Caring for another person takes time, patience, physical and mental strength, and support from other family members and friends. This article from the Washington Post raises many good points that should be thought through when caring for an elderly parent.

Specifically, think about the community you live in. In many parts of New Hampshire it is essential to have transportation.  What if your parent can no longer drive himself or herself, can he or she walk to the store, a salon, or a friend’s house? Will he or she be out of touch with a social network because they can no longer drive?

To start an initial assessment, here are some simple questions to ask about the senior’s abilities:

Shopping:
  • Can the senior take care of all shopping independently?
  • Can the senior only make small purchases independently?
  • Does the senior need to be accompanied on shopping trips?
  • Is the senior completely unable to shop?

Cooking:

  • Can the senior plan, prepare and serve meals?
  • Can the senior prepare meals if given the ingredients?
  • Can the senior heat and serve prepared meals?
  • Does the senior need to have meals prepared and served?

Housekeeping & Laundry:

  • Does the senior maintain the house independently?
  • Can the senior only perform light chores, like bed making and dishwashing?
  • Does the senior need help with all home maintenance tasks?
  • Does the senior do personal laundry completely?
  • Does the senior only launder small items?
  • Does the senior need all laundry done for him or her?

Some other areas in which seniors may need assistance include medication, finances and safeguards in the home.  If you would like some more information or a free consultation with a family Debra Desrosiers, Certified Senior Adivsor would be happy to assist you in making some important decisions.  Please contact us at (603) 483-8999 to make your appointment. 

Ouch! Don't Let Your Senior Get Sun Burned this Summer (Or Anytime)!

There has been a tremendous increase in skin cancer, and more and more seniors are experiencing skin damage that they incurred during those hot summer days. Learn how to avoid this!

When many seniors were young they didn’t worry about getting too much sun – sunscreen wasn’t sold commercially until the 1960’s (Remember those Coppertone ads with the dog pulling on the child’s pants?) As children they played outside without using sunscreen or sometimes without wearing a hat! They didn’t worry about protecting their skin. As a result, there has been a tremendous increase in skin cancer, and more and more seniors are experiencing skin damage that they incurred during those hot summer days.

Luckily, today things have changed quite a bit – there are numerous types of good sunscreens on the market. But, regardless, seniors must protect their skin particularly in summertime – it is a matter of safety! Here is why: As we age our skin gets thinner and dryer due to diminished collagen and elastin, and slows down the replacement of dead skin cells with new ones. However, the biggest reason to protect seniors’ skin is, yes, you guessed it – skin cancer! Exposure to too much sun (UV radiation) is one of the most common causes of skin cancers. With skin cancer on the rise, it is imperative as part of a seniors health regime to follow sun safety.

So, how can you protect your elder loved one from the sun’s rays this summer? Here are some tips for keeping them protected:

  • Sunscreen is your friend. If necessary, avoid the sun entirely!!! But, if they are unable to do so make sure shade is available. Also, always have them wear sunscreen outside! This will provide them with some extra protection if they happen to get exposed to the sun!
  • The sun may still find shade. Believe it or not, even when a senior is sitting in the shade they can still be exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. So, make sure that their arms and legs are covered with dark clothing and material that is not too thin – if it is, the sun can still get through!
  • Make wearing hats fun! If shade is not available, have them wear a broad-brimmed hat. Wearing hats can be fun – it can be a trip down memory lane by having them remember the times they wore a hat as a child.
  • The sun keeps time too! If a senior is outside, avoid exposure during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.—this is when the sun’s rays are the strongest!
  • Medications and the sun – sometimes not a good combination! Be aware of sun-sensitizing medications. Believe it or not some common prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs such as Advil, Motrin and others can make their skin more sensitive to sunlight. Even prescription drugs such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes medications can cause sun sensitivity. Make sure you ask the doctor or pharmacist about medication side effects. If they increase sun sensitivity, keep them out of the sun!

In addition to taking the precautions above, always make sure your senior is hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids, particularly during the warmer summertime weather. And, finally, make sure that their skin is checked regularly by the doctor for any unusual freckles, bumps, moles or other irregularities. Remember, it is better to be safe than sorry!

Keeping your senior safe is vitally important, and a big part of this safety is following sun precautions. Enjoy the summertime by staying sun-safe by wearing those big floppy hats and sunscreen when you are outdoors.

What methods do you use for sun protection? Have you found the perfect sun lotion or best hat for those summer rays?


Man Waling In Sun

There is Some Positive in Aging

There is Some Positive in Aging by Jeffrey Johnson

Here is another article by Jeffrey Johnson that I would like to share with the families of New Hampshire.  Jeffrey brings great insight into aging issues.  I met with Jeffrey and Larry 9 years ago about purchasing a Visiting Angels Franchise. I was very impressed with their mission on providing quality care and helping owners achieve their goals of owning a business that has some of the greatest rewards, making a difference and a having a true sense of purpose. ~ Debra Desrosiers, Certified Senior Advisor and local owner of Visiting Angels of Auburn, NH

On the day we are born, we began the aging process. And although the first 30 or so years seem to be all positive as we matured and developed into adults, few, if any of us, can say we were happy to turn 30, or 40, or 50, or even 60. It seems that we in this country view aging as primarily negative.

We notice little wrinkles as we gaze into the mirror in the morning, our muscles take longer to recovery from those gardening chores, reading the fine print now requires glasses, staying up too late requires three days of recovery, and we all start to think of our mortality, our legacy, and unanswerable question: Have I done all that I can do with my life?

Yet, don’t be mistaken, there is a positive to the aging process, and just maybe it is time we sit back and reflected a bit on what is “good” about getting older.

For example:

  • We have developed into our own person. In other words, we generally are no longer searching for "who we are," as we did when we were in our teens, 20’s, and 30’s. We know what we like and don’t like, what works for us and what doesn’t, and no more identity crisis.
  • We now have a level of confidence in what we can offer the world. We have accomplished something through our work, our social involvements, and our families; and these accomplishments help to define who we are and offer us confidence in our daily undertakings.
  • We can live in the present and not worry as much about what the future will bring. We have planned and struggled so that our "present" is set and taken care of with as few worries as possible. We are all grown up and don’t have that burden anymore.
  • Fewer events trigger outrageous reactions in us. We are calmer and less prone to over react. For example, the grandkids spilling milk on the living room carpet is no longer a big deal – just wipe it up and move on for we have seen it all before.
  • We are more focused on what we want to accomplish, and, as a result, are more motivated to complete certain tasks.
  • Our legacy becomes more apparent and more of an issue. This is good because we now have the time to straighten up any relationships that may have gone astray in the past, complete any unresolved goals, and put our houses in order.
  • Although our health issues seem to be getting more numerous and more serious as we age, we are more equipped at handling any major shocks that our doctors tell us.
  • We are also a healthier generation than our parents were: we pay more attention to what we eat, staying in shape, and are, generally, more proactive about staying as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
  • We are wise old sages after all. Even though the advent of the Internet has made us all feel lacking in knowledge as we can so readily find a piece of elusive information in seconds, it also boosts the fact that we really do know much more than we thought we did. And if you doubt that, just watch the mistakes your kids make, even after you tell them not to do something.
  • And, we have all had an incredible impact on the world. The James Stewart movie, "It’s a Wonderful Life," clearly shows how terrible the world he knows might have been if he had not been around to influence others. Well, the same is true for you – just play the mind game where you pretend you had not been born and see where all those you now know may have ended up – you have done much more good than bad, had very positives influences on many, many people, and clearly the world is now a better place because of you having been in it!

In short, aging is the end of life on this planet. It doesn’t always end the way we want, but the aging process most often does afford us the ability to reflect and consider how great life has been, and how wonderful the remaining years will be. Be positive and enjoy your life!

NH Conference on Aging

Visiting Angels Exhibiting at 2012 NH Conference on Aging

Manchester, NH - Visiting Angels, is pleased to announce its participation as an exhibitor at the 2012 New Hampshire Conference on Aging.  This year's conference is scheduled to be held on May 24th from 8:30am - 3:30pm at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH.

May is Older American Month, a time to honor the legacies and ongoing contributions of older Americans and support them as they enter the next stage in life, "As the most rapidly growing segment of today's population, seniors are a demographic group which merits the attention of all concerned organizations and citizens," stated Debra Desrosiers. "Our organization is please to be able to support the seniors of our community in this way. It provides an excellent environment for fostering positive healthy aging."

The Twelth Annual Conference on Aging these is, "Never Too Old to Play". Over the past twelve years the NH Conference on Aging has grown from 200 to 800+ in attendance. We look forward to meeting and serving the seniors at this event.

In order to see our company at this event, you must register in advance to attend the conference.  Conference registration brochures are available on the web site: www.nhconferenceonaging.org or by calling: (603) 573-3310.

Location : Radisson Hotel, Manchester, NH
Contact : Debbie Love (603) 573-3310 or www.nhconferenceonaging.org

Take Care of Yourself When Taking Care of Others

Auburn, NH May 21, 2012 - In homes all over the area, a relative is taking care of an older or disabled person today. They might be helping them to dress or shop for food, or remind them to take medicines or even just make sure they’re safe at home. They’re not alone - the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 44 million Americans provide unpaid care to an elderly or disabled person 18 or over every year. A large percentage of these people are family caregivers – spouses caring for husbands or wives, or adult children or grandchildren caring for elderly relatives.

The reality is that most Americans will act as a family caregiver at some point during their lives. Some will be juggling paying jobs in addition to their caregiver duties, and some will still be raising their own children while caring for their elderly relatives. And they may not realize that help is available.

Being a family caregiver for an elderly loved one can be incredibly rewarding. Caregivers usually report they enjoy feeling needed, knowing they are doing something good for someone they love and building a stronger, closer relationship. But caregiving can take its toll mentally and physically, and most family caregivers report feeling the effects of “caregiver stress” at some point.

The best way to reduce the effects of caregiver stress is to ask for and accept help. Make a list of ways others can help you, and let your family and friends choose what they want to do. One person might volunteer to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week, another might offer to pick up groceries for you. Consider bringing in outside help, such as non-medical home care from an agency like Visiting Angels, one or more days a week to give everyone a break as well.

Take a note of these signs of caregiver stress – if any apply, you need help:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Feeling tired or exhausted most of the time
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Becoming easily irritated or angered
  • Feeling constantly worried
  • Feeling sad
  • Experiencing frequent headaches, bodily pain or other chronic physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medication

If you are a family caregiver, it is both normal and common to feel the effects of caregiver stress. That’s why it’s essential to plan your care, too, and to have a plan in place to manage that stress before it results in severe mental and/or physical health issues. In order to take the best care of anyone else, you must first take care of yourself.

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or ServiceLink office to see what services are available in your area. Some options to explore include:

  • Transportation and meal delivery assistance
  • Home health care services (such as nursing or physical therapy)
  • Non-medical home care, such as that provided by Visiting Angels and other agencies, to help with hygiene, meal preparation/diet monitoring, light housekeeping, errands, shopping and companionship
  • Home modification to make it easier for your loved one to perform daily tasks
  • Respite care, either in-home, or out-of-the-home through home care agencies, adult day-care centers, short-term nursing homes or day hospitals to give you a much-needed break.

Once help is in place it’s vital that you take proper care of yourself. Make time each week to do something that you enjoy. Try to find time to be physically active each day, eat a healthy diet, and get enough sleep. Get regular checkups from your physician, let him or her know that you are a caregiver, and be sure to share any symptoms of depression or sickness you may be having. Stay in touch with family and friends, and join a support group for caregivers.

Prevent caregiver stress by researching the resources that are available in your area and taking advantage of them. To get started, you can contact your local AAA or contact Visiting Angels at (603) 483-8999 or visit www.HomeCareofNH.com. Remember that your health is just as important as the health of the person for whom you are caring, and that you are not alone.

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