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ElderCare Solutions of MI

Archive for 'Geriatric Care Management'

Long distance caregiving…that phrase certainly sums up my week!  It seems as though everyone I spoke with this week lives out of town, but is coming in for the holidays and is worried about their parents. I am very fortunate because both my in-laws live locally.  and unlike my sister-in-law, I don’t have to get on a plane every time there’s a problem.

When that dreaded role reversal happens and our parents begin to need help, it’s hard under any circumstances.  All of us deal with the uncertainty of wanting to help, but not wanting to step on our parents’ toes.  But the emotional stress takes on another dimension when you’re not there to check on your parents yourself.  This week I spoke to daughters who feel guilty about not being more available, and to sons who feel helpless…both feel anxious and burdened by worry.

As difficult as these first few conversations can be, I’m always so uplifted when I get off the phone.  People’s relief at having found someone, willing and able to be there for their parents long term, is almost tangible.  Someone who can not only help put supports in place but will be there to follow up as their needs change over time.  At those times, I’m grateful to be a Geriatric Care Manager!

Talk to you next week,

Lynn

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The holidays are a much anticipated time of year for most of us.  Whether you celebrate Passover or Easter, chances are you’ll be seeing family this time of year.  However, for some the holidays bring unexpected surprises if they live out of town and haven’t seen the older adults in their life for some time.

An older adult’s level of functioning can change significantly over the course of a few months, even more so if it’s been longer since you were last together.  Here are some potential red flags that might indicate more support is needed:

  • Stacks of unopened mail
  • A fridge full of old, expired or moldy fruits, veggies, milk and yogurt
  • Unanswered messages on the answering machine
  • An older adult seems to:
    • have more difficulty walking
    • have precarious balance
    • have less energy
    • tire easily
    • be confused or forgetful

It can feel overwhelming when you first realize that all is not well, but there’s no need to handle it on your own.  Their physician might be a resource, and a Geriatric Care Manager can help you identify and put in place local resources that will make it easier for you to board that plane for your return flight.

Happy Holidays,

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There are a few givens in life…we are all born and eventually we all must die. How we plan for the events in the middle depends not only on financial resources but also on who we know.

Creating strong and meaningful relationships is critical to finding the best resources and information. We rely on our friends and family for referrals and places to eat and shop all the time. Why not reach out to them when we are in need? In my professional and personal life, I am constantly  building and maintaining relationships with my peers. Knowing who to call not only saves time and money but it is priceless in a stressful situation. So the mantra – “It is not what you know but who you know” is very accurate!

Keep this in mind as you go about your daily business. ElderCare Solutions is your go-to for all of your needs dealing with issues with aging. 

Time for me to return some calls… Is your phone ringing?

Becky Eizen, Geriatric Care Manager

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As a busy professional and working Mom, I occasionally find myself wishing for just a little downtime…to read, watch TV, just take it easy.  Well, last week I had the chance to do just that, and let me tell you, it was not fun.  I had the flu, and along with it, the requisite downtime.

At first I was a little too miserable to be bored, but after a few days my mind kicked back into high gear but somehow my body just wasn’t on the same page.  And after a few days of staring at the T.V., there’s nothing good on anymore, no matter how many channels you have!  If you’re reading this and are silently hoping I’ll stop whining, I must tell you that it’s one thing to hear about the flu epidemic on the news, but it’s very humbling to find yourself completely leveled by it.

And this got me thinking about the parallels between my temporary situation with the flu, and the physical decline we experience as older adults.  How very hard it must be to feel exactly the same inside as when you were young, but no longer be able to do what you once took for granted.  How hard it must be to feel let down by your own body.

As geriatric care managers, we help older adults and their families cope with the changes that come with aging, and often talk to family caregivers about the challenges they face.  But no matter how much we think we understand,  this week reminded me that most of us really don’t know what it’s like (having not lived it yet), and need to try to find new ways to be even more sensitive, digging deeper to find extra sources of compassion and patience!

Feeling grateful,

Lynn

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Most of us can agree that the last place we would want to be is in a skilled nursing facility.  Yet many people need a short term stay for inpatient physical and occupational therapy when they’re discharged from the hospital after a fall, hip or knee replacement, etc.  The frequently heard refrain “I want to go home” is so understandable, but there are a few reasons that explain why it’s sometimes important to hang in there.

When people first arrive they are often unable to care for themselves.  They may be unable to dress, unable to move from bed to a chair, and unable to walk alone.  Therapy helps, and at the first sign of improvement people may feel ready to go home. But leaving before you’re ready can lead to another fall and a repeat stay.  Before you make that decision, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I as strong as I was before?
  • Is it likely that I can return to my former level of independence?
  • How is my balance?
  • Can I move around my home?
  • Will I have help at home?
  • If I were alone, could I get myself something to eat?
  • Do I need help showering?
  • If I stay, am I likely to get stronger

The staff at the rehabilitation center can advise you on what’s realistic for you.  Sometimes the decision on when to leave can be made by the resident and their family, but sometimes not.  For example, Medicare guidelines mandate that when someone has stopped progressing, meaning that there is not likely to be more improvement, they need to be discharged.

A geriatric care manager can help advise an older adult in this situation.  They can help identify options for when someone is ready to leave, and work with the family to be sure everything’s in place for discharge.  If you have any questions, just call!

Going to exercise,

Lynn

 

 

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One of the toughest conversations to have with an older adult has got to be the dreaded discussion about driving, the keys and the car.  Whether it’s a spouse who has concerns or an adult child, undeniably, that’s a sticky topic.  But, what can make it a little harder, or a little easier is how we phrase the question.  It really isn’t a question of whether or not an older adult needs to stop driving; the conversation is really about whether or not they are still able to drive safely.

One thing to keep in mind in your approach is that age alone isn’t really a determining factor.  There are people in their late 80′s who still have the functional capacity to be really good drivers, where someone 10 years younger may not.  Vision, cognition, reaction time, as well as back and neck mobility may change as we age, and are really the topic of discussion.

So how do you start the conversation?  There are a few different ways to go.  You can commiserate with new technology by saying something like “Boy, driving sure isn’t what it used to be!  Between these new blind spot mirrors on my car, and the round-abouts that have popped up, I don’t feel as confident as I used to.”  Or you may use current events to break the ice for you by saying “Did you hear about that car accident on the news?”  If neither of those approached works, you can try taking the subject back a generation by saying “I remember when Grandma gave me her car when I was a teenager.  What made her decide to stop driving?”  Hopefully one of these will let you start talking.

But the decision to stop driving threatens our very independence.  An older adult who no longer drives may fear becoming isolated and dependent on others.  So be armed with a list of alternatives including local transportation services as well as activities that provide their own transportation.  If you’re not sure what resources there are in your community, contact a local geriatric care manager or social service agency for resources.

 Grabbing my keys,

Lynn

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Have you ever heard the expression “you don’t know what you don’t know”?  That point was really driven home for me this week; it was a week full of seminars!  I ran into many professionals we have referral relationships with, and a fair amount of our client family members as well.  As I listened to the various speakers present over the course of several days, I was impressed with how much genuinely new information was being presented.

Yet as I looked around at the many familiar faces, I couldn’t help wondering about all the people that weren’t there, who needed to hear these wonderful ideas, these changes to the laws etc.  I know it’s difficult to find time during the week to attend a daytime seminar. And it can be just as difficult to carve out evening time after a full day at work.  However, when it comes to caring for older adults, things can change very quickly and it is so important to stay in the know.

So as your inbox fills with seminar offerings, or you hear about conferences, how do you know if the program will be worth your time?  While there is no fool proof way to tell, here are a few things to consider:

  • Where is the seminar being held?  If it’s at someone’s place of work, they will usually want to be sure what they are offering is of value.
  • If this is an annual event, what was the attendance last year?
  • Are the speakers professionally credentialed?
  • Are the topics relevant to your situation?

Even as a professional who often prepares and gives presentations in the community, I still need to keep learning.  And when a family member hears a great resource or has an ‘Aha” moment, it makes it all worthwhile!

Here’s to your ”Aha” moment,

Lynn

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This week has been all about crisis management!  As Geriatric Care Managers we see our clients at least once a month to keep current and look for changes that we can’t pick up on over the phone.  We often look for whether or not they gained or lost weight, if their dementia has worsened, or if it is time to switch from a cane to a walker, to give a few examples. We know how important these monthly visits are, but sometimes a client or family member may question their value when all is stable.  And that value was made clear to families several times this week.

Things can change quickly for all of us, most especially for older adults because their conditions tend to worsen over time.  When a crisis happens, it is much easier to begin to pick up the pieces when someone who knows the client, is familiar with their history, current medications, recent medical procedures, layout of their home, and their support system is there to provide expertise, help and guidance.

So instead of waiting until poor balance gives way to a fall that requires hospitalization, surgery and then rehab, or when progressing dementia gets to the point where someone can’t be alone, start working with a Geriatric Care Manager proactively, so they’ll be there ready to help when you need them. Let us help smooth the way for you the way we did for several of our families this week. 

Waiting for your call,

Lynn

 

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The More You Know

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When to Call

  • Does an older adult's family live out of town?
  • Are local family members overwhelmed and need help?
  • Is an older adult about to be discharged from the hospital or rehabilitation center?
  • Do family members have differences of opinion regarding a senior's care?
  • Is a senior living in an environment that needs aging-in-place modifications?

If the answer to any of these is "yes," ElderCare Solutions of Michigan can help. Call us today.

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ElderCare Solutions of Michigan is a division of Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit, a non-sectarian not-for-profit organization that has served the metro Detroit area for more than 80 years.