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ElderCare Solutions of MI

Tag: Elderly


The older we get, the more doctor appointments we seem to need.  It is not uncommon for the average baby boomer or older adult to see a cardiologist, a neurologist, perhaps even a rheumatologist, pulmonologist or gynecologist!  But amidst these many appointments there is one that often gets forgotten…an annual physical with a primary care physician.

Why is it important to keep up with your primary care doctor if you’re seeing all these specialists?  That’s a frequently asked question among our clients.  And the answer is a timeless metaphor…to be sure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing, and vice versa! Most specialists will only diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications for illnesses that fall under their own area of specialization.  So problems that come up may not be addressed outside of a primary care physician’s office.  For example, you’ll routinely have your blood pressure checked as part of an office visit with a pulmonologist, rheumatologist, or gynecologist, but it will not likely be addressed or treated, even if it is elevated. That’s also true if your labs show elevated cholesterol levels.  Instead you’ll be referred to primary care.  Also, routine general preventive care and screening will not be done by specialists, who need to use the appointment time to focus in-depth on the condition they are treating.

So, as much as you would love to eliminate another appointment, call your primary care doc, and schedule your annual appointment.

Getting out my calendar,


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I can’t believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone, Hanukkah is almost over, and Christmas and New Years are right around the corner!  The best part of any holiday celebration is visiting with family from out of town.  While it’s always fun for everyone to catch up with each other, all too often my phone rings the following week because  people get an unexpected surprise…their parents do not seem to be doing as well as they were last year, or as well as they seemed over the phone.  Changes can happen suddenly if someone has a fall or other serious illness, but most often changes happen very gradually, with cumulative effects that become more pronounced over time.  And while they may go unnoticed from week to week, if it’s been several months since your last visit, the difference can be very surprising.

But how do you know when your parents might need a little help?  Here are a few clues that you might see on your visit:

  1. Stacks of unopened mail
  2. Old, expired or moldy fruits, veggies, milk and yogurt in the fridge
  3. Unanswered messages on the answering machine
  4. Difficulty walking or precarious balance
  5. Fatigue and lethargy
  6. Confusion or forgetfulness
  7. Misplaced or lost items

The tricky part is knowing what to explain away and what to consider concerning.  Any one of these signs by itself  may not be worrisome, but if you’re seeing more than one, it may be time to talk with your parents and other family members about getting some support.  If you’re not sure,  meeting with a geriatric care manager can help you decide, and arm you with recommendations to put in place before you leave or have at the ready.  Although this may be a conversation you’re dreading, it’ll make getting on the plane to go home much easier.

Feeling thankful,


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Spending time together as a family can sometimes be challenging if you’re trying to make the activities older adult friendly.  But spending quality time together is so important, for the youngest family members up to the oldest generation.  Those memories of happy times spent together become priceless once those opportunities for togetherness are no longer possible.  If you feel like you need a few new ideas for activities, here is a list to help jump start your imagination:

  • Movie Day (or Night) – This works well for family members of all ages, especially those with mobility concerns.  Whether watching a movie at home or going to the theater, switch off who gets to pick the movie, grandchildren, parents or grandparents!
  • Family Dinner Date – Everyone has to eat! Whether it is pouring over old recipes, choosing a new one, going to a restaurant or bringing in take out, the opportunities to share memories and stories are endless.  If cooking at home, there’s usually a way for everyone to help out.  Have a picnic at a park or bring the picnic inside if that’s more comfortable.
  • Game night – Take turns picking out the games, and be sure to vary them from creative choices like Charades and Pictionary, to more structured board games.  Grandparents can teach games that were popular during their childhood like marbles or jacks, and kids can teach them all about the latest craze.
  • A Trip Down Memory Lane – Most children enjoy hearing stories about when they were young, and when their parents were young.  And older adults have stories to tell!  Even those with memory loss usually have memories from years ago they can share.  Looking at old photo albums together often can spark a memory.
  • Visit Extended Family – Whether on a short road trip or a virtual one via web cam, try to stay in touch regularly with loved ones who live elsewhere.

The following websites offer more suggestions of family activities and games that include older adults.  Hope you find them helpful.

Planning a Movie Night,


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Have you ever walked out of a parking lot and had to think for a moment because you weren’t sure where you had parked your car?  Or searched the house because you couldn’t find your keys? I know most of us have.  And for a second we usually joke about losing our memories or getting older, but the reality is that most of us lead very busy lives, and we don’t always pay enough attention to the routine tasks we do each day, and occasionally have difficulty remembering where we left our keys (or car).  And that’s perfectly normal, especially as we age.  So how do you distinguish when your level of forgetting is no longer what would be considered normal?  And how difficult must it be to accept that?

Generally speaking, when memory loss or confusion is severe enough to interfere with someone’s ability to work and maintain a social life, it is no longer considered normal age related cognitive changes.  Instead that’s probably the time to consult a neurologist or geriatrician for a closer look.  But the fact that some of these things occasionally happen to all of us, ironically feeds denial, both on the part of the person living with dementia, and their family members.  Luckily, education and support are available, both one -on-one and support groups.  Support groups are offered through the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as through many memory care communities and adult day treatment programs.

In the meantime, if you would like to better understand how it feels to be someone living with dementia, pick up a copy of Still Alice, by Lisa Genova.  It is a really quick read that paints quite a vivid picture.

Pulling out my copy,


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While many of you were hopefully enjoying some fun in the sun on this 4th of July weekend, my family’s weekend was bustling with indoor activity because my much loved niece got married on Saturday.  The festivities spilled over into the entire weekend.  It was absolutely heartwarming to see so many familiar faces again, all in one room.  And as we made our way from table to table, gathering snippets of conversation as we went, I think we were all experiencing a myriad of thoughts and feelings.  Some heartwarming, “Where has the time gone?”, others silly “Look who asked who to dance…”, but I was surprised at the direction my own thoughts were taking.

I was struck by something altogether unexpected, namely the fact that there were many older adults in the room from both the bride and groom’s sides of the family, and absolutely none of them appeared to have any type of dementia!  Given the work that I do, all too often I see the way dementia robs older adults of their independence, their relationships, and often their peace of mind.  I see it so often that somewhere along the line a part of me began to accept it as a consequence of growing older.  But seeing this vital, thriving group of seniors actively engaged and enjoying this phase of life, reminded me that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Whether the causes are due to genes, lifestyle, luck or a combination of factors, clearly the quality of life implications are impossible to overstate, and deserve our time and attention, as well as ways to prevent and treat this challenging disease.

Relishing my memories,


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When caring for an older adult, there can be many different areas where they need attention and support.  If your family is like most families, the most critical needs get addressed first.  But after that’s done, usually people forget to get back to those less urgent issues, which often include bill paying assistance.

Now I’m not talking about financial need, but rather help with the physical task of sitting down a few times a month to pay bills, keeping an accurate balance in a checkbook, and avoiding finance charges.   Sometimes an older adult’s cognitive functioning can really limit their ability to pay their bills on their own.  We often see people who pay the same bill twice, or mistake a solicitation for a bill.  After all, fundraisers are getting savvy…they put a return address envelope and tear-off pledge sheet right in the envelope so, in fact, it looks like a bill!  Often times an older adult may be paying for a service they don’t even use, such as high speed internet bundled in with their cable tv.

That’s the not so great news.  However, help is available.  If family members want to help by setting critical bills up for auto pay by the bank, that’s a good first step.  But for those who need a little more help, there are services that can step in and take over this responsibility.  The Fiscal Concierge is a company that puts an individual’s bills on a secure web page, viewable by family with an older adult’s permission.  They will check balances, contact the family if a bill is due and there are insufficient funds available thereby avoiding bank fees, and pay bills on time.  For those who prefer a more hands on approach, Daily Money Managers and retired accountants often offer in-home bill paying assistance.  They can set up files and stop in 2-3 times per month to go through the mail and help write checks.  Obviously, security is a number one priority when dealing with finances, so be sure to go with a personal recommendation from a trusted source.

Grabbing my checkbook,


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Living in a time where celebrating your 100th birthday is no longer uncommon, the cost of long term care is often on the minds of older adults, their families, and senior service professionals.  How will we pay for it, should the need arise?  Next week, the Elder Care Chat debuts, and may have an answer for you.

Hosted by Christopher J. Berry, Certified Elder Law Attorney and Veterans Accredited Attorney, the Elder Care Chat is a weekly call and webcast Mondays at 2:00pm, that addresses topics of interest to both those who need elder care services, such as caregivers, as well as those who provide them, such as home care providers, social workers, elder care communities and other senior service professionals.  Chris will  lead the calls each week and will also occasionally feature other experts who work with older adults and their families.  You can join him on the web at,  using the event ID 42786354, or dial (206) 402-0100, and enter ID 670087#.
This Monday, June 24th at 2:00PM,  Chris will give an overview of the 6 ways to pay for long term care, followed by a brief Q & A.  As he is fond of saying, “This is the cheapest time you’ll ever spend with an attorney”!
Putting it on my calendar,
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High summer temperatures and beautiful sunshine create an irresistible temptation to explore and enjoy what we have all waited so long for. However, it can also pose a significant increased risk for wandering, which is defined by the Alzheimer’s Association as “a behavior of people with dementia who move about in ways that may appear aimless, but which are often purposeful.” Up to 69 percent of those with dementia will wander.

            According to Lisa Gardener, Family Service Program Coordinator of the Alzheimer’s Association , Greater Michigan Chapter, while wandering can be dangerous and life threatening, wandering within safe conditions can actually be beneficial. Safe wandering can occur when precautions are taken and boundaries are set to ensure the safety of the individual with memory loss.  There are times when attempting to stop the wandering behavior creates more agitation or anxiety in the person with memory loss. It’s important to look at the benefits of safe wandering. Here are some benefits to safe wandering that are sometimes taken for granted:

  • Provides physical exercise
  • Promotes a sense of freedom and independence
  • Offers a social opportunity between the caregiver and person with memory loss
  • Promotes a sense of independence for the individual with dementia
  • Reduces boredom
  • Can be calming for a person with memory loss
  • May help assist in calming an individual with memory loss who is upset

 Here are some tips to aid an individual with memory loss with safe wandering:

  • Provide a safe environment for them to walk in (example- an enclosed courtyard or hallway)
  • Look into in home devices that can help alert the caregiver when the person with memory loss is trying to leave a safe environment
  • Offer to help them find what they are looking for
  • Offer to take them for a drive, or go be a companion for a walk,  if they insist on leaving the premises
  • Call another friend or family member to come over and assist if needed
  • Find a friend or family member to go visit during these times, which can help in redirecting the individual with memory loss
  • Once the individual with memory loss has been reassured, find a way to redirect their attention

Wandering becomes a problem when it puts the person with memory loss or other people in a life threatening situation, and it’s important to be prepared if the situation ever arises. The Alzheimer’s Association has a Medic Alert + Safe Return program which has a 98.9 percent success rate of finding a lost individual within the first 24 Hours. If you would like more information regarding the Medic Alert + Safe Return/ Comfort Zone program, call their 24 Hour Harry L. Nelson Helpline at 1-800-272-3900, or visit Alternatively, several personal emergency response systems have a GPS feature which can be helpful locating someone who is wandering.  Whichever option you choose, keeping your loved one safe is what matters.

Going for a walk,


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There are so many conversations we’d rather avoid than have…conversations about finances or about someone’s inability to drive to name just a few.  But by far the most universally avoided topic has got to be end of life wishes.  On the surface this seems like such a silly problem.  I mean, most of us do truly know that someday we will die.  But do our children know our wishes?  Do they know the specific interventions we do and don’t want?  Have we given anyone the legal power to make medical decisions for us if we are unable to do so ourselves?

Clearly not, because statistics show that 70% of people wish to live out their lives and die at home, yet 70% of all deaths occur in hospitals.  The good news, however, is that there are tools available to help us navigate this potentially difficult topic.  There is a website, that has a free downloadable starter kit to help you start thinking about what is important to you regarding end of life care.  Unpleasant topic? Perhaps, but at least it’s free!

Downloading as we speak,


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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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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.