Caregiver Tips

The Caregiver Covenant
Caregivers are very generous souls and it doesn't take much for them to forgo their own needs in deference to their loved one. So as a way to address both of their needs: caring for a loved one and caring for themselves, I developed a "Caregiver Covenant" as a way to inspire caregivers towards a balanced life. The footsteps of many a caregiver can be found in these words. Hopefully, they'll guide you along the way of your own caregiving path.
>> Click here for Caregiver Covenant.

Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill: Seven Key Steps to Get Your Affairs in Order
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization with the American Bar Association wrote this practical, easy how-to guide that navigates families through the essential steps of getting "their affairs in order." The seven steps will show you how to: pay for your health care, manage your health and personal decisions, administer your money and property, plan for the care of dependents, know your rights as an employee and patient and complete various legal documents.
>> Click here for Guidebook.

Hospital Stay: Inpatient or Observation Status? The answer could cost you thousands!
Medicare only pays for care in a skilled nursing facility when a patient has spent at least three consecutive days in a hospital (not including the day of discharge) prior to being admitted to the nursing home. In this instance, Medicare may pay up to 100 days of rehabilitation and/or skilled nursing care. Thousands of people are discovering that three days in the hospital may not qualify them for the nursing home benefit because the hospital has placed them on “observation status,” also known as “observation care.” If that is the case, it means that the hospital never admitted them as an inpatient, and thus, they do not meet Medicare's “three hospital-day” criteria to trigger skilled nursing care coverage.
>> Click here to read the full article.

Free Screenings from Medicare
Beginning January 1, 2011 all beneficiaries with Original Medicare now have access to a wide range of prevention screenings that in the past required a co-pay or another form of cost-sharing. But now, you won't have to pay anything which is really good news given today's tough economy and retirees living on fixed incomes.

If you'd like a checklist of all screenings and a guide from Medicare on Prevention Screenings click here.

Adverse Drug Events: What You Should Know if you are 60 years and older!
Adverse Drug Events (ADE) especially effect older people due to the high number of drugs they take and how their bodies no longer process medications as they did when they were younger. As a result, drugs often build-up and remain in the body longer causing drug toxicity. Nearly one in three hospital admissions among those over sixty-five years is due to a drug-related problem. Read the following two Question and Answers from Dr. Rhodes to learn about what to watch for and what you can do to save yourself from a life threatening adverse drug reaction.
>> Click here to read the full article.

Preventing Falls: Healthy Steps Guide
Every older person should be concerned about falling when you consider that:

  • Every 15 seconds an older adult is treated in an emergency department for a fall-related injury throughout the United States.
  • One in three adults aged 65 years can expect to fall within the next twelve months and half of those over 80 years will fall.
  • Twenty-five percent of all nursing home admissions are due to a fall and 40 percent of those residents will not be able to return home. One in four will die from complications resulting from the fall.

Prevent a fall by reading the "Healthy Steps for Older Adults" guide which is chockfull of tips on how to prevent falls from adult-proofing the home, eating foods that strengthen muscles, to exercises as simple as wiggling toes, fingers, ankles and wrists throughout the day. You'll also gain access to valuable resources that can help you live a fall-free life. Click on the book cover to connect to the guide.

Learn to Fall Like a Skydiver
A recent study by the University of Michigan's College of Engineering found that how you position your body in mid-air before you hit the ground can dramatically reduce the risk of fracturing your hip by up to 70 percent. Parachutists are trained to fall in a crouching position and then lean so that the outside of their lower leg hits the ground first followed by rolling onto their backside. If you land this way, the researchers discovered that the hip only receives 25 percent of the force necessary to break it. With over 300,000 people suffering hip fractures a year, learning the technique is a pretty smart thing to do.

But a fall happens so fast, so how can you possibly think about how you're going to land? Experts say you have seven-tenths of a second from stumble to impact when falling on a non-slippery surface. According to Dr. Ashton-Miller lead researcher of the study, the "typical reaction time is two-tenths of a second leaving five-tenths of a second to put the fall strategy into practice." And that's plenty of time to position your body for a fall, claims Miller, who has learned this first hand as an avid skier. But it means you need to train your brain to fall in skydiver fashion. One way to do this is by repeatedly visualizing your self falling the way I described earlier and shown in this video clip.

My Food Pyramid for Older Adults by Tufts University
Most older people don't realize that their sense of smell, taste and thirst decrease as they age and so does their metabolism. This has a profound effect on their health and well being: most adults over sixty-five have chronic illnesses that are made worse by a poor diet, one in five feels depressed causing a loss of appetite and many take medications that either dehydrate them or are not effective because of their diet. In response, the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy has created a food pyramid for adults over 70 years. See the pyramid and learn how to eat smart for an older body.
Visit the Tufts University website.

Talking to Older Drivers about Retiring the Car Keys

If you believe a loved one is driving unsafely due to medical reasons and you and/or their doctor has raised concerns, you'll find a publication, "Talking with Older Drivers: A Guide for Family and friends," from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation extremely helpful. It explains the steps a physician and or family member can take. Click here to access a copy online.

Drug Interactions with Cancer Drugs
This chart developed by CURE Today -- a cancer magazine identifies nine major cancer drugs and provides examples of interactions between them and medications taken for other common age-related diseases. See a copy of the chart by clicking here.

Family Medical Leave Act
In 1993, Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employers with 50 or more employees must allow their workers at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a family member who is seriously ill. The law defines family members as the worker's spouse, parent or child. If you are caring for your in-law or grandparent, the law does not apply. To qualify, you must have worked for the company an average of 24 hours or more per week for at least one year. Your company must give you full health benefits during your leave and you are entitled to get your old job back or another position with equivalent duties, same salary and benefits.

The Department of Labor web site provides you with details on the law and what your rights are under the Family Medical Leave Act.

Getting Through Medicalese
Don't accept "medicalese" from your doctor or nurse as a form of language when they speak to you. Their job is to help interpret medical information for you, not impress or confuse you with fancy terms . So, don't be afraid to ask whoever is giving you information to "please explain this to me in terms that I'll understand." All too often, our parents don't want to act like they don't know what's going on, so they don't ask. Or because of hearing difficulties, they won't pursue the conversation. Many just find it easier to do "whatever the doctor says." Problem is -- they don't know what the doctor just said.

I've created a "cheat sheet" to help you get through doctor's appointments and hospital visits. Since you won't be tested and the nuns aren't looking over your shoulder (yes, I'm a product of parochial schools) then I'm sure we won't get into trouble using it. Feel free to print this and take with you. If you want the equivalent of a textbook on medical terms then pick up the Webster's New World Medical Dictionary or go online to explore terms and their meaning at Both will also offer you explanations of medical tests and procedures.

For a printable copy of the "Medical Terms Cheat Sheet" click here.

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