A Better Option for Senior Drivers

When an older driver reaches the time that he needs to stop doing so, perhaps what would make the process easier is having a good option for getting around. After all, in the U.S., driving a car is a mode of independence, and giving that up is a huge step. But there are options in communities around the U.S. We just need a way to find them.

Katherine Freund has a way. She founded the Independent Transportation Network (ITN), to do just that. The service is currently available in 27 cities, and provides senior riders an affordable transportation option. No money changes hands in the vehicle. Instead, riders use ride credits to pay for their trips. In some cases, the adult children of the seniors are earning the credits for their parent by being a volunteer driver for someone else. Another plus of this service over many other transportation options are that drivers provide senior riders “arm-through-arm service, and door-through-door service, as well as help with packages. And it is not just for medical appointments. Whether it be church, groceries, social activities or other kinds of fun, it’s all part of the service. Here is the link to ITNAmerica.

Graphic courtesy of Designed by Freepik.

Perhaps You’ve Noticed Something About Dad

As you settle into the long Thanksgiving weekend with older family members, it is possible you notice things are different.  Is the house or apartment less tidy?  Perhaps it is not up to their usual standards of cleanliness.  Is their appearance less tidy as well?  Is there a change in behavior or mood?  A change in weight?  Overall, are things looking out of sorts?

These things can be a sign they need more assistance with the everyday tasks of living.  Holidays can be a good time to recognize the changes and start to work toward a plan for getting them the assistance they need.  This week the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers re-posted an article from PRWEB that gives a list of seven signs to look out for.  First published in 2013, the information still applies and can get you thinking, and start a conversation with your loved one to move toward providing them the support they may now need.



Tips for Working with Caregiving Aides

David Troxel, the well-known author of the “Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care,” and an Alzheimer’s caregiver himself, tells a story of how he taught his mother’s caregiving aides how to prepare afternoon tea.

This article first appeared at BrightFocus.org and can be read in its entirety here.

Update to the Medicare “Observation Status” Problem

Several months ago, in September 2013 specifically, I wrote about the issue of being under “observation status” when in the hospital.  A problem occurs when a hospital deems a patient “under observation.”  Such a status means just that.  What it does not mean is that the patient has been admitted to the hospital.  The patient may be in the hospital, on a unit, and in a hospital bed in a regular room, even receiving all the routine procedures of a hospitalization, but if they are “under observation,” it can create a problem, especially when the discharge plan is to go to short term rehab in a skilled nursing facility.  Unless the patient was “admitted,” and was in the hospital for at least three days, the rehab stay currently will not be covered by Medicare.  The person’s only option is to pay privately for the rehab stay, or go directly home, if that is possible.

Now, though, efforts are under way to change that.  Congress is addressing this issue through the “Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act” (HR 1179 and S 569).  If passed and signed into law, the time spent in observation will count toward the three day hospitalization requirement.  Let your representatives know if you support this bill.

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Always a painful and difficult subject to even think about, elder abuse and neglect is all too common, and Sunday, June 15th is designated World Elder Abuse Day to create awareness of this global problem.  Tools are available to help us learn about, identify and find help for this problem.

The Administration for Community Living, within the Department of Health and Human Services this week released the following tools:

  • To learn the signs and risk factors for elder abuse and neglect, download the Red Flags of Abuse Factsheet (PDF).
  • You can help raise awareness in your community!  The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Tool Kit has resources to help you do that – plan events, educate others, empower people to action.
  • To report suspected elder abuse, contact your local adult protective services agency.  Or, for state reporting phone numbers, contact the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.



Love this Guy! D-Day Vet Sneaks Out of Care Home to Get to Normandy

In a move reminiscent of the bravery and determination of D-Day and WWII veterans, a nursing home resident and D-Day veteran quietly left his nursing home this week to get to Normandy and the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  He was not going to miss it, and even his wife was in on the plan.  The nursing home though, was not aware of his plan, and after realizing he was not there, notified the police who looked for him until another veteran called to say he was with them, and everything was fine.  He would be back when the celebrations were over.  How great is that?

See his return home below:


Did You Know? A Few Facts About Being 90+ in the U.S.

A readily observable fact in this 21st century is the growth of our aging population.  Some interesting facts about the 90+ group in the U.S., as reported in “90+ in the United States: 2006-2008” (He and Muencrath, 2011) are:

There are, as of 2010, about 2 million nonagenarians (ages 90 and older) in the U.S.

By the year 2050, there will be 8 million nonagenarians, which will be approximately 10 percent of the 65 and older age group.

For every 100 women in the group, there are just 24 men.

Of men older than 90 years, 43 percent are still married.  Of women older than 90, only six percent remain married.

Long Term Care Policies – Stay on High Alert to Avoid Cancellation

Recently, there was a very relevant article in the New York Times telling the story of a Virginia gentleman with two aging parents, and their joint long term care policies.  Busy lives, overwhelming needs and assumptions eventually led to the cancellation of the policies.  Even after many years and $50,000 in payments, the long term care company refused to reinstate the policies after they became delinquent for eight months.  The son took action by enlisting the Virginia Legislature, which created a bill to require third party and certified notifications of delinquent payments.  Unfortunately, the bill ended in a tie in sub-committee, so for the time being nothing will change.  However, according to the article, more efforts are planned to correct this, and the Virginia Board of Insurance is considering requiring certified mail notifications for Long Term Care policy cancellations.

For the full article, see The Policy Lapsed, but No One Knew.


Weather Wise – Keeping Seniors Safe During Winter’s Extremes

It’s early January and we’ve just been through a spell of extreme winter weather.  During the week of the Polar Vortex, there were 21 cold related deaths reported in the U.S.  Some were related to shoveling snow, and some were homeless people who chose not to come in out of the cold, or tried and did not get inside fast enough.

All this brings up a good time to review the measures we should take in caring for an older adult during the winter months.  Older adults require more awareness on our part to assure they are properly attired and warm, so that they do not develop hypothermia.



What is Hypothermia?

Defined as having a core body temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, hypothermia can occur when the outside environment gets too cold or the body’s heat production decreases. Older adults are especially vulnerable because their bodies’ response to cold can be compromised by medical conditions such as diabetes and by use of some medicines, including over-the-counter cold remedies. Hypothermia can develop in older adults after relatively short exposure to cold weather or even a small drop in temperature.

What are the Signs of Hypothermia?

Be aware of slowed or slurred speech; sleepiness or confusion; shivering or stiffness in the arms and legs; poor control over body movements; slow reactions, or a weak pulse.   

Some Tips to Help Older Adults Avoid Hypothermia

  • Keep the house warm enough. Set the thermostat to at least 68 to 70 degrees. In older adults, even mildly cool homes with temperatures from 60 to 65 degrees can lead to hypothermia.
  • Older adults should wear long underwear under their clothes, along with socks and slippers. When indoors, use a blanket or afghan to keep legs and shoulders warm and wear a hat or cap.
  • When going outside in the cold, it is important for an older adult to wear a hat, scarf, and gloves or mittens to prevent loss of body heat through their head and hands.  Wear several layers of warm loose clothing to help trap warm air between the layers.
  • Check with their doctor to see if any prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking may increase their risk for hypothermia.



Talking with a Senior About Driving – Call in the Supports

At this time of year, with holidays and family gatherings, we often notice things in an elder’s daily life that we may not have noticed before.  Perhaps you are visiting and notice dents or scratches on the car your parent drives.   Or they’ve had a recent medical event and you wonder if the driving  should stop.  There are numerous ways to approach the conversation, and one that I noticed about a year ago on a popular TV show – Blue Bloods, was especially good.  The episode – “Greener Grass” – included a storyline about this subject.  Henry, the patriarch of the family, had some dents and scratches on his car and his son, Frank (played by Tom Selleck), brought it up.  He was obviously uncomfortable as he did this, and it wasn’t long before the conversation erupted into a shouting match.  There was no resolution that day, and after much worrying, Frank brought his daughter into the discussion with Grandpa.  They all sat down again and with Erin’s help this time, were able to get through the discussion.  It was a touching scene, and one that is worth looking up for some ideas about discussing this subject.  The episode is “Greener Grass,” which is from Season 3, Episode 6 of Blue Bloods on CBS.