Posts Categorized: News

Memory Health Aids for Seniors

As we age, exercising the mind is just as important as physical fitness. While forgetfulness can be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s also a common sign of aging. It may not be preventable, though memory aids and memory-boosting activities can help slow the process. Memory games and aids are also a great way to reduce stress and have fun.

Let’s explore fun ways to help older adults retain the best cognitive health and memory possible.

Top 5 Memory Games for Older Adults 

Memory training for older adults is critical. Here are a few memory-boosting activities and fun memory games for older adults. 

1. Chess 

Chess is a game of strategy that can help build logical reasoning and problem-solving skills among older adults. If you have an older adult family member, they may feel that playing chess will be too complicated. However, when they get the hang of it, they’ll see that it’s fairly accessible and can provide benefits like increased IQ and better focus. 

A 2019 study found that playing chess can also help protect older people from dementia due to the complex mental flexibility it requires. Chess is an excellent activity to help older adults reduce cognitive decline by challenging memory, calculation, critical thinking and visual-spatial skills. 

2. Word Puzzles

Word puzzles are an engaging yet challenging activity to strengthen an older adult’s cognition. Research shows that crossword puzzles in particular can improve older adults’ brain health by strengthening focus, executive function and memory. These skills can help older adults navigate everyday challenges and remain independent longer. Another study reports that people who play word puzzles function 10 years younger than their biological ages. 

Get your family member’s brain buzzing with word puzzles. A few examples of these fun memory games include:

  • Word search
  • Crosswords 
  • Finish the saying
  • Boggle
  • Hangman

3. Bird Watching 

Bird watching is an excellent memory-boosting activity for older adults. While our brains work in a use-it-or-lose-it fashion, bird watching can help keep the brain active and sharp. By watching birds and identifying the types, older adults can activate different brain regions and enhance their memory.

This relaxing hobby can also help older adults feel a sense of calm and have greater peace of mind. While birdwatching, they can immerse themselves in the activity and be more present. There are so many beautiful colors and types of birds to learn about and memorize, making a trip to a nearby park an excellent way for older adults to spend their time.

4. Identify Botanicals

Like bird watching, identifying botanicals is a fantastic way for older adults to immerse themselves in nature and improve memory. Many studies point to the advantages of getting outside, including possibly reducing mortality, contributing to better physical well-being and improving emotional health. 

Exposure to natural environments can also improve cognitive flexibility and attentional control. Learning about and identifying plant species makes excellent memory training for older adults. Visiting a park or simply enjoying time in the garden can help stimulate the brain and positively impact mental health. 

5. Trivia Games

Trivia is a fun and engaging way to stimulate older adults’ minds. With an infinite number of online trivia topics, all you need to do is decide on a theme and whether the activity will be solitary or for a group. Creating teams adds competition, and you could even reward winners with a small prize. Answers can be called out or written down depending on the older adults’ abilities. 

A few trivia topic ideas include: 

  • Musicals
  • Movies
  • Current affairs
  • History
  • General knowledge
  • Literature
  • TV shows from the past

Fun Memory Aids for Older Adults

Memory aids can help older adults function better in their daily lives and promote independence. When searching for aids, look for those that fit the skills they already have. For instance, if they’ve never used a reminder function on their phone, you might consider turning to alternatives for medication reminders, such as companion care services.

Here are a few common memory aids that can facilitate senior brain health.

1. Create a Color-Coded Calendar

A color-coded calendar can help older adults stay organized and remember their daily obligations. With color codes, they don’t have to read the tiny text to figure out what their day will look like. They can easily see blocks for specific tasks, like doctor’s appointments or visits with family members, so they don’t forget.

Color coding is also a great way to label other things, like keys. You can purchase colored rubber key caps or rings to do this. For example, they might code the front door key green and the garage door blue to reduce confusion. 

2. Download Reminder Apps

Several reminder apps can help older adults remember essential tasks. For example, a medication reminder app can prompt them to take their pills and which types of medications to take. Other apps can send alerts to family members when prescriptions are getting low or when to get refills. You may need to pay for some of these apps, though many are free.

3. Keep a Journal

Journaling is a great way to reduce stress while tracking feelings and events. Older adults can appreciate having a journal as a reminder of what they did on certain days and how they felt at that time. They might also stick photos in a daily journal or create a scrapbook to document important memories.

Journals can also give them something to show and talk about with others. Collecting mementos to add to the journal as reminders is an excellent way to use them. For instance, they might collect movie tickets, train tickets or a program from an event. 

4. Make Lists

Most memory issues stem from trying to remember several things at once or complex instructions. Creating lists and checking tasks off can remove that mental load from the mind. Older adults can also use lists for daily routines. If they forget part of their morning routine, such as taking medication, they can write a list in the order in which they need to take them. Lists are an excellent memory aid for various tasks, from shopping lists to weekly plans. 

5. Use Locator Devices

Locator devices make excellent memory aids for older adults. They can use them to find frequently lost items like keys or wallets. All they need to do is attach a small electronic tag to the item. If they lose it, they click a button on the locator device to make the tag beep. By keeping the locator device somewhere obvious, many older adults can find them very helpful. 

Get in Touch With Corewood Care for Companion Care Services 

Memory aids and memory-boosting activities are simple ways to improve memory and problem-solving skills. If you find that your older family member requires additional care, companion care services can help.

At Corewood Care, our aging life care experts help your family member age in place from the comfort of their home. Companion care services can help keep your aging family member busy and mentally stimulated. From fun memory games like chess to medication reminders, our caregivers can provide what you need. 

To schedule a free assessment, contact us today. 

How to Handle Dementia in Loved Ones

Coping with dementia in parents or another relative can be challenging. You may feel sad, worried or shocked after hearing the diagnosis and unsure of your next steps. It can be stressful to know how to address the changes or understand what your family member may need. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to cope with these complex emotions. 

How to Cope With a Dementia Diagnosis 

When a family member receives a dementia diagnosis, you may feel a range of emotions all at once. Many people undergo a period of intense grief and feelings of shock, followed by denial and sadness. You may worry about how you will face these significant life changes and feel demoralized or angry about the future. At the same time, the diagnosis may provide a sense of relief by validating your suspicions and allowing you to seek appropriate support. 

The following are a few tips about how to deal with dementia in a parent or someone close to you: 

1. Allow Time to Adjust 

Hearing that a close relative has dementia can cause shock. Be gentle and allow yourself to feel the emotions as they appear rather than deny them. You’ll have an easier time accepting the news and devising a dementia care plan. 

2. Learn

Understanding dementia and its progression can help you cope with changes. You’ll also know what to expect when you learn how dementia impacts a person’s physical and cognitive functions. Remember that knowledge can be powerful. 

3. Prioritize Rest

You may have trouble resting after a day of caregiving. You might also lose sleep worrying about a dementia diagnosis, which can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. Not having someone to relieve you at the end of the day can lead to stress, resentment and even depression.

It’s essential to rest when you can and prioritize time for yourself. Keep the day structured and predictable and your environment uncluttered. Pacing yourself and giving yourself time to rest will make all the difference for your mental health and allow you to better care for your family member.

4. Make Time for Exercise

A daily walk at the park or around the block can be an effective antidepressant for both of you. It can also help relieve stress and anxiety throughout your relative’s illness. If needed, keep a transport wheelchair to broaden your options for exercise while running errands. You’ll get to spend time together while improving your mental and physical health. 

How to Handle Common Dementia Symptoms and Behaviors 

Remembering things, thinking clearly, communicating and caring for themselves may be a struggle for people with dementia. Dementia can even cause mood swings or changes to a person’s personality or behavior. 

Keep reading to learn some practical strategies for managing behavioral problems and communication difficulties often encountered when caring for someone with dementia: 

Wandering

People with dementia may wander for several reasons, including boredom, medication side effects or confusion. They might also be trying to fulfill a physical need such as a need to use the toilet, eat or exercise. To help with this behavioral symptom of dementia, you might:

  • Schedule time for regular exercise to minimize restlessness.
  • Consider installing locks that require a key.
  • Add child-safe plastic covers to doorknobs.
  • Install a home security or monitoring system to watch over your family member.
  • Have your relative wear an ID bracelet or sew ID labels to their clothing. 
  • Tell neighbors about your relative’s wandering behavior and ensure they have your phone number.

Agitation 

As the disease progresses, it’s common for people with dementia to experience rapidly changing moods and angry outbursts. In fact, behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) affect up to 97% of patients with dementia who live in a community setting.

Agitation can be triggered by various things, from environmental factors to fear and fatigue. At this time, it can be highly beneficial to give each other space and take time for privacy. In heated moments or times of stress, leaving the room for a few minutes can provide peace and allow both parties to calm down. 

Speak in a reassuring voice, and don’t attempt to restrain a person when they are agitated. Support their independence and allow them to care for themselves as much as possible. You might also try distracting them during stressful moments with a snack or activity. 

Repetitive Speech or Actions 

People with dementia often repeat certain words, questions or activities. While this behavior is usually harmless for the person with dementia, it can be stressful to caregivers. Repetitive speech or actions are often triggered by boredom, fear, anxiety or environmental factors. 

Similar to handling agitation, provide plenty of comfort and reassurance. Try to ignore the behavior and instead play soothing music or distract them with an activity. 

Communication

Communication issues typically occur in people with dementia, though you can learn ways to improve them. Working on your communication skills can make caregiving easier and enhance the quality of your relationship with your family member. It can also help you handle any problematic behavior that may occur. Tips for handling communication issues with ease include:

  • Setting a mood for the interaction with positive body language, facial expressions, physical touch and tone of voice.
  • Limiting noise distractions before speaking and maintaining eye contact.
  • Stating your message clearly with simple words and sentences.
  • Asking simple, answerable questions one at a time.
  • Maintaining a positive, reassuring tone. 
  • Being patient in waiting for replies and suggesting words if they struggle for an answer.
  • Changing the subject if they become agitated.
  • Responding with affection.

How to Help With Dementia 

Keep reading for some at-home dementia caregiver tips: 

1. Support Their Independence 

As mentioned, agitation in people with dementia can be triggered by a lack of control, and your family member may feel as if they don’t need help. While many activities likely require your assistance, try to support their independence as much as possible. Give them space to handle their emotions and daily tasks on their own. For example, laying out articles of clothing one a time can facilitate dressing and preparing finger foods can help them eat on their own with less difficulty.

2. Set up Routines and Expectations

Many people with dementia may believe they don’t need help, causing a power struggle over daily tasks. By clearly defining your roles and routines, you can avoid conflicts and help you both feel more settled. Delegate tasks for cleaning and eating to create a peaceful environment when caring for someone with dementia.

 Following a routine can also help you cope with the changes after a diagnosis and ensure a smoother transition into caregiving. 

3. Seek Counseling Services 

When caregivers and people with dementia seek treatment for their depression, they gain better access to care, services and support. It’s essential that you open up about your experiences rather than bottling up your emotions. Having someone to talk to regularly who can provide support, education and coaching through the stages of progression can significantly benefit your and your family member’s mental health. 

4. Hire a Professional Caregiver

It can be challenging to juggle your family and home life, job responsibilities and caregiving. It’s okay to hire a professional caregiver when you’re overwhelmed or don’t have anyone to relieve you of your duties. Professionals can provide enrichment, assistance with daily tasks and companionship for your family member when you need some physical and emotional space. 

When You Need Some Extra Support, Corewood Care Is Ready to Help

Coping with dementia in parents or close relatives can be challenging, especially when you are their sole caregiver. It’s important to know that you are never alone, and it’s perfectly fine to reach out for help when you need it. 

Corewood Care has some of the best caregivers in the industry who are available to deliver in-home dementia care. Being in a familiar setting and maintaining their routine can make all the difference in your family member’s well-being. We also provide supervision and patient wellness monitoring to look after and record their physical, mental and emotional health. 

To schedule a free assessment, contact us today.

What to Do When You Can No Longer Care for Elderly Parents  

What to Do When You Can No Longer Care for Elderly Parents  

Watching parents grow up (OLD) can spark a sudden awakening for many children. Their needs begin to take precedence as activities of daily living (ADLs) become more challenging to complete. Whether you are contemplating caring for your parents or have already spent time providing for their needs, saying “no” to future caregiving might feel challenging. 

It can be challenging to admit when you can not take care of your parents anymore. You might have a family of your own or a job that takes time and dreams to accomplish. No matter the reason, you can still help decide what to do with your elderly parents to ensure their health and happiness are taken care of by a professional. 

Be Honest With Yourself

Saying “no” to caregiving does not have to spark guilt. Your love for your parents does not weaken after discovering you do not want to be a caregiver anymore. All feelings are valid, considering how much time and patience goes into this dedicated role. What you can do for your parents next is provide them with numerous options to benefit their living conditions for the future. 

You are not alone when you can no longer care for elderly parents. Many children of older adults make this decision for various reasons. Almost half of all children who act as parents’ caregivers feel stressed regularly when carrying out this role. An astonishing 40%-70% of caregivers reported having symptoms of depression when providing caregiving services for their parents. However, most remain in this position due to guilt. Break free from this feeling and embrace a brighter future for yourself and your parents. 

You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone

Although you exceed expectations of caring for your parents regularly, it is essential to remember you do not need to work alone. Other family members or close friends can provide emotional and physical care for them in the same manner. It is up to you to take the first step and reach out to trusted relatives or friends to offer help. 

Receiving help is vital to avoid caregiver burnout. Preventing this feeling is essential for maintaining good mental health and strong relationships with family members. Before reaching out to siblings or other trusted individuals, consider the aspects of caregiving in which you excel. 

Those skilled in scheduling doctor’s appointments, managing medications or providing transportation can maintain these tasks or split them with someone trustworthy. Being honest about struggles when providing care lets you pass on responsibilities to your family members. 

It is essential to review each parent’s needs with all helpers so they can better understand caregiver expectations. Whether seeking help from family members or staff from a trusted home care service, offer your knowledge of your parents’ needs so others can continue prioritizing their daily routine. 

Assess Their Needs

You undoubtedly know your parents better than anyone. Their needs have likely become second nature while providing regular caregiving services. When elderly parents are unable to care for themselves as effectively as before, it may be easier to notice activities they find challenging. 

When considering a transition from a caregiver to a supporter from the sidelines, offer observations to a team of professionals who can assist with these challenging tasks. The more you note now, the sooner your parents can receive quality care in daily activities that increase their quality of life. 

Discuss what kind of daily care they would like to receive. It is essential to keep parents involved with the transition process from one caregiver to another. Take this opportunity to review their preferences in care services and the ADLs they would like help completing. Staying on the same page ensures a positive future for both parties. 

Explore Their Options Moving Forward

When at-home care presents challenges for you and your parents’ everyday needs, consider what the next step is to benefit their health. Some children find that it is time to say goodbye to their parents’ current residence due to too many flights of stairs, the location being too far for a daily drive or they are unhappy living in their home. In this case, moving them into a retirement home might be an option to consider. 

In some cases, older adults highly value the feelings of familiarity and comfort they receive from being in their homes. If you notice these emotions in your parents, home health services or care might benefit them the most compared to other care options. 

At-home care services typically include:

  • Companionship from providers. 
  • Assistance with completing ADLs such as getting dressed, cooking, going to the bathroom and bathing. 
  • Alzheimer’s care for those living with dementia. 
  • Daily scheduled activities to keep older adults active and aware. 
  • Transportation access to doctor’s appointments or around the area if needed.

With this care option, your parents can thrive under the supervision and companionship of a trusted staff member who provides opportunities to make each day exciting. Research how 24/7 in-home care can benefit your parents if they require more medical assistance. Skilled nursing and meal preparation can make older adults with preexisting health conditions or limited mobility more comfortable. 

Seeking Outside Support

If you are concerned about your parent’s actions and behaviors accompanying aging, you can benefit from reaching out to a professional in gerontology. This profession studies the physical, mental and social changes in older adults. Professionals work in various fields such as psychology, healthcare and social work to assess the needs of older individuals. If you are curious about the next best step for your parents as they transition to a new caregiver, a gerontologist can provide several beneficial options for various health conditions. 

Corewood Care's Home Care Management

Corewood Care’s Home Care Management

If your parents could benefit from home care services, Corewood Care can provide the necessary resources to take the next step. We understand the importance of providing comfortable and positive environments for your parents to thrive in as they receive assistance with daily routines. Our friendly staff prides themselves on quality at-home services to keep parents active through companionship and the appropriate help needed to let them maintain independence. 

We also value the caregiving services you provided for your parents. Our top priority is to make the transition from a child caregiver to a team of professionals as easy as possible for all parties. Through our free home care assessment, we can take the time to get to know you and your parents to determine the best care service for their health and happiness. 

Contact us today to schedule a free home care assessment. 

Top Exercises for Older Adults

Physical activity is essential for healthy aging. As we grow, our bodies change and our need for exercise increases. Researchers continually emphasize the importance of regular exercise for older adults, and why many should opt for an active lifestyle rather than a sedentary one. 

By strengthening the body, older adults can prevent or delay age-related diseases and live a longer, healthier life. Keep reading to learn the benefits of exercise, ways to improve strength for older adults and the top activities to increase strength, flexibility and stamina.

The Benefits of Exercise in Older Adults

There are so many health benefits of exercise, especially for older adults. Exercise can improve the body, mind and emotional well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all older adults can appreciate these benefits, even those with conditions like heart disease, obesity, arthritis and high blood pressure. 

Some of the benefits associated with exercise in later life include: 

  • More independence: Regular exercise can help older adults maintain their independence. Research shows that older adults who exercise are less likely to depend on others for help with tasks like bathing, walking, cooking, eating or using the restroom. 
  • Better balance: Older adults are often hospitalized for fall-related injuries. By exercising regularly, older adults are 23% less likely to experience falls, preventing emergency room visits and serious injuries. 
  • Disease delay and prevention: Age-related diseases like heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis can shorten one’s life and decrease their quality of living. Fortunately, adopting an active lifestyle can prevent these diseases for those at risk or alleviate symptoms for people already living with them. 
  • Improved brain function: Research shows that physical and mental health are closely related and exercise can improve cognitive function in older adults. Just simple exercises can sharpen the mind to ward off age-related cognitive diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s and depression. 

Best Exercises for Older Adults

The CDC notes those aged 65 and older need at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week, two days of strength exercises and three days of balance training to reap the physical and mental health benefits. 

Try these strength, aerobics and flexibility exercises to achieve the many health benefits:   

Aerobics

Aerobic exercises can improve lung health and prevent heart disease. Moderate-intensity aerobic workouts for older adults include: 

  • Walking: Walking is an excellent form of cardio for older adults. Modify this activity to match the pace, distance or time that feels right to you. 
  • Cycling: Whether using an outdoor bicycle or a stationary bike, cycling can increase blood flow, benefit the heart and lungs and help relieve joint or muscle pain
  • Dancing: Moving the body through continuous dance is a fun and enjoyable form of cardio. Zumba, tango or line dancing are all exciting activities to try alone or with friends. These dances can improve a person’s balance and strengthen several muscle groups simultaneously.

Strength Exercises

Strength training can help improve bone density and prevent osteoporosis in old age. It can also strengthen muscles and help older adults move around without the help of others.

Try these simple strength exercises for older adults:  

  • Bridge: One of the best core workouts for elderly adults is a bridge. To do a bridge, lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Raise your hips and hold the position for three seconds. Repeat this 10 times. 
  • Sit to stand: Start by sitting in a chair. When you’re ready, stand up and then sit back down repeatedly. Repeat this exercise 10 times daily to help prevent the need for assistance in the future, such as sitting on a low couch or the toilet.
  • Side planks: This exercise can strengthen the shoulders and improve core stability. To practice it, individuals should lay on their side, propped by their elbow directly under the shoulder. Next, they should lift their hips off the floor so their body forms a straight line and hold the position as long as possible before repeating it on the other side. 

Flexibility

Flexibility is essential for mobility and stretching the body to reach its full range of motion. Flexibility exercises can decrease our energy costs while standing and walking as we age.

Try the following exercises to improve flexibility: 

  • Knee extension stretch: This exercise can help straighten knees while walking to prevent a crouched gait. Start by sitting and placing your heel on a low stool in front of you. Gently lean forward until you feel resistance in the back of your knee. Hold this pose for one to three minutes, and then repeat on the other side.
  • Yoga: Several yoga poses can improve flexibility and promote balance, such as the downward dog position. To achieve this position, start on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes under, lift your hips and back away from the floor until your body forms a triangle. Stay in this position for five to eight breaths and lower back down. Repeat two more times for the best results. 

Workout Tips for Older Adults

As you now know, physical activity presents several short and long-term health benefits. Older adults should make exercise a priority to keep themselves motivated.

A few tips to increase physical activity include: 

  1. Exercise with friends: Make exercise a social activity to stay motivated. For instance, elderly adults might try dance classes or going on a walk with a friend during lunch. 
  2. Make exercise fun and enjoyable: Older adults should try various exercises to keep their interest alive. Some fun exercise games for elderly adults include croquet, chair soccer, dance and cornhole. 
  3. Take it slow: Workouts don’t need to be strenuous for individuals to achieve health benefits. Try breaking up exercises into 15-minute intervals twice a day. For instance, older adults might try two 15-minute walks a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. 
  4. Find ways to fit exercise into the day: Combine physical activity with a task that’s already part of the person’s day, such as walking the dog, taking the stairs at work or doing household chores. 
  5. Keep track of progress: One of the best ways to stay motivated is to measure a person’s exercise progress and celebrate successes. Use a journal to track daily physical activity, find ways to increase it and monitor improvements over time. 

Improve Your Health and Wellbeing With Corewood Care 

Exercise can improve cognitive function and prevent illnesses for older adults. Older adults can gain independence, increase their energy and improve brain function with physical activities. 

At Corewood Care, our primary goal is to provide exceptional, high-quality care for elderly patients. Our caregivers can help you follow a regular exercise plan and encourage and motivate you to work out. They can provide excellent recommendations for personal trainers, physical therapists and the like who will coordinate these care management services for you. These services are designed to help clients navigate life’s challenges and live a more comfortable, graceful life. 

To learn more about our care management services, we invite you to get in touch with us today. 

Essential End-of-Life Documents

Discussing your end-of-life wishes can be difficult. Death is a taboo subject for many, and it might feel as if you’re burdening family members by bringing up the topic. In actuality, end-of-life planning can soothe your fears about the future and alleviate your family members’ stress. You can clarify what’s important while taking care of your paperwork and preventing the responsibility from being shifted to your family when you die. 

Learn about the crucial end-of-life documents, and follow our planning tips to ensure your wishes are fulfilled and your family is cared for. 

What Are End-of-Life Documents?

End-of-life document preparation is the process of getting your medical, legal, personal and financial affairs in order for when you pass away. While different for everyone, these documents will typically include decisions on your property, healthcare and finances. By gathering the necessary documents ahead of time, you can relieve your family members of this massive administrative undertaking when you pass. Some examples of these necessary documents or information needed are listed below. 

Medical documents for end-of-life planning may include:

  • List of current physicians and medical specialists
  • Current list of medications you are taking
  • Previous and current medical diagnoses and conditions
  • Previous surgeries 
  • Primary and secondary Medical insurance information
  • MOLST Form (Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment)
  • Hospital preference

Personal information for end-of-life paperwork might include:

  • Full legal name
  • Social Security number
  • Date and place of birth
  • Legal residence
  • Names and addresses of spouse and children
  • Employers and dates of employment
  • Education records
  • Military records
  • Contact information for your close friends, doctors, relatives, lawyers and financial advisors

Legal records for end-of-life planning may include:

  • Revocable or Irrevocable Trust(s)
  • Living Will
  • Power of Attorney (Financial or Health)
  • Advanced Directives
  • Contracts 
  • Location of your home’s original deed of trust
  • Location of your living will and other legal paperwork with legal signature
  • Location of your birth, adoption, marriage, citizenship or divorce certificates, as applicable

Financial records are equally essential to include in your end-of-life planning. These documents might consist of: 

  • Sources of income
  • Bank numbers from your checking, savings or credit union accounts and bank names
  • Login details for online accounts
  • Credit and debit card names and numbers
  • Assets such as a pension, IRA(s), 401(k)s or interest
  • Investment income from stocks, bonds and property
  • Financial fiduciary names and contact information (Financial accountant, broker, investment advisor)
  • Mortgages and debts, as well as how and when they’re paid
  • Life, health, long-term care, home or car insurance information with policy numbers, agents’ names and phone numbers
  • Copy of most recent income tax return
  • Car title and registration
  • Location of a safe deposit box and key

No one plans to be terminally ill or disabled. When you take the time to make decisions about your health and finances in advance, you eliminate the stress and need for your family members to do it for you. And if you have a family member nearing the end of their life or struggling with illness, gathering the necessary end-of-life paperwork can lift a lot of stress off their shoulders.

Top 8 Essential End of Life Documents

At the end of our lives, we often cannot express our needs at a time when that information is the most crucial. If you have a terminal illness or simply want to prepare for emergencies, it’s a good idea to create legal documents with your doctors or lawyer and discuss these wishes with family members. By completing this task as early as possible, you can ensure your wishes are followed and your family is taken care of when you pass away. Learn about the essential documents you might consider while creating an end-of-life plan:

1. Living Will

One of the most well-known documents for end-of-life planning is a living will. People who face terminal illness often create a living will or health care directive to communicate their wishes regarding their end-of-life care if they cannot communicate on their own. A living will can provide your preferences for prolonging your life if you cannot speak without the help of a medical team. These preferences might concern medical treatments such as:

  • Medication
  • Pain management
  • Tube feeding
  • Resuscitation
  • Dialysis
  • Organ and tissue donation

There are other separate legal documents to communicate your preferences, such as a do not resuscitate (DNR) order that specifies that you don’t want life-sustaining treatment after cardiac or respiratory arrest. But whether you have the additional documentation, it’s always best to make your wishes known in a living will.

2. Last Will and Testament

A recent study showed just 46% of adults have a last will and testament. Yet, if you own any assets or have family members depending on you, creating a last will can take away the burden of planning and ensure your family is cared for. A last will and testament shouldn’t be confused with a living will, which outlines your wishes while you’re alive but in a terminal state.

A last will and testament documents your wishes for what happens after you die, such as funeral preferences, instructions for any outstanding debts and disbursement of your assets. This includes the physical assets — your house, car or possessions — and your financial assets from your bank and investment accounts. You might also name a guardian for your minor children and the person who will care for your pets.

Having a will streamlines probate — the legal and court-driven process of distributing assets — by ensuring your property goes to the correct people. Beneficiaries are the people or organizations you name to receive your property. You can also name an executor, who is the person who distributes your estate to your heirs and carries out the instructions in your will after you die.

3. Living Trust

Like a will, a living trust helps you manage and distribute your financial assets after you pass away. However, unlike a will, a living trust owns your assets as a legal entity. You can outline how your assets should be distributed in a living trust. You can also place valuable assets into a living trust, such as real estate, vehicles or bank accounts. When you die, your assets will distribute as outlined in your trust without probate.

Living trusts require more management than wills since you’ll need to transfer new property to them as you acquire it, though they can come with many advantages. For instance, since a trust doesn’t require probate, your family will save time and keep their privacy when you opt for one.

When you set up a living trust, it’s best to name a successor to manage your assets if you become disabled or pass away. You can also choose beneficiaries to receive the trust property after you die, and the living trust will streamline the process of transferring your assets.

4. Financial Power of Attorney

When you set up a financial power of attorney (POA), you make it possible for a person of your choosing to act on your behalf legally and handle your financial affairs. The person you choose to have POA is referred to as an agent, attorney-in-fact or proxy. A financial POA is a highly customizable document you can use to designate agents to help with specific tasks, such as selling property, or to take over all financial responsibilities should you become disabled or incapacitated.

When completing a financial POA, you should be aware of the different levels of power that you can give to your agent. These different levels include:

  • General power of attorney: This document lets your agent pay bills, sign legal documents and act on your behalf. However, these powers end when you can no longer make decisions or pass away.
  • Durable power of attorney: A durable power of attorney allows the agent to make financial decisions on your behalf if you’re in a coma or cannot communicate due to incapacitation.

5. Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is a personal way of expressing your end-of-life decisions to your beneficiaries. Aside from listing the reasoning behind the instructions outlined in your will, it can also include:

  • The location of your legal and financial documents
  • Usernames and passwords for online accounts
  • Care instructions for pets
  • Funeral arrangement preferences

While it’s not legal paperwork, a letter of intent can clear any confusion and aid family members through the estate process.

6. Life Insurance

Taking out a life insurance policy might be worth considering as part of your end-of-life plan. Life insurance can help protect those who rely on you financially and provide a substantial payout when you pass away. The payout might cover your family’s day-to-day or long-term expenses, depending on the amount of coverage you choose. Some people also use life insurance to pay for funeral expenses or probate costs. This way, your family members won’t have to worry about planning while in the grieving process.

To determine the coverage you need, consider your age and household expenses. You can purchase a life insurance policy by researching providers online and sitting down with an agent to determine your needs and options.

7. Pet Trust 

If you have pets, you’ll want to ensure they’re cared for after your passing. While you can choose a caregiver in your will and set aside money for your pet’s care, a pet trust takes this a step further by ensuring your pets are cared for exactly how you prefer after you die. With a pet trust, you fund your trust with assets to pay for your pet’s care and leave instructions for using the funds, such as for your pet’s medical treatments or favorite toys. A pet trust might also be ideal if you:

  • Have a pet with a long life span, such as a tortoise or parrot
  • Have a pet with special needs or a disability that requires costly medical attention
  • Wish to offset the costs of your pet’s regular care after your die

8. Organ Donor Card

If you wish to give back to someone in need after you die, you might consider applying for an organ donor card. It can be tough to think about what happens to your body after you die, let alone donating organs. However, choosing to be an organ donor is a compassionate and meaningful decision. Being an organ donor might also help your family and friends cope with your loss, knowing that you helped to save lives. 

single donor can save eight lives and improve the lives of 75 others by providing organs and tissues. Whether you donate your heart, a kidney or connective tissues, you’ll significantly impact someone’s life. You can become an organ donor in the following ways:

  • Register with your state’s donor registry by signing up online.
  • Designate your choice on your driver’s license when obtaining or renewing it.
  • Tell your family so they know your wishes for donation after your passing.

Tips for Getting Your Affairs in Order

As you’re putting your end-of-life paperwork together, ensure a smooth process by following a few steps:

  • Put your end-of-life paperwork in one place: Once you’ve gathered the necessary documents, it can be helpful to set up a file on your computer or place the papers in a desk or dresser drawer. You might also keep copies of the files at home if your documents are in a bank safe deposit box. Check these places each year to determine whether there’s anything new you should add.
  • Tell a trusted friend or family member where to find your paperwork: List your information and the location of your end-of-life planning documents in a notebook so your family members can easily find them in an emergency. Let your executor, power of attorney agent and other essential people know where to go and inform them of any changes. Ask a lawyer for help if you don’t have a friend or relative you can trust.
  • Discuss your end-of-life preferences with your doctor: Talk with your doctor to ensure your healthcare wishes are honored. A doctor can explain the health decisions you might face and available treatment options. You might also permit them to discuss your information with your caregiver.
  • Consider meeting with a lawyer if needed: If you have any questions about your legal documents or need someone you can trust, discuss your end-of-life plan with a lawyer. You might talk to them about setting up a trust, general power of attorney or durable power of attorney. By preparing an outline of your preferences ahead of time, you may save time and money on attorney fees.

Schedule an Assessment With Corewood Care

Planning your end-of-life wishes is vital for you and your family if you’re living with a terminal illness or nearing the end of your life. While it may be uncomfortable to discuss, sharing your end-of-life documents with family members ensures you live your last years peacefully and that your family is protected and provided for.

If you’re looking for help for yourself or someone you care for during a life transition, consult with an attorney to organize your documents and trust Corewood Care for support through the process. Our care providers are specially trained to offer solutions and help clients navigate the changes that come from aging and terminal illness. We provide premier guidance and advocate for your needs throughout the process.

To schedule an assessment, contact us today.

Geriatricians vs. Gerontologists: What’s the Difference?

While the terms gerontology and geriatrics are often used interchangeably, several differences exist between these two fields. Geriatrics is a specialty in medicine involving the study and treatment of illness and diseases within the elderly community, while gerontology is an all-encompassing study of aging.

While they are two different fields, they share the same goal — improving the quality of life for older adults. Learn more similarities and differences between these two elderly care types and the importance of gerontologists in an increasingly aging population.

What Is Gerontology?

Gerontology is the study of old age, the process of aging and the impacts of aging on the population. The multidisciplinary research is ell-encompassing and covers various aspects of aging, from physical and mental changes to the social changes associated with growing old. 

Researchers and practitioners in the field of gerontology are often well-versed in several areas, such as:

  • Sociology and social sciences
  • Physiology
  • Public health and policy
  • Psychology

Further, gerontology looks into the processes of bodily changes associated with aging and the societal changes of an aging population. Gerontologists can apply their knowledge to various programs and public policies from these perspectives. Gerontologists perform a supportive function in educating other about aging while researching and understanding aging. 

Sub-disciplines of gerontology include:

  • Biogerontology: Biological gerontologists study aging at the cellular and molecular levels. Researchers in biogerontology examine changes in cells and tissues as we age. 
  • Social gerontology: Focuses on the social and societal aspects associated with aging. Researchers in the field will look closely at the relationships between older adults and their families, caregivers and society on a larger scale. They’ll also identify ways aging affects social roles and work to develop programs and public policies to improve the lives of older adults. 
  • Biomedical gerontology: Biomedical gerontologists study the origins of aging and age-related diseases. Researchers will also investigate ways to intervene in the aging process and how to slow, prevent and reverse it. 
  • Environmental gerontology: Environmental gerontology is the study of how older adults interact with their physical and social environments. Researchers will seek to identify the external factors that allow healthy aging. They might also work to optimize the relationship between older adults and their environments by making their surroundings more age-friendly.  
  • Jurisprudential gerontology: Jurisprudential gerontology combines law and gerontological concepts. Researchers identify how law plays a part in aging by examining the interactions between society, law, aging and public policies.

What Is Geriatrics?

Geriatrics is a medical specialty focusing on the care of elderly people. As we age, our cells, tissues and organs change and put us at risk of chronic disease. Common diseases and conditions that can occur as a result of age include:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Hypertension
  • Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Stroke
  • Osteoporosis
  • Dementia

Older adults might also experience high blood pressure, diabetes or arthritis, which are conditions that can affect daily tasks. For this reason, geriatricians provide care to address the individual needs of elderly patients. 

What Is a Geriatrician?

A geriatrician is a medical doctor or clinician focused on diagnosing, treating and preventing age-related conditions and diseases. Geriatricians will also tailor care to the unique needs of elderly patients and provide services such as:  

  • Helping patients manage chronic illnesses.
  • Addressing mobility issues and frailty.
  • Offering guidance on medications.
  • Providing support for caregivers and families of elderly patients.
  • Offering hospice care for people with terminal illnesses.

Geriatricians will usually practice in hospitals, outpatient clinics or skilled nursing facilities. They’re often internal medicine doctors who work with other healthcare providers to develop care plans for elderly patients with various health problems. 

Geriatrics vs. Gerontology 

While geriatrics and gerontology are similar when it comes to the population they work with, they have a few key differences. 

Gerontology examines various physical, mental and social changes that occur due to aging. They might work, plan, research and even educate people on the topic while studying all aspects of aging. 

In contrast, geriatricians specialize in elderly care and are often medical doctors. They focus on preventing, diagnosing and treating age-related diseases and conditions. Geriatricians coordinate overall care with other physicians and guide the patient in making treatment choices.

The training that goes into becoming a geriatric doctor 33

v651+5s. a gerontologist is also different. To become a geriatrician, you must complete medical school and a residency in geriatrics. On the other hand, gerontologists don’t face one single path — professionals usually have various backgrounds, from sociology and psychology to anthropology, biology or medicine.

While both fields involve aging and the overlap between the sub-disciplines, they take different approaches to studying the process. Geriatrics focuses on the individual, while gerontology takes a broader approach. Geriatricians seek to understand the aging process to treat diseases and conditions. In contrast, gerontology takes a multidisciplinary approach to understand aging through social, biological and psychological perspectives. 

The Importance of Gerontologists 

The rise of the elderly population only increases the importance of gerontologists today. In 1960, just 9% of the population was made up of those over 65 years old. By 2020, it was at 17% and the elderly population is expected to climb to 22% by 2050. The importance of gerontologists is felt on a social, physical, economic and psychological level: 

  • Medical advancements: By studying the physical aspects of aging, gerontologists have broadened the research in this field and provided powerful insights into the interactions between age and disease. As a result, we can develop preventive measures and rehabilitative treatments to help older adults live a better quality of life. 
  • Positive social shifts: Gerontology has helped drive public policy and put gerontological concepts in the public eye. For these reasons, debates about government funding for social security and Medicare are increasingly highlighted in the mainstream. Further, through the work of gerontologists, the variety of senior living care and communities have significantly grown to help elderly people live comfortable and fulfilling lives.
  • Psychological insights: Gerontologists provide essential insight into age-related mental health conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Therefore, researchers are learning new ways to prevent and treat older patients suffering from various mental issues. 

Learn More About Gerontology Services at Corewood Care

Gerontologists and geriatricians provide crucial care for aging and elderly people. By studying the aging process, healthcare providers can determine helpful methods of treating age-related diseases and conditions. They might also discover ways to prevent common illnesses that occur due to the aging process. 

We’ve seen vast improvements in treating and caring for an increasingly aging population through these critical fields of work. When you have a family member who requires gerontology-based services, trust Corewood Care. We specialize in care management and home care for seniors and provide around-the-clock assistance and rehabilitation for acute medical illnesses. 

We look forward to helping your loved one maintain a healthy and happy quality of life. To learn more or schedule a free assessment, get in touch with us today. 

Skilled Nursing vs. Long-Term Care

Skilled nursing vs long-term care

As people grow older, they often require more help, sometimes at home or at specialized care facilities. It can be an emotional experience for individuals and family members when that time comes. To make that time even more challenging, the terms used for types of senior care can be confusing.

What is skilled nursing care? What is long-term care? Who needs these types of care, and how do you decide what is right for your family? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you navigate senior care management and find the best care plan, simplifying the process.

What Is Skilled Nursing Care?

Skilled nursing care is daily care provided by registered nurses. This type of care is administered under a doctor’s orders and supervision. In many cases, skilled nursing care is given in a skilled nursing facility. This type of care is administered with the goal of eventually sending the patient home again.

What Qualifies a Patient for Skilled Nursing Care?

Patients who undergo surgery or have a medical condition that requires care during the recovery period may need skilled nursing care. For example, a patient who has undergone surgery and needs wound care may be a candidate for skilled nursing care. A patient who has had a stroke and needs physical therapy and speech therapy to help them to recover would need skilled nursing care, as well.

Examples of Skilled Nursing Services

Some of the common types of skilled nursing are: 

  • Physical therapy: Following a fall or surgery, older adults may need physical therapy to regain mobility. Skilled nursing care facilities can provide trained physical therapists to help patients recover their physical strength. The ultimate goal of physical therapy will be to help individuals recover and go home. 
  • Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy helps people adapt to the changes they may experience following an illness or injury. For example, an occupational therapist may help a patient learn how to feed or dress through a series of coordination exercises. This type of therapy is meant to help people be as active as possible when they return home after undergoing skilled nursing care.
  • Speech therapy: Older adults may experience speech challenges following a medical event like a stroke. A speech therapist at a skilled nursing facility can help assess communication challenges and work with the individual to rebuild their language skills. A speech therapist can help their patients through exercises targeted at strengthening the muscles involved in speech.
  • Nutrition therapy: Skilled nursing can help address nutritional needs related to specific conditions, such as stroke or congestive heart failure. Nutrition therapy can address healthy eating and strategies for receiving proper nutrition when a patient has difficulty swallowing.
  • Stroke recovery: A stroke can have a significant impact on an individual’s mobility and speech. Skilled nursing is available specifically to help people recover from strokes and adapt to their environments. Post-stroke care can involve a multitude of therapies commonly offered in skilled nursing settings, including speech therapy and occupational therapy. 
  • Cardiac rehab: Following a heart attack, older adults may need to undergo cardiac rehabilitation. This kind of skilled nursing care can involve a variety of approaches to improving cardiovascular health. Exercise is an important part of cardiac rehab. Patients will also receive education on how to adopt behaviors to maintain heart health and manage stress.
  • Pulmonary rehab: Adults with chronic lung conditions, such as pulmonary fibrosis, may experience periods of hospitalization. Doctors may recommend patients with lung conditions undergo a pulmonary rehabilitation program through a skilled nursing facility. This type of rehab will focus on managing chronic lung conditions and improving activity levels.

What Is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care is for people who need assistance with daily activities on an ongoing basis. While this type of service is provided by trained professionals, it doesn’t require the same level of medical expertise as skilled nursing care. Long-term care can be provided in dedicated facilities or at home, depending on the individual’s unique needs.

Examples of Long-Term Care

A few examples of long-term care include the following:

  • Home care: When older adults need help with daily tasks, such as bathing and preparing meals, home care can be the answer. Someone from a dedicated home care team will come to the person’s home to help them with nonmedical tasks. This type of care helps adults to live with dignity while giving them the support they need. This term is often used interchangeably with home health care, but this type of care involves medical support, such as medication administration, in the home.
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia care: When a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, caring for them at home alone can become difficult. As the individual experiences memory loss and communication, their need for outside care grows. Caregivers trained to work with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients can come to the home to assist with their daily care.
  • Companion care: Not all long-term care is about providing activity and housekeeping support. Some people may find value in emotional support, as well. Companion care is ideal for older adults who feel lonely at home. Someone from a trusted companion care team will come to socialize and help out with small tasks, like running errands.
  • Transition care: After a stay in the hospital, older adults might need help transitioning back to life at home. Once at home again, patients may be vulnerable to infection or falls. Transition care can help them reduce these risks and keep them at home instead of back in the hospital. 

How Corewood Care Can Help

Everyone we work with has unique needs, and our team works with compassion to provide that essential care. We offer a broad selection of care services at Corewood Care, such as home care services, 24/7 in-home care, companion services, care management, Alzheimer’s care services and more. We aim to manage care needs to enable people to live their lives comfortably and gracefully.

If you are interested in learning more about our long-term care services, schedule a free home care assessment

What Is Skilled Nursing Care?

What is skilled nursing care?

When most people think of the term “skilled nursing,” they usually have conflicting ideas of what it entails. When considering options for care, skilled care may be recommended and not all providers or communities are able to offer this level of care. 

Skilled nursing services involve a high level of medical care that is provided by or under the supervision of a licensed health professional, such as registered nurses, occupational, physical and speech therapists. Usually, this type of care is offered in skilled nursing facilities, rehabs, or long term care facilities with at least one physician that oversees patients’ care.

Skilled nursing facilities must meet specific criteria while being periodically inspected for high-quality standards.

Skilled nursing staff consists of

What Are Examples of Skilled Nursing Care?

If your family member has had surgery or extensive treatment for health conditions, they might require skilled nursing care following their release from the hospital. For instance, if your older family member has had a stroke or has a disability, they’ll typically require extended rehabilitation services that only certified nurses can provide.

The care provided in a skilled nursing facility is more complex and intense in nature and the patients need a this care on a frequent or consistent basis due to a chronic medical condition.

Examples of skilled nursing care include:  

  • Physical therapy: After an illness, surgery or specific injuries, physical therapy is prescribed to patients to restore function and mobility, and minimize pain. Physical therapists will use manual therapy methods such as exercise, massage and stretching, to improve the alignment and flexibility of bones and soft tissues.
  • Occupational therapy: This is a form of therapy is performed by a licensed occupational therapist, with a focus on helping the patient become more independent in performing their activities of daily living after an illness or injury. While physical therapy focuses on the functioning of the body, occupational therapy focuses on the actual activity you need or want to perform every day. 
  • Speech therapy: Performed by speech and language pathologists, speech therapy focuses on improving a patient’s language, communication, swallowing and fluence after an illness or injury. Speech therapists provide treatment for patients with aphasia, cognitive-linguistic impairments, dysphasia and other swallowing disorders. 

Skilled nursing staff consists of:

  • Medical Doctors
  • Registered nurses
  • Licensed practical nurses
  • Speech and language pathologists
  • Physical therapists
  • Audiologists
  • Social workers
  • Nursing assistants
  • Nutritionists

What Qualifies a Patient for Skilled Nursing Care?

To qualify for skilled nursing care, a physician will need to determine that you require daily skilled care provided by a skilled healthcare professional. 

Overall, skilled services are necessary at a higher frequency in high-intensive settings, meaning treatment at home or intermediate care facilities isn’t applicable. These services also involve a personalized plan and goal-setting to improve your family member’s functionality or medical condition in a set timeframe.

Your family member should exhibit health conditions that require services that meet the following criteria:

  • Services needed at a high frequency or intensity: Typically, your family member will need around-the-clock care for health issues that can only be cared for in skilled medical facilities such as a disability, severe injury and post-surgery care.
  • Services need to be monitored weekly: Your family member will require skilled nursing for daily specialty treatment that will need to be evaluated weekly for improvement.

For an extended stay in a skilled nursing facility, your family member must display a measurable and significant improvement from therapy that healthcare workers will evaluate weekly. Examples of professional nursing services that meet the requirement are tube-feeding, IV injections, colostomy care and urinary catheter care.

What Is the Difference Between Home Health and Skilled Nursing?

Skilled nursing can be provided in a facility or in a the home by a Medicare approved home health care agency. While both services offer highly skilled care, some skilled nursing care is better managed in a facility versus a home based setting. Additional differences include insurance coverage, frequency of the services and the ability of the professional providing the care.

1. Patients 

Patients who require skilled nursing will usually need close monitoring and extensive care. This can be provided in a nursing facility or at home with home health care. However, some patients require nursing staff to be present at all times, around the clock and this is not provided by home health care. Additionally, some home health care agencies are not able to provide the frequency that a nursing facility can provide. Some patients requiring skilled services will need to be evaluated daily in an intensive skilled nursing facility and may transition into home care when they’re physically able.

2. Services

Skilled nursing typically involves medically-related health services such as administering medication through injection, wound and pain management or rehabilitation equipment for physical therapy. Home health care agencies can provide skilled nursing services, but may not be able to cover or manager certain complex chronic conditions which require frequent monitoring and multiple professionals involved.

3. Care Providers

For skilled nursing, registered nurses are usually assigned to ensure your family member is given the medical care they need at precise times of the day. Professional providers such as different therapists will also be involved in their care. Home health agencies may not have the range of specialists and providers that a facility has and therefore may not be able to provide that provider in to you in your home. 

4. Insurance Coverage

Skilled nursing care is typically covered under Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance. However, this coverage is often limited in duration. Examples of criteria that need to be met include: 

  • Experiencing functional decline: Rehabilitative therapies are intended to treat a recently documented decline in your family member’s functional performance due to illness, injury, disease or surgery.
  • Meets minimum assistance requirements: As an example, according to BlueCross BlueShield policies, skilled rehabilitation services are applicable when your family member requires two examples of assistance — bed mobility, transfers and ambulation or wheelchair use for up to 70 feet.
  • A high enough frequency of care is needed: For most insurers, your family members can receive skilled nursing care when they require rehabilitation for at least one hour a day, five days a week. 
  • Expected to improve: Your family member can receive coverage for skilled nursing services if they’re expected to get better in a reasonable timeframe.

Learn More About Corewood Care

When you have a family member who requires home health services, trust Corewood Care. If you have an aging parent who needs to be transitioned into at-home care, we provide ADL services and guidance throughout the process.

We specialize in elder care and provide around-the-clock services to support your family when you need it the most. Learn more about Corewood Care today.

What Is Respite Care?

With increased life expectancies and more people living with disabilities and chronic conditions today, many family members take on the role of primary caregiver to provide at-home care to family members. While providing care for a loved one or family member is a rewarding experience, it is easy to forget to take care of one’s self when they are a full time caregiver.

Primary caregivers may be family members, neighbors or friends who take over the caregiving responsibilities of another. Often, primary caregivers continue to juggle their own personal and professional responsibilities while caring for another. This in turn can lead to exhaustion, stress, isolation, guilt and ultimately, caregiver burnout. 

Respite care offers primary caregivers short-term or temporary relief from their care responsibilities. This type of care will provide the primary caregiver with some downtime to rest and recharge. Let’s take a look at the benefits of respite care and how this could help you and your family member. 

Respite caregivers can be family members, friends or other healthcare professionals who take over caregiving responsibilities. Caregiving presents its own sets of rewards and challenges. However, when you’re providing care every day for an extended period, you’ll need help carrying the weight. Learn the difference between respite care and home care, the benefits of respite assistance and how you can receive respite care for your family member.

What Do Respite Caregivers Do?

A 2020 study found that one in five Americans act as primary caregivers for family members. With an increasing number of older adults living longer, this number is expected to rise significantly. If you are a primary caregiver, respite care and respite care services temporarily assume your day-to-day caregiving duties and provide you with some rest and relief. Respite care can be provided in your home, adult day centers, assisted living communities or healthcare facility, giving you peace of mind while you take a much-needed break.

While typical home care services offer day-to-day support, on an ongoing basis, respite care/caregivers, provide this care for a temporary period. This may be for a few weeks, a few days or a few hours, it is up to the primary caregiver to decide what would be best for them and the person they are caring for. You can schedule respite caregivers for temporary relief on the days or times you need it the most.

Examples of respite care services include:

  • ADL: Respite caregivers can assist with activities of daily living (ADL) for your family member who needs help eating, bathing or walking.
  • IADL: They can assist with Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) such as light housekeeping, meal preparation, driving to and from appointments during the time that you are away. 
  • Enrichment activities: If you care for a parent with dementia, respite caregivers can partake in stimulating activities, or if you have a disabled child, they can assist with physical therapy routines.
  • Education: Most providers offer instruction and guidance when an older adult is transitioning through cognitive decline stages or when you have questions about specific health issues.
  • Safety: Caregivers can be there in the home to offer you peace of mind that your family member is safe and can be there in case of any emergency.

Depending on the type of respite care you choose, providers and agencies offering respite care services can facilitate the areas you need help with the most, including, post-hospitalization, rehab or skilled nursing services.

Types of Respite Care

Ultimately, respite care will involve someone else providing care to your family member while you care for yourself. If you need someone to stop by while you run errands or hit the gym, for instance, a caregiver can provide respite services at your home. 

In-Home Respite Care

Caregivers, professional or volunteers, can provide home respite care. Maybe you have to travel for business and need someone to stay at home, or you need someone to watch over your older parent at night to prevent them from wandering so you can get a good night’s rest, or you want to get to the gym, see a friend or continue a hobby that takes place a few hours during the day. You can schedule respite caregivers to be there for your loved one when you cannot physically be present at home.

  • Volunteers: You can enlist volunteers from schools, churches or non-profit organizations for respite caregiving services.
  • Home Care Agencies: Home-care agencies can provide temporary at-home services for your family members offering assistance with bathing, medication reminders, dressing as well as meal preparation, shopping and housekeeping duties.
  • Temporary Stay at Assisted Living: Many communities offer temporary stays to older adults while their primary caregiver needs respite. They can enjoy the amenities, social activities and light personal care while you are away.

Out-of-Home Services

Depending on your location, respite caregivers can care for children, adults and seniors at private and non-profit facilities.

  • Adult daycare: These centers are designed for adults who cannot manage independently or are isolated. Daycare centers plan activities to promote well-being by providing companionship and other activities during the week to improve social health.
  • Residential programs: Group homes, assisted living communities and other facilities offer temporary accommodations to older adults.
  • Caregiver retreats and respite camps: Education, peer support and other services are often available at these retreats, depending on your location. They’ll provide rest, relaxation and inspirational activities for rejuvenation before returning to caregiving responsibilities.

Benefits of Respite Care

Respite caregivers can ease the stress associated with taking care of your family member while you care for yourself. Whether it’s for a few days or a few weeks, respite assistance can give you the time to restore your energy and promote balance in your life. Learn about the benefits respite care can provide for you and your family member.

Promotes Relaxation

You’ll need help from time to time to take care of your own health to care for your family members. Respite care can alleviate the issues associated with taking care of others for an extended period, and it’s perfectly normal to enlist help at a time when you need relaxation.

A vacation or weekend away can prevent burnout during a long period of caregiving. When respite care ends, you’ll have the opportunity to return to your family member with a fresh mindset so that your caregiving role is more enjoyable for the both of you. Breaks can provide much-needed rest while restoring you with better focus to tackle any challenges.

Boosts Social Health

It’s essential to avoid isolation by keeping up with your relationships between friends and other family members. Solid relationships are vital for us as humans and promote the social engagement we need for our mental health. Taking a vacation with friends and meeting new people can help your overall mind and body, and you can reclaim your identity as more than a caretaker.

Promotes Healthier Relationships

Spending too much time with the person you care for can be detrimental to the relationship. Following the same schedule, having the same conversations or being cooped up in the same house for extended periods can create boredom or resentment. Respite care can help you take a break in your routine, have fun and establish a healthier relationship with the person you care for when you return.

Provides Assistance and Care

If you don’t have prior professional caregiving experience, respite caregivers can provide education and tips for caring for your family member. When you feel like you need support or the weight of caretaking responsibilities rests solely on your shoulders, respite care can offer you much relief when you aren’t sure what to do in a particular situation.

Severe health conditions might require special care that you don’t have the time or skills to provide. Respite caregivers can help you with bathing, meal prep and other small tasks that might prevent you from taking on your central role effectively.

How Long Can You Stay in Respite Care?

You define the amount of time your family member stays in respite care. Most people typically set a specific number of days, from a few hours to a few weeks. Respite care is generally reserved for short-term help when you need relief or help with taking care of your family member’s needs.

Studies show that primary family caregivers have a significant risk of developing anxiety, depression and overall burnout, with 40% to 70% experiencing depression.

Caregiving can feel like a full-time job when you’re caring for someone with severe health issues. Most family caregivers have no experience or proper guidance while taking care of a family member, and it can be taxing when you have no backup help or the proper breaks you need.

It’s logical to assume that you cannot provide all the assistance your family member needs or be by their side 24 hours, seven days a week. Respite care is necessary when you need a temporary break or if you’d like extra assistance while completing other caregiving or housekeeping tasks.

Many caregivers receive no support while providing intense care and going through health problems themselves. Even if you feel like you can handle all of the duties, you should take a break occasionally to avoid mental or physical strain.

Whether it’s for a day, a weekend or a couple of weeks, respite care can give you the break you need. If you’ve been missing your doctor’s appointments because you’ve had a packed schedule or you haven’t seen friends in a while, do what you need during this time — how much time and how you spend your respite care period is up to you.

Is Respite Care Covered by Medicare?

Respite services generally charge by the hour or number of days and weeks you need it. Often, insurance plans won’t cover these costs, so you’ll need to cover them.

If your family member qualifies for hospice care, Medicare will cover most of the cost of respite care. To qualify, a hospice doctor and a primary care doctor need to certify that your family member has a terminal illness and that they expect your family member to live no more than six months.

If Medicare approves your family member, they will cover the costs of room and board and care in a certified inpatient hospice facility for up to five days. You or your family member may have to pay for 5% of inpatient care costs. You can have one five-day respite period under each billing cycle.

Is Respite Care Covered by Medicaid?

Medicaid is different from Medicare in that it’s a federal program administered by individual states, so the rules for coverage will vary depending on your location. However, Medicaid’s Home & Community-Based Care Services (HCBS) program generally covers respite care.

Additionally, your family member might qualify for in-home care in a facility covered by Medicaid, depending on where you live.

To determine if your state offers respite care benefits, you can visit the HCBS program page and look for your state’s profile. Contact your state’s Medicaid agency to talk with someone who can answer your questions and help you cover respite care costs.

How to Choose a Respite Care Provider

If you’ve decided you need respite care, you’ll want to ensure the person who takes over caregiving responsibilities is reliable, trustworthy and possibly certified, depending on your needs. There are a few ways you can choose a respite care provider. These include:

  • Friends and family: If your care includes light assistance or housekeeping, sometimes asking friends or family members to provide a watchful eye can give you the quick respite care you need.
  • Agency: Connect with a home care agency to find providers who have the skills and tasks you need to meet your family member’s needs. 
  • Individual provider: You can look for a caregiver independently without paying for the fees an agency would require. However, you will need to conduct your own background and licensing checks and there is no nursing supervision or back-up support.

Keep an eye out for specific things to look for in the right respite care provider, including:

  • Licensing: Make sure your potential provider has the necessary up-to-date licensing if your family member requires medical attention and they are insured and vetted.
  • References: Make sure your caregiver prospect has reliable references before employing them for respite services. You’ll want to ask for references from past facilities or families they’ve worked with to get a good idea of how they work.
  • Screening and evaluation: If you’re using an agency to find a provider, ask them how they screen and evaluate their caregivers to ensure you know their process and who you could be potentially working with.
  • Reliability: Find someone who will be prompt and show up when you need them to. Ask questions in your interview process to ensure your potential carer is the right person for the job.

If you’re looking for your provider on your own, you’ll want to screen your prospects through an interview. Potential questions might be:

  • What is your training and level of experience?
  • How do you react in emergencies?
  • What special skills do you have to make you a good fit for this role?
  • If you cannot provide care on a specific day, do you have a backup plan?
  • What services are included in your costs? How is payment arranged?

Learn more about Corewood Care’s Senior Home Care Services

We know how fulfilling it is to take care of those you love. We also understand how easy it is to forget to take care of yourself when you’re faced with the challenges of providing long-term care for someone.

Corewood Care specializes in-home care services specializing in respite care for elderly family members. Trust our dedicated team to support you and provide individual attention to your family members while you care for yourself.

Learn more about how our senior home care services can help you today.

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes

If you have a family member who would benefit from socialization, assistance with day-to-day activities or direct access to nursing care, you might be considering a move and wondering about the differences between assisted living and nursing homes. The primary distinctions between these two options are the level of care provided and the cost. Generally, assisted living communities are for older adults who can no longer live on their own but do not need the daily nursing care provided in a nursing home. Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, are for individuals who require a higher level of medical care and monitoring.

Another noteworthy difference is that assisted living communities offer residents a social, home-like setting, while nursing homes offer a clinical setting to accommodate frequent observation and manage complex medical care . Both types of residential alternatives have specific benefits — learning about these unique advantages can help you make the best choice for your relatives. 

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities provide residents with an apartment-style living accommodation as well as other amenities and common areas. They help residents with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and medication reminders and have nurses and aides on-site. Additionally, they offer different services such as housekeeping, meals, laundry and daily social activities.

These communities are state regulated and a licensed nurse is responsible for completing an individualized assessment for each resident to ensure they can provide the appropriate level of care. Ancillary staff is available throughout the day, including maintenance, housekeeping and dining staff members.  

Health care professionals such as chiropractors, dentists and geriatricians will often make on-site visits. Some communities have even started offering occupational or physical therapy services supervised by licensed nurses, while others provide specialized memory care units for older adults with cognitive difficulties. 

Like nursing homes, assisted living communities have emergency pull cords and other safety systems. Both residential alternatives offer laundry delivery services, light housekeeping and personal care. 

Benefits of Assisted Living

A move to assisted living could help your aging relative enjoy health and happiness with the following advantages.

  • Entertainment: Many assisted living communities offer entertainment and engagement via book clubs, poker and card tournaments, music and art classes, communal gardens and movie nights. 
  • Intellectual stimulation: Assisted living facilities provide lifelong learning opportunities. Older adults can stay engaged in an assisted living facility via brain games, guest lecturers and even personal tablets. 
  • Help with daily activities: One of the primary benefits of a move to assisted living is the availability of help with activities like bathing and getting dressed. 
  • Security and safety for older adults: Safety is undoubtedly your primary concern when seeking a new home for your loved one. Assisted living facilities provide security-related benefits such as on-call staff, disaster preparation and minimized fall risks. 
  • A healthier lifestyle: Older adults have unique nutrition and fitness needs. Many assisted living facilities boost members’ health with on-site exercise classes and dining services that provide flavorful, nutritious options. 

What Is a Nursing Home?

Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, offer a wide range of personal and health care services. These typically focus on medical care and include assistance with everyday activities, rehabilitation services, 24-hour supervision, nursing care and three meals a day. Individuals will go to a skilled nursing facility when their care needs are medically complex and require licensed healthcare professionals to manage and oversee their care. This type of care is often too complex for non-skilled communities such as assisted living facilities. 

Nursing homes provide:

  • Around the clock, 24/7 care
  • Skilled nursing care and Personal care, including toilet assistance, bathing and dressing
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy
  • Intravenous therapy
  • Wound care
  • Recreational and social opportunities
  • Administration and management of medication
  • Room and board

Types of Senior Living

There are many different types of living options for older adults. Understanding the type of care provided and services offered to residents will help when making a decision. Below is an overview of some of the different types of senior living communities.

Independent Living Community or Retirement Community

These communities are ideal for older adults, typically 55 and above, who are able to live independently but want to have access to amenities, activities and services. Many offer various types of living arrangements, from houses to apartments. Independent living communities often have social gatherings, planned events, clubs, interest groups and maintenance services. Most independent living communities do not offer medical or nursing care, therefore if a resident requires assistance with care, they will need to coordinate these services privately. Other services include:

  • Planned activities and events
  • On-campus restaurants and cooking
  • Home and lawn maintenance
  • Housekeeping

Assisted Living Community

Assisted living communities offer personalized services and amenities to their residents with the added benefit of nursing assistance with their activities of daily living. They provide residents with more support and engagement than independent living communities. Assisted living communities allow older adults to continue to live an independent lifestyle while receiving care and support with activities such as bathing, grooming, medication management by nursing professionals. 

Continuous Care Retirement Community

A continuous care retirement community may be an ideal option if you suspect your family member’s needs will change. They offer different housing options on one campus and provide different levels of care that support various stages of life. These campuses allow their residents to live in one location without having to move should their care needs change. These communities are commonly most expensive and typically have buy-in fees and monthly charges.

Skilled Nursing Facility

A skilled nursing facility is probably your best option if your relative needs complex skilled nursing care services such as wound care, ventilator care, tracheostomy care or intravenous medication administration and management. These facilities offer long-term care for medically necessary cases and are generally best for short-term stays. They provide access to a Medical Director, Delegating Nurses, Charge Nurses, Social Workers, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists and Certified Nursing Assistants. The type of care provided is skilled and these facilities are typically referred to as “nursing homes”. 

Factors to Determine Which Option Is Right for Your Family Member

The following considerations will help you choose the best senior living housing option for your family member.

  • Transportation services: What are the transportation options if non-emergency medical services are unavailable on the premises?
  • Expense: How much does care cost? Does insurance cover any of the costs? How often does the community bill?
  • Admission requirements: How long does the admissions process take, and what financial information will the community require during the admissions process? 
  • Meals: How do residents access their daily meals? Do they have different meal options? Can residents make their own meals?
  • Employees: Does the community have nurses and caregivers on-site? Does the community allow for private caregivers? 
  • Resident care plans: How often does a licensed physician review and adjust customized care plans? All residents’ physicians must evaluate their needs and prescribe a medication program, diet restraints and therapy. 
  • Room sharing and furnishings: Look into the facility’s room-sharing policy. If your family member will have to share a bathroom or living space with other residents, will they have the power to change roommates if dissatisfied? 
  • Residents’ mental and emotional well-being: Intellectually stimulating social activities play a significant role in older adults’ mental and emotional health. A high-quality program should have regularly scheduled social events such as educational classes, bingo, exercise or a weekly musical event or movie. 
  • Staffing: The staff-to-patient ratio during each shift is essential.
  • Physical consideration: What are the facility’s visiting hours, and how convenient is it to where you live? Location is crucial in determining how often family and friends visit patients.
  • Physical consideration: What are the facility’s visiting hours, and how convenient is it to where you live? Location is crucial in determining how often family and friends visit patients.
Learn More About Corewood Care's Senior In-Home Care Services

Learn More About Corewood Care’s Senior In-Home Care Services

At Corewood Care, we understand older adults can experience the best caretaking services in the comfort of their own homes. 

As life changes, so do people’s needs, and we strive to make a difference in our clients’ lives. Count on us for senior home care services such as personal care assistance, Alzheimer’s care, companionship care, home helper services, respite care, transportation services and day programs to keep older adults entertained with interactive activities. 

Do you have questions about our senior home care services or need help determining if they’re appropriate for your family member? We invite you to reach out online to schedule your free care assessment today. 

Call Us: (301) 909-8117