Welcome ...

All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The devil is in the details...

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, the Department of Health and Human Services unveiled the first draft of a national action plan to combat Alzheimer’s disease, but the Wall Street Journal wonders if obstacles such as funding and lack of coordination might become a roadblock to the plan’s success.

The Draft National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease includes goals of improving care, expanding support for caregivers, and heightening public awareness, along with strategies to discover better methods of researching the disease, training healthcare professionals, and coordinating collaboration between private and public stakeholders, says WSJ.

However the devil is in the details—and how they play out, some experts say.

“For me, it’s about implementation,” Eric Hall, a plan advisory council member and chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, an advocacy group, tells the Health Blog.

One major obstacle is funding. Earlier this month, the administration announced $80 million in new funding for Alzheimer’s research in fiscal year 2013, but how much additional money is needed to carry out the plan remains to be seen.
It could also be tough to minimize redundancy among other health agencies working toward the same goals, the article says.

The National Institute on Aging, a division of the National Institutes of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, released its 2010 Progress Report on Alzheimer’s Disease, which summarizes recent Alzheimer’s research, on the heels of the first draft’s unveiling.

Read WSJ article...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Swimming found to lower blood pressure in older adults

In the first study of its kind, researchers found that 12 weeks of swimming significantly lowered the blood pressure and improved the artery health of sedentary older adults.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin studied older adults with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension who were not on any medication. Half of the participants took part in 12 weeks of swimming exercises and the other half performed gentle relaxation exercises during this time. Each group participated in its assigned activity three to four days a week for 15 to 45 minutes a day.

At the end of the study, the swimming group’s systolic blood pressure fell 7 percent and their arteries became more elastic and responsive to changes in blood pressure. The group that performed relaxation exercises showed no statistically significant improvements. Researchers noted that this study indicates one more benefit of swimming for older adults. Since swimming minimizes weight-bearing stress and is unlikely to lead to overheating, swimming is an ideal exercise for older adults whether or not they have high blood pressure, said researchers.

Full study...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Family history is key factor in fighting heart disease

Doctors often gloss over a key question for assessing a person's risk for coronary heart disease, according to a new study: What is the patient's family history of cardiovascular illness?

Detailed family information could help doctors better predict who is at risk and more accurately target patients for preventive care that may help avert the disease altogether, according to a recent study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Routinely tracking family history sharply boosted the number of people in the study considered at high risk for heart disease.
A widely used scorecard for measuring heart risk, the Framingham Risk Score, fails to take family history directly into account. And while many doctors currently collect some information about the health of their patients' families, the data often lack the detail to be clinically useful for assessing risk and prescribing care.

"Family history remains one of the most important predictors of an event for an individual," says Donna Arnett, a genetic epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and president-elect of the American Heart Association. Still, "most of the family history that we're collecting is just the presence or the absence of heart disease, not the age of onset or the type of disease," says Dr. Arnett, who wasn't involved in the latest research.

Guidelines for heart-risk screening, issued by the heart association in late 2010, encouraged doctors to take family histories into account. Doctors sometimes make judgment calls to treat people as high risk because of family history, even if it isn't part of the patient's risk score.

Family history has been linked to higher risk for a number of illnesses, including cancer and diabetes. Unlike some other diseases, however, clear genetic markers for coronary heart disease, which accounts for 1 in 6 U.S. deaths, remain elusive. Family histories can be used as a proxy for detailed genetic work that may someday be used to help predict heart-disease risk, researchers say.
Another risk-measurement tool, known as the Reynolds Risk Score, developed by Harvard University researchers in the 1990s, does consider if a patient's parent had a heart attack and at what age. However, many medical practices don't yet use the tool, which became available in 2007.
Using the Reynolds system, the researchers tracked 25,000 initially healthy patients over a decade. They found that a 50-year-old male patient who, among other things, smoked, and had high blood pressure and cholesterol, but no family history of heart disease, had a 12%, or moderate, chance of having a heart attack in the 10-year period. But a similar patient with a parent who had a heart attack before age 60 had a 20% risk, putting that patient at high risk for heart disease. Heart risk wasn't significantly affected in patients with a parent who had a heart attack at the age of 60 or older.

Still, many medical practices continue to rely on the older Framingham Risk Score, which became available in the 1990s. Researchers believed that other factors, including blood pressure and cholesterol levels, provided all the information needed to determine a patient's risk for heart disease.

Primary-care doctors say there are obstacles to gathering family histories from patients, including competing priorities for time in the examination room. And patients often don't know many details about their family members. In the Annals of Internal Medicine study, patients were mailed questionnaires and instructed to gather the material before seeing their doctor.
"It's a little bit of detective work," says Charles Cutler, a primary-care doctor in Norristown, Pa. Patients should make a point of knowing the health histories of their parents, siblings and grandparents, he says. To identify clues about specific diseases, however, Dr. Cutler says he sometimes asks patients questions like: "What do you remember about Grandpop's hospitalization? Were his legs swollen?"

Dominic Francis, a 37-year-old high school teacher and wrestling coach in Delaware, says his family history has forced him to be an advocate for his own health. Mr. Francis says he watches his diet and exercises regularly. Although he currently does not suffer with heart disease or heart related problems, he has discussed his paternal family history of heart disease with his doctor.

"I went to the cardiologist and said, 'I may look healthy and my numbers are all good. But my dad and his brother both had a heart attack when they were 40. For my uncle it was a fatal attack. I need to know whether I have any other risk factors that I should be aware of,' Francis says.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Is it more than heartburn?

If you're plagued by heartburn two or more times a week, and it's not responding well to over-the-counter antacids, you need to see your doctor. Frequent bouts may mean you have gastroesophageal reflux disease which can severely irritate and damage the lining of the esophagus, putting you at risk of Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer, if it's not treated.

Lifestyle adjustments

Depending on the frequency and severity of your heartburn, there are a number of lifestyle adjustments you can make that can help you get relief and avoid a more serious problem down the road.

Consider these tips:

Adjust your diet: Certain foods can trigger heartburn like citrus fruits, tomatoes, fatty foods, chocolate, garlic, onions, spicy foods, mints, alcohol, coffee and sodas. Keep a food diary to track which foods cause the most problems.
Eat less: Take smaller portions and eat slower. Having a full stomach can cause acid reflux.

Lifestyle adjustments, treatments can help those suffering from heartburn.

Avoid exercising, bending or lying down for two hours after eating. Don't eat 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.

Monitor your meds: Drugs used to treat arthritis pain, asthma, osteoporosis, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure and more can cause heartburn.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tax Tips for Elder Caregivers

A special thank you to Minda Cutcher,MBA,Financial Advocate for Seniors, for allowing us to share her expert information with all of our readers.

If you are caring for an aging relative who qualifies as your dependent, you may be able to claim medical expenses you incurred as a result of that care on your income tax.
•Medical insurance premiums (unless pre-tax)
•Prescription medicines
•Doctor bills
•Hospital fees
•Travel to and from medical appointments

Only those expenses paid during the tax year are deductible for that year. Also, expenses are limited based on your adjusted gross income (AGI). For 2011, medical expenses must be in excess of 7.5% of AGI. You can only claim those amounts for which you have not been reimbursed by private insurance or Medicare. Additional special expenses, such as wheelchairs and repairs, ambulance services and oxygen may also be claimed. Check with your tax advisor for the current list of items that fall into this category. Improvements to your home made for medical reasons may also be deductible, but may be limited based on whether they increase the value of the home. Certain structural improvements to accommodate disability, such as the following, are fully deductible regardless of home value impact:

•Widened doorways and hallways
•Railings and grab bars
•Lifts (but not elevators) and
•Warning systems

Other items that may be deductible:

•Special equipment or hand controls in a car
•Medical expenses incurred in a nursing home
•Medically related nursing, therapeutic and or/aide services

Here are a few publications offered by the Internal Revenue Service that may help you understand the deductions available to you. These can be ordered by phone 800-TAXFORM, or online at www.irs.gov.

•Publication 502 – Medical and Dental Expenses
•Publication 554 – Tax Guide for Seniors
•Publication 907 – Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities
•Publication 929 – Tax Rules for Children and Dependents

Every situation is unique, so be sure to check with your tax advisor. To learn more...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The 2012 best and the not so best nursing homes

A recent USA Today report reveals that 560 of the nation’s nursing homes have not budged for the past three years from a one-star federal government rating — the lowest on a five-star scale.

The star ratings are part of a broader federal effort to increase transparency for consumers of health care. When introduced in late 2008, nursing home industry groups called them simplistic and unfair. Some consumer advocates say nursing home quality can change quickly, and no ratings system is perfect.

The share of nursing homes receiving one or two stars overall fell to 35% in 2011 from 40% in 2009. At the same time, four- and five-star homes increased to 43% from 38% of nursing homes. The share of three-star homes remained steady.

Click to access the ratings of over 15,000 nursing homes

Read full article...

The History of Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day started in the time of the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honor Juno the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.

The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the young people was name drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.

Emperor Claudius II (known as Claudius the Cruel), was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military. He believed a major reason was that Roman men did not want to leave their loves or families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome.
The good Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome in the days of Claudius II. He and Saint Marius aided the Christian martyrs and secretly married couples, and for this kind deed Saint Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February, about the year 270.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Do you know what Medicare covers?

A significant number of retirees on Medicare lack a solid understanding of the health insurance program’s coverage and costs. Two out of three, for example, did not know if Medicare covers long-term care. This lack of knowledge results in unexpected financial surprises, according to research by the Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement.

The study, Retirement Healthcare for Middle-Income Americans, focused on 400 pre-Medicare Baby Boomers (age 47 to 64) and 400 senior citizens (age 65 to 75) with an annual household income of between $25,000 and $75,000.

It found that one in three Medicare enrollees still did not know how much the program covers for doctor's visits (33 percent) or hospitalization (31 percent), which are the basic components of the program's health benefits.
The CSR study also found nearly half (49 percent) do not understand their benefits for vision care and hearing care, both which are services typically not covered by Medicare.
Long-term care was found to be the least understood and the greatest perceived threat to financial security for middle-income Americans. Two out of three (66 percent) Medicare recipients did not know if the program covers long-term care or overestimate its long-term care coverage.

Medicare has long been labeled as an entitlement program but middle-income Americans say it is not the free ride many assume it is. Two-thirds (65 percent) of those on Medicare report paying the same or more for healthcare now that they are on Medicare, resulting in unexpected financial surprises.
The most common financial surprises for Medicare enrollees is the cost of monthly Part B premiums with nearly half (44 percent) who report paying more than they had expected.
The unexpected financial surprises coupled with the uneasy economy have forced 78 percent of middle-income Americans on Medicare to take at least one action to reduce their healthcare expenses, including -
● switching to generic prescriptions (69 percent),
● holding off going to the doctor (22 percent),
● changing to a less expensive health plan (15 percent) or
● splitting pills to make their prescriptions last longer (12 percent).

"Financial fallout from healthcare related expenses can devastate savings and strip away the enjoyment of one's retirement years," said Chris Campbell, vice president of strategic marketing and business development for Bankers Life and Casualty Company, a national life and health insurer.

"Review your Medicare plan options annually and look into new health and prescription drug plans that better meet your needs. Also, consider purchasing additional healthcare insurance to address services not covered by Medicare and

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Know the warning signs...

Malnutrition is a serious senior health issue. Know the warning signs and how to help an older loved one avoid poor nutrition.

According to Mayo Clinic staff, nutrition is critical to senior health, especially for those seniors that are seriously ill or suffering from dementia.

Unfortunately, spotting malnutrition in adults can be tricky. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following steps to catch improper nutrition:

Observe your loved one’s eating habits - spend time with an older loved one during meals at home, not just on special occasions. If your loved one lives alone, find out who buys his or her food. If your loved one is in a hospital or long term care facility, visit during mealtimes.

Look for physical problems
- red flags for malnutrition might include poor wound healing, easy bruising, dental difficulties and weight loss. Watch for signs of weight loss, such as changes in how clothing fits.

Know your loved one’s medications - many drugs affect appetite, digestion and nutrient absorption.

You can also try to prevent the causes of inadequate nutrition in your seniors life. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following could be triggers of malnutrition:

Health problems - older adults often have health problems that can lead to decreased appetite or trouble eating, such as chronic illness, use of certain medications, trouble chewing due to dental issues, problems swallowing or difficulty absorbing nutrients. A recent hospitalization may be accompanied by loss of appetite or other nutrition problems. In other cases, a diminished sense of taste and smell decreases appetite.

Limited income and reduced social contact
- some older adults may have trouble affording groceries, especially if they’re taking expensive medications. Those who eat alone may not enjoy meals, causing them to lose interest in cooking and eating.

- grief, loneliness, failing health, lack of mobility and other factors may contribute to depression — causing loss of appetite among older adults.

Alcoholism - alcoholism is a leading contributor to malnutrition — decreasing appetite and vital nutrients and frequently serving as a substitute for meals.

Restricted diets - older adults often have dietary restrictions, including limits on salt, fat, protein and sugar. Although such diets can help manage many medical conditions, they can also be bland and unappealing.”

For more information about recognizing and dealing with senior malnutrition...Senior Malnutrition

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

2012 Best US Nursing Homes

Each year, U.S. News and World Report releases its list of “Best Nursing Homes,” determined by quarterly ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and it also issues an Honor Roll which consists this year of 39 nursing homes that earned the highest possible ratings in all four quarters of 2011.

The 39 nursing homes on the Honor Roll are the only ones out of more than 15,500 that U.S. News reviewed to receive the four straight quarters of perfect five-star ratings from CMS in all three areas of consideration: health inspections, nurse staffing, and quality of care.

View the list...

Monday, February 06, 2012

Want to help someone quit smoking? Don't nag...

Consider the five “R's" — talking points and advice for encouragement and motivation:

Relevance - talk about how important it is to quit, relating information to your loved one’s life.
Risks -talk about the risks of smoking with COPD.
Rewards - talk about the benefits of quitting.
Roadblocks - identify things that can get in the way of quitting.
Repetition - deciding to quit is a process and can require repeated attempts, so be patient.

Repeat your motivation each time your loved one tries to quit.

Help them identify smoking triggers and encourage your loved to plan for them to help avoid a smoking relapse. The following are a few ideas to help your "special person" to quit smoking:

Tips to keep your loved one's mind of of smoking:

Keep your home smoke-free and remove lighters and ashtrays that may serve as triggers.
Celebrate success, recognizing that every day without smoking is a victory.
Expect and accept some grumpiness during the nicotine withdrawal phase.
Recognize that an occasional slip is common and doesn't mean failure.

Smoking continues to remain the leading cause of COPD. The more a person smokes, the more likely that person will develop COPD. There is no cure for COPD. However, there are many things you can do to relieve symptoms and keep the disease from getting worse such as to stop smoking.

Having a loved one with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) who can't or won't quit smoking can be very frustrating and frightening. Smoking is not only the main cause of COPD — quitting smoking is the most important part of treatment. COPD symptoms will continue to get worse and COPD exacerbations are unavoidable unless your loved one can quit smoking. What can you do to help?

Nagging, scolding, and preaching are the worst approaches.
Start by recognizing how difficult and frustrating it is to quit smoking. Accept that the decision to quit smoking has to be their decision, not yours. The best way to help is to let your loved one know that you are there for support no matter what.

Part of a smoking treatment plan is behavior modification. That means avoiding situations that lead to smoking and learning other behaviors to deal with stress or boredom. If you go out together to a place where people are smoking, plan ahead and have a signal for when the temptation is getting too high.

Smoking treatment may also include medications and support groups. Encourage your loved one to ask for help and to take advantage of employee wellness benefits that often include smoking cessation prorams.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Buyer Beware - when it comes to care!

When you live in a major metropolitan area like Philadelphia, you find yourself confronted with a number of stories on the local news that give you pause and sometimes make you a little ill. Last night’s broadcasts were no exception. Featured last night as well as this morning, was a most disturbing report. A 56 year old man that was utilizing internet caregiving sites to advertise his babysitting services was arrested for molesting a 2 year old girl that was in his care. Even more disturbing is that fact that this particularly repulsive individual was arrested last year for possession of child pornography. Apparently feeling unencumbered by his arrest record, he posted his listing as a babysitter on numerous sites, some of which tout their ability to provide “background checks” of individuals.

A quick search online will yield quite a few sites that are in the business of matching families in need of care with caregivers that are in need of employment. These sites are not only for the care of the young – they carry profiles of individuals looking to care for seniors as well. In these difficult economic times one of the main “benefits” that these sites highlight is a lower cost of care – you are not paying a home care company’s overhead for the services you need. The theory is that the family will have a more hands-on experience deciding on care as they are handpicking the caregiver from a posting that includes the photo and background information of individuals looking for this type of work.

Several questions immediately come to mind. First - How do you know that the information posted is accurate and that the potential caregiver has had proper training? Secondly - Is the care of your loved one, be it a parent, grandparent or a child something you want to get a “cheap deal” on? Third – finding care for an elderly relative can prove to be a very stressful situation as today’s families are extremely busy and often scattered across the county, making the process even more difficult. Do families really want to handle every aspect of finding and managing a caregiver on their own? Who handles the billing if you need to utilize Medicare or long term care insurance benefits? What happens if the caregiver you find on one of these sites is ill and can’t make it to work? Who will take care of mom if she lives 100 miles away? Many more questions arise but my point is that care for an elderly family member is not a task most people research 5 years in advance. Finding home care is a task undertaken when the need arises – trust in the decision and the individual providing the care is of paramount importance and something that cannot and should not be found as easily as my high school senior finds a potential college roommate on Facebook.

This is one of the many reasons that our company, Aging with Grace, is entrenched within this industry, working only with providers that have proven track records of quality care and service, and giving our members the assurance that their needs will be met. Our mission, for every family, is to guide them toward the best caregiving options to meet their individual needs. Reputable home care companies are in the business to answer my aforementioned questions and to provide and manage quality caregivers so that a family has peace of mind that the needs of their loved will be met. And consider this, the home care company actually meets and interviews the prospective employee.

Howie Kaminsky, Vice President of Home Care Options in Huntingdon Valley, PA, and an Aging with Grace Preferred Provider, shared his hiring process with me. Howie stated that his company “never places advertisements for caregivers; they only hire caregivers from direct referrals from their own dedicated team of employees”. His company also does thorough background checks through state police and FBI records, verification of training and certifications, and complete follow-through on reference checks. Their employees are also bonded and insured, receive on-the-job training and his company promptly reassigns a replacement caregiver in the case of illness or emergency. This well-rounded hiring and management approach is the rule and not the exception found in a top-notch home care agency. These companies also handle every aspect of billing alleviating the additional burden of navigating Medicare or other insurance reimbursement.

Is use of a home care agency more expensive than using the caregiver whose photo you find on one of these “do-it-yourself” websites? Well, certainly, and with good reason. But I find one common thread as I peruse the pages of the satisfaction surveys that Aging with Grace has collected over the past six years from the families that have utilized our Preferred Providers in finding home care. Not one person we surveyed stated that the cost of the care was more important than the quality of care; which is something for families to think about before clicking their mouse on a photograph.

Linda Pancio
Vice President Operations
Aging with Grace

February is National Heart Health Month

While much early research on heart disease was done on men, more recent data is revealing just how differently heart problems affect women. Here's what you need to know.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. And while nearly the same number of women die from heart disease every year as men, many Americans still mistakenly perceive heart problems as a “man’s disease.” In fact, only half of women surveyed by the American Heart Association (AHA) correctly identified heart disease and heart attacks as the leading cause of death among women, according to a report released in 2010.

An earlier AHA survey revealed that a third of women remain unaware of symptoms, treatment, and risk for heart disease. So continues a negative cycle: If women don’t consider themselves at risk, they may ignore early warning signs and end up at even greater risk for developing serious heart disease. Making matters worse, heart disease tends to hit women later in life than it does men, so women’s bodies may be less physically able to recover

Signs of a heart attack for a woman:

While pressure, tightness, and squeezing in the chest are all telltale signs of heart attack in men, many women don’t know they could have a heart attack without having any of those classic symptoms. According to the AHA, a woman having a heart attack is more likely to feel symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Women often don’t think they’re having a heart attack and waste time before calling an ambulance, or worse, don’t seek medical treatment at all. It’s important to know the symptoms and get to the hospital fast.

Emotions play a big part:

A recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found a link between depression and heart problems and death. In women with a history of depression, they found that the risk for cardiovascular disease, an overarching term used interchangeably with heart disease, was three times higher than in men.

When you think about it, this makes sense. Depressed women may be more likely to pick up unhealthy habits (like skipping the gym, eating poorly and smoking) to deal with their emotions. Additionally, the AHA recommends depression screening as part of risk evaluation for preventing heart disease in women because depression may affect whether women follow their doctor’s advice, according to an AHA media release about the guideline changes.

Smoking Effects

Cigarette smoking is 25 percent more likely to lead to heart disease in women than in men, according to a recent study published in The Lancet. CDC statistics from 2008 counted 21.1 million female smokers.

While the study authors couldn’t determine whether the gender difference in smoking rates and heart disease risk was biological or behavior-related, they speculated that women’s bodies may absorb more carcinogens from smoking the same number of cigarettes as men. A physiological answer would make sense, given the regular yearly increase in risk they found for women compared with men

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Dementia and professional sports...a growing problem.

The following is an excellent article written by Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press.

At 83, Mr. Hockey is still in demand and on the move. Gordie Howe is about to embark on another series of fundraisers to support dementia research.

It's a personal cause. The disease killed his wife, Colleen, in 2009 and is beginning to affect him.

"He's a little bit worse than last year, but pretty close to about the same," son Marty said. He just loses a little bit more, grasping for words. The worst part of this disease is there's nothing you can do about it."

While the long-term effects of concussions have been very much in the news lately, the family is hesitant to link the Hall of Famer's condition to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease typically found in autopsies of people who have had multiple head injuries, including more than a dozen former NFL and NHL players.

Concussions weren't tracked when Howe played, so it is impossible to know how many he sustained. And he didn't start showing signs of dementia until his late 70s.

Read full article...

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Dementia linked to preventable hospitalizations among the elderly

A large number of hospitalizations of people with dementia may be preventable, according to a just released study from the University of Washington.

Researchers found that elderly people with dementia had a 78% higher risk of being needlessly hospitalized due to avoidable illness than seniors not suffering from dementia.

Additionally, 86% of those stricken with dementia were admitted to the hospital at least once over the course of the study. A full two-thirds of these hospitalizations were for mostly preventable ailments such as dehydration, congestive heart failure, bacterial pneumonia, and urinary tract infections (UTI).

Hospitalization can be traumatic for any senior, regardless of whether they have dementia or not. But, research has shown that cognitive impairment can make the ordeal infinitely worse for an older person.

Avoiding unnecessary stays in the hospital has the potential to significantly enhance the quality and even the duration of life for an elder with dementia.

The following is a list of what a caregiver can do:

While not all trips to the doctor can be averted, there are a few things a caregiver can do to help prevent some of the causes of hospitalization mentioned in this research:

1.Medication: A senior with dementia can easily forget to take their medication, leading to a variety of health complications including infection, and congestive heart failure. Preventing medication non-adherence can be as simple as leaving a note on the fridge for an elderly person who lives by themselves, or setting up a pill box with an automatic dispenser or alarm reminding them to take their prescription.

2.Hydration: Older people are more prone to becoming dehydrated than younger people and their thirst impulse becomes deadened, so it's important for a caregiver to monitor their elderly loved one in order to ensure that they are getting enough fluid. An elder who doesn't drink enough is at an increased risk for things like urinary tract infections.

3.Vaccination: Keeping an elder up-to-date on their shots for pneumonia and the flu is an easy way to reduce the risk that a senior will be hospitalized for one of these common diseases.

4.Observation: Most health problems don't occur out of the blue. A caregiver should keep their eyes open for changes in an elderly person's behavior as these changes might be an indication of impending health problems.

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