The Comprehensive Guide to Elderly New Year's Resolutions

The Comprehensive Guide to Elderly New Year’s Resolutions

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is always an interesting one. Depending on your profession, it is either extremely busy or extremely slow. However, for many, the lull between Christmas festivities and New Year’s Eve parties presents just enough time to reflect on the past year.

It is in this time of reflection that many resolve to do things better in the upcoming year. In other words, a New Year’s Resolution is born. As you may already know, these resolutions often involve self-improvement or education, body weight, finances or relationships.

Per History.com, the practice of making New Year’s resolutions dates back at least 4000 years ago. The ancient Babylonians were the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year, and subsequently are said to be the first to make New Year’s resolution.

Today, making a New Year’s Resolution is still widely popular. In fact, statistics estimate that nearly 45% of all Americans will make at least one resolution for the upcoming year.

We believe that you can teach an old dog new tricks, and it is never too late to better yourself. Holding true to our belief, we thought it would be fitting to blog about six possible New Year’s Resolutions your elderly loved one could make for 2017.

The Dietary Resolution
By far, one of the most popular resolutions people make, is to eat healthier in the new year. For our elderly loved ones, this means eating more fruits, veggies, whole grains, fish, low-fat dairy and healthy fats. They should achieve this by eating at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies with a variety of deep colors.

Make sure you also choose fiber rich grains like whole-grain bread, brown rice and whole grain pasta, less fatty meat such as fish, tuna and salmon, and hearty sources of calcium and Vitamin D such as milk, yogurt and cheese. For the healthy fats, try olive and canola oils instead of butter.

The Exercise Resolution
The next most popular resolution people make is to exercise more. Staying active as we age is of the utmost importance. Being active and exercising helps keep bones strong, prevents falls, reduces stress and helps stave of depression.

It is important to note that you don’t need to spend hours in a gym to stay active. Many malls have “Mall Walker” programs in which people get together to walk laps around the mall. Another great activity to stay active and help reduce your risk of a fall is practicing Tai Chi or yoga.

The Organization Resolution
The start of a new year, as you are packing up the Christmas decorations and finding homes for all your Christmas presents, is a great time to get organized. We’re not just talking about deep cleaning your house. Rather, take some time in the new year to collect and organize important documents such as your insurance, will, financial and medical information. This is a tedious task but it is worth it.

There is a fun side to the organization resolution. To break up the monotony of going through documents, you could also go through and organize old family photos and home videos. This will help make sure your family heritage is preserved for generations to come.

The Healthy Resolution
Wait a second, didn’t you just go over this in the dietary resolution? Well, sort of. However, there is a lot more to being healthy than just eating better. In the New Year, your elderly loved one should resolve to make healthier all-around choices. This includes considering a multi-vitamin, consuming less alcohol, quitting smoking and seeing their health provider on a regular basis.

In addition to the basics we just mentioned, your elderly loved one should make it a goal to be open with you or a friend when they feel depressed or anxious. This will help fight an alarmingly increasing trend of elderly depression.

The Falls Prevention Resolution
As you may know, falls are a leading cause of accidental death for our elderly loved ones. However, taking the right precautionary steps can greatly decrease the likelihood of a fall. These steps include maintaining safe walking spaces, keeping hallways and stairs clutter-free, installing strategically placed grab bars and fall protection mats or flooring.

In addition to home modifications, your elderly loved one can taking physical steps to reduce their risk of a fall such as exercising more, practicing balance exercises and having regular checkups.

The Friend-solution
Finally, in the new year your elderly loved one should make it a goal to make at least one new friend and reconnect with old ones. Many seniors report that having friends helps increase the happiness in their life.

We hope this lists helps your elderly loved one set some healthy, attainable goals for 2017. As always, if you care for an elderly loved one and would like help caring for or developing an extensive care plan, we can help. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for the Elderly

The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for the Elderly

The Christmas Countdown is ticking and now we are in the single digits!! Before we know it, we will wake up to find presents under the tree and be in the presence of our loved ones.  What a glorious morning it will be.

While the fact that Christmas is quickly closing in on us is exciting, it may also be stressful for those of us who have not finished Christmas shopping yet. Don’t fret though, we will help you find the perfect gift.

Since one of our favorite things about the holidays is picking out the perfect present for everyone on our list, we thought it would be fitting to share the holiday cheer by blogging about great gift ideas for caregivers and the elderly. Last week we covered gifts for caregivers, you can find that blog here.

If you have an elderly loved one on your list and you aren’t sure what to get them, you will want to keep reading. We have some great ideas!

For the Loved One that Enjoys Games
Games are always a great gift to get elderly loved ones. They help pass the time and create some great opportunities to bond and make memories with family and friends. Here are some of our favorite newer games:

  • Grandparent Talk- This deck of cards will help get the conversation rolling with several great questions to ask your elderly loved one.
  • Bananagrams- This scrabble-type word game is a blast to play. Race your loved one to see who can build the most words the fastest.
  • Card holder or Automatic shuffler- Unfortunately, as we age it can be tough to hold cards or shuffle. These gifts will help your elderly loved one play cards for years to come.
  • Game books- Crosswords, word searches, Sudoku, etc. These are all great gifts that help pass the time and keep your elderly loved one’s cognitive thinking strong.
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Adult coloring books

For the Loved One Who Is Living Independently
Maintaining independence and aging-in-place is an increasingly popular trend lately. If your loved one is living independently these gifts will be great for them:

  • Fall protection mats or flooring- If you fear your loved one may fall, these products could ultimately save their life.
  • Personal emergency response system- These wearable devices are like life-alert and will notify family members and professionals in case of emergency.
  • Medication Management systems- Thanks to technology there are automatic systems that allow you to fill your elderly loved one’s medications and dispense them through an online portal.
  • Talking clock- If your loved one has vision issues, a talking clock is a thoughtful gift.

For the Loved One Who Needs Help with Errands
Everyone loves having help with daily chores and errands. These gifts will help make your elderly loved one’s life a lot easier.

  • Smart Shopper Grocery List Organizer- This device allows your elderly loved one to make their shopping list by talking to it. The device will then categorize the items and print it off for your loved one.
  • A meal subscription- Always making yourself food can be a drag and difficult. Services like meals on wheels is a nice and thoughtful present.
  • A Roomba- This robotic vacuum automatically cleans rooms! Need we say more.

We hope this list helps you find the perfect gift for your elderly loved one. In the end, while things are nice, the best gift you can give your elderly loved one if your time.

Happy Holidays from Wiser Home Care Services.

The Ultimate Caregiver Holiday Gift Guide

The Ultimate Caregiver Holiday Gift Guide

Are you dreaming of a White Christmas? We certainly are, and with all the cold weather and potential snow flurries in the forecast, it just might happen.

Here in Western Washington it is certainly a rare treat to have a white Christmas. In fact, since 1891 (the year weather began to be recorded in Seattle), there have only been 7 Christmas days that have had snow:

  1. 1909
  2. 1915
  3. 1944
  4. 1965
  5. 1990
  6. 2007
  7. 2008

Enough about the weather though. Have you finished your Christmas shopping? If no, we hope you have at least started since time is quickly running out. Chances are, you may have some people on your list that are difficult to find the perfect present for. If that is the case, we have you covered.

Since giving is the best part of the holiday season, we scoured the internet for the hottest, trending gifts this year. This week we will share some of our great gift ideas for the Caregiver on your Christmas shopping list. Finally, next week we will wrap up (pun intended) our holiday gift guide by discussing great gifts for your elderly loved one.

The Day Out
Caregivers have an extremely challenging and stressful job so anything that can help the caregiver on your list relax is a great idea. Here are some possible gift ideas in this category:

  • A gift card for a massage, manicure or pedicure
  • If the caregiver is a foodie, a gift card to a nice restaurant would certainly top the list
  • Tickets to a sporting event, comedy show, play or movie

A Helping Hand
Family caregivers spend every waking moment they have taking care of their sick or elderly loved one. Lending a helping hand for daily errands could give them a much-needed break. Here are some possible errands you could run:

  • Offer to grocery shop
  • Clean up the living space
  • Cook them a couple days’ worth of meals
  • Invest in a lunch or dinner delivery service for them
  • Do yard work
  • Run to the pharmacy
  • Offer to help care to ease the load
  • Invest in an evening of respite care services so they can go out

The Wrap-able Gift
Everyone loves getting a gift under the tree that they can unwrap on Christmas morning. Here are a couple gifts you can put under the tree for the caregiver on your list.

  • Their favorite magazine and a year subscription to it
  • A personalized coffee cup
  • A nice calendar
  • Bath and beauty products
  • A kindle or tablet with their favorite books and music on it
  • Puzzles
  • Sudoku, Crosswords, word searches and other mind puzzles
  • Caregiving books
  • Automatic pill dispenser
  • Framed photos
  • Candles
  • Gourmet coffee, chocolate, tea or wine
  • A bouquet of their favorite flowers
  • Craft supplies
  • Anything related to their favorite hobby

We hope this list helps you find the perfect gift for the caregiver in your life. In the end, while things are nice, the best gift you can give a caregiver is words of encouragement, an ear to listen and a shoulder of support.

Happy Holidays from Wiser Home Care Services.

6 Tips for Hiring the Right Home Care Agency

6 Tips for Hiring the Right Home Care Agency

With all the traveling, shopping and baking, the holiday season can quickly become overwhelming. We certainly know the feeling. That is why we want to take some time out of this busy month and say thank you to all the hospice and home care workers.

Before Thanksgiving, we started our blog series discussing National Family Caregivers Month, this week we are exploring the history and importance behind National Home Care and Hospice Month.

National Home Care and Hospice month, founded by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), is a nationally celebrated month dedicated to raising awareness about the highest quality care for all people coping with life-limiting illness.

According to statistics reported by the NAHC, nearly 1.6 million people with a life limiting illness receive care from hospice and palliative care providers in the United States each year. In 2014, these services were provided by roughly 12,400 home health care agencies. That means each agency helped an average of roughly 400 patients each year.

That may not seem like a lot, but when you consider all the time it takes to provide quality care and training, it truly is amazing.

To help in raising awareness of these amazing services that Wiser Home Care and many other Home Care agencies provide, we have gathered 6 tips for finding and hiring the home care agency that best fits you and your loved one’s needs.

Know What Your Needs Are
Each home care agency is unique and offers unique services. Before you even begin your search, it will be helpful to know exactly what type of care you will need. This will help narrow down your search.

Here at Wiser Home Care, we offer:

  • Companion Care
  • Personal Care
  • Disease and Dementia Care
  • Respite Care
  • End of Life Care

Work with an Agency
We know it can be tempting to hire a home caregiver directly, instead of going through an agency, but it can be dangerous. While hiring them directly may save you money, you will be tasked with all the responsibilities of an employer, i.e. hiring, firing, background checks, certification checks, oversight and more. The last thing you need when you are faced with having to hire home care services is more work.

When you work with an agency, the agency will cover finding a qualified caregiver that is a good match for your needs and they will have backup care in case something happens. It protects you and your loved one.

Do Your Research
Even if you hire a caregiver through an agency, it is your right and duty to request that the agency provides background and certification check guarantees. This will provide you peace of mind that your loved one is getting the best care.

Another great question to ask a potential agency, is about what kind of continuing education and training they provide their caregivers. After all, you can’t provide the best care unless you stay sharp.

Meet and Greet
Before you come to a final caregiver decision, you should ask the agency to introduce you and your loved one to the caregiver. Sometimes they seem great on paper, but face-to-face it could prove to be a bad match. If it is a bad match, don’t worry, the agency will find another caregiver for you. Once you find a caregiver that is a good match, ask for their references.

Have the Money Talk
Before you agree to an agency or caregiver, make sure you discuss billing procedures and get it all squared away. Private medical insurance and Medicaid often only cover certain types of care so it is better to be aware of that before you have any billing surprises.

Develop a Care Plan
Every step in this process is critical, but quite possibly the most important step is developing a comprehensive care plan with the agency and caregiver you decide to hire. This plan will outline all the tasks the caregiver is expected to complete as well as how the agency will track the progress and completion of each care step and make sure that nothing is overlooked.

We know that hiring a caregiver/ home care agency is extremely stressful. Please do not hesitate to contact us. We will answer any questions you have and be more than happy to guide you through each step of the process.

7 Ways for Family Caregivers to Recharge

7 Ways for Family Caregivers to Recharge

Two weeks in and it has already been an unforgettable November with Donald Trump being named the President Elect. Host to Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving, November is often the kickoff of the holiday season. For caregivers, the busy-ness of November doesn’t stop there though. In fact, November is host to National Family Caregivers Month, National Home Care and Hospice Month and National Long Term Care Month.

As you may have guessed, caregivers and caregiving hold a special place in our heart, so in the next few weeks we will be blogging on the history and importance of each of these Nationwide celebrations and awareness campaigns starting with National Family Caregivers Month.

The History
To raise awareness of and thank Family Caregivers, on Oct. 31 of this year, President Obama made the official proclamation of November being National Family Caregivers month.

In a press release announcing his decision, President Obama praised caregivers for their unselfish work and reaffirmed our nationwide “support for those who give of themselves to be there for their family, friends, and neighbors in challenging times, and we pledge to carry forward the progress we have made in our health care system and workplaces to give caregivers the resources and flexibility they need.”

The Numbers
Per statistics, more than 65 million Americans provide care for a friend or loved one. On top of normal responsibilities and jobs, this care consumes on average an additional 20 hours per week. As you can imagine, this added responsibility puts a strain on finances. In fact, family caregivers are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty and 5 times more likely to receive supplemental security income.

Furthermore, the Center for Disease Control reports that over 35% of caregivers find it difficult to find time for themselves and 29% of caregivers have trouble balancing physical and emotional stress. In addition, the prolonged stress of caregiving has caused nearly 23% of caregivers to report poor health for at least 5 years after taking care of a loved one.

The statistics don’t lie. There is nothing easy about caregiving. It is often a long, difficult journey but the reward of taking care of our loved ones is why we do it. That is why raising awareness and support for Family Caregivers is so important.

The theme for this year’s National Family Caregivers month is “Take Care to Give Care,” because, to be effective caregivers, we must first take care of ourselves.

To help you take care of yourself, we have compiled a list of 7 self-care tips you can do to prevent caregiver burnout and provide your loved one with the best care.

Stress Management
From doctor’s appointments to cooking, cleaning and physical care, caring for a loved one is undoubtedly extremely stressful. Making sure you are managing your stress in a healthy manner will help you take better care of your loved one. Exercise, sleep, quiet time, soothing music and breathing exercises are all great ways to reduce stress.

Make Yourself a Priority
When caring for a loved one it is natural to put all your effort in their care. In fact, many family caregivers get burned out because they operate under the false assumption that caring for themselves would be selfish. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Having some “you-time” is another way you can ensure that you are replenished enough to care for your loved one. Remember: you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Don’t Fall Behind in Your Own Work
Many family caregivers also have part- or full-time jobs to help pay the bills at home or for the loved one. It is important to stay up with your own work so that you don’t risk losing your job. If finances do become an issue, there are several assistance services available to help shoulder the load.

Go Out with Friends
Maintaining outside friendships is important to keeping your sanity as a caregiver. Maybe have a set friend date once a week or every other week. Having someone to vent to and share your stress with will go a long way in increasing the quality of your care.

Do Something Fun Everyday
Read a funny blog, go see a movie or go out to do something. Make sure you are taking time every day to do something fun to break up the monotony of being a family caregiver.

Know Your Limits and Ask for Help
We all have our limits, when we go beyond them is when we are asking for trouble. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help whenever you need it. In the end of the day, if you ask for help, it will be better for both you and your loved one.

Wiser Home Care Can Help
Whether you need a couple hours out of the house or a full night of sleep, our Respite Care Service will be there for you so that you can recharge.

Our respite care services give you a chance to leave home knowing that your loved one is with a professional, well-trained caregiver. Setting up respite care is easy, it can be a few hours a week to run errands, or 24-hour care so you can take a vacation or go on a business trip.

Please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help you set up a comprehensive care plan for your loved one and answer any questions you may have.

8 Elderly Election Day Tips

8 Elderly Election Day Tips

It only happens once every 4 years, and the moment that has been building in anticipation over the last year is almost here. That’s right, it is almost the United States Election Day. This election season, the official presidential election day is on Tuesday November 8.

Considering the increasing popularity of social media and the unique candidates, this election season has certainly been an interesting one. There have been hundreds of thousands of posts and blogs written on this subject.

We thought it would be appropriate to explore election day tips for our elderly loved ones. Even though they have partaken in a number of elections in the past, a refresher course on election day tips can help ensure the voting process goes smoothly.

Your Vote Counts
We live in an amazing country where we enjoy many freedoms, including that of voting. Sure, you may think that a single vote may not help, but it does.

According to a survey conducted by the United States Election Project, nearly 55% of all eligible US Citizens over the age of 65 will be voting in the 2016 Election Season. While this is the highest voter turnout for any age demographic, we can’t stress enough how important it is to cast your vote.

Make Sure You’re Registered
To ensure you have a chance to vote, make sure you are registered. This website provides a list of state election officials. If you are unsure you are registered to vote, simply contact the official and they will let you know.

Marco Polo Election Edition
Do you know where to vote? If you haven’t already mailed in your ballot, make sure you know where you can vote locally before election day. Click this link and Google can help you find the closest place, based on where you are registered to vote.

Leave Your Party Pin and Shirt at Home
Many voting stations do not allow you to wear campaign clothes to vote. So make sure you dress neutrally on election day. In addition, make sure your elderly loved one is dressed appropriately for the weather and possibly long waits.

Bring a Valid ID
In order to vote, many states require you to have a non-expired photo id with your name on it. If you are unsure of what is an accepted form of ID in your elderly loved one’s state, you can check here.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to your local voting agency. Take into account traffic, agency hours and high voter turnout times. Many voting experts recommend voting in the mid-morning and early afternoon if you want to avoid a bunch of other voters.

Report Issues
If you are suspicious of voter fraud or potential tampering, make sure you report your suspicions to the Election Protection agency. Their number is 866.OUR.VOTE.

Be Courteous
Finally, be courteous to loved ones and others who may be voting for your opposing candidate. Democracy is one of the many things that makes America a great place to live.

If you have an elderly loved one who needs help getting to a voting agency, Wiser Home Care Services can help. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Elderly Financial Abuse

The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Elderly Financial Abuse

As of 2014 the entire Baby Boomer generation is over the age of 50. Surpassing this milestone means that people over the age of 50 control 70% of the wealth in the United States.

The increasing age of wealth has also resulted in an increase in elderly financial abuse. A 2011 study conducted by MetLife found that elderly financial abuse costs our elderly loved ones nearly $2.9 billion annually. This calculates out to approximately $30,000 per elder fraud victim.

Since it is National Financial Planning Month, we thought it would be appropriate to discuss elderly financial planning and issues related to elderly finances. In our last blog, we discussed six ways adult children can start the financial planning conversation with their elderly loved ones. This week we want to address the growing trend of elderly financial abuse and exploitation.

Before we start exploring ways to stop elder financial abuse, we should first explain what it entails. Elderly financial abuse spans a broad range of conduct including:

  • Taking money or property
  • Scams that aim to take money
  • Forging senior signatures
  • Forcing an elderly person to sign over deeds, titles, etc.
  • Using elderly property/belongings without permission

While defining elderly financial abuse is easy, the tricky and difficult part is detecting it. Often when an elderly loved one falls victim to financial exploitation they may have no idea, or they may be too ashamed to tell you. Here are some things, as a loved one, you can keep an eye out for:

  • Sudden disappearance of valuable objects
  • Increased withdrawals or check usage
  • A new best friend
  • Signatures on checks that look different
  • A name added to a bank account
  • Fear of caregivers

Now that we know what elderly financial abuse is and what to look for, let’s explore how to prevent it. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take with your elderly loved one to protect them from experiencing financial exploitation.

Cut the Spam
While this might not completely prevent a fraudulent salesman, adding your loved one’s number to the national Do Not Call registry will certainly help lower the amount of sales calls they get.

2 Sets of Eyes is Better Than 1
It is important to have someone trust-worthy, who is close to the senior, appointed as a bank account overseer. They can make sure there isn’t any suspicious activity, and stop it before it gets too far. You can also do this with limited credit cards.

Track Their Credit
Your elderly loved one should order a copy of their credit report at least once a year to make sure there have been no fraudulent accounts opened.

Background Checks
Before hiring anyone to help with your elderly loved one, check their references and credentials.

Visit Frequently
Don’t be a stranger. Not only will your elderly loved one enjoy the company, it is good to check in and make sure everything is the way it should be.

Get a Second Opinion
Before your elderly loved one signs any documents it is important to have them looked over by a financial advisor or an attorney. This will ensure they aren’t getting themselves into something they shouldn’t. Finally, don’t ever rush them into a decision.

Sometimes, despite everything you do, your elderly loved one may fall victim to financial exploitation. If this happens, have your elderly loved one speak with an attorney and police officer. After they file a police report they should also contact Adult Protective Services for additional help and support.

Six Ways to Start the Elderly Financial Planning Conversation

A person’s true colors show when money is involved. Unfortunately, more times than not, those colors are not flattering. Money is quite possibly one of the main reasons people argue, get divorced and ruin relationships.

Due to these reasons, it is no surprise that speaking about personal finances with others is often seen as a taboo subject. When it comes to our elderly loved ones, it is important to have an open and healthy discussion about personal financial planning and saving.

Not only is it critical to have a financial plan for the future, elderly financial exploitation is becoming an increasingly common form of elder abuse, and it is important to protect your elderly loved one from it.

Since October is National Financial Planning month, we thought it would be a fitting time to explore the topics of elderly financial planning and safeguards against financial exploitation.

According to statistics compiled by the National Council on Aging, there are currently more than 25 million Americans over the age of 60 that live at or below the federal poverty level ($29,425 annually per person. On average, elderly receive approximately $433 each month in social security benefits. That’s not a lot.

Even worse, studies have found that “22% of married Social Security recipients and 47% of single recipients aged 65+ depend on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.”

Considering a majority of elderly live on a tight income, it is more important than ever for them to have a solid financial plan to help stretch their budget as far as possible.

We know that starting the conversation regarding financial planning can be tough, but the longer you wait, the tougher it will be. Here are a couple of good ways you can ease your elderly loved one into the conversation:

Tell An Anecdote
Telling an anecdote about another elderly person’s financial issues whether true or fabricated, is a good way to get the conversation going. You could also talk about your personal finances in an effort to break the ice, or bring up “what-if” scenarios.

Enlist the Help of Your Siblings
It is no secret that some siblings have a closer relationship to mom and dad than others. Before starting the conversation with your elderly loved one, build a plan with your siblings. It is usually smart to have the sibling with the closest parental relationship start the conversation then have the other siblings follow in with support.

Beat Around the Bush
Instead of coming out and asking directly about your elderly loved one’s financial plans, ask about what their plans are for the future. When they would like to retire, where would they like to live, do they plan on moving to a retirement community. This will get them thinking about the future and show them that you are interested in helping plan.

The Lending Tree
At first, we recommend you only asking your loved ones if you can lend them a hand with stuff around the house. Maybe there is a chore or errand you could run for them that would help them out. Eventually, you can ask if there’s any other ways you can help such as monetarily. For example, many families share cell phone plans. This not only lowers the cost but also ensures they have a phone for safety.

It’s Awkward but It’s Necessary
We know that it will likely be awkward to talk with your parents about their finances, but this is necessary. It is better to have a plan than be caught off guard in an emergency. The process of financial planning takes a lot of time, and well, planning. Often there are tons of documents that may be kept in secret places. The least amount of surprises, the better.

Don’t Know Where to Start?
If you are still feeling uncomfortable with having the talk, enlisting a professional to help can be the best route. Feel free to contact us, and we can help you find an elderly financial planning professional in your area.

Vestibular Disorder: Is Your Head Spinning? We Can Help.

Thanks to Starbucks, even though Fall doesn’t technically start until the end of September, as soon as the clock strikes midnight on September 1, it is Pumpkin spice everywhere. This year, Fall officially starts on Thursday September 22.

Not only is this week home to the first day of Fall, but it is also National Balance Awareness week. National Balance Awareness week was founded by the Vestibular Disorders Association with the goal of informing people about the symptoms of vestibular disorders in an effort to quicken diagnosis and treat people more efficiently.

You may be wondering, what is a Vestibular disorder? According to the Seattle Dizzy Group, the word “vestibular” refers to the inner ear balance system. These disorders typically start out with symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo and disequilibrium.

It is estimated that over 1/3 of all Americans over the age of 40 have experienced symptoms relating to a vestibular disorder at one time or another.

If experiencing vestibular disorder symptoms isn’t bad enough, sufferers are also at a higher risk of experiencing a fall as a result of dizziness. This is especially dangerous for our elderly loved ones.

Why is a simple fall so dangerous? Well, according to statistics released by the NCOA, “every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, and every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.” Furthermore, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal trauma as well.

So what can you do to help reduce your elderly loved one’s risk of experiencing a vestibular disorder? The first step is to understand the causes of imbalance and dizziness as we age. Some of these causes are below:

  • Impaired inner ear function
  • Poor cardiovascular health
  • Neurological disease
  • Arthritis
  • Mental status
  • Poor nutrition
  • Bad vision

While all of these can cause imbalance and dizziness, the most common cause is inner ear problems. In the inner ear, there are special nerves that detect the position and movement of the head, as well as the direction of gravity. As we age, these nerve cells decrease in number and can eventually lead to dizziness, imbalance and a full-blown vestibular disorder.

Be vigilant, and once you or your elderly loved one starts experiencing dizziness or imbalance, head straight to the doctor for a proper checkup. If you catch it early enough many of the causes of dizziness, imbalance and vestibular disorders can be treated and/or diminished with simple lifestyle changes.

During the checkup, the doctor will determine what the root cause of the imbalance is by asking questions regarding medications, what symptoms are being experienced and checking for any balance muscle weaknesses. Once finished, the doctor will determine a long-term care plan and you and your loved one will be on the road to recovery.

Do you know someone who is already suffering from a Vestibular Disease? We can help. If you would like to sit down with us and develop an extensive care plan for your loved one, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Glaucoma Treatment and Prevention Tips

We have blogged a lot lately about senior eye health and the prevalence of eye diseases amongst the elderly. As caregivers we help a lot of patients who suffer from vision loss due to eye disease, and a majority of them regret not catching it sooner.

Our goal here at Wiser Home Care Services is to not only help seniors in need, but raise awareness of age-related illnesses so that we can help seniors prevent these diseases.

As we mentioned in the first blog of our series, there are four common eye diseases that affect older Americans. These eye diseases include: age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. This week, as we wrap up our mini-series, we will cover the topic of the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide: glaucoma.

What is Glaucoma?
As defined by the Bright Focus Foundation, Glaucoma is a “group of eye disorders that have few symptoms in their early stages but eventually lead to damage of the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss or complete blindness.”

Glaucoma comes in two main forms: open angle and angle closure. The most common, affecting nearly 95% of individuals, is open-angle. This type of Glaucoma has no symptoms and over time will affect peripheral vision, ultimately leading to complete blindness.

The less common form, angle closure, also comes in two forms: acute and chronic. Acute angle closure takes place when “the normal flow of aqueous humor between the iris and the lens is suddenly blocked.” Chronic angle closure is similar to open angle glaucoma in the sense that it happens slowly without any symptoms and leads to vision loss.

Give Me the Numbers
Currently, there are approximately 3 million Americans who suffer from glaucoma with 90% of these people over the age of 40. Expanding globally, experts predict that due to the world’s aging population, by the year 2020 almost 80 million people will be suffering from glaucoma.

According to brightfocus.org, the disease costs the US economy over $2.86 Billion each year in direct costs and productivity losses.

Am I at Risk?
From infants to seniors, everyone is at risk of suffering from Glaucoma. However, our elderly loved ones are at a higher risk than everyone else. Furthermore, African Americans are 15 times more likely to suffer from blindness caused by Glaucoma than any other race.

What Can I Do to Prevent My Chances of Glaucoma?
The most important thing you and your elderly loved one should do is have regular eye exams. Like any disease, the earlier Glaucoma is detected, the better the outcome for the sufferer will be. In addition, a thorough understanding of potential risk factors will go a long way in helping stave off the effects of Glaucoma. Potential risk factors include:

  • High eye pressure
  • Family history
  • Age and Race
  • Thin corneas
  • Severe near-sightedness
  • High blood pressure
  • High use of corticosteroids

I have Glaucoma, what are my options?
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Glaucoma. With that being said, there are several treatment options available to help lower the effects of the disease. For Glaucoma in the early stages, eye doctors generally recommend a treatment of eye drops and sometimes pills.

If the Glaucoma worsens, then your doctor will may suggest incisional or laser surgery. However, these surgeries are usually only for younger Glaucoma patients.

If you care for an elderly loved one who suffers from Glaucoma and would like help caring for or developing an extensive care plan, we can help. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.