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Guest Blog: How to Find the Most Engaging Senior Living for Your Loved One

Making the decision to place your loved one in an assisted living community is never easy. Whether this option was carefully considered over a period of time or a sudden change in health has culminated in this necessary change, it’s important to take the time to find the right community for your loved one. Fortunately, there are ways you can increase your chances of finding a wonderful senior living facility that will tend to your aging loved one’s needs.

●    Talk to Your Loved One’s Health Care Provider

Usually, the best people to give recommendations on senior living facilities are physicians and nurses who specialize in providing geriatric care. Because their clients are of advanced age, they will be familiar with the local senior living homes. They can also provide you with information on which facilities tend to provide more engagement and enrichment activities, as well as which ones might only provide basic care. Others in your local community or church group might also have the information you need to get started on your search for the perfect assisted living community.

●    Consider Ratio of Providers to Residents

While it’s not impossible to provide an enriching environment within larger assisted living facilities it can be quite difficult, especially if they are understaffed or staffed with underqualified employees. If the ratio of staff to providers is too large for your liking you may want to consider placing your loved one elsewhere. If there are too many residents and not enough caregivers your loved one may not receive the amount of personal attention they need to truly thrive in their new community. You should always go with your intuition when choosing the proper assisted living facility to take care of your loved ones.

●    Check Out Their Events Calendar

A good sign of an enriching senior living facility is a full events calendar. Regardless of age, many seniors enjoy having a robust social life. A sense of community and a lively atmosphere can even help loved ones who are living with dementia cope better with their prognosis and disease management. Other countries emphasize the importance of community and inclusion within their care homes. For example, Japan is known for its thriving older population. A Japanese retirement community usually offers a wide range of activities for their residents to participate in, which promotes wellness and a better quality of life. If the facility you are considering offers social outings, group exercise classes, pet therapy, and other opportunities then that is a good sign of a caring and compassionate place for your loved one.

●    Take a Tour and Talk With Other Residents and Families

One of the most effective ways to decide if a senior living home may be a good fit for your loved one is to take a tour and observe a typical day at the facility. You will get a pretty good idea of what their sense of community is like, as well as whether most residents are happy and socializing with others throughout the day. Another sign to look for is if the caregivers seem to be engaged with their residents or whether they seem to simply perform their duties as needed. Enriching senior living facilities will usually feature brightly decorated spaces, common areas, games, and other amenities for residents to enjoy.

●    Assess Facility for Proper Security Measures

As your loved one ages you want to ensure that the facility you choose for them meets safety standards. Age-related issues like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and memory loss can all lead to unfortunate accidents and tragedies that are usually preventable. Before selecting a senior living community for your loved one be sure to run down a safety standards checklist. You’ll want to see that the facility has brightly lit hallways, multiple fire detectors throughout the premises, secured entrance and exit points, as well as handrails and CCTV. While it’s important to provide residents with enriching and stimulating activities, your loved one’s safety is tantamount.

Finding the right senior living facility for your aging loved one can be challenging, both figuratively and emotionally. Fortunately, with a bit of time and patience, you can find a wonderfully engaging senior living facility to meet your loved one’s health needs and provide them with a wonderful quality of life.

 

By |2022-07-13T19:07:31-05:00July 13th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How to Find the Most Engaging Senior Living for Your Loved One

Starting the Conversation: How to Talk to Your Parents About Senior Care

Contributing Author: Christopher Norman, Geriatric Nurse Practitioner

An inevitable process has begun: Your parents are growing older. Maybe they are struggling to keep up with their personal needs, or they have worsening physical limitations. Whatever the reason, you realize it’s time to talk with them about senior care. If you are nervous about initiating this conversation, you are certainly not alone.

Seniors often resist this conversation for a variety of reasons. Transitioning from giving care as a parent to receiving care from others can be a difficult adjustment. Additionally, many seniors resist accepting help because it means acknowledging the passage of time and the loss of independence.

Regardless of why your parents are hesitant to acknowledge their need for help, the way you approach this conversation can make a huge difference in the way they respond. Below are a few tips you can use in navigating this difficult topic together.

Start By Listening
Not sure where to begin? The secret ingredients for a constructive conversation on the topic of senior care are empathy and active listening. Before you begin to share your point of view, ask open-ended questions to uncover what they think, feel, and believe about aging and senior care.

Be Prepared to Offer Solutions
As you transition to a discussion about specific senior care options, your parents will likely be much more receptive to your input if you take the role of a knowledgeable advisor. If you research ahead of time, you can be prepared to lay out their options and work through any barriers, whether real or perceived. Two of the most important topics to read up on are:

Finances. One of the older generation’s chief concerns is finances – how to pay for the care they need will most almost definitely be a point of concern. Prior to broaching the topic of senior care, learn about the different payment options and financial assistance available for the various levels of senior care, such as in-home care and assisted living.

Aging in place. Many seniors prefer to live in their own homes for as long as possible – also referred to as “aging in place.” Be ready to discuss the need for in-home care and the need to find or adapt a home with “Universal Design” principles, such as no-step entryways, walk-in bathtubs, and wide hallways. Another key component of safely aging in place is assistive technology such as a medical alert system, which provides access to immediate help in an emergency. Research the costs and options available from different companies, and consider adding a home security and automation system as well.

Keep Your Final Goal in Mind
It is difficult to predict exactly how the conversation about senior care will be received by your parents, but as long as you listen, empathize, and are prepared to answer questions, you can make this difficult transition easier on everyone. You can then move forward together to find a senior care option that gives peace of mind to both you and your parents, with the ultimate goal being their safety, health, and happiness.

By |2022-06-21T11:34:34-05:00July 12th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Starting the Conversation: How to Talk to Your Parents About Senior Care

Guest Blog: Best Ways to Support a Loved One After a Stroke

A stroke is a serious, life-changing event that occurs when the brain becomes cut off from its oxygen supply due to bleeding or a blocked artery. Fortunately, many people are able to regain most of their cognitive function by following the guidance of their doctors, physical therapists, and speech pathologists. If your loved one has recently suffered from a stroke, there are many ways you can help facilitate their recovery and improve their quality of life.

Rebuild Skills Through Stimulation And Repetitive Practicing

While recovering from a stroke can be a long and often frustrating process, it is important to help them stay on track through purposeful stimulation and repetitive practice. Practicing simple daily tasks is necessary for the neural pathways to rebuild efficiently. Even simple, repetitive motions like leg bends and hand exercises are critical if your loved one is to gain full recovery after a stroke.

Help They Stay Consistent With Full Body Exercises

Your loved one’s physical therapist plays a critical role on their path to stroke recovery. They know exactly which exercises to prescribe for their clients in order to address any lasting effects their stroke has had on their mobility and quality of life. If your loved one struggles with walking after a stroke they may be instructed to complete a series of core, leg, and feet exercises to improve their mobility. Be sure to help them practice these moves on a regular basis and provide ample encouragement along the way.

Don’t Underestimate The Healing Power Of Sleep

Sleep is a powerful healer. Studies have shown that those who have experienced a stroke are more likely to regain mobility and improved neuroplasticity if they receive a healthy amount of sleep every night. Subsequently, stroke survivors who struggle with sleep issues such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome tend to have poorer recovery outcomes. If your loved one is struggling to get enough sleep after they have suffered a stroke it’s important to let their doctor know so they can get to the root of the underlying issue.

Boost Neurogenesis With A Healthy Diet

Your loved one’s diet can play a huge role in how well they are able to recover from a stroke. Certain types of foods promote healthy brain functioning and neurogenesis. You can help your loved one incorporate these foods into their diet by helping them with their grocery shopping and incorporating foods like fish, fresh berries, and nuts into their diet. Leafy greens, legumes, and whole wheat are also good choices for stroke patients. Be sure to consult their physician before making dietary changes, especially if they also have special restrictions due to diabetes or high blood pressure.

Prevent Regression By Helping Them Maintain Consistency

Recovering from a stroke can be a lengthy and frustrating process, especially since mobility gains are often incremental. This can be disheartening for loved ones who may have lived a very robust and active lifestyle prior to their stroke. Not only is recovery frustrating, but it can also be a lonely experience, especially if your loved one has lost their ability to communicate as well. Try to be as active as possible in their recovery process and provide ample encouragement along the way.

Incorporate Apps Into Their Recovery Treatment Plan

Aphasia is a common condition that affects a person’s ability to understand and communicate and is commonly associated with stroke. Aphasia presents differently in all patients and can be as mild as a speech impediment or as catastrophic as total communication loss. Fortunately, there are inexpensive apps you can download for your loved one that will help them improve their language and cognitive skills. If you’re unsure which apps would be most beneficial you should consult their speech pathologist. They will be most familiar with your loved one’s specific needs and can point you in the right direction.

Closing Thoughts

Although there might be some plateaus along the way, you can help your loved one successfully recover from a stroke. By helping them stay consistent with their exercises and accompanying them to their appointments whenever you can, your loved one has a greater chance of regaining their cognitive abilities and significantly improving their quality of life.

 

By |2022-07-11T17:56:53-05:00July 11th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Best Ways to Support a Loved One After a Stroke

Guest Blog: What You Need to Know About a Hemilaminectomy Procedure

This procedure is one of the safest, most minimally invasive treatments for a herniated disc. A Hemilaminectomy procedure is performed on patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. This diagnosis can come from several issues, such as Arthritis in the spine, which all result in pinched nerves. This procedure is perfect for someone suffering from a condition that occurs when the nerves are being pinched, resulting in severe pain running down the legs and into the feet. So here is what you need to know about the Hemilaminectomy procedure.

What is a Hemilaminectomy Procedure?

A hemilaminectomy is a surgical procedure performed on patients afflicted with lumbar spinal stenosis. This type of spine disorder occurs when the spinal column disc has been compressed over time and onward, which causes ongoing severe pain and discomfort for the patient.

The lumbar spinal discs are cushions of cartilage that sit between vertebrae. This condition occurs because of the pressure that builds up on these discs over time, which causes the pain to be extreme.

How is the Hemilaminectomy Procedure Performed?

This surgery is performed through a small incision on the back. Then special retractors are used to push apart the muscles in the mid-section of the back. This is a much more delicate surgery that must be performed through a small incision.

Because of this, it is usually performed on anyone under general or spinal anesthesia. As long as there are no problems with the patient, they should be able to wake up from the surgery in a few hours and go home after a day or two. This procedure is the least invasive option for patients who have chronic problems with their back.

When You Should Consider a Hemilaminectomy Procedure

This operation should be performed when symptoms of chronic pain are present. Some of these issues can occur from a pinched nerve that travels from the back down to the legs. It is also a procedure that is an option when there is a pressing issue with any of the pinched nerve issues.

Sometimes, this spinal disc can become herniated, which means that the pressure has become too much for it to handle and causes pressure on nearby nerves or bones. This is one of the most common conditions seen in lumbar spinal stenosis.

Sometimes, you can freeze off this spinal disc with a surgical fix by freezing it with an instrument, but Hemilaminectomy is the ultimate fix for this condition.

How Long Does Recovering Take After the Procedure?

Patients who undergo the Hemilaminectomy procedure will benefit immediately from this operation. After the surgery, most people have a day of recovery time before they are allowed to go home.

In most cases, patients return and participate in their normal activities within a few weeks of their Hemilaminectomy surgery. This general timeline is important because it provides comfort to the patient, knowing what they should expect when they decide to undergo this type of surgery.

The Risks of a Hemilaminectomy Procedure

As with any surgery, some risks come with it. Risks can include internal and external problems that may arise during the procedure. Some of these risks can include:

  • Blood clots in the legs
  • Bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Infection
  • Spinal Fluid Leakage
  • Allergic reaction to the anesthesia

In addition to this list, some risks are more common after a Hemilaminectomy procedure. This is because it is a less invasive surgery involving limited incisions in the patient’s back. After several months into the recovery process, it is possible at some point for the herniated disc to be recurring to a small degree.

This is something that most patients don’t have to worry about after a few months of recovery, but some patients do deal with a recurrent disc for the rest of their life. In such cases, it is important to get checked regularly.

Conclusion

The Hemilaminectomy procedure has become the preferred choice for most doctors regarding a full spine fix. This is because this procedure involves less invasive incisions, resulting in quicker recovery and improved patient comfort. This type of surgery is an option that is best for patients with debilitating conditions that affect their daily lives.

 

By |2022-07-07T17:11:33-05:00July 7th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: What You Need to Know About a Hemilaminectomy Procedure

Guest Blog: How to Get Care with These Common Chronic Illnesses

Understanding health insurance in America can sometimes feel like it requires its own specialized degree, even if you are at an advanced age and have navigated the red tape for years. As we age, and more health conditions become apparent, and navigating treatment options and cost can become increasingly tedious. About 40 million Americans are limited in their daily lives due to effects from one or multiple chronic illnesses.

The questions can become daunting: Can I get coverage if I have chronic conditions? Does my coverage include treatment and/or therapy? Is my coverage capped or limited at any point? What if I have multiple afflictions? Luckily there are resources out there to help you navigate these obstacles, you just need to know how to find them. We’ve compiled some tips and resources to help you get treatment and care with common chronic illness.

Heart Disease
Chronic heart disease which is an umbrella term that includes coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, and others is the leading cause of death for men, women, and most racial groups in the United States (about 655,000 deaths a year). The average age for a first heart attack in the US is 65, which is why it is commonly labeled a disease of senior citizens. However, with the right treatment options, many people survive heart disease for years.

Luckily, Medicare offers both medical and hospital coverage for heart disease patients which includes one free heart screen every five years, along with cardiovascular behavioral therapy visits annually with a primary care physician for preventative care. These screenings cover blood tests for cholesterol, lipids, and triglycerides along with dialogues that cover risk factors.

Chronic Kidney Disease
The CDC estimates that 15% of US adults have chronic kidney disease, which translates to around 37 million people. Depending on when it is caught, and how diligent you are with treatment options, the impact of CKD can range from minor diet restrictions to organ transplant. Most patients do not experience kidney function loss until stage three of the disease or later. These patients should still regularly meet with their primary care physician, address underlying conditions that could be contributing to the problem such as a fatty diet, lack of exercise, or smoking, but they typically do not need treatment options.

However, those who suffer from End Stage Renal Disease (stage five) have lost sufficient function in both kidneys and must regularly receive dialysis treatment until they can receive a transplant. Medicare covers inpatient, outpatient, and home dialysis treatment options under their part B and part C coverage plans. This includes supplies, nursing services, lab testing and in some cases transportation to and from treatment centers.

Degenerative Brain Disease(s)
While CKD is a very specific diagnosis that highlights kidney efficiency, neurodegenerative brain disease is more of a general term that is meant to include other specific diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, dementia and Spinal Muscular atrophy. Unfortunately most degenerative nerve diseases have no cure, and treatment coverage options vary based on diagnosis. For example, Medicare overs PET scans for those with FTD (fronto-temporal dementia) and Alzheimer’s, but only if patients meet eight additional conditions. In general, government assistance will cover hospital visits for any patient that has Part A coverage (thankfully), and most home care is also covered by Part B coverage.

However, like with previous examples, specific stipulations have to be met in order to receive the necessary coverage and treatment. Generally speaking, you should consult with your primary care physician and his staff to understand the right process for you.

Multiple Diagnoses
If the red tape with Medicare and a chronic illness is hard to comprehend, understanding how they prioritize and rank coverage based on multiple illnesses is akin to learning a new language. The CDC estimates that roughly 40% of adults in the US have two or more chronic diseases, and for those on medicare that represents a drastically different approach to how they receive coverage.

For those with multiple chronic conditions, Medicare Advantage coverage combines all the differences in parts A, B, and D and lumps them into one single service umbrella of coverage.
In 2018 the Senate passed the CHRONIC Care Act which expanded Medicare Advantage coverage and paved the way for those who require an elevated number of services like adult day care, caregivers, meal delivery, and more. To learn more about Medicare Advantage, we recommend this comprehensive write up here.

Susan is a guest writer on behalf of InsuranceFAQ.net. Susan wants to spread awareness on understanding health care and insurance coverage.

By |2022-06-21T11:33:36-05:00July 6th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How to Get Care with These Common Chronic Illnesses