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A Caregiver Checklist: Staying Healthy in the New Year

A caregiver has several responsibilities. They’re in charge of the well-being of another human being. Unfortunately, because of this, some caregivers find it hard to take care of their own well-being. However, it’s important to stay healthy and strong. The best thing you can do for your caree is to have strong mental and physical stamina. Here is a caregiver checklist in order to do just that!

Visit Your Doctor
The best advice is the advice given by your body. Don’t ignore the aches and pains or put off an ailment that has been bothering you for a couple of weeks. The worst thing that can happen is that little cold turning into pneumonia or that little ache in your back becoming a herniated disk in your vertebrae. These two things can put you out of commission for a very long time and that’s the last thing any caregiver wants.

That’s why it’s always best to visit your doctor. Sometimes that smallest of aches can become big health concerns. Caregivers have strong wills, so they can get through the toughest of scenarios, but it’s unnecessary. A doctor’s visit can eliminate any health concerns or provide you with the piece of mind knowing everything is alright. It’s also good to get check ups annually. A yearly doctor’s visit can keep you healthy and going strong for years to come!

Exercise is very beneficial for any caregiver. It keeps you in shape and works at relieving stress. It helps both the body and mind. It’s understandable if a caregiver cannot find the time to make it to the gym, especially if you just spent your entire day caring for someone else. Most people would want to curl up with a good book or relax for the remainder of the evening. However, even just a 30-minute walk can do the body good! Here is a list of helpful benefits:

  • Reduce risk of heart disease
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Maintain body weight
  • Improve mental well-being

As you can see, if you can find the time for a 30-minute walk everyday, your body will certainly thank you.

Get Sufficient Sleep
This is easier said than done. Every night, plenty of people get home and are determined to get a full night’s rest. Of course, there are plenty of distractions that can deter you from doing so. However, there are so many positives to a good night’s rest. It’s when your body heals itself from all the activities you did during the day. Also, sleep and stress work opposite of each other. The more sleep you get, the less stress you feel. Sleep, along with 30 minutes of exercise, can exponentially aid in your mental health.

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Coordinating Estate Liquidation

By Nate Morrissey

Liquidating a home and its contents after the loss of a loved one, or planning a move for the remaining spouse, can be a very difficult, time consuming and emotional experience. If you are contending with an estate and all that goes with it, you may suddenly find yourself in need of guidance and direction.

Furniture, documents, and a lifetime of possessions need to be dealt with. First and foremost, be sure to check the legal documents with family members to see if any items have been promised to anyone.

Clients often ask the following questions:
“How much will be needed in the new residence?” . . . “How will I clear out all of this stuff?” . . . “Can I sell any of this?” . . . “Should I try to have my own estate sale?” . . . “Are there companies that could do this for me?”

The answers to these questions come from those in the estate liquidation industry.

An estate liquidator will guide you through the process and help ease the burden by dealing with all the tangible assets in the estate. Most estates can be cleared out, making a profit with little or no out-of-pocket expenses. The company will assess each item’s value, organize and display your items, advertise the sale through multiple channels, and clear out the house at the end of the sale. The company takes a percentage of total earnings from the estate sale as payment. The range varies depending on total value and work needed for the sale.

The biggest mistake people make is they start going through the contents of the home prior to meeting with the estate liquidation professional.

The family spends a lot of time discarding items that could have been sold in a sale or donated. Estate sale companies need to sell enough items to cover their labor costs. If there are not enough items, your estate sale professionals will have a few options for you. One is to have brokers buy individual items of value. They can recommend local charities that will pick up a majority of the other items, which helps the community and provides a tax deduction. It is imperative to have the estate liquidation professional work closely with the real estate agent if the home is being sold as well.

Meet with the estate liquidator as soon as possible to help lower the stress of dealing with the contents of the home. This is also crucial because quality estate liquidation companies can be booked one to three months in advance.

How to Select an Estate Liquidation Company
As members of the American Society of Estate Liquidators, professionals have had training and experience to help you. They are valuable resources that shouldn’t be overlooked. Exercise caution if someone “dabbles” in estates or if the fees seem too low. Dabbling is dangerous! Get the BEST and the process will flow smoothly because they know what they are doing.

  • Interview several estate liquidators.
  • Ask for references. This is a good start, but also request to speak with a couple of references from recent sales the company has performed.
  • Before you sign, ask for a copy of the contract, proof of insurance, and a copy of the company’s business license, including the city or county where licensed.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau in that city or county and check for any complaints made against the company.
  • Make sure the home will be cleared out at the end of the sale if that is what you wish. The company would be doing a huge disservice to you if the home is still full of items at the end of the sale, and you are left to deal with them.
  • Ask how long after the sale will you be paid. It shouldn’t be longer than fifteen days after the sale.

Disposing of an estate can be a heavy burden. With research and reference checking, you will find an appropriate professional that meets your needs. 888-525-8375

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Understanding the Difference between Normal Aging Vs. Dementia

It’s true that as we age, our memory becomes less effective. We may need to have someone repeat what they just said in order to remember all the details. However, if you’re noticing more concerning symptoms in your senior loved one, it might be time to have them checked for dementia.

Dementia is NOT a normal part of aging. Yes, our memory decreases as we age, however if you notice that a senior loved one is having trouble with speech or remembering conversations that just happened, it might be time to get checked. Here are some symptoms of normal aging:

  1. Unable to remember every detail in a conversation
  2. Forgetting the name of a friend
  3. Having difficulty finding the right words
  4. Aware that your memory is getting worse

These four things are common signs that your loved one is aging. However, it’s no cause for alarm. There are ways to combat memory issues. One way in doing so is by keeping a strict routine. The more structured an older adult’s day is the more efficient they will be. It’s also a good idea, if there are various appointments that span from the everyday routine, to keep them listed in a planner. Organization is the key to a healthy mind. Not all of us have an encyclopedic, but if our tasks are all written down, we can prepare for them better, especially older adults.

Here are some signs and symptoms of dementia-like behavior:

  1. Forgetting entire conversations
  2. Forgetting family member’s names
  3. Substituting incorrect words in sentences
  4. Unaware of potential memory problems

These four items above are a call for a bigger concern. However, this is not a diagnostic tool to determine if a loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s. That is the work of trained medical professionals. That’s why it’s best to take them to their primary physician where they can be effectively tested for dementia.

It’s important to realize that just because your senior loved one had a hard time remembering a phone conversation you had last week, they do not for certain have dementia. The mind is like any other part of the body. Wear and tear will eventually occur, and our minds are constantly being utilized. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or fear for when the time comes. Some of the useful tips up above can be effective tools to help with your senior loved one’s day. However, everyone’s mind works differently so you and your senior loved one can work together so their days can be efficient as possible.

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National Glaucoma Awareness Month: Understanding the Eye

Our eyes are an incredible part of our body. By taking in light and focusing it on a membrane called the retina, we can view the world in great detail. It’s a complicated system that has a bunch of little parts that all work together to provide us our vision. That’s why it’s best to maintain proper eye health. If one of those little parts gets damaged it can cause headaches, vision problems, or even blindness.

This month celebrates National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is a type of eye disorder that has no early symptoms, but can lead to permanent blindness. It’s important for older adults to get checked for this disease when they get their regular eye exams.

The medical term glaucoma is used to describe any number of disorders to the eye that include a buildup of pressure that causes damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is one of the more crucial parts to the eye since it helps relay information from the retina to the brain. Without it, we would have no vision.

It’s best to be proactive about glaucoma. The disorder has been coined the “silent thief of vision,” because the damage occurs over a long period of time without symptoms. A lot of people falsely believe that this disorder can be easily diagnosed that includes a whole range of symptoms. However, there are very few symptoms and a human can lose up to 40% of their vision without ever noticing. If this is the case, the damage becomes permanent. Always have your senior loved one checked for glaucoma when they go for their regular eye exam. If diagnosed preventative measures through surgery or medication will be taken.

Types of Glaucoma
This disorder has been categorized into 2 different types:

  • Closed Angle Glaucoma – This type of glaucoma often comes on quickly and is very painful. The loss of vision can be swift, but the pain often leads patients to seek medical help before any major damage takes place.
  • Open Angle Glaucoma – This type of glaucoma can be chronic. It exists without signs or symptoms for a long period of time that results in permanent damage that is unable to be reversed.

As you can see, the duality of both types of glaucoma work separately, but both have their severe drawbacks. On one hand, closed angle glaucoma causes severe pain, but can be treated more quickly resulting in less damage, and on the other hand, open angle glaucoma results in no pain, but can cause a lot of permanent damage due to its undetection.

Your senior loved one should be checked regularly for any type of glaucoma. It is estimated that one out of 10 older adults ages 80 and above have glaucoma. Even though there are few preventative measures to disrupt getting this disease, the damage done by it can be prevented, so go see your eye doctor today!

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Cervical Health Awareness Month

January plays host to honoring a plethora of health issues. One important issue is that of cervical health. According to the American Cancer Society, 12,900 new cases of women with cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year, and of those 12,900 new cases, 4,100 of those women will die. Fortunately, cervical cancer has become a very treatable disease over the years. At one point in time, it was one of the deadliest forms of cancer for women. However, over the last 30 years, the death rate has decreased by 50 percent due to the growing amount of preventative measures. Here are some of the steps you can take to assure your female senior loved one’s cervical health is 100 percent.

Pap Test
This medical examination is one of the best ways to detect abnormalities within the cervix or even the early stages of cervical cancer. The procedure involves inspecting the cells from the cervix. If something unusual is detected, other examinations will be required to determine the problem. However, it’s one of the best methods to detect cervical cancer at it’s earliest stage which is also its most curable stage.

It’s imperative that you urge your senior loved one to get checked regularly, as 15 percent of all women diagnosed with cervical cancer are over the age of 65.

HPV Vaccine
The Human Papillomavirus or HPV affects over 79 million Americans. Most people who are affected by it aren’t aware they have it. In most cases, the virus shows no sign of its existence. A person will age with it and once the immune system is healthy enough, the disease will be defeated. However, in 5 percent of women, a persistent infection will occur that puts them at a higher risk of cervical cancer.

Regularly scheduling doctor appointments for cervical health is a good idea. By receiving the HPV vaccine, your senior loved one will greatly reduce their chances of getting cervical cancer. It must be taken in three doses and can defend against four types of HPV strains. The vaccine fights off two of the most common high risk strains as well as the two most common low risk strains.

Spread Awareness
Cervical health is very important because it’s very preventable. The more women know about the measures they can take to stay healthy, the closer we can all come to eradicating a disease. Cancer is scary. It would be wonderful to knock out even just one type of it. That’s why it’s important to spread cervical health awareness this January.

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Why Seniors Choose Home?

The one place most comfortable for the senior citizen to get older is home. According to a study conducted by AARP, 89 percent of adults prefer that choice. They want to stay where the heart makes long-lasting memories with friends and family.

There’s no question that aging in place has extensive appeal. Where else will you find chances to connect with neighbors of all ages? While retirement communities have inviting perks, they’re no match to the home. Staying in a neighborhood connects the person to a multi-generational lifestyle, rather than limiting them to a community of older adults.

Today, senior citizens demand a new lifestyle. They want to connect with people of all ages and maintain a sense of independence. They’re active, have a variety of interests, and want to continue learning.

In the new era of technology – from personal health records to finding caregivers – seniors head to the web. They exchange texts with grandkids, they engage with friends and family on Facebook, and they even pay the bills online.

A 2012 Gallup survey asked people what they wanted to do once they reached retirement. The survey asked, “Do you think you will continue working and work full-time; keep working and work part-time; or stop working altogether?” People who responded confirmed that they would like to continue to work. When asked, “Why, because you have to or want to?”

  • 18% would work full-time, and a third of those said it was because they wanted to, not because they would have to.
  • 63% would work part-time; almost two-thirds of those said they would do it because they wanted to.
  • 18% would retire and stop working altogether.

Local communities offer senior citizens opportunities beyond the neighborhood. City governments partner with the college campuses and non-profit organizations to provide lifetime learning. It’s not about getting a degree; it’s about staying active and involved.

Adults want to be with young people, to keep a sense of humor, to retain the brain’s capability and fresh ideas, and to maintain an active body.

The Need for Extra Help
When the going gets rough, in-home care services is the best solution to help seniors age in place.

Keeping a house maintained and functioning takes work. If a person finds it too difficult to keep up the chores, look into professional help that can assist in laundry, shopping, gardening, housekeeping, and handyman services.

Professional caregivers also assist with activities of daily living, like dressing, bathing, meal preparation, transportation, and medication adherence.

Asking for help is the surefire way of staying independent and safe at home.

Carol Marak is a contributor for the senior living and health care market. She advocates older adults and family caregivers by writing on tough topics like chronic issues, senior care and housing. Find her work at and and contact Carol on LinkedIn and

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The Caregiver Shortage: A Hard Problem to Solve

In the United States, there has been a push for more affordable care at home. The idea of aging comfortably in one’s own home has surpassed the idea of assisted living facilities. The only problem is that the number of caregivers is far outnumbered by those who need the care. The demand outweighs the supply, which isn’t surprising. Caregivers work long hours for little benefits. They deserve our appreciation.

According to previous statistics, baby boomers made up the majority of the caregiver population. Your standard caregiver was a middle-aged woman, working a fulltime job, and providing 20 hours of care a week. However, the boomers are aging and the roles are reversing. Now they’re the ones who need care.

Boomers had relatively fewer children than previous generations. At one time, the nuclear family, on average, consisted of two parents and as many children as possible. With the reduced number of kids, boomers reduced the number of potential family caregivers.

Due to the lack of family members who could fill in as caregivers, an opportunity has arisenfor professional caregivers. Many older adults find great benefits from a trained professional who has all the necessary tools to provide effective care.

Unfortunately, several families face financial obstacles when it comes to hiring professional care for an older loved one. The new healthcare reform has not been able to successfully fund long-term care, making it difficult for many to hire a caregiver.

The best way to solve the caregiver shortage is to show appreciation. If there’s a greater appreciation for these everyday superheroes, the benefits will fall in place. For too long, caregiving has been viewed as a second rate job. It’s not. There are so many valuable skills you need to have in order to be one as well as giving away one of your most precious commodities: time. A caregiving pours endless hours into their job and some of them do it out of the kindness of their hearts.

There is no easy answer to the caregiver shortage. There is no magic wand that can be waved to solve this. Right now, the demand is preceding the supply. What needs to happen in order for anything to change is the appreciation needs to outweigh everything.

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Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Hundreds of thousands of people use MLK Day as an opportunity to start their year off the right way. In remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all the good he did for his communities, we celebrate by offering our services to our own community. There are plenty of ways to volunteer, however here are some of the top activities you can do with your senior loved one if they’re healthy and active enough to participate.

Visit Your Local Soup Kitchen
One of the best ways to give back to your community is by giving out food for those who need it. Local food shelters are always looking for volunteers to hand out meals. It’s also a great opportunity to take part in the anti-hunger movement. Far too many people wake up and go to bed hungry. By volunteering at a soup kitchen, you’re providing yourself the opportunity to be thankful for everything in your life, because not all of us are fortunate to have the luxuries that we may take for grant it at time. For instance, not all of us get to enjoy a fresh meal before bed. Not all of us get to enjoy breakfast. Offer your time and your service at a food shelter. You and your senior loved one will get so much out of it.

Visit Your Local Place of Worship
Religion is very important for many older adults. If your senior loved enjoys going to church functions, then it may be a good idea to volunteer at their local church. Most places of worship gain income strictly from donations from their community, and there’s a lot of upkeep that’s required to maintain it. Therefore, they appreciate anyone who is willing to help out. Take a ride down to your senior loved one’s place of worship. There are numerous tasks that can be accomplished from organizing songbooks, to reordering prayer books, and even teaching young children about their religion. It’s another great volunteering opportunity that you and your senior loved one will enjoy together.

Be a Companion
Even the smallest acts of kindness can contribute in a grand scale. Offering your time to someone who is lonely can be a great service. Perhaps there’s another older adult in the community who is not fortunate enough to have a caregiver or a family member with them during the day. Go visit them. Martin Luther King Jr. was an ambassador for his community. He went and reached out to people who wanted to be heard. He gave a voice to those who had none, so by having a conversation with someone who doesn’t always get the opportunity to speak to another person, can do a world of good. Volunteering doesn’t have to involve a specific organization or task. Brightening someone’s day can be just as important.

It’s no secret that as we age we become less active. However, that doesn’t mean we have to sit around idly. That doesn’t mean we can no longer do good in the world. Volunteering doesn’t mean hard, intensive labor. It’s to simply make a difference; an opportunity everyone, no matter their age, can do.

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Winter Emergency Checklist

In a previous post, we discussed the ways older adults can help themselves in the winter months in order to remain safe during difficult conditions. This week, we’d like to offer some advice for you, the caregiver, to ensure the safety of your senior loved one during the colder months. There are plenty of preemptive actions you can take to assure your senior is safe and comfortable within their own home.

Stock Up
These days, everybody knows when a winter storm is about to hit their area. If you’re aware of an oncoming storm, stock up before the storm hits. It’s much easier to get supplies before the roads become dangerous. It’ll also provide you with some peace of mind knowing that if something such as a power outage occurs, there are plenty of supplies to provide the senior with a safe environment. So what are some supplies you should stock up on? They include:

  • A flashlight with multiple battery packs
  • Bottles of water
  • Blankets
  • Non-perishable foods
  • 7 day supply of their medication

Having all of these items will ensure their safety and provide you with the comfort of knowing they are safe.

Eliminate Fire Hazards
It might seem like a good idea to run the oven when the central heating of the house isn’t cutting it. However, this is a big risk for a fire in the house and it’s never a good idea to do such a thing. Also, the overuse of space heaters and heated blankets runs the risk of creating an electrical fire. Your best bet is to supply your senior with an ample amount of blankets. If one blanket isn’t keeping them warm, add another and another until they’re at a comfortable temperature. You’ll also want to keep smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors up to speed. Make sure you replace the batteries in each device and ensure they’re working properly.

Watch Their Nutrition
A balanced diet of rich vitamin fruits and vegetables mixed with a good amount of protein will keep your senior loved one healthy. In a previous post (insert nutrition blog) we listed a number of warning signs if an older adult is not receiving the proper nutrition. If you notice any of these signs, alter their diet. Provide them with the right amount of essential nutrients or contact their primary physician. He or she will be able to detect the problem and know how to solve it.

Keep in Contact
In case of a winter weather emergency, it’s best to stay in constant contact with your senior. This can be achieved by giving them a senior friendly cellphone. If this is the route you take there are certain factors that should be accommodated for before you give it to them.

  • Be sure they know how to use it
  • Program emergency contacts for them
  • Provide them a phone with a long lasting battery
  • Provide them a phone with big buttons that is easily viewable

Guaranteeing that a senior knows how to use their cellphone will provide a lot of comfort to you.

There are a number of physical health risks that come along with the winter weather. However, the phone can also be used to aid them in mental health risks as well. Winter can be isolating for older adults, especially those with mobility issues, so don’t just view the cellphone as an emergency only phone. It can also provide them with a window of opportunity to talk about their day and feel connected with their community.

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Embracing the Reality: Dementia

“I don’t want to lie to her.” It’s amazing how often I hear people say this regarding a person with dementia. This is a good policy normally, but it just doesn’t apply when we are talking about dementia care.

Dementia care is challenging. Caregivers make it harder, though, when they refuse to accept that people with dementia live in a dementia-based reality. Dementia-based reality is not the same as ours. In dementia reality, people who have died are still alive, grown children are still kids, and retirees are still in the workforce.

Does the following story sound familiar?

Your mother is looking at the clock. “When are we going to Mom’s house?” she asks. Your mother is 85 years old, and her own mother has been deceased for quite some time.

In this instance, you could react in several ways. Sadly, many caregivers gravitate toward the wrong approach: “Mom, you are 85. Grandma has been dead for 20 years,” you might explain, annoyed that she is unclear about this. This information, however, is completely new to her in her reality.

Some caregivers believe that a little reminder will be helpful, but your mother is devastated by this information. “But when did she die?” she asks with tears in her eyes. Fifteen minutes later, she has forgotten that you have told her this, but she is still upset and agitated but does not know why.

A potentially better solution could be to redirect the conversation. “I am not sure. We could probably go tomorrow! What were you thinking of doing at Mom’s house?” you could ask. Maybe you could remind her of Grandma’s cooking, and how delicious her sweet potatoes always tasted. She may be happy to talk about this, and suddenly your negative conversation is a positive one.

When people with dementia get confused, family members sometimes feel the need to “orient” them to our reality. “I don’t want to lie to mom,” adult children will tell me. It’s not about lying, I reassure them—it’s about embracing the reality of the person with dementia.

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Rachael Wonderlin is a Dementia Care Program manager at Brookdale Senior Living. She has a Master’s in Gerontology from UNC Greensboro and has worked in many different care settings (hospitals, dementia care, assisted living, skilled nursing, and home care). Rachael keeps a blog called Dementia By Day.

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