Remember the Simple Things

Life is busy – in fact it is exhausting. As humans, we are perpetually running around doing a million things at once. In the midst of this controlled chaos, it can be extremely difficult to take care of yourself – to remember the simple things like dental care, physicals, and sleeping. However, now more than ever is the time to take care of ourselves. To remain healthy and virus-free, we must take care of ourselves, despite how difficult it is.

This is a list of 10 healthy habits that all of us – especially seniors – should keep in mind as we grow increasingly entrenched in our public health crisis:

  1. Eat healthy: drink at least 8 glasses of water every day to remain refreshed and eat high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  2. Get some sleep: turn off lights and screens before bed to calm the mind and regulate longer sleep cycles; the National Sleep Foundation recommends that those 65 and older get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night
  3. Remember mental health: stimulate the mind with crossword puzzles, reading, and writing – maybe even pick up a new hobby
  4. Socialize: help seniors feel connected with virtual calls to family and friends
  5. Stay physically active: regular exercise can prevent common ailments such as heart disease and diabetes; specifically in senior citizens, exercise helps reduce the risk of falling; exercise also alleviates depression and improves memory
  6. Visit the dentist biannually: infections in the mouth can lead to damage elsewhere in the body, therefore the Oral Health Foundation recommends that a dentist appointment is scheduled every 6 months
  7. Focus on prevention: get vaccinated for the flu, pneumonia, and other illnesses
  8. Get information on medication management: on a regular basis, it is important to review a senior’s medication list on your own and with a physician
  9. Screen for vision changes: according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, seniors with glasses should schedule annual appointments to check their prescription; doing so reduces the risk of age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts
  10. Take advantage of free physicals: seniors have access to free physicals during their first 12 months of Medicare

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An Emerging Model of Home Care Agency

Independent You, like most other home health agencies, aims to provide high-quality, personalized care to every senior it supports. However, a recent article by Home Health Care News explains that some agencies are adopting an innovative new form of home care, one that is uniquely tailored to a clients’ ethnic and/or cultural background. The philosophy behind this approach is simple: in a challenging time, people desire that which is most familiar. For many, that is their native culture, reminiscent of home. This model of care is especially appropriate for collectivist cultures, such as a Hispanic, South Asian, and Middle Eastern populations.

This style of care scrutinizes the specific details of a culture and adapts caregiving to be sensitive of those beliefs and customs. One company pioneering this novel style is Circle of Life Home Care. This Minneapolis-based agency specifically serves Native American communities on and off their land. Most immediately, Circle of Life was able to step in when COVID-19 began to disproportionately affect Native Americans. The company quickly adapted some of its medical practices to accommodate COVID-19 guidelines, but in a way that respected Native American customs.

The symbiotic relationship formed between client and provider ultimately benefits both parties. Individuals receive an ultra-personalized and culturally-sensitive level of care. In turn, the company is likely to develop higher levels of client loyalty, brand recognition, and client satisfaction. Some experts say that this micro-targeted method of health care offers a unique outlook on caregiving, and it may represent the start of a gradual shift in home healthcare.

 

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Going the Extra Mile with Dementia Care

By 2050, the number of people in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s or dementia is expected to jump from 5 million to 15 million. More startling, new research shows that half of medical professionals are not equipped to effectively care for these patients. In response, public health experts are recommending additional dementia training for doctors and nurses. This training would enable medical professionals to recognize and treat dementia in a more effective way. Currently, dementia care is relegated to specialties that regularly treat elderly patients. Toni Miles, a dementia researcher at the University of Georgia, explained that “limiting dementia to a specialty care scenario creates a barrier to optimal training and ultimately, quality patient care.”

Aisha Adkins are among the millions of Americans who have first-hand experience managing dementia. A young, millennial women of 35 years old, Aisha lives at home as a full-time caregiver for her mother who was diagnosed with dementia 8 years ago. In her testimony, she describes not only the physical toll of being a caregiver, but also the impact it has had on her mental and emotional wellbeing. At times, she has found it difficult to sleep soundly or connect with friends. These concerns have now been exasperated with the looming uncertainty of COVID-19 and her identity as a Black woman.

Aisha did not have the luxury of choosing to become a caregiver. Instead, it was thrust upon her. Day-in and day-out, she works tirelessly to provide the highest quality of care she can offer her mother. She reminds and inspires us to go the extra mile in the face of adversity and uncertainty. The ability to recognize dementia early in a person’s life could have long-lasting effects on their quality of life, as well as the wellbeing of their loved ones like Aisha. As such, the call for more dementia-based education and awareness may be well-warranted and long overdue.

 

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Projecting the Future of Senior Health Care

According to the Center for Disease Control, 80% of COVID-19 deaths have been reported in people 65 or older. As we watch this disease wreak havoc on retirement communities, it can be easy to bash on the existing healthcare system and its current failings. However, researchers are now forecasting the future of geriatric care in a post-COVID world. According to Next Avenue’s two-part series, there are three things to expect:

  1. An Increase in Telehealth: In a matter of weeks, the number of telehealth users skyrocketed from 13,000 to 1.7 million per week. While telehealth may not function at this same rate in the future, it is still anticipated that it will become more widely incorporated into medical practices. Not only is it safer and more convenient for patients to remain at home, but it might also save money for doctor’s offices and insurers. However, it is important to recognize that telehealth is also not realistic for all people. Some patients may not have access to the proper technology, and others may have disabilities which prevent them from using the technology.
  2. An Increase in Geriatric Care: As the Baby Boomer generation begins to enter into retirement age, it is anticipated that geriatric care will be more highly valued and sought after. Right now, there are about 7,000 geriatricians in the U.S., but in the next 5 years it is estimated that there will need to be 23,000 geriatric physicians to accommodate the influx of elderly people.
  3. A Revised Landscape of Living Options: COVID-19 has demonstrated the existing model in nursing homes and retirement communities may not be sustainable in the future. Some predict that senior living will have smaller, clustered housing (like individual neighborhoods) that would maintain community but mitigate the risk of infection. Others expect that society will move away from care communities and incentivize aging in place or living with family.

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