Podcast

Taking Care of Seniors with Judy

Taking Care of Seniors with Judy

On the final segment of “Caring for Seniors” Rich and Judy discuss the difficulties that come with caring for an elderly loved one. It can be draining emotionally, physically, and financially. Between lost wages trying to provide care or investing in a community or agency that doesn’t work out, it can be hard to stay afloat. This segment focuses on taking care of seniors with Judy providing all of her collected knowledge of caring for seniors.

Taking Care of Seniors with Judy

Taking Care of Seniors with Judy

 

Recently Judy spoke to a group called the “Silver Liners” who are between the ages of 70 and 90 at a local church, Bethany Covenant. Two caregivers that work with Judy are from there and wanted to help spread information around. Which is exactly what Judy did with the Silver Liners.

A half an hour talk turned into over an hour because Judy wanted to be as helpful as possible. One question was, “What does it look like getting a service started?” and Judy believes this is the biggest stumbling block for people.

They may imagine a much bigger process than it actually is. With Seniors Helping Seniors NH, it’s a matter of getting a casual visit to talk about what the care goals are and what would you want for a schedule. Not only that, but we want to learn more about the person who is getting the care. Who are they? What do they like to do, what is their past, what’s their personality? We want to create companionship on top of our care.

To create that connection we find a caregiver that would be a perfect match for our prospective client. Once a bond has been established, that caregiver will stay with the client until they are no longer needed. This unlike most agencies who just assign caregivers randomly and someone new might show up every time. It can be a little overwhelming and hard to trust this people, in the perspective of the client.

Check out the whole segment here.

Sleeping Problems and Tips

Sleeping Problems and Tips

On the latest segment of “Caring for Seniors,” Judy and Rich discuss in-law apartments verses assisted living and sleeping problems and tips on how to fix them.

Sleeping Problems and Tips

Sleeping Problems and Tips

 

It started out with Judy saying that a realtor friend of hers had called to talk about a buyer that is looking at house with her mother. They were deciding if an in-law apartment would be better than assisted living. There would be significant savings if they chose the apartment because the mother did not need that much help.

Then Judy went on to talk about her husband, Randy, who had a nasty fall off a roof recently and is now suffering sleep problems as he recovers.

Judy asked Rich if he sleeps well, to which he responded that as soon as his head hits the pillow he’s out. Judy congratulates him and goes on to say that poor sleep is in the top ten concerns for the elderly. As we age we see that sleep problems seem to get worse and worse.

2 Major Categories for Sleeping Problems

 

There are two major categories for sleeping problems, one is dyssomnia, which includes insomnia and sleep apnea. The other is called parasomnia, this includes sleep walking, night terrors, and REM disorders.

We categorize this more often with people who have dementia. These problems can also come up when someone is in pain because they can’t get through all the stages of sleep. The progression of sleep throughout the night is called sleep architecture.

The first stage is light sleep, the second is called deep sleep, or nonREM sleep, and the third is REM sleep, which is our restorative sleep. It’s been difficult for Randy to get sleep because not only is he in pain but he is being woken up every couple of hours to take pain medicine to keep ahead of it all.

We see ten minutes less of REM sleep with each decade. Poor sleep can lead to daytime drowsiness and difficulty focusing. So for our elderly who already have muscle weakness, we will see an increase in falls. Some helpful ways to get sleep is to try melatonin or sleepy time tea.

Try to avoid daytime naps. Try to exercise more during the day and don’t work out three hours before going to sleep. It’s always good to try those before going the pharmaceutical route.

You can listen to the whole segment here.

Caring for Drug Addicted Seniors

Caring for Drug Addicted Seniors

On the latest segment of “Caring for Seniors” Judy and Rich discuss the opioid epidemic and how seniors are getting involved with it. While it may sound surprising, drug abuse is a problem among seniors. Caring for drug addicted seniors can be tough, but Judy suggests some ways we can help them.

Caring for Drug Addicted Seniors

Caring for Drug Addicted Seniors

 

A third of Medicaid recipients were prescribed opioids in 2016. That’s 12 million people that were prescribed pain medicine. 2.7 million of those people abused them. New Hampshire is second only to West Virginia in prescribed opioid death.

We are also 28th in the country in the use of antipsychotic drugs, which isn’t good. This means we may use the drugs inappropriately to keep seniors calm when they don’t need to be drugged. Especially, people with dementia who may have some behavioral problems. When in reality something could be wrong with the environment or they are bored and not upset or violent.

Why This Is Happening

 

The National Safety Council found through a survey in 2016, that 99 percent of doctors prescribed opioids over the dosage limit of three days described by the CDC. So now, we have people who have more medication than they need and either they or a family member now has access to abuse it.

We also need to understand that the dependency happens within days of using it. We have seen an increase of five times the regular amount of people over 65 arriving in hospitals due to an opioid overdose.

There was heavy marketing towards doctors in the 90s for prescribing more pain medication. The thought is that you won’t get addicted if you have serious pain. Seniors also take longer to process the drugs so they spent more time in their systems and the brains become more sensitive to the drugs.

Communities are also a little eager to hand out pills. All a resident has to do is complain of pain and they’re handed a pill. Instead of that being the automatic response, we should all try to look deeper into what is causing the pain. Same with trouble sleeping, having issues with sleep is a fact of getting older. We shouldn’t go straight to pills. Depression, family conflict, and loneliness can also cause drug abuse.

Check out the whole segment here.

The Race to Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease

This week on “Caring for Seniors” Judy and Rich discuss the race to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. They open up with talking about the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. It’s happening at the end of the month. Judy always keeps up to date about the latest research about Alzheimer’s. She shares a study that’s happening in New York. It involves an eye scan that showed there was the same plaque build up in the retina that is in the brain.

The Race to Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease

The Race to Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease

 

The search for plaque overall is still relatively new. Until around seven years ago, it was thought that the only way to diagnose Alzheimer’s was through an autopsy. There’s pet scans now but it can be expensive and not covered by Medicaid. Then Judy mentioned a rather unorthodox study, which was very small, that involved peanut butter. According to the study, those with Alzheimer’s could not smell peanut butter in their left nostril.

The reason so many studies are focused on early detection is because by the time we might show symptoms we will be well into Alzheimer’s. It’s easy for everyone to brush subtle signs, like getting lost or constantly losing keys, when we’re younger.

It’s only when we are older do we see the seriousness of it. There are some medications out there that can help but they can’t do too much once we are in the midsts of the disease, but if we can detect earlier, it can add years of independence and good quality of life. It won’t reverse the disease but it will stall it.

Check out the whole segment here.

Fall Issues, Physical Therapy, and More

Fall Issues, Physical Therapy, and More

On this segment of “Caring for Seniors” Judy and Rich talk about fall issues, physical therapy, and more. Judy has been a licensed physical therapist for 32 years. She’s also the owner of Seniors Helping Seniors NH for 5 years. She often uses her knowledge from physical therapy to teach clients about fall prevention.

Fall Issues, Physical Therapy, and More

Fall Issues, Physical Therapy, and More

 

Judy talks about some simple things to add to homes when a loved one is still living at home. Adding grab bars, railings, ramps if possible, and places to sit scattered throughout the house can significantly lower the chance of falling.

Of course there is always a chance of falling. The sad fact is that people fall whether they are in the hospital, at home, or in a community. But listening to Judy’s suggestions can help minimize this fact.

Judy goes on to discuss the importance of physical therapy for seniors. It’s been assumed that we just weaken as we grow older. This is somewhat true, but physical therapy can help regain and maintain strength.

It’s not the perfect solution but it is a good start when paired with exercise. Many of Judy’s clients would be covered by insurance or Medicaid so they wouldn’t even have to pay for it, despite whether they have a new or old condition.

Physical therapy can offer ways to relearn how to move the body and how to properly exercise. For example, it’s been discovered that the idea of smaller weights and more sessions is now outdated and it’s better to have heavier weights and less sessions.

You can listen to the whole segment here.

Assisting the Elderly and the Importance of Communication

Fall Issues, Physical Therapy, and More

On the latest segment of “Caring for Seniors” Judy talks to guest hosts Eva Castillo-Turgeon and Daniel Maradiaga about assisting the elderly and importance of communication. They start by discussing the origins of Judy’s French last name and the discrimination that French people have faced in New Hampshire. This transitions into who Judy hires for Seniors Helping Seniors NH, and how she tries to have bilingual caregivers to help the connection between client and caregiver.

Assisting the Elderly and the Importance of Communication

Assisting the Elderly and the Importance of Communication

 

Eva pointed out that we are have one of the largest population of elderly in the country. Judy agrees and says that the numbers are growing so high that there are not enough caregivers. She says she is always looking for caregivers.

But, she wants ones that understand that the client has had a vivid life and want to care for them genuinely. She wants people who can give love, give respect, and want to grow closer to the clients.

People are living longer and we have people living to a 103 years old when we thought 80 was old! It’s important to listen to their stories because we will never hear these stories again. 1 in 9 people will have dementia once they hit 65, when they get to the 80, 1 in 3 people will have it.

People need to understand that this is a progressive diagnosis. When people hear dementia, they think of Alzheimer’s which is the most common form of dementia. But there are over seventy different types of dementia, if you can believe it!

While dementia can affect how someone talks and moves and finishes tasks, it does not affect how they can have a relationship with someone. They can see and sense our emotions. They can mimic our emotions, so if a daughter is frustrated then the mother will get frustrated as well because they sense something is wrong. The key is to connect to people, to see them, not just care for them.

Check out the whole segment here.

Addressing Alzheimer’s: Origins and Diagnoses

Addressing Alzheimer’s: Origins and Diagnoses

On this segment of “Caring for Seniors”, Judy and Rich discuss Alzheimer’s. The show opens with Judy discussing speaking to Seacoast Emergency Room doctors and how most of their calls are the results of a fall, some people even had bicycle falls. Then Judy shared how an 89 year old tried marijuana for the first time and had numbness in his feet and chest pains, which made him think of a heart attack and the numbness caused him to fall. Judy spends some time addressing Alzheimer’s origins and diagnoses.

Addressing Alzheimer’s: Origins and Diagnoses

Addressing Alzheimer’s: Origins and Diagnoses

 

Rich and Judy went on to talk about medications and how caregivers at Seniors Helping Seniors NH can help by reminding seniors to take their pills. Judy points out that sometimes all they need is a reminder.

Or maybe they can’t see the pills. What do we mean by that? Well with Alzheimer’s, our vision can start to change. So if there is a white pill in a white pill minder, we might not see it anymore. We think we took it.

Judy also went to a talk by an assistant professor in neurology who follows the latest research in dementia and Alzheimer’s. She is researching alkaloid plaques. It was in 1901 when Dr. Alzheimer had a patient who had significantly declined and had hallucinations.

The patient ended up in a mental institution because everyone assumed that was where she belonged but Dr. Alzheimer didn’t give up. He tried to figure out why all this was happening to her. Sadly, she died before he could come to a conclusion.

When he performed the autopsy on her, it was then that he discovered her brain covered in alkaloid plaque and significant brain tissue loss. Back then it was really scary and hard to talk about. Even today it can be difficult to talk about but it’s really important that we feel like we can talk about it.

Judy wants to share information that way this topic is not so difficult to talk about it. The Alzheimer’s Association has some great resources and in the fall there will be the fundraising walk for research to end this disease.

Alzheimer’s is progressive and terminal, people do die of Alzheimer’s. With Alzheimer’s, we do see a loss of brain cells and tissues and the brain weighs a third of what a “normal” brain weighs. The brain controls everything so once that organ has difficulty the rest will follow.

The key to care is to get a proper diagnosis. Sometimes people will be diagnosis with dementia but that is not a disease it’s the symptom. It’s like saying you have a fever but you don’t know what’s causing it.

Check out the entire segment here.

Mindfulness and Resiliency in Seniors

Fall Issues, Physical Therapy, and More

On the latest segment of “Caring for Seniors” on Girard at Large, Judy and Rich discuss mindfulness and resiliency in seniors. This topic was inspired by Judy meeting two women at a recent charity event that Judy attended for The Alzheimer’s Association. One woman is coping with her husband’s younger onset Alzheimer’s, in addition her sister passed of breast of cancer a couple months ago. So even though she has every right to be miserable, she was there at the fundraiser mingling. The other woman has been on the journey of her husband having Alzheimer’s for a while now and she has been staying strong and trying to make the best of it.

Mindfulness and Resiliency in Seniors

Mindfulness and Resiliency in Seniors

 

Resilience can come in all shapes and sizes. This makes Judy think about what brings a person to this point of resilience? How is it important to not only senior care, but the seniors themselves? Aging can create a great amount of stress because we are living longer and facing more difficulties.

Judy goes on to surprise Rich and say that resiliency wasn’t even studied until after World War II. Psychologists noticed there were many orphans after the Holocaust that were doing better than other children and they wanted to know why.

There was a huge study in Hawaii of 700 children whose parents were extreme alcoholics. What they found was a third of them were doing exceedingly well than the other kids. Scientists wanted to know what makes one more resilient than another and can we change our ability to be resilience.

We can teach resiliently. If we go down a fear based path, meaning always asking “Why me?” and “What if?” then that strengthens those pathways, causing us to be less resilient. MRIs can see how our brains work and how blood flows as our brain changes.

Another study was done on Navy SEALS, found that the SEALS will move more quickly from the prefrontal cortex, where cognition and planning is housed, to the amygdala, where are emotions are stored, and then back. People with depression and anxiety tend to be slower.

This brought up mindfulness, it’s estimated that 40% of the time we are thinking about something other than what we are working on. A study showed that Marines who use mindfulness training for four weeks found their stress response to be much lower and performed better.

Mindfulness is staying in the moment, and is easily connected to resilience because we can change our brain. We can learn how to be resilient.

Obtaining Home Care Services

This segment of “Caring for Seniors,” Judy and Rich talk about obtaining home care services. Many people asked about the process of getting home care and the costs. It sounds straightforward, but it can be a long and confusing process if you are under pressure. You can be hurried and overwhelmed if you are in the hospital. So Judy decided to go through the process step by step.

How to get home care services

Obtaining Home Care Services

 

Let’s say Mom or Dad is in the hospital for three days due to a fall or illness and Medicare is paying for their visit. Now towards the end of the stay, the hospital is talking about rehabilitation or home health services.

Rehabilitation usually involves loss of functional ability, how well you are able to take care of yourself or how well your body takes care of itself. Rehab helps build the strength and is also paid by Medicare.

Or you don’t go to rehab and you are supposed to go home the next day while not feeling a hundred percent. This can put a lot of pressure on not only Mom and Dad, but the adult children who are looking after them.

Maybe they are overwhelmed. Maybe they have to be at work tomorrow and can’t get the day off. Maybe their parent needs more care than they can give.

What social workers most talk about is a referral to home health services. This means a nurse might come twice a week to help with a bath, maybe a physical therapist or speech therapist comes to help build strength and this is also covered by Medicare.

To qualify for home health services you need to: one, have a goal to work towards; two, the parent is participating and not refusing care; and three, you truly need to be home-bound.

What’s been confusing for adult children is that they might not know the difference between home health services and home care. As discussed, home health involves your health and building up strength. Home care is someone spending the night, helping around the house, meal prep, taking you for errands.

Home care is not considered medical. It can catch a lot of people off guard. Then they are confused about how it is paid. Most of the time it’s out of pocket, though there is a state program called Choices for Independence which helps pay for care. Also long term insurance can help pay for home care if you need help with two out of the six daily living activities.

Check out the whole segment here.

Should the City Allow the Elderly to Stay in Their Homes?

Should the City Allow the Elderly to Stay in Their Homes?

Judy is back and this week on Girard at Large, Judy and Rich talk about should the city allow the elderly to stay in their homes? This discussion is sparked by a clip of Democratic Alderman and State Representative Chris Herbert concerning the removal of the elderly from their homes to make way for those who are able to higher tax rates. Judy points out the consequences of removing the elderly and the benefits of letting them stay.

Should the City Allow the Elderly to Stay in Their Homes?

Should the City Allow the Elderly to Stay in Their Homes?

 

The clip in question was the Alderman talking about removing an 83 year old neighbor from her 350,000 dollar house because she couldn’t afford the taxes. Apparently there is no such extravagant house in Herbert’s neighborhood as discovered by Rich and his loyal listeners.

The clip really upset Judy because she knows that 93 percent of the elderly don’t want to leave their home. Also most of the elderly that Judy helps will tell her they can’t afford a loaf of bread when sitting on a million dollars.That’s because they got to this point by living frugally, so Herbert, if such a woman existed and spoke with him, could have been mislead.

Judy also knows about the trauma that moving can cause for the elderly as she spoke about in a previous segment.

Plus the state would pay for move through hospitalization. The smaller the part the elderly play in the transition, the more trauma they face. If someone truly need to move because they are no longer safe then the transition must be done carefully.

Even if a program that removed elderly from their home existed, there aren’t enough beds in communities. That’s why Seniors Helping Seniors provides care for people on Medicaid through the program called Choices for Independence.

The programs helps people who can’t afford to stay in their home, stay in their home. Seniors Helping Seniors can come in just for 15 hours a week to help with errands, bathing, and meal prep so they can stay.

Plus no matter what, staying home helps improve their quality of life, it’s their home. They have created a life here, they raised their family here, and they are most comfortable here.