Home Health Care News

Seniors At Home


St. Patrick’s Day Activities for Seniors

Although seniors usually aren’t looking for the same kind of rough and rowdy time that 20-some year olds want, that doesn’t mean that they still don’t want to have a little fun. So what kind of St. Patty’s Day activities would a senior be interested in?

1. Crafting: Some good craft making ideas that are associated with St. Patrick’s Day are rainbows with pots of gold, Leprechaun items, and four leaf clovers. You can pretty much be sure to find whatever idea your heart desires on Pinterest.
2. Games: You can pretty much have your pick of games and just tweak for things specifically involving St. Patrick’s Day. Trivia, Pictionary, and LUCKY (instead of BINGO) are all good choices that people are relatively familiar with.
3. Food: You can choose to either host a dinner with Irish items or, if you want to make it a community thing, you can plan a progressive dinner. In other words, do a home/apartment crawl (similar to a bar crawl) where each host prepares an Irish themed course. Some examples of Irish foods are Banger and Mash, Corned Beef Cabbage, and Irish Brown Bread. Green Jell-O for dessert and Irish coffee to end the night. If you aren’t into green beer, adding a few drops of green food coloring to some sprite should do the trick!
4. Get out: If you are able to be mobile, most cities have some kind of parade or festival to participate in.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to wear green so you don’t get pinched! Also, go ahead and set a little festive background music to whatever activity you choose, to get you in the spirit, whether it’s some bagpipes or Celtic tunes. We hope you enjoy these wholesome St. Patrick’s Day activities and that we have given you some inspiration as to how to liven up the upcoming holiday!


A Valentine’s Day Your Senior Won’t Forget!

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a holiday reserved for couples. We would do well to remember our elders this time of year. For them, Valentine’s Day may be harder than ordinary days, especially if they are facing the loss of a loved one. The best thing to do is to try and set aside some time for them. Here are some ideas:

1. Plan an outing. If your beloved senior is physically able enough to get out of the house, taking them to dinner and/or a movie is a nice idea.

2. Make something. If you decide staying in sounds like a better idea, you could always plan to bake cookies or another type of sweet treat. If baking or cooking isn’t your forte, making a craft together is another nice idea. Then, they will have something to keep around that will remind them of you and how much they are loved.

3. Take the easy route. Order in pizza or grab some other type of carryout on your way over, and just spend time. Whether it’s just turning on the TV or a movie, or sitting around chatting, your senior will appreciate the time spent.

If you do not live close by but still want to do something special, ordering a nice floral or edible arrangement is one way to go. If neither of those are in the budget, you could always plan a time to Skype or FaceTime but, if your senior is not very technologically savvy, sending an old-fashioned card or letter might be the way to go. One way or another, your beloved senior will appreciate the extra attention this Valentine’s Day!


The 5 Questions To Ask In Home Care Providers

How can you tell if your senior is getting the proper in home care that he or she deserves? Home Instead Senior Care of Myrtle Beach is here for you! We have come up with 5 important questions to ask in home care providers when searching for the best fit for your senior!

  1. Is your company SC DHEC compliant and licensed?
  2. Does your company conduct National Background Checks and routine Drug tests on each Caregiver?
  3. Does your company Bond and Insure each Caregiver individually?
  4. Does your agency answer their phones 24/7 with a live staff member?
  5. Does your company provide continuous Education for their Caregivers.. ie: Basic Care giving, Advanced Care giving, Personal Care series and specialized Alzheimer’s training?

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us today by calling 843. 357. 9777 or by filling out the contact form here »


Returning Home: Start Planning Now

When a doctor admits your loved one to a hospital or facility it’s often a traumatic experience, whether you were expecting it or not.

And, as a family caregiver, it’s unlikely that you’re thinking too far ahead. Just get through one day at a time, right?

However, while a senior is still in the hospital or rehabilitation facility, it’s important to begin preparations for the time your loved one will return home. That’s because a smooth transition home is vital to a successful recovery. Consider this:

  • Nearly 20 (19.6%) of Medicare patients discharged from the hospital are readmitted within 30 days of discharge, account for $17.4 billion in spending, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
  • One chronic condition that often sends older adults back to the hospital is heart issues. In fact, approximately 30 to 40% of patients with heart failure are readmitted within 6 months of hospitalization.

Many issues factor into why older adults are vulnerable to problems at home after they have been in a hospital or rehabilitation setting.

“One of the reasons we have large numbers of readmissions, many of whom are elderly, is because seniors are sent home unprepared, or they don’t follow or understand directions, or there is not adequate support at home or availability of a family caregiver – which puts them at risk. The key issues that send seniors back to the hospital are medication problems, falls in the home and not following up with the doctor,” said LaNita Knoke, President of the American Association of Managed Care Nurses.

Add to that list home safety issues, nutrition and hydration challenges, and overwhelming responsibilities for the primary family caregiver, seniors and their families can face a difficult road ahead.

Planning during a crisis is never as effective as being prepared in advance. Preparation is your best strategy for avoiding the many pitfalls that can sabotage you senior’s health and well-being when he or she goes home.


Returning Home: Home Free!

Congratulations! Hopefully you senior loved one has made a successful transition home. Home is the place where most seniors want to be – and stay. As a matter of fact, upwards of 90% say they want to age in place at home, according to industry surveys.

Support for a family’s older adults is a labor of love that will generate benefits not only for seniors, but extended family members as well.

After all, you’ve set an example for the kind of love and care that honors the life of your older adult and serves as a legacy for future generations. And that’s something of which to be very proud.

Resources of the Returning Home Program

The Home Instead Senior Care network stands ready to provide the types of services that can help seniors make a successful transition from a hospital or facility back to their familiar home environment and routines during the critical 30 days after hospital discharge.

Services of the Home Instead Senior Care network’s Returning Home Care Program include:

  • Readying an older adult’s home including changing bed linens, straightening the house to create a welcoming environment, buying groceries and preparing healthy meals;
  • Discharge coordination and execution;
  • medication and nutrition management;
  • Record keeping;
  • Monitoring for warning signs;
  • Transportation to follow-up physician visits.



Returning Home: Medication Management

Medication mismanagement is one of the leading problems that sidelines a senior’s successful recovery.

Nearly 120,000 patients each year need to be hospitalized for treatment after emergency visits for adverse drug events, reports the Centers for Disease Control. As more people take additional medications, the risk of adverse events may increase.

Why Seniors Are Vulnerable

Although many seniors take regular medications, a recent hospital stay could result in new and unfamiliar prescriptions. Taking the right medication at the proper time and in the correct dosage is important to keeping an older adult on the road to recovery.

Following are key tasks that older adults returning home often need assistance with to ensure they remain safe and on track:

  • Picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy
  • Ensuring medication is taken
  • Refilling prescriptions. (It’s best to go to a senior’s regular pharmacy to avoid adverse reactions from a combination of drugs prescribed by different sources such as hospital and primary care physician.)
  • Organizing pills to ensure that confusion doesn’t lead to a medication mishap. A pill box can help track whether a senior has taken his or her medications. Some pharmacies will fill a pill box and others offer a service that seals each day’s medications in a blister pack.
  • Tracking medications to hep older adults more easily manage their health

Make sure your senior has the support he or she needs to manage the tasks above.

Senior Emergency Kit

Whether accompanying your loved one to a doctor’s appointment or in response to a medical crisis, it’s critical to have your loved one’s medical information easily and quickly accessible.

The Senior Emergency Kit features several worksheets that family caregivers can complete with the help of a senior loved one. This toolkit can be kept in an easy-to-reach location, such as a nightstand, to allow easy access to information.


Returning Home: Preparing a Safe Home-Pt. 2

Stocking the Refrigerator and Cupboards, Changing the Linens

While you’re getting everything together, don’t neglect the refrigerator and cupboards. If your senior has been gone long, there may be spoiled and outdated food to replace and important staples to replenish.

Gear the type of food you restock the refrigerator and cupboards to the condition that your loved one will be in when returning home. If cooking will be a challenge and he or she doesn’t have adequate help, buy or arrange for nutritious and easy-to-prepare preferably fresh or frozen, if necessary, alternatives. Or consider asking the social worker or case manager to help arrange signing up for a home delivery meal program such as “Meals on Wheels.”

Remember to change the linens and restock important personal and hygiene products that a loved one could need.

Time to Go Home

It’s the day you and your senior have undoubtedly waited for: time to go home! All hospitals and facilities have their own patient discharge procedures but, regardless of their policies, you can be better prepared by ensuring that you have all you and your senior need to be ready when you step out the door.

If you haven’t had time to ask the questions in the beginning of this guide, do it now. Likewise, this could be your last chance before your older loved one departs from the hospital or facility to address his or her equipment needs.

Following is a checklist adapted from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that can help ensure that you and a loved one haven’t forgotten anything:

  • Confirm where your loved one will be going – back home or to a rehabilitation facility or care community.
  • Ask staff what your loved one can do to get better.
  • Ask about problems to watch for and what to do about them. Write down a name and phone number to call if you have problems.
  • Review with medical staff the list of drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements your senior loved one will be taking. Write down a name and number to call if you have problems.
  • Confirm the medical equipment your senior will need. Write down a name and phone number to call if you have questions about the equipment.
  • Ask if your senior will need help with the following:
    • Bathing, dressing, using the bathroom or climbing stairs.
    • Cooking, food shopping, house cleaning, laundry, and paying bills.
    • Getting to doctors’ appointments, picking up prescription drugs.
  • Ask staff to show  you and your senior any task that requires special skills such as changing a bandage or taking medication.
  • Ask the social worker any final questions about what insurance will cover. If you need help with costs, ask about your options.
  • Ask for written discharge instructions and a summary of current health status. Bring this information and list of medications for follow-up appointments.
  • Write down any appointments in the coming weeks.
  • Get prescriptions and any special diet instructions.

Being prepared will help make you a more confident caregiver and put your loved one at ease.

If you can’t be there when an older loved one goes home from the hospital, a CAREGiver from the Home Instead Senior Care network’s Returning Home program can assist.


Returning Home: Preparing a Safe Home

Home safety is important for any older adult, but becomes more urgent when a senior who is recuperating returns from a hospital or facility.

Keep in mind that some medications will make a senior weak or dizzy. Think about the layout of your older adult’s home and what obstacles could get in your loved one’s way at home. This home safety assessment can help:

  • Examine dark pathways, corners and other areas where seniors regularly walk or read. Make sure all areas of the home have adequate lighting. Timed and motion-sensor lights outdoors can illuminate potentially dangerous pathways. Inside consider OttLites – which provide a high-intensity beam for doing detail work. Make sure that hallways and stairs are properly lit.
  • Look for ways to make entries safe. Make sure that railings leading into a home are in good repair and that steps and sidewalks are not damaged. Or eliminate steps altogether. Install remote control locks.
  • Think contrast. Large red and blue buttons over hot and cold water faucet controls will help prevent dangerous mistakes for seniors who might be weak and confused after a hospital stay. A dark green or brown toilet seat and vinyl tape around the shower will make those fixtures more easily distinguishable.
  • Look for ways to reorganize. Mom always put the black stew pot under the stove to keep the kids from breaking it. Perhaps now it belongs on a shelf beside the stove. And who says the eggs must go in the egg tray of the refrigerator? Perhaps it’s easier for your dad to reach them if they’re stored in the meat tray. If that hallway table, which has been a permanent fixture, is becoming a dangerous obstacle, relocate it.
  • Install safety devices. Make sure your loved one has assistive devices in key areas of the home, including grab bars in the bathroom and sturdy railings on the stairs.
  • Look for damage. Look for towel bars or window sills that are separated from walls, or shower curtains that have been torn by seniors using them to grab onto.
  • Consider security. Think about the potential dangers that lurk within you loved one’s home. Lock-in switches on thermostats and stoves will keep seniors who may be confused from harming themselves when they return home.
  • Look behind closed doors. Many seniors will close off parts of a house they no longer use. Be sure to check those areas regularly for mold or water damage, especially if you senior has been away from home for awhile. Don’t close vents to crawl spaces.

Your older adult will be glad to be home, and making sure that everything is in order will help a loved one feel more secure.


A Caregiver’s Guide to Arthritis- Physical Challenges: How You Can Help

The range of physical challenges from arthritis can be extensive: The person may have difficulty walking, trouble with household tasks like opening jars and turning doorknobs, or even problems with dressing and combing his or her hair. And pain pay make sleep hard to come by. But there are ways you can help easy physical restraints and discomforts.

  • Arrange for physical and occupational therapy. A physical therapist can develop an exercise routine for your family member that will likely include range-of-motion exercises that will make it easier for him to do things like comb his or her hair, or stand up or sit down; strength training that will strengthen the muscles that support the joints; and some cardiovascular exercise like walking or swimming that will help him maintain overall fitness. An occupational therapist will assess what your family member can and can’t do, and address ways to help make difficult tasks easier. For instance, she may suggest small household changes like door latches instead of twist knobs that won’t stress the joints.
  • Employ heat and cold. Heat works by stimulating blood circulation, which can reduce muscle spasms and relieve pain. Encourage your family member to take a warm shower each morning to relieve morning stiffness. Applying heating pads or patches to painful areas for 15 minutes at a time can help as well.
  • Try massage. Research shows that regular massage can reduce pain and stiffness and improve range of motion and joint function. An added bonus is that massage also reduces anxiety, a common accompaniment to chronic pain. Researchers have found that massage lowers stress hormones and increases feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin. Make sure the doctor thinks it’s a good idea and get a referral to a massage therapist familiar with arthritis.
  • Address sleep difficulties. Pain robs sleep. And fatigue increases pain. Talk with the doctor about ways that your spouse or parent can sleep more soundly. Try to persuade your family member to avoid caffeine and alcohol, which disturb sleep. And share some minutes of soft music, deep breathing, and warm milk before going to sleep in a cool, dark room.
  • Prepare nutritious meals. Some foods can help fight inflammation, while others may trigger arthritic flares (increase in symptoms). And maintaining a healthy weight can also help manage joint pain. Fruits and vegetables, fish, fiber and whole grains can help fight inflammation. High fat foods may trigger arthritic flares.
  • Evaluate housing. If you are caring for a parent, you may want your parent to live with you. Evaluate all the options with your parent first. Your parent may want to stay where she is, move to a nearby apartment or a skilled facility with assisted living.

The Home Care Solution: Who to Call for Home Health Care

When hiring home health care, seek out a licensed medical caregivers designated as ‘home health agency,’ advises James Summerfelt, chief executive officer of the Visiting Nurse Association. “The term often indicates the provider is Medicare-certified and has met minimum federal requirements for patient care and management.”

Eligibility for Home Health Care under Medicare is Determined By the Following:

  • You must require intermittent skilled nursing care, physical therapy or speech therapy.
  • You must be homebound.
  • You must currently be under a physician’s care. All home health services must be ordered by your physician.

Services are delivered at home to recovering, disabled, chronically or terminally ill persons in need of medical, nursing, social, or therapeutic treatment and/or assistance with the essential activities of daily living.

When interviewing an agency make sure you understand exactly what services it will provide and those it will not provide, including those it is forbidden to provide by state law. Families are allowed to provide any care for a family member, but professionals have to abide by state law. For instance, in many states, invasive procedures such as injections and maintenance of feeding tubes may not be administered by non-skilled professionals. You may need a doctor or a nurse to perform these procedures.*

Questions to ask a home health care provider:

  • Is the home health care agency Medicare-certified? That means it is approved to provide services to patients with Medicare.
  • Does the home health care agency offer a full range of home health care services including skilled nursing, physical, occupational and speech therapies, IV therapy and home health aides.
  • How do I receive home health care agency services? A referral van be made by anyone involved in a patient’s care – physician, family or others. If someone other than a physician makes referrals, many home health care agencies contact the patient’s physician to approve orders for service.
  • Does the hospital discharge planned, doctor or social worker recommend the home health care agency? Those recommendations can serve as a second reference.
  • Does the home health care agency have the staff available at nights and on the weekends for emergencies?
  • Where else could I find information about Medicare-Certified home health care agencies?
  • Does the home health care agency have staff available to provide the type and hours of care as prescribed by the physician?

Information about Medicare-certified agencies in you geographic area are available online at www.medicare.gov, including Home Health Compare, which allows you to compare the home health care agencies in your area. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE for more information.

Home Instead Senior Care is an in-home health care provider located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina serving individuals and families in the Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand area for over 11 years! We offer assistance to those in need for companionship, home help, personal care, short-term recovery, Alzheimer’s care, Respite care and many other services to make your life easier.

© Home Instead Myrtle Beach
p) 843. 357. 9777
f) 843. 357. 9779
11746 Hwy 17 Bypass, Suite B
Murrells Inlet, SC 29576