Posts Tagged ‘caregivers’

Clearing the Fog of Dementia Drugs

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Most of us agree that nursing home reform is a critical need in the United States. Many times, difficult behavior from people with dementia is managed by giving them more psychotropic drugs. As a result of these drugs, sometimes people go into a “fog” including lethargy, seem detached from the world,  stop speaking and other negative side effects.

This is a great article about Clearing the Fog at Nursing Homes – how behavioral interventions (and hands-on caring) changed residents from zombies to engaged adults at one nursing home in Two Harbors, Minn.

As the article states, behavioral interventions can be more costly to implement than prescribing, yet in the long run it can save money – not to mention the increased quality of life for the residents and families.

Even if your loved one with dementia is not in a nursing home, there are behavioral modifications you can use at home that might help them live a better life. Caring, and a loving touch can make a bigger difference than you might think.

New U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Supports Long Term Care Workers

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

The new U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, wrote a letter to the editor of the Washington Post regarding the article: “Taking Care of Our Caregivers”. Sebelius explained that the Department of Health and Human Services is deeply concerned about the needs of long-term care workers and maintaining an adequate and high-quality workforce. To view:

How to Survive a Hospital Stay

Friday, April 3rd, 2009



1.  POWER OF ATTORNEY  – Make sure the hospital has copies of the patient’s healthcare durable power of attorney that states who will make decisions if the patient can no longer do so for themselves.
2. CONTACT INFORMATION – of family or involved loved ones
3. MEDICATION LIST – Make sure the hospital has the patient’s current list of all the medications your loved one takes.
If possible, bring a list of surgeries, doctors, previous tests run (and results) and diagnoses.
5. REMOVE ALL VALUABLES – Do not leave valuables with your loved one at the hospital
6. PERSONAL ITEMS – Things that are good to have are glasses, hearing aids and dentures, but be careful with them!  If you leave items such as glasses, a cane, a walker, or dentures, make sure they are labeled and also listed in the patient’s chart on the “personal belongings” sheet.


1- PEOPLE TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH — Make friends with the discharge planner
– Get to know the nurses
2. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF – Make sure the caregivers / advocates are taking good care of themselves during the hospital stay.
3. HIRE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE – An advocate such as a geriatric care manager knows how to navigate the medical system. They are invaluable. You can search for the closest Professional Geriatric Care Manager on’s Eldercare Directory.

Before your loved one leaves the hospital, make sure you have:

1. An understanding of your loved one’s condition and diagnosis, results of any tests, and any changes that have happened as a result of treatment during the hospital stay
2. A written medication list  (including dosage and potential side effects)
3. A written list of any needed follow-up physicians visits
4. An understanding of any problems or symptoms that may occur when the patient gets home – what to look for and when to call for help.
5. A written care plan with next steps
6. Any special equipment to prepare the home for your loved one’s return (hospital bed, home modification, rental equipment)
7. Arrangements for home health care or home care aid services- find out what services insurance will and will not cover
8. Education on any special needs your loved one may have when she arrives home
9. Transportation home, or wherever your loved one will be going.  Find out if insurance will pay for an ambulance, if necessary.

Taking Care of the Caregiver 3-29-09

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

The concept of taking care of yourself first so you can help take care of others continues to intrigue me.  I used to think most people naturally took care of themselves first, and I was “the only one” who needed practice with this.  I have always been good at taking care of others.  It came naturally.  I am continually amazed to find that not taking care of oneself first seems to be a human condition – most of us do it.  It is easier to give advice to others to take care themselves, and sincerely want them to do it, and even see the value in them doing it.  If I take care of myself first, sometimes I feel guilty or selfish.

I’m going to take care of myself now, and go to bed early.

The sliver of moon is beautiful tonight.

Take care!

Money-Saving Tips for Family Caregivers

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Money-Saving Tips for Family Caregivers

Given the current economic times, all of us are rethinking the way we spend money. Sometimes finding additional ways to cut back on spending is difficult. Here are some simple money saving ideas that anyone can use to save money each and every day.

Save on Food Bills

* Clip coupons. Some grocery stores even offer double or triple off on coupons.

* Buy generic. Store brands often cost much less than brand names, and often, the products are almost identical.

* Apply for and use a store’s free savings card, sometimes called “club cards”. Stores offer many items on sale if you use your card.

* Check out what’s on sale. Additionally, some stores mark down items if they are approaching their “use by” date.

* Make a list of items on sale and plan your shopping before going to the store.

* Don’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry. Your empty stomach won’t care how much something costs, it wants to eat now!

* Eat fewer meals out. When you do go out, take advantage of early-bird specials or split a meal with someone you love. Pack a lunch for work.

*  Pay attention at the register. Sometimes items will ring up at the wrong price. If you notice a price difference, bring it to the cashier’s attention.

*  Stick to a budget. Instead of spending whatever you want, try to set a monthly limit on food expenditures. Keep receipts and tally them up during the month. You might be surprised how quickly small things add up.

Save on Electricity Bills

* Check to make sure your house is properly insulated.

* Make sure you heating and cooling systems are working properly, and change or clean the air filters monthly.

* Use energy efficient light bulbs

* Turn off all electronics when they aren’t in use, including computers, televisions, monitors, cell phone chargers, and extra refrigerators.

* Turn the lights off in rooms you aren’t in.

*  If you use some type of life-saving device that runs on electricity, (such as an oxygen machine) contact your utility company for a special reduction in your bill.

*  If you qualify as a low income household, check with your utility company for programs that can assist you.

Save on Household Expenses

* Are there any services you pay for that you don’t really use or need such as: premium television services, newspapers or magazines, lawn services, Internet, or phone?

* Use public resources for entertainment, such as the library. Libraries have movie and television show collections, in addition to wonderful books that you can borrow.  Remember to return the items on time!

* Do an Internet search for “free things to do in (your city).”  You might be surprised at how much fun you can have for free!

* Use cash. People tend to spend less when they use cash instead of a credit card.

* Buy in bulk, if it will save you money and if you have room to store the items.

Save on Medication Costs

*  Research medication assistance programs to see if you qualify for reduced cost or free medications. Try websites such as Partnership for Prescription Assistance at

*  Ask the doctor for prescription samples, especially on new drugs.

*  Research the best prices. Some mail order or online pharmacies offer better prices than local chain stores. Sometimes buying a 90-day supply costs less than a 30-day supply.

*  Ask your pharmacist if there are lower-cost alternatives, or more cost effective doses for the medications you take. Check with your doctor about any changes.

Save on Medical Costs

*  Prevention will save you money in the long run. Maintain your health by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise and getting all age-appropriate annual exams.

*  Negotiate. If you don’t have insurance, often doctors or hospitals will offer you a “cash” price.

* Check your medical bills carefully. Bring all discrepancies to the billing party right away.

Save on Automobile Expenses

*  You or your insurance agent can review your insurance policy to look for possible savings. Sometimes it makes sense to raise a deductible, sign up for the safe driver program or get multiple car discounts.

* Maintain your car. Get oil changes every 5,000 miles and check air pressure in your tires. Watch for coupons for oil changes or other services.

* Keep your eyes open for the best gas prices in town. Beware of hidden charges, such as paying extra to use a debit card.

* If you don’t use a vehicle, you can save on registration if you file a “non-use” form with the DMV.

If you have other money saving tips, please let us know so we can share them with others!

Government Tools to Help Navigate Medicare, Medicaid, Nursing Homes and Hospitals

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, has several online resources aimed at helping consumers navigate Medicare, hospitals and nursing homes. The resources are listed below.

*  “Ask Medicare” offers information about Medicare,

*  “Nursing Home Compare” is an online way to get insight into every nursing home certified by Medicare and Medicaid. You can compare facilities by a five star “quality of care” rating system. Go to

*  “Hospital Compare” sheds light on quality of care at hospitals nationwide, including mortality measure for pneumonia and patient satisfaction information.

*  CMS has issued easy to follow guides on other health related topics, including “Planning for Your Discharge” (a checklist for patients and caregivers preparing to leave a hospital) and “Getting Medical Care and Prescription Drugs in a Disaster or Emergency Area.” Details at 800-633-4227 or