Doctor appointment scheduling is one of the basic tasks of caregivers.
Whether it’s for annual doctor visits or an appointment with a specialist, we need to make sure we’re scheduling it right.
It’s also easy to forget important information in the thick of it all.
That’s why it’s also important to have a checklist available so you can maximize your scheduled appointment with the doctor.
Our elders' health deteriorates as they grow older. That’s why it’s important to keep track of their health conditions even if they seem healthy.
According to the National Council on Aging, 80% of adults aged 65 and older have at least one chronic condition. While 68% have two or more complications.
The most common of these include hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Some even develop psychological ailments such as depression and anxiety. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are cognitive disorders that may be present.
That’s why it’s necessary to make and keep your doctor’s appointments in check.
Here are some other reasons doctor appointment scheduling is a must for seniors.
Going for an appointment is an excellent way to practice preventive care.
Doctors can examine both physical and mental wellness with annual appointments.
If doctors discover any areas of concern, they can order testing and intervene before the problem worsens.
Immunizations like the flu shot and basic health monitoring are examples of primary prevention.
Secondary prevention examines known risk factors for specific diseases and conducts testing to identify potential issues.
After a diagnosis, the third preventive stage is to enhance health, which usually entails developing a treatment plan.
Regular checkups can aid in identifying problems before they appear. Screening for medication changes and interactions are also important for our elderly.
The aging process can affect the way medication works in the body.
Changes in the body's ability to break down certain medications may cause drugs to stay in your system longer.
So, by not attending doctor's visits regularly, the body may fall behind on its medical needs.
Although visiting the doctor when they're not sick may seem unnecessary, detecting issues early on will help you save money in the long run.
Also, most preventative services are 100% covered by medicare and other insurers.
And although significant tests aren't required every year, routine checkups for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes are vital.
Trust is an enormous factor in keeping our elders healthy. However, there seems to be a huge mistrust in the elderly with the healthcare system.
Lower income and lower educated older adults can be more suspicious of their healthcare providers.
The Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation reported that a third of seniors 50 years old and older feel that health professionals rarely consider their needs.
This distrust can affect the kind and quality of health care service they receive.
As caregivers, we must encourage our elders to be more trusting of our healthcare providers. And regular checkups can ease the level of mistrust they might be feeling.
Doctor’s visits are often brief and on point, especially if it’s a regular check-up.
Some doctors may request laboratory procedures and results before the consultation. This way it’s more efficient to read results and recommend any potential treatments needed.
The laboratory tests usually take one to two days to get results back. If lab tests are completed the day of your appointment, expect a follow up phone call within a few business days to be informed of the results.
So what do you need to prepare for a doctor’s visit?
Here are things you need to consider and be aware of to optimize your appointment.
Make a checklist of information you want your aging parent’s doctor to know.
Note any changes that may have happened since your last appointment. Include any information related to their behaviors, sleeping patterns, decreased balance or physical symptoms you might see.
Did their appetites change? Are you noticing they are becoming more forgetful? Are there any fluctuations in their blood pressure or sugar levels?
Track this information so you can present it to their doctor.
Create a list of current prescriptions, including medications, vitamins, and other supplements they’re taking.
If it helps, a caregiver's journal or health diary can be where you keep all the information about your aging parents. This can be kept in a convenient place where you can access it easily.
You can also prepare any questions in advance so you won’t miss anything with your doctor’s visit.
It also helps to prepare and condition your elders before the appointment date. This way they can mentally ready themselves for the visit.
Ask them how they are or if anything’s bothering them. Take note of these things so it will be easier to bring them up with the doctor during the appointment.
This is where the health diary comes in handy.
Share any immediate concerns with your doctor, especially if your elders encountered any recent falls or accidents.
Take note of any recommendations from your doctor. And if possible, ask for a printout of their suggestions.
It’s a good idea to ask for benchmarks for your senior’s health if this is your first time.
Here are some questions you can ask:
It’s necessary for our elders to feel empowered after the doctor’s visit. After all, their overall health and wellness depend on it.
One of the most important things you should be doing as a caregiver is to implement the doctor’s instructions. The is best done by creating a routine.
Check your loved one’s medications to see if they’re still needed. Throw out expired tablets or vitamins as they are unlikely to be as potent as the specified dosage.
Make sure to arrange their meds in their medicine keeper.
Brief them about timing and schedule, and help them take note of what to take at specific times.
Ask them what help they need and assist them in making decisions. This way you’ll encourage them to feel in control of their health.
Nowadays, patients have the option of seeing online doctors through telehealth.
It is convenient, safe, and also saves you time and effort.
Booking an appointment can be as easy as downloading an app on your smartphone. It can also be less expensive, with pre-paid packages available.
Caregivers are also given the best communication methods with healthcare providers. You can choose from video and phone chat, email, live chat, and text messaging.
Telehealth also offers their patients a wide spectrum of care. These can include treatment for acute and chronic health issues, mental and behavioral health care, prescriptions, and lab services.
Wait times are also much less, compared to waiting in line in the clinic or hospitals. Services can also be available 24/7.
Seniors can wait in the comfort of their own home without worry. There are also apps that offer multiple languages, making it easier to communicate with healthcare providers.
Here are some of the best telehealth apps you can download:
Doctor appointment scheduling is an essential part of taking care of our elderly.
For one, it serves as preventive care and helps keep them healthy and happy.
It also helps us delay and avoid any potential illnesses that come with age.
As caregivers, our goal should include making our elders comfortable during doctor’s visits. It should be an informative and empowering experience for them as well.
Reach out and email me at [email protected] if you have any ideas or suggestions related to preparing for doctors visits. And ask if you need a good recommendation for a caregiver journal.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
It helps to have gratitude journal prompts to remind us of the good things that happen every day.
As caregivers for the elderly, our minds can automatically focus on the job's frustration and difficulty.
Journaling and gratitude practices can help us recall our purpose. And it also lets us see the good as much as the bad.
So today, I’m sharing some gratitude journal prompts that can bring out the best in your experiences as a caregiver.
According to Harvard Medical School, being grateful also makes us feel like we're part of something bigger than ourselves.
It boosts general well-being, deepens social interactions, and reduces negative thoughts.
And, the physiological reason for this lies in our brain function.
When we show gratitude, we produce dopamine and serotonin, hormones keeping the brain in a positive and happy state.
We also have the limbic system which is the region that controls emotions. Here, gratitude has been proven to activate the hippocampus and amygdala.
These are two key regions regulating emotions, memory, and physical functions.
People also reported they had better heart health and lower cortisol levels, which is the body's stress hormone.
By marked reduction of stress hormones, it helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Gratitude increases the neuronal regulation of the prefrontal cortex. This area regulates unpleasant emotions like shame, guilt, and violent emotions.
Caring for your loved ones can strain even the most resilient individuals.
You may be so focused on caring for your loved ones that you don’t notice your health is also deteriorating.
You may feel tired often, either gain or lose weight. You might even notice becoming easily angry or irritated at people.
And worse, you might be inclined to use a chemical escape like drugs or alcohol.
The physical and emotional stress of caregiving — is common.
Caregivers who don't pay attention to the effects of long-term stress and their emotional health are more likely to get caregiver burnout.
Caregiver burnout is a form of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion.
It’s important to remember that before we can take of others, we must take good care of ourselves first.
And, one effective way of reaching that goal is by journaling.
It’s a stress-relieving practice that reduces the impact of physical pressures on your health.
According to a study, journaling for 15 to 20 minutes three to five times a day for four months was adequate to reduce blood pressure and enhance liver function.
Believe it or not, writing can boost your immune system and make you less likely to get sick.
Those who write in a journal say that their immune systems work better. Their asthma and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms have also lessened.
And it not only improves your immune system, but also memory and comprehension.
It gives you more confidence and a better sense of who you are. It helps you deal with personal hardship and change.
Also, journaling unlocks and stimulates your right-brain creativity, which allows you to use all of your brainpower at the same time.
Read more here about caregiver burnout symptoms and treatment.
Gratitude journals are a great way to relieve stress and remind us of our purpose as caregivers.
However, it can be boring when you write the same things over and over.
That’s why gratitude journal prompts help us be creative and see ourselves from different angles.
Journals give you specific themes to think about. And the prompts can jumpstart our brains to jumpstart when we don’t know what to write about.
It’s especially helpful when you’re going through mixed emotions or if you need help narrowing your focus.
So, what are some journal prompts for adults and caregivers that can help them become productive and happier?
Here are some prompts you can start using the next time you write in your journal.
Sometimes it's best not to follow the usual advice when we try journaling.
Often we feel guilty writing because we don't always write well. We get distracted, and we fail to keep up with the journal.
But, here's the thing - journaling is a habit.
It's a habit you build that you need the most when you're stressed, rushed, or just not in the mood.
And it's okay if you don't write every day. You don't have to feel bad about it.
Many benefits can be gained through journaling, but getting into the habit of writing every day is not always simple.
Here are some tips to get you started.
You can keep a journal to help you get things back in order when your world feels like it's in a mess.
Your sentiments and feelings help you learn more about yourself.
Make sure you write in a place that is relaxing and comforting, maybe with a cup of tea nearby.
I like to write early in the morning and on the way to bed. This helps to set the day and review the day. Find what works for you and make it a routine.
Look forward to your time writing. If your mind and body are happy, then that's a good thing for you to do.
Gratitude journal prompts and self-reflection are the easiest ways to help reduce caregiver stress.
Being a caregiver has its ups and downs. And, it's one thing that feelings of isolation and loneliness always come with the journey.
It's crucial to remember that as caregivers, we must make an extra effort to look after ourselves.
We can be more present for our elderly loved ones if we take care of our own health and well-being.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
What are the safety tips in the kitchen your parents should be following if they’re living on their own?
The kitchen is one of the most dangerous places in the home.
From sharp objects, fire, and invisible threats like carbon monoxide, it just makes sense to be concerned for our parent’s safety.
Statistics also show that people between 65 and 74 years old are nearly twice as likely to die in a fire.
That’s why we need to pay attention to our elder’s home environment, especially in the kitchen.
So today, I’m sharing 5 safety tips in the kitchen for seniors who are aging in place.
Age Safe America states that 90% of older Americans prefer to age in place instead of assisted living.
However, only 85% of these are confident that they can stay in their own homes without the need for modification.
Traditional kitchens present more risks for elders aging in place. These can include fire, and slip and fall risks. Falls are the leading cause of injury among people 65 years and older.
Heating equipment is among the leading cause of fire death in seniors. Cooking closely follows.
About 42% of hand injuries seen in ER are lacerations from kitchen tools.
Fatalities from unattended cooking equipment are up by 45%. Each year, 34 fatal burn injuries occur.
Seniors with dementia and memory loss often forget to turn off appliances. And more often than not, fire extinguishers are not accessible or in good working condition.
These are just a few scenarios that we see in seniors aging in place. And as caregivers, we must always take note of these risks and check on them to keep our seniors safe.
Many seniors love using their kitchens. As caregivers, it should be our priority to make sure they’re safe as they prepare their meals.
Here are five of the most important safety tips to follow to ensure that your elders can continue to use their kitchens safely.
Most fires in senior homes start from unattended food in the stove or kitchen. And it can be more difficult if you’re seniors are dealing with memory loss.
That’s why it’s important to do regular fire hazard checks in your elder’s kitchen.
Make sure the smoke detectors are working properly. Test and dust each smoke alarm every month. And change its batteries at least once a year.
It also makes sense to put fire extinguishers where it’s accessible. Go for small, lighter ones so that your aging parents wouldn’t have issues using them.
Guides and images can also be helpful for parents with memory issues. They must know how to use it. It also helps to put simple visible instructions and practice what to do in the case of a fire so they are less likely to panic.
Avoid wearing loose or flowing clothing that can easily catch fire over an open flame.
Remind your parents not to cook in robes, dresses, or garments with loose sleeves that could ignite.
It might seem unnecessary for us, but simple reminders like these can save lives.
Check out these fire hazard checks here.
Aging eyes are among the challenges of growing older. It helps to bring in small but functional lighting into the kitchen.
Of course, natural lighting is still best. If possible, maximize the amount of sunlight that comes into the kitchen.
But if it’s not possible, opt for matte or frosted lighting to minimize glare and light flares in the kitchen.
It also helps to install task lighting to help with simple tasks like food preparation and cutting. Install lights in and under cabinets to help improve lighting on the counter tops.
Food safety is a priority for seniors living alone who are more prone to foodborne illnesses.
Their bodies no longer fight bacteria like they used to. Also the digestive tract also slows down with age, causing the stomach and intestines to hold food much longer.
The decrease in stomach acid secretion lessens their defense against bacteria. Their liver and kidneys are also less effective at getting rid of toxins.
And their sense of smell and taste may be affected by all the medications they’re taking.
Because of this, they may not be able to detect spoilage as well as they used to.
So how do you prevent food poisoning in seniors aging in place? Here are some practical reminders.
Sanitation is still the key to healthy and safe food. Make sure to put reminders for washing hands and utensils using warm, soapy water.
Keep a spray bottle with disinfectant handy for easy surface cleaning. A simple and natural combo would be distilled white vinegar, water and some essential oils.
You can try this DIY disinfectant spray recipe here.
For natural produce like fruits and vegetables, it’s best to clean them naturally with hot water.
This will help remove pesticides, dirt, and other insects that might be in the crevices.
Make sure your produce and perishables are stored properly. Refrigerate meats and other food at least within an hour.
Put up reminders to defrost frozen food properly. And if you’re in doubt, discard it instead.
Also, consider avoiding raw and undercooked food like eggs and other food that might contain them.
Anything unpasteurized like milk and certain types of soft cheeses should also be lessened.
It also pays to lessen consuming uncooked food like pates and deli meats.
Learn more about food safety for seniors here.
Kitchen floors, water, oil, and other liquids can be a recipe for disaster. That’s why you’ll need anti-slip floorings to keep your elders safe while in the kitchen.
Anti-slip mats and rubber mats can give you grip and stability to prevent falls.
Rugs with non-slip backing can also help in making the floor safer. It keeps the rugs from scooting along and tripping them.
It also helps to install anti-fatigue mats for additional comfort. These mats offer extra cushioning to reduce the weight and pressure placed on their joints.
There are also fall mats that are designed to provide some cushioning in case of a fall.
Check out this resource for fall mats here.
Look for adaptive tools and safe cooking appliances for your elderly loved ones. It also helps to consider any conditions they might have in choosing products.
Here are some devices you can get:
Here are some devices for the visually challenged:
There are also gadgets designed to automatically turn off for those who have memory issues.
Most electric kettles have automatic switch-off features that might be useful. There are also automatic stove shut-off devices you can use. These turn off when no movement is detected in a certain amount of time.
It’s also better to use induction stoves and cooktops as a safer option.
Here are some more tips for creating a safer kitchen for elders with memory issues.
As caregivers to our aging parents, keeping them safe should be our priority.
To do so, we need to make adjustments in the kitchen to avoid accidents.
For starters, we need to make sure that aging in place residences have enough space and clearances.
Sharp countertops can cause more injuries so it’s best to install rounded corners and edges.
Try and limit the number of appliances on counter top to keep it clear.
Replacing hard to access lower cabinets with pull out drawers is a great way to reduce the strain of getting out pots and pans and other cooking equipment.
Make sure you’re placing your oven, sink, and refrigerator as close as possible. This makes the “work triangle’ much easier to navigate for them.
If you could, add hands-free faucets with pullout sprayers for easier access.
Automate lights and install automatic gadgets and tools as mentioned above.
Read more about home safety tips here.
Our parents still need the freedom to move and live on their own as empty nesters.
And as caregivers, we should know about safety tips in the kitchen. It’s also our responsibility to check and take precautions for our elderly.
These safety tips can be a life-saver, and give us the standards we need for necessary renovations in aging-in-place residences.
And if you need help in designing and assessing your elder’s kitchen, you can reach out to me through email at [email protected].
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
What can you expect from Keep Mom Safe at Home in 2022?
If you’re new here, I’d like to personally welcome you to this space for caregivers, health providers, and family members who take care of their aging parents.
My goal has always been simple. And that is to be a resource for those who want to care for and assist the geriatric population.
I’ve been writing this blog for some time. I’ve shared my experience and expertise as a physical therapist and as a caregiver about what to expect when working with the geriatric population.
And today I feel like it’s about time to tell you why I do what I do.
So join me as I revisit my purpose in creating this space for geriatric care, Keep Mom Safe at Home.
Let’s get it started!
I’ve enjoyed working with the geriatric population since I was in PT school.
Hearing their stories fascinated me. I was always amazed at how different their lives were in the past.
Many of our elderly are sweet, kind, and thankful. Surprisingly, even the cranky folks can be a joy to work with.
While it’s true that there are mean or angry patients, it’s always a breakthrough for me to find a way to get a smile on their faces.
Our elders have lived in a different time. This can be the reason why they can’t process all the changes happening around them.
The anger, resentment, or even shutting down can be a response to this confusion.
I remember my grandfather who was shipped off to Korea at 19. In a short time, he became a platoon commander for engineers in charge of building bridges for the US Army.
Growing up in suburban Atlanta, I listened to his stories and wondered how different our situations were. And it was amazing for me that he had already achieved so much in his youth.
His stories became like a doorway to the past I’ll never experience. He also became like a bridge that helped me relate to those with drastically different formative years than mine.
I took these experiences and wisdom as I went on to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). And it also fueled my interest especially when taking care of my geriatric patients.
As a DPT, I have worked in a variety of health care settings. I’ve also seen the good and bad sides of the medical system.
What struck me the most was the difference in the qualify of life of the elderly aging in place compared to those in a facility.
My wife and I had grandparents who got to live at home until the end of their days, which was about 98 years. And a huge part of this is because of their good health and strong cognitive abilities until later in life.
But it was the family’s strong support system that mattered. Our elders received all the love and understanding from their communities, friends, and families.
The roles each one played made it possible for them to remain safe at home and out of the medical system.
The same goes for my mom who unfortunately was diagnosed with cancer in 2012.
It was difficult for us to see cancer eat away her mind and body until she passed away in 2016. Despite that, we were able to care for her at home.
Others are not able to remain at home safely.
Many elders do not receive the same care and support to age in place. Some find themselves in facilities and nursing homes.
Often we hear of our elderly experiencing abuse of some form in facilities. And most are caused by frustrations and burnout from their caregivers.
And of all people, I understand how it feels. That’s why I started this blog.
My experience as a caregiver for my mom and other elders in the family became the inspiration to make this happen.
I know you can’t buy time, so I made it my mission to help the elderly find quality time at home with family, caregivers, and their loved ones until the end of their days.
That’s why I wanted this space to become a good resource for those who are preparing for and learning to take care of the elderly.
I want caregivers, health providers, and families to know that they’re not alone in their journey. And if it gets difficult, there’s always a place they could go to for help.
That’s what Keep Mom Safe at Home is all about.
I often read about caregiver burnout. And this causes a lot of problems for the caregiver, the elderly, and the family as a whole.
As a doctor of physical therapy, I wanted to build a resource for caregivers that they can go to if they’re unsure of what to do.
It can be difficult to navigate the health care settings without help. Everything is unknown until you experience it first hand.
Accidental falls are the number one source of pain and complications with aging parents.
Degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s are also some of the common illnesses among seniors.
These situations can cause a drastic change in the family’s dynamics.
As children, we always see our parents’ strength and power. It can be difficult to see them weak and in pain.
Then there’s the fact that not everyone has a good relationship with their parents growing up.
So it can be difficult to face the challenges of caregiving, especially for those who are experiencing it for the first time.
My goal here at Keep Mom Safe at Home is to provide resources to help prepare for the unforeseen challenges of caregivers.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially for sandwich generations who have to juggle caring for kids and elderly parents.
With the right information, it can be easier for caregivers to cope with the challenges of keeping elders healthy, happy, and wealthy.
It can also be easier for them to accept unfortunate events, like death.
Home safety and aging in place matter so much to me, and that’s one of the things you could expect this coming year at Keep Mom Safe at Home.
Most people don’t notice the importance of universal designs in buildings and homes. And most of the accidental falls happen in our own houses.
Our bodies go through major changes as we grow older. Our bones become more brittle and our muscles lose strength.
Because of this, seniors have different requirements especially if they’re aging in place. And most often we don’t often notice these needs until it’s too late.
60% of falls occur inside the home with another large percentage occurring on the property.
The average hip fracture costs up to $26,000 and the average cost of a hip replacement is over $39,000.
Eventually, the injuries lead to an inability to remain at home or worse. The average assisted living costs over $3300 per month in GA and the average skilled nursing facility is over $7100/mo. For a private room and $6,700 per month for a shared room.
This is much more costly compared to making adjustments to their current home space.
And that’s what I aim to provide this year.
I want to give more tips for families and caregivers on how to create a safer space for elders aging in place.
Avoiding a fall by improving the home’s safety is the most direct way to help people age in place and stay out of the medical system.
Other ways like increasing strength and balance, checking vision, checking medications, following up with physicians, staying active, and keeping the mind sharp are as important.
But universal design to reduce the risk of falls and injury within the home is my current focus.
Check out some of the safety features you should have in your home right now.
Keep Mom Safe at Home is a passion for me.
As a doctor of physical therapy, I’d like to reach more caregivers and families to help them live and spend quality time with their elderly until their last days.
In the future, I will also be opening doors to consulting with families who need help in making sure their homes are safe and sound for elders.
For questions or inquiries, you can reach out to me at [email protected]
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!