Does My Loved One Need Help to Stay at Home?

Here are some tips to help you decide.

Coming to the realization that a loved one might need home care can be an overwhelming process. There are many questions that come up when your aging loved one is having trouble with activities of daily living (ADL’s). There are typical warning signs to watch for, but sometimes the signs may be more subtle. If you can relate to any of these questions it may be time to ask: does your loved one need help to stay at home?

Senior driving

Q: When my mother drives, she drifts into other lanes and goes very slow. She is still very sharp and insists that she is fine to drive. She gets annoyed when I suggest doing the driving instead. What should I do?

A: This is a sensitive topic of conversation. For many seniors, giving up their car keys means a loss of independence. In every state, there are driving safety courses available online and in classrooms. You can also hire a caregiver who will take care of the transportation, running errands and shopping with your loved one.

Medications and your loved one

Q: My mom takes several medications per day. I have noticed that she has been missing doses lately. How do I ensure that she is taking her medicine correctly?

A: Consider using an automated medication management system. Direct Link® offers a medication dispenser that is as easy as programming a clock. You load the doses, set a clock, program the alarm and when it is time for your mom to take her pills, the medicine is automatically dispensed. To ensure that medicine dose is not missed, the unit contacts a 24-hour care center immediately. This worry-free system combines easy to use technology with peace of mind that comes from knowing your mom is taking her prescriptions.

Chores and homemaking

Q: My parents’ house is becoming increasingly cluttered and they are doing house chores less often than they used to. I have my own house to maintain and can’t devote the time to do their up-keep, too! What should I do?

A: As we age, it is common to have difficulty keeping up with the demands of housekeeping and yard work. Home Helpers’ caregivers perform homemaker services, giving your loved one the clean, safe and healthy home they deserve. Our services include laundry, changing bed linens, running errands, eliminating tripping hazards and more.

Find more resources on our Senior Care Tips + Resources Pinterest Board:

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Cataract Awareness and Prevention

Cataract Awareness and Prevention The busy summer months are full of plans, family get-togethers and vacations. But, as summer turns the bend toward autumn, August is a good time to focus on getting things in order for the upcoming season. August is Cataract Awareness Month at Home Helpers and it is the perfect time for seniors to schedule eye health exams.

Are You or a Loved One at Risk for Cataracts?

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness. By age 75, about 70% of people will have developed cataracts.* With more than 22 million people in the U.S. afflicted with this disease, we can’t ignore the importance of eye health exams. Cataracts are defined as an opacity or cloudiness of the crystalline lens, which may prevent a clear image from forming on the retina.  Most of us know it as “clouds” or “floaters” in the eyes.  Vision may be faded, sensitive, or distorted and it may be more difficult to see at night or in low light. If these symptoms sound familiar to you, or if a loved one is dealing with any of these symptoms, or simply hasn’t been to the eye doctor recently, it is time to schedule an eye health exam.

Senior Eye Exams for Cataract Prevention

Eye Care America offers a Senior Eye Care Program that ensures that every senior has access to medical eye care and promotes annual eye exams. This program includes free eye care educational materials and facilitates access to affordable eye care. You can visit their site, or click here, to see if you or a loved one qualifies.

Find more helpful tips and information on our Cataract Awareness Pinterest Board!

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*according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology 

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The Importance of Taking a Breath: How to Combat Caregiver Stress

Remember to take your own oxygen first! #caregiver #quote

Caregiver Stress? Take a Breath.

In almost every work place in the country, employees are given the periodic opportunity to step away from their work related tasks. The traditional work day begins at 8 am and ends at 5 pm, lunch breaks are granted and no one would think twice about a co-worker stepping away for a few minutes to stretch their legs, use the restroom, or grab a quick snack. In the culture of Corporate America, it is encouraged that staff take brief diversions from their task at hand to keep them focused and on track. These moments of respite are not always so easy to come by, however, if you find yourself in the position of caring for a loved one. With our senior population growing at such an exponential rate, more adults are finding themselves in the position of caring for an aging or ill parent and suffering from caregiver stress. Our parents worked hard to protect and provide for us, so it is our duty to care for them as they age, right? Perhaps. But it is vitally important for everyone involved that the caregiver nurture their own needs, step away at times, and ultimately take a break every once in a while. Leeza Gibbons writes in her book Take Your Oxygen First that “When you neglect your own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, you cannot possibly give effective care to a loved one.” She compares the situation of caregiving to that of being on an airplane, in a dire situation, with oxygen mask ready for use. It is our instinct to put the needs of our loved ones first, thus handing them the proverbial oxygen mask. But what happens if you don’t get the oxygen that you need? Everyone involved is in worse shape as a result.

Combat Caregiver Stress

Gibbons recommends a program called the “Three E’s: Education, Energy and Empowerment.” She stresses that caregivers arm themselves with knowledge, keep their personal energy intact by eating right, exercising and maintaining personal interests, and stay emotionally empowered by accepting their new reality and letting go of guilt and anger. She has created the 10 Commandments of Caregiving and suggests that the following concepts can help caregivers provide the best care. 1) Take your oxygen first. 2) Never assume anything. 3) Have family conferences regularly to communicate family roles, expectations and give updates. 4) Do not socially isolate yourself. 5) Never take anything personally. 6) Always have a contingency plan. 7) Ignore shame and stigma. 8) Take advantage of community resources. 9) Honor your memories. 10) Keep your sense of humor intact. By keeping these 10 guidelines in mind throughout your journey of caregiving and by honoring yourself, you will be able to provide the best care for your loved one. Caregivers must always take a moment to breathe, to take their oxygen first. Doing so will benefit everyone involved in a caregiving situation.

Win a copy of Take Your Oxygen First!

Home Helpers is giving away a copy of the book that inspired this post—go to our Facebook Page and Like, Share or Comment on the post below in order to enter the raffle! (Must enter by the end of the day on Aug. 3, 2014.)

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Home Helpers Caregiver of the 2nd Quarter Winner!

Calm and Collected: How a Caregiver’s Patient Nature Earned Him Quarterly Honor


Chris Alexander cared for his father for 7 years before becoming a professional caregiver with Home HelpersAt the age of 52, needing a caregiver is rarely a consideration taken into account. But for Harry, who is fighting brain cancer, the need for help is a daily reality. As one who does not ask for much assistance, hiring a caregiver was not something that Harry was eager to accept. So, Home Helpers of Hinsdale found the perfect match for Harry: someone who could be a caregiver and a friend. Chris Alexander was placed with Harry and the two of them spend every weekday together. They are close enough in age to be brothers, share an affinity for dogs and are avid fans of the Chicago White Sox.

Chris Alexander started with Home Helpers in October 2013 after his father passed away. He had spent seven years caring for his father and wanted to continue caring for people in need. “I felt compelled to apply at Home Helpers,” Chris says. Being placed as the caregiver for Harry has allowed Jackie, Harry’s wife, to focus on work and other household responsibilities. Chris goes above and beyond by helping take care of Harry’s two dogs, and he even pitched in by helping to move their daughter to and from college.  “I can’t imagine running the house without Chris,” Jackie says. “He is a fantastic guy.”

Chris helps Harry with his daily errands, takes him to his physical therapy appointments and accompanies him at outings. Many of these activities include Harry’s beloved dogs as well. Chris understands the importance of Harry maintaining an active lifestyle and keeping up with his interests. “The more he gets out, the better it is for him,” says Chris. He realizes that some days are good and others are not so good, and that this is part of both his job and his life. It is this calm demeanor and laid-back outlook that may have helped save Harry’s life in one instance. While recently shopping together, Harry suffered a seizure. Chris knew exactly how to handle the situation and who to call for emergency help.

In addition to Harry’s family expressing their gratitude and satisfaction with Chris’ services, Care Manager Michelle Pantoja is pleased with him as part of the Home Helpers of Hinsdale staff. “Chris is so patient and easygoing,” Pantoja says. “His laid back nature is good for his client.”

Congratulations to Chris Alexander for earning the award of Home Helpers Caregiver of the 2nd Quarter!

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How You Can Help with Aging Independently

How You Can Help with Aging Independently

5 Ways You Can Help with Aging Independently — Home Helpers

What if when you wake up tomorrow morning, you suddenly cannot carry your laundry down the stairs or step safely into the shower? You know you have a long list of stuff you want to do this week, but for some reason, you can only remember half of it. Out of nowhere, you’re having a very hard time walking outside to get your mail. This would certainly be a daunting experience for any normal, healthy person. But for many elderly people, these circumstances are realities and are just a few of the many daily tasks that are difficult to do. Although some activities of daily living might become burdensome or unsafe for a senior, it does not necessarily mean that it’s time to start researching alternative living facilities. By taking proper precautions and providing the best support, we can help our aging loved ones remain independent, aging in place where they feel comfortable and familiar- at home.

A recent AARP study found that 85% of all Americans over the age of 65 state that they would like to stay at home, aging independently. Being able to age at home though is just one of the factors that keep seniors independent. As we age, we do not lose our interests or our feelings of self-worth. We want to stay connected to our friends and family, enjoy our hobbies and passions, maintain normal physical activity and stay healthy. It is essential to have something to look forward to and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. By providing the means for seniors to keep their sense of self and independence intact, we are helping them to live longer and happier lives.

How can I help facilitate aging independently?

Some ways that you can help foster senior independence are:

1)      Perform a home safety check to ensure that the major causes of falls and fires in the home are eliminated.

2)      Bring your loved one on a weekend outing to a museum, play, concert or sporting event. If that is too much for them, watch one on TV with them.

3)       Visit daily, or have others make a trip to see your loved one. A neighbor, church member, grandchild, or family friend can quickly perk up their day.

4)      Go grocery shopping together. Have your loved one write out a list and pick out the items. You can bag and unload them.

5)      Teach your loved one new technology such as quiz apps on the iPad to keep them entertained and stimulated. Apps like Lumosity, Vismory, and Jeopardy are popular choices among the senior demographic and will help to sharpen memory and increase attention skills.

These are just a few ideas that you can use facilitate aging independently for your loved one.

Gertrude Stein quote — Home Helpers Home Care blog

Happiness and meaning are linked to one another and although “meaning” is different for everyone, wanting a sense of purpose is universal. Try to do things with your elderly family member rather than for them. Things might be tougher to do as we age, but we still want to participate in the tasks we’re used to performing. It is discouraging to have someone barge in and take over something that we are used to doing ourselves, our way. We cannot stop the process of aging but we can make it more pleasant for our loved ones by helping them to maintain as much dignity and independence as possible.

“We are always the same age inside.”- Gertrude Stein

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Purpose Doesn’t Retire

Read: "Purpose Doesn't Retire" — Home Helpers Home Care Blog

Purpose Doesn’t Retire

I recently attended a briefing by one of the country’s largest health care delivery systems. The main message of the briefing was that “purpose doesn’t retire.” As we age we don’t expect to give up our ability to contribute. As I reflected on the message, it really reconfirmed my personal experiences with my parents and grandparents that the best gift I could give them is purpose and time.

No matter what age we are, we all want to feel useful. We also want the ability to enjoy spending time with those we love. Seniors are no different and it is important that we, as their loved ones, provide them both of these things. Whether their purpose is to serve in their community, volunteer for an organization they are passionate about, or take on endeavors they dreamed about doing when they were younger, they must be given the opportunity to do these things. Maybe your aging loved one wants to write a book or become a photographer? They all have the right to pursue their passion and it’s up to us to help them do just that.

As our loved ones age and begin to be challenged with their activities of daily living, it does not diminish their desire to contribute. They want to contribute in ways that are important to them and continue to have interactions with family, friends, and participate in activities and organizations that they value. They want to be independent and matter in the lives of those they love.

More importantly, as we age we want the gift of time. Time to spend with friends, family and loved ones. Time to enjoy our passions. Time to stay connected. It is important for seniors to maintain an active role in the familial relationship and stay involved in social networks. It is important for us to give them the time to do so.

Organizations like Home Helpers play a part in achieving purpose and time for loved ones. We support a stronger Health Care system that integrates acute care services and long-term care services to achieve the best home care outcome for the client and the family.

Our goal is simple: to allow our loved ones the opportunity to explore a purpose driven life and support them by spending our time with them.

There really is no greater gift than that.

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