With more and more families dispersed geographically, adult children who live far away from their elderly parents face ongoing worry about their health and safety. As aging parents, particularly those who live alone, face medical and mobility issues, questions relating to their physical, social, and psychological well-being arise. How do you know a parent's needs have changed and more care is necessary?
Adult children should be aware of any changes in their parent's attitude or behavior - changes which are often undetectable over the telephone. There are, however, clear warning signs that some type of intervention is needed.
1. Mail and bills are left to pile up. The simple act of opening and filing mail becomes overwhelming. Managing a checking account can also become too much for a parent to handle.
2. The house is cluttered or unkempt. This is especially troubling if a parent has always been neat and orderly.
3. Food in the refrigerator is uneaten or spoiled. Shopping, cooking, and cleaning become too much trouble. A parent might eat just enough to get by, but suffer nutritionally. Losing weight can be another sign that a parent is not eating a nutritious diet.
4. Signs of scorching on the bottom of pots and pans. A result of short-term memory loss, this is a dangerous sign that parents are forgetting about pots left on the stove, causing a fire hazard, and threatening both the individual's and the surrounding neighbor's safety.
5. The parent wears the same clothing over and over again and has other personal hygiene issues. Doing laundry has become physically challenging.
6. Missed doctors appointments. Sometimes this is simply a product of not having transportation and not knowing how to access ride options.
7. Repeated phone calls at odd hours. When a parent telephones friends or family at odd hours, it may be a sign of memory loss, or a cry for help - a sign of depression or isolation. Arranging for a daily check-in phone call, a regular volunteer visitor, or getting involved with a local senior center could make all the difference.
8. Forgetting to take medication. A sign of short-term memory loss or depression, this isn't just a quality of life issue, but a real risk factor.
9. Inappropriate behavior, clothing, or speech. You may hear about this from a neighbor, someone who has noticed that your parent is not dressing appropriately for the weather, for instance. That's a sign that he or she might be confused.
10. Symptoms of depression. A frequent problem for many older people, who feel isolated and alone, like a prisoner in their own homes, depression causes marked changes in behavior and routines. Feelings of hopelessness or despair, lack of interest in once pleasurable activities, crying, listlessness, and not wanting to get dressed can all be indications of a problem.
Once adult children decide that a parent needs assistance, the next step is determining what kind. Adult daycare, meal delivery, psychiatric counseling, home health services, home safety modifications, interaction at a senior center, installing an emergency response service - these are just a few things that can make a big difference to an older adult living alone, who most likely wants to remain at home. Assisted living isn't always the only answer.
Consider consulting the professional at Professional Health Care. Our team of professionals work closely with each elderly parent and his or her family, making a detailed assessment to find out what solutions are needed - and will be more likely accepted. In addition, we can often help a parent understand the need for change.
Resistance to any kind of change is common, especially among the senior population. That's where having an objective third party involved can be helpful. Our professionals can make this time of transition easier for everyone. Even if adult children live out of the area, we can be their eyes and ears so a parent's everyday well-being will no longer be such a worry.
Get the help you need. Get the help your parents deserve. Call the Professionals today. 409.212.0205
What is Depression?
What are the signs & symptoms of depression?
What to report to the hospice team?
What can be done for depression?
Depression is common at the end-of-life. There is a wide range of intensity of depression. The hospice team will help you sort out causes of depression. They will discuss treatment options with you.
Your caregiver may:
If you or someone you know has any questions or concerns relating to depression or hospice care, give the professionals a call at 409.212..0205.
What is pain?
What to report to the hospice team?
What can be done?
The good news is that there is much you, your caregiver, and the hospice team can do for managing pain. They will try to find the reason for the pain and discuss treatment options with you. Medications are usually necessary to relieve pain - the nurse will give you information about the medicines, when to take them, and what you need to know.
Once medications are no longer needed, your hospice team will advise and assist you on the proper disposal of medications.
Here are some of the questions most often asked about hospice care. We hope they will help you better understand the hospice concept.
1. When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made - and who should make it?
At any time during a life-limiting illness, it's appropriate to discuss all of a patient's care options, including hospice. By law, the decision belongs to the patient. Understandably, most people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping an all-out effort to "beat" their disease. Professional Health Care's hospice staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and are always available to discuss them with the patient, family, and physician. It is not uncommon for our Hospice care team to receive reports of their patients actually experiencing an overall improvement in quality of life once hospice care is initiated.
2. Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?
The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other healthcare professionals, clergy, or friends.
3. Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
Certainly! If improvement in the condition occurs and the disease seems to be in remission, the patient can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy, or go on about his/her daily life.
If a discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private insurance will allow additional coverage for this purpose.
4. What does the hospice admission process involve?
One of the fist things hospice will do is consult with the patient, their family, and their physician so that our Medical Director can determine if the patient is appropriate for hospice care at this time. (Professional Health Care has medical staff available to help patients who have no physician.) The patient will also be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital.
5. Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?
Your hospice provider will assess your needs, recommend any necessary equipment, and help make arrangements to obtain it. Often, the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the disease progresses.
Professional Health Care will assist in any way we can to make home care as convenient and safe as possible!
6. How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?
There's no set number. One of the first things the Professional Health Care hospice team will do is prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of care-giving a patient needs. Hospice staff visit regularly and are always accessible to answer questions and provide support. It is necessary for each patient to designate one spokesperson to communicate treatment decisions to the hospice team in the event that the patient is not able to do so.
7. Must someone be with the patient at all times?
In the early weeks of care, it's usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. Later, however, since one of the most common fears of patients is the fear of dying alone, hospice generally encourages someone to be there continuously. This is a decision made based upon the needs of the patient.
While family and friends must be relied on to give most of the care, Professional Health Care does strive to provide volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time away for major caregivers.
8. How difficult is caring for a dying loved one?
It's never easy and sometimes can be quite hard. At the end of a long, progressive illness, nights especially can be very long, lonely, and scary. Professional Health Care has staff available around the clock to consult with the family and to make night visits as appropriate. Many tell us that while care-giving is one of the hardest jobs they've ever taken on, it is definitely the most rewarding.
9. What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?
Hospice patients are cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, spiritual caregivers, therapists, and volunteers - and each provides assistance based on his/her area of expertise. In addition, hospices provide medications, supplies, equipment, hospital services, and additional helpers in the home, as appropriate.
10. Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
Professional Health Care Hospice does nothing either to speed up or slow down the dying process. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, so we provide our presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.
11. Is the home the only place hospice care can be delivered?
No. Although most hospice services are delivered in a personal residence, some patients are cared for in nursing homes or hospice centers. Studies show that more than 90% of patients prefer to die at home: Professional Health Care Hospice is very successful in making this goal a reality for our patients.
12. How does hospice "manage pain"?
Professional Health Care Hospice nurses and doctors are up-to-date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. In addition, physical and occupational therapists assist patients to be as mobile and self-sufficient as possible.
Professional Health Care believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so we address these as well. Counselors, including spiritual caregivers, are available to assist family members as well as patients.
13. What is the hospice's success rate in battling pain?
Very high! Using some combination of medications, counseling, and therapies, most patients can attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them.
14. Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what's happening?
Usually not. It is the goal of hospice to help patients be as comfortable and alert as they desire. By constantly consulting with the patient, Professional Health Care has been very successful in reaching this goal.
15. Is hospice care covered by insurance?
Hospice coverage is widely available. It is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in some 47 states, and by most private health insurance companies. To be sure of coverage, families should, of course, check with their employer or health insurance provider.
16. If the patient is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will hospice still provide care?
The first thing hospice will do is assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of. Barring this, Professional Health Care will strive to provide care for those who cannot pay, by using available money raised from the community or from memorials, or Professional Health Care Foundation gifts.
17. Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
Professional Health Care provides continuing contact and bereavement support for family and friends for at least a year following the death of a loved one.
Professional Health Care is located at 4347 Crow Rd. in Beaumont, Texas.
What HOSPICE Is....
...support to the primary caregiver.
...numerous federally mandated services that are owned by individual companies, non-profit organizations, etc.
What HOSPICE Is Not...
...a primary caregiver.
...one big organization that is owned, operated, and/or managed by one entity.
What HOSPICE Does...
...educate the caregiver on what to expect throughout the patient's particular disease process.
...manage the patient's medications which are related to the Hospice diagnosis.
...teach the caregiver about what the patient's Hospice medications are for and how they are to be given.
...provide 24-hour nurse availability to : answer questions, assess patient to identify if new medications or treatments are needed, educate and reassure caregivers regarding new medications, new treatments, or new symptoms, obtain Hospice medications if needed immediately to relieve pain or manage symptoms, pronounce at time of death.
...arrange and provide for up to 5 days of respite care when needed to allow the primary caregiver a time of respite.
...provide continuous care for a brief period of time when assessment indicates that nursing care is needed to support the primary caregiver in managing a crisis situation related to the patient's terminal diagnosis.
...request that patient and/or patient's caregiver call Hospice before calling 911 to assess if symptoms are a normal part of disease progression and/or could be managed at patient's home.
...provide a brief, general in-patient hospital stay ONLY when ordered by the patient's hospice physician when pain and/or symptoms can not be controlled or managed in the home setting.
...supply equipment from a Hospice formulary when related to the hospice diagnosis and deemed necessary in order to manage the patient's care in a home/facility setting (hospital bed, over-the-bed table, bedside commode, shower chair, walker, wheelchair, trapeze, briefs, linen protectors, skin barrier creams, etc.).
...teach nursing facility staff or paid caregivers who are assuming the role of the patient's primary caregiver regarding disease process, medications administration, symptom management, etc.
What HOSPICE Does Not Do...
...remove the responsibility of the caregiver to learn about the patient's disease process.
...manage ALL of the patient's medications WHETHER OR NOT they are related to the Hospice diagnosis.
...replace the caregiver's role in making sure that the patient's Hospice medications are administered correctly.
...provide 24-hour nurse availability to: stay with patient on an ongoing basis, assuming the role of the primary caregiver.
...provide residence, temporary or ongoing, for patients who do not have a primary caregiver.
...provide continuous care in an effort to administer curative treatment.
...continue to provide services for patients who choose to call 911 in an effort to pursue aggressive, curative treatment.
...provide hospitalization when the patient's pain and/or symptoms could be managed in a home or facility setting with an appropriate caregiver.
...provide supplies that are not related to the patient's Hospice diagnosis.
...consider any companion, sitter, or any ongoing arrangement of sitters or companions who cannot provide 24-hour care, medication administration, treatment administration, and ADL assistance as an acceptable primary caregiver.