Category Archives: Transportation

Risky Senior Driving

In our culture, getting your driver’s license at 16 is a rite of passage that most teens look forward to. It’s a symbol of independence and represents the freedom to go places and do things. It becomes a major key to social activities, shopping, and even getting a job. This is true throughout our entire adult lives and especially true for aging seniors. That’s why seniors are so reluctant to give up their car keys, even if they suspect they should.

Although there is no specific age at which seniors need to stop driving, statistics by the Hartford Insurance Corporation show that in seniors over the age of 75 there’s a much greater risk of being in a car accident with every mile driven. The risk is about the same as for new drivers between the ages of 16 and 24. This increase in accidents is due primarily to the aging drivers’ decrease in senses, multiple chronic health conditions, and increased medication consumption. There are warning signs to look for that will let you know your loved one needs to give up the keys or to at least decrease the amount of driving they do. It’s a good idea to take a ride with them and see for yourself how they’re doing. Do they drift into other lanes or straddle two lanes? Do they drive particularly slowly or unduly fast for the road conditions? Do they fail to use their turn signal or do they leave it on without changing lanes? Do they ignore or miss traffic signs or traffic signals? Do they make sudden lane changes? Does your senior get disoriented easily, even when in familiar places? Have there been any “warnings” by the police? Are there any unexplained dents or scrapes on the car?

If you see any of these warning signs, it’s time to have that dreaded conversation about giving up the keys or at the very least minimize the amount of driving your senior does. Until that time when your loved one gives up their keys there are things they can do to help minimize the risks. Encourage them to limit their driving time to the daytime and not during rush hours. Get them to drive only during good weather and optimal road conditions. Make the trips short and use the most direct but safe routes. Keep the radio turned off and minimize the number of passengers in order to reduce distractions. Basically, apply the same strategies with your senior driver that you would apply to a novice teenaged driver. It’s also a good idea to have the pharmacist review your senior’s medications to determine if they can affect their driving. Making these gradual changes may allow your senior to ease into giving up driving. Surrendering the car keys is a major life change. It makes good sense to reduce the risks well before a major crisis mandates an immediate change. Please share your thoughts and experiences below. Visit us at www.trilliumhomecare.com

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The Flower Shop

I was at the florist last weekend to order flowers for a special occasion. While there I noticed an elderly lady looking over the pots of daffodils and tulips. We struck up a conversation and she confided in me that she needed some flowers to boost her spirits. It has been such a long and cold winter that she just needed a reminder that spring really is coming. As we talked, she told me she could count on one hand how many endless winters like this one she had seen in her ninety two years. After she made her purchase, she asked if I would help her to her car. She had one of those four-pronged canes in one hand and a pot of daffodils in the other. I took the flowers from her and offered her my arm for support as we walked through the door, chatting the whole time and marveling at the warmth of the sunshine. She pointed out her vehicle, a massive old model Grand Marquis. As we approached the car she suddenly exclaimed “Oh no honey, I drove!” I had automatically escorted her to the passenger side, assuming someone had driven her to the florist and was waiting for her in the car. After making our way to the driver’s side she fumbled in her purse for her keys and I helped her get in, loading her daffodils and the cane on the passenger seat. We said our good-byes and I stood in dumbstruck silence noticing a variety of scratches and dents as she drove away. I kept thinking “there’s an accident, just waiting to happen”.

Hopefully, that lovely lady made it home in one piece and without incident. It seems to me that somewhere along the line a family member or friend should talk with her about assessing her driving. As you reach your senior years, at some point you may need to limit your driving or stop altogether. There are so many issues that can limit the ability to drive. Reaction time slows with age and mobility problems can make it difficult to look over your shoulder to change lanes or move your leg back and forth from the gas pedal to the brake. In addition, vision declines leaving many seniors to deal with glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. Hearing problems would make it harder to hear the warning sounds of honking horns or ambulance sirens. Combinations of medications can affect the senses and reflexes. Everyone ages differently and some can drive later in life than others but if you have a senior in your life, it may be time to assess their driving. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to start that conversation before they got to the flower shop! Visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com"

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Filed under Aging in Place, Caregiver, Farmington Hills, Health care services, Home Care, Senior Care, Transportation, Trillium HomeCare

On The Way Home From Work

Last evening, on the way home from work, I narrowly escaped a fender bender—not once, but twice. I had come to a stop at a red light while in the inside lane of a four lane road. A moment later, I noticed a bright red sedan with it’s left turn signal on pull past me into the intersection in the lane to my right. My first thought was that the driver had simply forgotten to turn off their turn signal. Fortunately, I hesitated when the light turned green, and then the red sedan cut right across the front of my car and made a left turn in front of me. That momentary hesitation kept my car intact. As she sped off, I noticed the driver of the other car was a very elderly lady whose head was barely visible above her steering wheel. I then cautiously made my turn only to find myself once again traveling next to the same lady. A mile down the road she suddenly sped up and pulled right in front of me and then came to a complete stop with her left turn signal on, once again. She apparently thought she was in the left turn lane which was actually further to the left. I braced myself, expecting to be rear-ended by whoever was behind me. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and I took off, very relieved she had made her turn.

My first instinct was to find a place to turn around and follow her into the parking lot and give her a piece of my mind. That would have served no purpose –I’m sure this isn’t the first time she had pulled a move like that and I’m pretty sure she’s been yelled at before. And then I thought about Mom. She’s in her late 80’s, has had her right hip replaced, walks with a cane, and drives herself pretty much to most places. She only goes to her local grocery store or the mall. Occasionally, she has a doctor appointment or goes to the dentist. And on Sunday she drives to church just a couple blocks away. Once a month there’s a Red Hats Club meeting that she car pools to with a few friends. Since her cataract surgery, she doesn’t drive at night. There a numerous scrapes on her car’s bumpers — it’s amazing how careless other people can be in a parking lot.

Last evening, on the way home from work, I learned a lesson. It’s time to have a meeting with my siblings and find a way to talk to Mom about her driving. Maybe we can convince her to use the local Senior Citizens community bus. If we take turns, we can drive her to appointments without burdening any one family member. Maybe she’d agree to hire someone to take her to appointments. If we present a united front and give her some workable options, maybe she’ll agree to stop driving. Last evening, on the way home from work, I opted to see for the first time, what was right in front of me all along. If you believe someone you love or care for may have issues that affect their ability to safely drive, contact your local Secretary of State to request a driver assessment reevaluation. Have you had to deal with a loved one’s driving issue? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Filed under Aging in Place, Farmington Hills, Home Care, Senior Care, Transportation, Trillium HomeCare

Why Go It Alone?

At any given time in the United States, about 29% of the population is taking care of a family member or friend who has a chronic illness, is disabled, or simply elderly.  Almost half of these caregivers also have children at home.  Statistics show that if care is being provided for someone over 50, the caregiver   is probably between 50 and 64 and also may have health problems.  Most of the care involves help with personal hygiene, dressing, preparing meals, grocery shopping, transportation, and medication reminders.That’s an awful lot of care being provided for an awful lot of people.  Anyone who is a caregiver can tell you that it drains you emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  If you are new to this role, it will be intimidating and at times frustrating.  Your cardinal rule for giving care should be: DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL. The reason for this is very simple and basic — if you try to do it all, you won’t be able to take care of yourself.  How can you take care of someone else?

Whatever you do, don’t claim the role of “caregiver” for yourself exclusively. You may feel it’s all on your shoulders because you live the closest to your loved one or because it appears you have more time than other family members.  Maybe you’re the oldest of the siblings or perhaps the siblings don’t talk much and you think it’ll be easier to do it yourself rather than work with them.   Don’t give in to any family tensions and be sure to call upon family members and friends for help and support. There are things you can do to make it work.

First of all, arm yourself with information about what your loved one’s situation is and what kind of help your loved one requires.  After you’ve identified your loved one’s needs….communicate, communicate, communicate. Keep everyone in the loop and ask for help.  You may be reluctant for fear of being turned down or because you don’t want to impose on anyone.  Don’t think that somehow you don’t measure up because you can’t do everything alone.  A caregiver who is alone ends up being a stressed caregiver and useless to the one they love.   Make specific requests of your family members and friends or ask “how they would like to help”. Options could include doing the grocery shopping, keeping track of bills, filling needed prescriptions or other tasks that don’t require hands on care. Maybe they can provide some financial assistance or research community services.  Surely, there’s something even the most reluctant or timid can do.

If you find that you’re all alone in providing care, realize you may need some outside professional assistance, even if it’s only to give yourself a much needed break and time to relax.   Be honest with yourself and know you can’t go it alone indefinitely without paying a heavy price.  Visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Filed under Caregiver, companionship, Home Care, Personal care, Senior Care, Transportation, Trillium HomeCare, Uncategorized

It’s Time For A “Road Trip”

Yesterday I ran into Aunt Vicki at the grocery store.  At first I saw an elderly lady bent over at the waist almost totally in the meat counter trying to read the labels on the packages.  When I tapped her on the shoulder she slowly straightened up and just stared at me.  When I spoke to her she recognized my voice.  Aunt Vicki is 86 years old and has a heart condition and severe macular degeneration.  She gets bimonthly injections in her eyes for her condition, finds it almost impossible to read print of any kind, and can’t recognize faces.  In conversation, I learned she had driven herself to the store and she begged me not to tell her family….they didn’t think she should be driving.  That’s not the part that worried or surprised me.   I was most alarmed with and surprised at the fact that she still had a car and access to the keys!!! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are over 30 million senior drivers on the road these days.  Some of these seniors shouldn’t be driving. If you care for or know a senior driver you surely can understand their fear of giving up their driving and cars.  To a senior driver, that car represents freedom and the independence to go where they want whenever they want. Unfortunately, everyone ages at a different rate and y0ur loved one may need to reconsider how safe they are on the road. Sometimes it’s up to the family to help the senior decide what to do.  There are signs to look for if you suspect your loved one shouldn’t be on the road.

Are there any scratches or dents on the car? Does your loved one have problems with vision or hearing? Do they have a good range of motion?  Are there any problems moving the foot from the gas pedal to the brake as is often caused by severe arthritis or diabetic neuropathy? Do they drift into other lanes or travel on the shoulder of the road?  Do other drivers honk at them often and are they oblivious to the honking?  Do they get lost on familiar routes or have trouble reading signs?  Are they having more and more “close calls” and “near misses” with other vehicles?  As someone who cares, you need to take a few rides with your senior periodically so you can assess the situation. Accidents increase in drivers over 65 and fatalities increase dramatically in drivers over 75 because with age they are less able to withstand the physical effects of an accident.  So take a road trip with your senior loved one and you may save their life and the life of another innocent driver.

Visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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How Safe Is The Bathroom?


If our goal is to keep our parents or senior loved ones safely in their own home, one of the best places to start is the bathroom. For seniors, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in the home. A small space with water, slick floors, hard surfaces and wall mounted towel bars doesn’t mix well with someone who may be frail, has poor vision, or may have walking or balancing issues. A fall resulting from this combination can lead to serious injury and even hospitalization. There are things you can do to prevent accidents in the bathroom.

*Install grab bars in showers and bathtubs. You don’t want your loved one grabbing a towel rack for balance or support because racks can’t hold their weight. Another option is to purchase a rail that fits over the bathtub edge without damaging the tub.

*A shower/tub chair in the tub is a good option if your senior has balance problems or general weakness. They come in a variety of heights and be sure to get one with slip-resistant rubber feet.

*If you use a tub chair, invest in a hand held shower spray. They’re easy to handle and with their flexible hoses they’re more convenient to use in a seated position.

* Make sure the bottom of the tub has nonskid tape or a nonskid bathmat.

*A raised toilet is helpful to anyone who has problems getting up or down from a seated position or problems with bending. An alternative would be to add a raised toilet seat to an existing toilet. Toilet safety frames with armrests can be added to help with transferring to and from the toilet or grab bars can be installed near the toilet.

*Be sure the temperature on the water heater is set at 120 degrees F or less. Anything higher than that can scald skin.

*Make sure there’s a nightlight in the bathroom and in the hallway going to the bathroom.

*Install bathroom door locks that can be unlocked from both sides. You need to be able to get to your loved one if there’s an accident in the bathroom.

Over one third of falls and accidents in the home occur in the bathroom. Following these tips will go a long way in preventing the most common bathroom injuries. Please share any other tips you have and visit us at www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Why Should I Use A Home Care Agency?


Once you’ve made the decision your senior or loved one needs some help to keep them safely in their own home, you need to decide if you should make some private arrangements to directly hire a caregiver or if you should go through a home care agency. Your first instinct may be to directly hire a caregiver, thinking this is the less expensive option. In effect this would make you both a case manager and an employer. You would have to do all the things a home care agency will do but without the experience or the time to do it. There are definite advantages to using a home care agency.

*Are you prepared to search for a caregiver? Where should you look? How do you know if the candidate is both qualified and experienced? A home care agency already has a staff of qualified, trained caregivers who also receive ongoing additional training.
*A home care agency will have run an in-depth background check of the caregivers they place in your home. The caregivers have also passed extensive drug tests and are bonded and insured. This is not typically done for direct hire caregivers.
*If you hire someone privately, you will be responsible for collecting and remitting Federal and State taxes to the government. You will have to deal with unemployment, workers’ compensation and the employment eligibility paperwork.
*A home care agency takes care of all the staffing issues. If the caregiver becomes ill or is on vacation there are back-up caregivers on staff so that services won’t be interrupted.
*Through an agency, caregivers are supervised and they are matched to be a good fit with your loved one. This is especially important since you probably won’t be there while the caregiver is with your loved one. Keep in mind that if things don’t work out with the caregiver you’ve hired directly, you’ll have to start the search and hiring process all over.
*You can be more flexible with services through an agency. A direct hire caregiver may not be available if you want to change prescheduled times or days or if you need the type of service changed. With an agency, adjustments can be made when your needs change.

The ultimate goal of using a home care agency is to keep your loved ones in their own home for as long as possible. If you’ve gotten to the point where you can no longer do all the caregiving on your own then it just makes sense to have an experienced agency take some of the burden off your shoulders. For more information, visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Caregiver, companionship, Farmington Hills, Health care services, Home Care, House Keeping, Medication Reminder, Personal care, Senior Care, Transportation, Uncategorized, West Bloomfield

Is It Time For Home Care?

As our parents age, we gradually take on the responsibility of caring for them and helping them with their activities of daily life. It starts out slowly. Perhaps we make extra portions of dinner and bring it to them so they have a nice hot meal. Maybe we pick mom up and take her grocery shopping so she doesn’t have to drive. When we stop by we put the garbage out or do a couple loads of laundry. After all, our goal is to keep them safe and comfortable in their own home surrounded by their own familiar things. As our parents age, the number and frequency of these thoughtful actions slowly increase. Then one morning we wake up to find we are now the parents, making daily decisions for them and helping them with everything. It’s time for home care. Just the thought of getting professional home care for our loved one can stir up deep feelings of guilt. It’s important to remember that we owe our loved ones the honest, warm relationship that exists between loving parents and children. We need to keep that role as a loving child alive and not trade it in for a role as a caregiver. This is often compounded by the issue of juggling the demands of work and our own children.. The signals that our parents need help are often subtle and we may not come to this realization until we’ve become overwhelmed by caregiving. Remember, you can’t be much help to them if you are burned out yourself. Look for these clues that it may be time to get some help.

*Is their personal hygiene good? Do they bathe regularly? Are teeth being brushed and hair combed?
*Are there any physical changes in your loved ones? Do they look thinner? Do they seem weak or do they fall frequently?
*Are meals being prepared? Is there any stale or expired food in the refrigerator or cupboards?
*Is the house being cleaned and maintained? Is there a lot of clutter or trash around?
*Does the car have any unexplained dents or scratches? Has your loved one gotten lost driving somewhere familiar?
*Are there any safety issues like coffee pots left on or doors left unlocked at night?
*Have you noticed any memory problems? Have appointments been missed or medications not taken?
*Are your loved ones isolating themselves and avoiding social functions or family gatherings?
*Have you noticed any mental changes? Are they often moody or seem distant and vague?

If you see some of these changes in your loved ones, it may be time to talk to the family about getting some help for them. As parents age, its often easier to accustom them to having someone come in to the home for shorter periods of time. As their needs change, the type and amount of help can be adjusted. The goal is to help your seniors stay in their own home for as long as possible. This is where they are the most comfortable. Have you noticed other signals that your parents need help? Share below. Don’t forget to visit us at www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Caregiver, companionship, Farmington Hills, Health care services, Home Care, House Keeping, Medication Reminder, Personal care, Senior Care, Transportation, Uncategorized, West Bloomfield

How Can A Senior Take Medications Safely?

If you care for a senior friend or relative, you’ve certainly had concerns about their medications. Over a third of all prescriptions written are accounted for by seniors over 65. Because of their age, their hearing, vision, and ability to remember things is often diminished. Seniors generally have multiple health problems and these problems are probably being controlled or treated by a variety of drugs. This can lead to a disaster just waiting to happen. How can you be sure they take their medications? How can they ensure their own safety? Are they taking the right amount? There are things you and your loved one can do to prevent problems and adverse drug reactions. Be proactive – don’t wait for something to go wrong!

*Keep a list of all medications including over the counter drugs and herbal supplements. Record their dosages along with any special instructions and who prescribed them.
*Take the medication list every time the senior goes to the doctor so it can be reviewed for any possible drug interactions or dosage adjustments.
*Get all prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. This will allow the pharmacist to also check for any possible interactions.
*Keep the old pill container until you get a refill. Compare the information on the bottles to see if there are any changes you aren’t aware of. Contact your pharmacy and/or the doctor’s office if something is unfamiliar.
*Be sure to read the literature that comes with the medication. Be aware of and look out for any possible negative reactions. Seniors are especially sensitive to new medications.
*Take medicine exactly as prescribed and don’t stop taking it without the doctor’s orders.
*Be sure any old medications are disposed of. They can degrade quickly and cause more harm than good.
*Store medicines in a cool, dark place (not the bathroom) and try to keep them all together.
*NEVER use medication prescribed for someone else.
*A pill box or compartmentalized medication reminder box is a great way to keep multiple doses of several medications organized in one spot. They are labeled for the different days of the week and for the different times of the day. You can check with one look whether a dose has been missed.

Following these tips can help manage a senior’s medication and prevent an adverse drug reaction. It can help prevent constipation, depression, falls, fractures or the confusion that can result from the mismanagement of medications. Do you have any other helpful tips? Share below and don’t forget to visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Caregiver, companionship, Farmington Hills, Health care services, Home Care, House Keeping, Medication Reminder, Personal care, Senior Care, Transportation, Uncategorized

What’s The Truth About Seniors And Medications?

Nowadays seniors are living longer in great part due to medications that have been developed to control their health problems. It’s these same medications that can be a cause of concern for both the seniors and their caregivers. Typically, seniors over 65 take at least five different medications per day. This greatly increases the odds that things can go wrong.
*As they get older, seniors see several physicians and specialists. They also tend to shop around for and use more than one pharmacy in an effort to pay less for their medications. Both of these factors increase the risk for dangerous drug interactions. One physician may not know what another physician has prescribed and one pharmacy won’t know what has already been dispensed at another pharmacy.
* Seniors often have memory problems as they age. They can easily forget the instructions for taking their medication. The resulting problems can range from taking their prescribed drugs too often to skipping them altogether.
*Problems with hearing can cause your loved one to misunderstand the doctor’s or pharmacist’s directions for taking the prescribed medication.
*As seniors age, their bodies tend to respond differently to medication. Medications build up in their systems more easily and take a longer time to be eliminated. Not taking the medications exactly as prescribed can cause dangerous over or under dosing. In addition, seniors are more sensitive to the effects of drugs so the dosage needs to be carefully monitored.
* Some seniors may have financial problems and may not refill their prescription as necessary or may cut their pills in half to make them last longer.

The presence of any of these issues with your loved one makes it very important to have medications dispensed and taken as directed by the physician. Have you noticed other things that affect your senior and their medications? Share below. Don’t forget to visit us at: http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Caregiver, companionship, Farmington Hills, Health care services, Home Care, House Keeping, Medication Reminder, Personal care, Senior Care, Transportation, Uncategorized, West Bloomfield