Friday, January 30, 2015

King County, WA: Free Program Aims to Reduce Recurring Falls

Does your parent live in King County in Washington State?
Has he or she called 9-1-1 for a fall, or has someone else called on his or her behalf? 
Or has a health care professional assessed him or her as at high risk for falling?
Does your parent live independently--not in assisted living, nursing or senior public housing?

If your parent meets these criteria, he or she could be eligible to participate in a free program aimed to reduce the risk for reoccurring falls.  Sponsored by King County Emergency Medical Services, the program helps elders be safe and independent in their own homes.

The program includes:
  • A free in-home safety walk through of their home by a physical therapist
  • Home environment assessment which may provide the following items free of charge:  tub grab bars, night lights, rug slips, shower chair, toilet safety frame, raised toilet seat, bed assist handle, hand held showerhead, shower transfer bench, bath mat, wall bar, smoke alarms
How it works:

Each client will be visited by a physical therapist who will administer the following:
  • Demographic and health characteristics questionnaire and "Up and Go" test or "Sit to Stand Test."
  • Clients sign a medical release so their doctor can be contacted.
The program has been running since 2003.  In that time, 82.6% of those who completed the evaluation did not have a fall after  the intervention.

For more information, contact "One Step Ahead," 206-296-4866.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Caregiving at a distance: Questions to Ask Yourself

You're juggling family, friends and a job.  Plus an aging parent who lives far away.  How do you manage his or her care from a distance?  And when should you visit?
Here are some questions to ask yourself from time to time.  Dr. Jim McCabe, President of
Eldercare Resources, shared these at a presentation for the Certified Senior Advisors.

1.  What do the local helpers (church people, neighbors, friends) say about Mom or Dad?  Often their input is more objective than your parent's.  He or she may minimize any problems, not wanting to worry you.

2.  What is your parent's style:  half full or half empty?  This will color his or her perception of what is going on.

3.  Can you afford a trip now?

4.  Can you make arrangements for your family and work right now?

5.  What if you delayed your visit and did not go?

McCabe advises that long distance caregivers work with a Geriatric Care Manager in the area where their parents live,  and also connect with local resources such as senior centers, and the US Network on Aging.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

For a Senior Care Professional You Can Trust, Look for the CSA

"Vulnerable adults."  That's what the law in the State of Washington calls people who need help to navigate life.  Your aging parent may be among that group, due to physical, cognitive or emotional frailty.  Or maybe all three.

You, too, may FEEL like a vulnerable adult at times, simply because of the complexity of eldercare issues that you must wade through.  Although age is on your side (you're not pushing 80), you can still be confused by the financial, legal, and social ramifications of decisions you make on behalf of your parent.

Not long ago I spoke with a business owner.  He and his wife own a clothing store in the heart of our city.  He is respected by leaders in the business and professional fields.  Yet when it came to finding housing and care for his dad and mother, he felt like he was in kindergarten.

Fortunately he got some help through a professional with three letters behind her name:  CSA.  Those letters stand for SocietyCertified Senior Advisors, a national society of professionals who work with seniors.  Realtors, Home Care Providers, Senior Care Advisors and Financial Planners are just a few of the types of professionals holding this designation. 

What makes the CSA special?  Those seeking the CSA attend classes which provide a strong foundation on the many issues facing seniors:  psychological, medical, financial, legal, religious and more.  They pass an exam, which also includes an ethics section.  And afterwards, they commit to doing continuing education which usually includes learning about issues outside their field of speciality. 

The Certificated Senior Advisor program produces accountability.  If members violate ethics standards, they can be sidelined or ejected from the group.

Trust is huge in working with adult children and their parents.  When I refer families to a home care agency, a professional organizer, a moving company or other professional, I look for the CSA.  When I refer to other CSA's (yes, I'm one of them), I can be pretty sure those folks will meet the needs of the families I work with l as their "vulnerable adults."  Trust builds trust.

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