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Elder Care Planning

"Care” can mean anything from helping a recipient run errands once a week to helping them with essential day-to-day activities, full time. Either way, caregiving for U.S. adults is becoming more and more common. The AARP reports an estimated 34.2 million adults in the U.S. provided care to an adult aged 50 or older last year. Three out of every five care recipients reported having a long-term physical condition, and 26 percent reported some kind of memory problem. Caring for an aging person will pose logistical, financial and emotional challenges. The best way to ensure a good situation for all involved is to educate yourself and make sure plans are in place that you, your care recipient, family members and involved professionals are comfortable with.

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Retirement and senior living options

Everyone has different priorities when considering the best living arrangements for an aging friend or relative.The main factors are likely how to make the care recipient as comfortable, independent and safe as possible. While staying in the familiar surroundings of one’s home is comforting, there are great reasons to opt for retirement communities and assisted living. Aside from the obvious advantage of professional nurses or technicians on-site, many senior living communities provide residents with social opportunities, facilities and support they may not have otherwise.

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Home improvements for seniors

48 percent of care recipients live in their own homes, another 35 percent live in their caregiver’s home (most likely an immediate family member’s). Reducing hazards for those with mobility, vision/hearing or even memory problems may seem overwhelming but many updates are fairly simple and inexpensive. As you plan changes to your or your care recipient’s home, it’s important to keep lines of communication open between yourself, the person receiving care and healthcare professionals who may be able to provide suggestions.

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Everyday services for independent living

There are two basic types of in-home medical services: skilled care and personal care. Meanwhile, day services focus more on an individual’s quality of life and emotional well being. Skilled care is provided by a nurse, therapist or social worker and is usually arranged by hospital staff as part of short term recovery following a hospital stay. Personal care is provided by a home health aide working for an agency, and includes help with bathing, grooming or other essential daily tasks. Even if your loved one is independent, they may greatly benefit from everyday senior services. Enlisting the help of a companion or home help agency, subscribing to a nutrition service like grocery/meal delivery, or joining in local adult day services promotes seniors’ emotional and mental health by providing opportunities to socialize and stay active.

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End of life care planning

“End of life care” is the medical and personal care a person receives once it has been determined their illness is chronic, aggressive and incurable. Rather than focusing on curing an individual’s illness, end of life care seeks to make the patient’s last months, weeks or days as comfortable and peaceful as possible. While this is an extremely difficult subject to bring up, the best way to ensure your loved one’s care meets their needs is to talk openly about it to them (and any family members) before you’re faced with making decisions on their behalf. Establish what treatments and interventions you, your loved one and family members are and are not comfortable with, and see what suggestions your doctor has for your unique circumstances. Forming a treatment plan everyone can agree on ahead of time will allow you, your loved one and family members to focus on spending time together and supporting each other when it’s most important.

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