Senior Care

What You Need to Know About Pneumonia in the Elderly: the Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

Seniors are more susceptible to pneumonia than any other group, especially during cold and flu season. So, if you care for an older loved one, it’s crucial to understand this life-threatening illness. In this article, we’ll walk you through important details you need to know about pneumonia in the elderly, from its symptoms to how it can be prevented.

What’s Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a respiratory condition that’s characterized by the infection of the lungs. This causes inflammation of the air sacs which then are filled with pus and fluid.  A person suffering from pneumonia often experience a wheezing cough, shortness of breath, chills, and fever.

What Causes Pneumonia?

There are two types of pneumonia: contagious and non-contagious. The former can be passed from one person another through sneezing or coughing. When you breathe in air containing microscopic virus, fungi or bacteria, it’ll cause an infection in your lungs. Non-contagious (aspiration) pneumonia is caused when fluid or food accidentally goes down the windpipe and lounges into the lungs breeding an infection.

Other forms of pneumonia include:

  • Hospital-acquired pneumonia
  • Healthcare-acquired pneumonia (quite rampant among seniors)
What are the Risk Factors for Pneumonia?

There are myriads of factors that contribute to the development of pneumonia. The most common ones include:

Difficulty Swallowing: Seniors who have found it difficult swallowing because of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia or stroke are often vulnerable to aspiration pneumonia.

Age: Kids under 2 and older adults over 65 are more prone to pneumonia

Smoking: Smokers are at a greater risk of contracting pneumonia than non-smokers.

Hospitalization: Using breathing equipment can increase the chances of being exposed to pneumonia-causing germs.

Pre-existing Conditions: Seniors with chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and decreased immune system are at a greater risk of pneumonia.

What are the Symptoms of Pneumonia?

Pneumonia in older adults run a gamut from mild to severe, with the most typical symptoms including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • A wheezing cough especially with pus or phlegm
  • Pain in the chest when coughing or breathing
  • Chills, sweating, and fever
  • Reduced oxygen levels in the blood
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea
  • Fatigue and prolonged tiredness
  • Increased falls, confusion, and inability to function normally are other symptoms that are particularly seen in the elderly.
How Is Pneumonia Treated?

If you or your loved one has experienced any or all of the above symptoms, please seek medical help immediately. A doctor will order a battery of tests, including blood, CT-scans, chest x-rays, sputum analysis, and lung fluid culture. Pneumonia is typically treated using antibiotics, painkillers, and anti-inflammatories. If pneumonia is too severe, the senior may have to be hospitalized and monitored for a few days.

How to Prevent Pneumonia in Seniors?

The good news is that there are a number of ways you can safeguard your senior loved one against pneumonia:

  • Avoid or quit smoking
  • Embrace a lifestyle that boosts the immune system
  • Get your loved one vaccinated against flu and other germs that can potentially infect the lungs
  • Keep track of vitals closely
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8 Fantastic Holiday Self Care Tips for Caregivers

Caring for an older adult can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming. Add holiday preparations and irritating relatives to the menu, and the whole thing becomes a nightmare.

Consider the following 8 stress relief tips to care for yourself during the holiday and spruce up your health and overall well-being. After all, your happiness and joy can rub off on those around you, including your senior loved one.

#1. Set Aside a Little Time for Yourself

The holiday season comes with its own fair share of fanfare and hubbub, and it’s easy to get caught up in all the motions. On top of that you’ve to care for your senior loved one. That’s why you need to make a small time for yourself to kick back, unwind, and relax. This way, you’ll be in a better position to resume holiday shindigs and your caregiving duties.

#2. Embrace an Attitude of Gratitude

The holiday period is a time to reflect on what you are thankful for. Instead of wallowing and feeling sorry for yourself, practice gratitude. Even better, pick a pen and paper and jot down the good things that have come your way during the year.

There’s something of beauty about being grateful. It can suddenly uplift your mood, get rid of stress, and help you cultivate a positive attitude towards life.

#3. Cut Yourself Some Slack

Caring for a senior adult during the holidays is no small feat. So, cut yourself some slack. Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself because it can bear down on your self-esteem, leaving you feeling negative emotions.

#4. Practice Meditation, Yoga, Breathing Exercises, etc.

Self care is all about taking care of yourself from inside out. Oftentimes that means finding ways to keep your mind, body, and spirit in optimal health. Listening to your favorite soothing music, meditating, taking yoga or practicing deep breathing exercises can do the trick.

#5. Don’t be Afraid to Seek Support

Caregiving, especially during the holidays, can take a huge toll on nearly every aspect of your being. When you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, it helps to lean on someone you trust, perhaps a fellow caregiver. When you are feeling down, be sure to talk, text, or meet face-to-face with your self-care buddy.

#6. Laugh, Laugh, Laugh

Laughter doesn’t cost you a thing. So, find every possible reason to laugh. Play a funny game, watch a comedy TV show or movie. A little laughter can go a long way to relieve your stress.

#7. Stay On Top of Unpleasant Family Interactions

You cannot be everything to everyone. Some relatives will have harsh comments about your caregiving style. Find ways to stay calm when you are confronted with unkind interactions. If anything, keep your distance and interaction with such members as minimal as possible.

#8. Prioritize Accordingly

Of course, caring for your older adult comes first. Remember you can’t squeeze in time to perform every task. So, know your priorities and, if possible, delegate some tasks.

Don’t make caregiving more stressful than it already is. Use above 8 handy tips to care for yourself and come out of the holidays healthy, recharged, and joyful.

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Top 5 Mobility Aids That Enhance Safety and Freedom for Older Adults

Helping senior adults stay safe and independent can be daunting, especially when they are reluctant to accept proper help. This is even truer when it comes to convincing them to use mobility aids like wheelchairs, walkers, and canes that can help them move around without any hassle and enjoy greater freedom for long. That’s why you need to approach the subject with compassion and a little creativity.

What’s even worse is that the odds are deeply stacked against them. Here are some startling stats from the CDC that’ll send chills down your spine:

  • Fall & slips are the biggest causes of fatal injuries among American seniors
  • Every 19 minutes, a senior aged 65+ succumbs to death because of a fall
  • Every 11 seconds, an ER treats an older adult aged 65+ for a fall injury
  • Fall injuries among older adult Americans cost over $50 billion annually, and the financial toll is expected to hit almost $68 billion by 2020.

No matter how you look at it, this is a grave issue, and mobility devices can come in especially handy. The bigger question is: which mobility aid or equipment is right for your beloved older adult? Consider the following tips to choose the perfect mobility device for you or your loved one:

  • How long will the mobility device be in use every day?
  • Does the senior have enough strength (both mental and physical) to use a manual device?
  • Will the senior need help with the transfer in & out of the mobility aid?
  • When and where your loved one needs help with mobility most – Will the senior need the device mostly at home? Need mobility help outdoors, indoors or both? Does he or she need help when getting up from bed to bathroom nightly? If that’s the case, you probably need a cane, not an expensive power wheelchair.

5 Most Common Mobility Devices for Utmost Freedom and Safety of Older Adults

(1) Walkers

Walkers are used by nearly 5% of American adults aged 65+. They offer greater mobility and can do wonders for seniors with balance issues, lower-body weakness & pain. They come in three versions: rollators (equipped with wheels on each leg), knee walkers (similar to rollators but feature a knee-resting pad), and walker-cane hybrids.

(2) Canes

Canes are the most common type of mobility devices. They help older adults maintain good posture while walking more comfortably and more safely. One in every 10 seniors uses a cane. They also come in a variety, including quad canes (four legs at the base for better stability), forearm canes (design for better distribution of weight), and white canes (for those who’re visually impaired).

(3) Stairlifts

Installing a motorized stair lift can make it easy for seniors to go up and down the stairs. It’s a lifesaver when it comes to preventing falls.

(4) Wheelchairs

There are both manual and electrically-powered wheelchairs. In either case, wheelchairs are designed to help seniors with lower body weakness to move around. Manual wheelchairs are for those with sufficient upper-body strength, while power wheelchairs are designed for seniors who need full-time mobility help both indoors and outdoors.

(5) Mobility Scooters

The beauty of mobility scooters is that they are usually accepted by seniors without a fuss. They are a great choice for older adults who don’t have enough balance and strength to use walkers or canes but need occasional mobility assistance outside.

There you have it – 5 most common kinds of mobility devices designed to help seniors achieve more independence, deal with pain, and stay safe.

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5 Reasons to Hire a Geriatric Care Manager

Being the sole caregiver for your aging loved one can be challenging. Sometimes elderly relatives have so many health and emotional concerns that it’s difficult to keep tabs on all of them. Finding yourself in this position is a cry for help. A geriatric care manager can answer this desperate plea and offer some relief.

A geriatric care manager has a medical background in geriatric care. This background may include experience as a nurse, social worker, gerontologist or psychologist.  The specialist training a geriatric care manager receives enables him or her to provide a special set of services that are truly beneficial to a primary caregiver.

These services provide adequate reason for hiring a geriatric care manager. Some of these reasons, and other benefits for hiring a geriatric care manager, are highlighted below.

Provides a Comprehensive Needs Assessment

Your limited knowledge of geriatric care means that you can miss some of your loved one’s needs. You aren’t trained to have that eye for detail. However, a geriatric care manager has spent several years honing that skill.

Geriatric care managers can provide in-home assessments. They use that information to determine the family’s needs, the level of care your loved one needs, and the living situation that best suits your loved one’s condition. This assessment helps them put the right plan in place.

Experience with the Medical System

Elderly care requires interacting with a variety of medical professionals. It can become difficult to keep track of everything. It can also be difficult to determine which services are covered by your loved one’s health insurance (Medicare or Medicaid). A geriatric care manager can help you navigate the system. You’ll save money and keep track of your loved one’s medical needs.

Coordinating and Supervising Care

Hiring a permanent caregiver for your loved one may become necessary. Geriatric care managers are responsible for coordinating and supervising geriatric caregivers. Their work ensures that someone is always with your loved one and your loved one gets high quality care. You will be sure that your loved one is in good hands.


Hiring a geriatric care manager is cost-effective in the long-term. They help you plan ahead, avoid unnecessary medical expenses, and avoid costly mistakes. Geriatric care managers can cost between $50 and $200 per hour. However, the long-term benefits of what they provide far outweigh the short-term costs.

Advocating for Your Loved One

It may become necessary for your loved one to live in an assisted living facility. The demands of life may prevent you from visiting regularly. A geriatric care manager can regularly monitor the care your loved one receives in these facilities. IF the care is substandard, the geriatric care manager can advocate for better care.

Each county has an Office for the Aging. You can visit the county office in your loved one’s area to get recommendations for local geriatric care managers.  The geriatric care manager should be certified through the Commission for Case Manager, the National Association of Social Workers, or the National Academy of Certified Care Managers. Feel free to contact the team at Own a Home Care Agency if you need further assistance.

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How to Prevent Seniors from Feeling Alone

One of the most difficult aspects of the aging process is getting used to not having our family around all the time. Children grow up and leave the nest. Spouses die. Younger people begin to fill the roles of older people at work. It’s, therefore, not surprising that some seniors feel neglected, isolated, and meaningless. Senior care workers have a special responsibility to ensure that families of seniors understand their role in preventing seniors from feeling alone. Consider providing the following suggestions to the families of your clients.

Ensure that the Senior Has a Hobby

Aging doesn’t always mean that we must give up the things we love. Sure, the aches and pains will prevent us from swinging that tennis racquet or dribbling down the basketball court. However, there are several other activities in which seniors can engage. The activities depend on that senior’s interest, but the benefits of them participating in these hobbies is undeniable. Hobbies allow seniors to consistently engage in social activities with people in their own age group, keep their minds engaged, and find joy in life.

Schedule Consistent Family Time

Shoving a senior family member into a nursing home or hiring a live-in aide is often deemed a necessity. The families of these seniors are usually unable to provide the care needed. While this is understandable, it doesn’t make it right to isolate this senior. It’s important for the senior’s family to schedule meaningful weekly visits.

Allow them to Teach You a Skill

These weekly visits provide the perfect opportunity for seniors to share their knowledge and experiences with their family. For instance, a senior who knows how to bake delectable treats can pass on this skill to other family members. They also have a lifetime of experiences to share to anyone willing to give a listening ear.

Encourage Volunteerism Activities

Aesop once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Volunteerism gives seniors a sense of purpose. They have been through so much and have a lot to offer to others. Encourage families of seniors to make it possible for them to participate in community volunteerism activities. Also encourage them to make these activities a regular part of the senior’s routine.

Be Present with the Senior

Spending time with a senior is pointless if you don’t give him or her your undivided attention. Families of seniors should know that family time is a time to be present and involved in family activities. All electronic devices and distractions should be put away. All meeting should be scheduled. This family time with a senior should be treated as valuable and sacred.

Loneliness is a dreadful state of being that shouldn’t befall any senior. One of your primary roles as a caregiver of a senior is to ensure that the senior’s family understands their role in preventing this loneliness. Discuss each of the strategies outlined in this article with the family. Each person can play his or her part in making the aging process more bearable for a senior.

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Medical Advancements in Geriatric Care

Medical research provides solutions to age-old problems. Forward-thinking geriatric care facilities embrace opportunities to try new medical procedures and technology that can improve the quality of care they provide to their patients. Four of the top medical innovations that were revealed at Cleveland Clinic’s 2016 Medical Innovation Summit are outlined in this article.

The Microbiome Project

Microbiome research made great strides in 2016. Microbiomes are microorganisms in the body that affect the digestion process, interact with medications, and affect how certain diseases (such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease) progress. Researchers have discovered how to use our body’s microbiomes to prevent lethal imbalances in the body, diagnose diseases, and segue into new therapies. This can mean a huge relief for elderly patients who suffer from digestive issues.

Cellular Immunotherapy

Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies were launched this year. This special therapy involves removing a patient’s T-cells and genetically reprogramming them to destroy tumor cells in that patient’s body. It has been specifically created for treating leukemia and lymphomas.

Bioabsorbable Stents

Metal coronary stents have been used for years to treat coronary artery blockage. These stents, however, increase the risk of getting blood clots and having complications during future surgeries. They also make some scans, such as MRIs, difficult to carry out. The first bioabsorbable stent was approved in the U.S. in July 2016. The stent’s polymer is absorbed into the blood stream after 2 years.

3-D Visualization and Augmented Reality

This medical advancement incorporates technology for making surgeons more efficient. Advancements in neurosurgery and retinal microsurgery now allow surgeons to immerse themselves in a 3-D visual representation of a patient. Surgeons will now be able to use a more comfortable posture to carry out surgeries.
Other recent medical advancements not featured in the 2016 Cleveland Medical Innovation Summit are highlighted below.

Robot Assistants

The infamous movie iRobot, featuring acclaimed actor Will Smith, seems to be forming our reality. There are more robots available now to help medical professionals carry out their task efficiently. The da Vinci robot, for instance, enables surgeons to perform surgeries with fewer invasive cuts. Another example is the TUG robot which can carry containers of various sizes containing medications and lab specimens.
The Artificial Pancreas

Yes, you read that correctly. The mad scientists from Medtronic have emerged from their labs with the MiniMed 670G, a wearable device that instantly supplies a diabetes patient with insulin if blood sugar levels are too low. No more needles. No more time checks. The device does all the work.


Nutrigenomics combines genetic testing and nutrition science. It is in its early phases. However, when it launches participants will be able to send a DNA sample to get their DNA sequence. This DNA sequence can then be synced with an app that tells the user the foods he or she should and should not eat.

Medicine has changed. Each year scientists open new frontiers that can help improve the quality of life for everyone. Are you ready to be a part of the revolution? If you aren’t, you may be left in the dust.

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5 Differences Between Home Health Care and Non-Medical Home Care

One of life’s harshest realities is gaining an increasing sense of appreciation for the fact that your parents are no longer who they used to be. They aren’t the energetic people who chased you around the house when you were little. Instead, there may be some days when they can’t even manage to get up out of bed because of the aches and pains of the aging process. You had hoped that this day would only come when you were ready…when you had all your ducks in a row and could take care of your parents yourself. Sadly, time waits on no one and the needs of your aging parents are staring directly into your face.

You’re now at a crossroads. The demands of your career and young family make it difficult for you to provide full-time care for your parents. You have 2 options. You could quit your full-time job and make space for your parents to move in. The other option is hiring a home health care professional. This article focuses on the latter and will help you decide whether you need a medical or non-medical home care professional for your elderly parents.
Difference #1: Licensing Requirements and Roles

Home health care professionals must have medical licenses. These professionals include nurses and physical therapists. They follow a health-care plan provided by a doctor. Contrastingly, non-medical in-home care professionals do not need a medical license. They help clients carry out the functions needed for daily living such as bathing, dressing, housekeeping, and preparing meals.

Difference #2: Costs

Medical home health care is more expensive than non-medical home healthcare. According to, you can expect to pay between $15 to $27 per hour for non-medical home care and between $13 to $30 per hour for medical homecare. Costs increase depending on the state in which you live, and the types of services required.

Difference #3: Medicare Coverage

Medicare is the government’s health insurance program for people 65 years and older. It is also provided to people with end stage renal disease and some people with disabilities. Medicare covers up to 35 hours per week of medical home health care. However, it doesn’t cover non-medical in-home care.

Difference #4: Who Needs It

Medical homecare is typically given to people who need long-term outpatient care. This type of care includes: catheter care, injections, IV infusions, tracheotomy care, ventilator management, physical rehabilitation, occupational therapy, speech therapy, pain management, and administering medication.
Non-medical homecare is typically requested for people who want to remain at home, but can’t carry out necessary daily functions on their own. These functions include: meal preparation, bathing and dressing, cleaning, and transportation.

Some people need a combination of both services. There are some home care providers who provide both services.

Difference #5: Duration

Medical homecare generally lasts for a shorter time than non-medical homecare. This is because medical homecare usually proceeds a person leaving the hospital. The medical professional provides the necessary care until the person has sufficiently recovered. Non-medical homecare professionals can work with a client until he or she dies.

It is important to know the difference between medical and non-medical homecare. The differences outlined in this article will help you determine the best type of care to seek for your aging parents. Don’t try to o it al on your own. Hire a professional who will ensure that your parents get the care they need.

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