Matt Gallardo

Be Smart When Battling Mother Nature, Especially Older Adults

Matt Gallardo

shoveling snowThough Central PA has received a fair amount of snow over the last week, we can be thankful we are not getting hammered like New York and the New England Coast from Winter Storm Juno. Nonetheless, no matter what the snow totals are in your area, we all need to be cautious and smart when battling the elements.

Conditions like these are hazardous for anyone, but they can be downright dangerous for older adults. Along with cardiac issues exacerbated by cold weather exertion, hip, wrist, and ankle fractures during the winter months are quite common. In my experience from days as admissions director for Messiah Village, our Wagner transitional rehab would often see a rise in slip and fall fractures, particularly after foul-weather events. These injuries can also have some dire consequences in the elderly. According to the US National Library of Medicine it is estimated that the death rate in the elderly is as high 30% for up to a year following complications from a hip fracture. So it’s very important for seniors to be careful about falling or suffering injuries while shoveling snow. A study from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), taken from AARP.org, estimates that 11,500 people (all ages) are sent to the emergency room each year with snow-shoveling injuries, and those 55 or older are four times more likely to suffer cardiac-related symptoms than are younger adults. “The cardiovascular demands of snow shoveling are increased by the freezing temperatures that typically accompany snowfall,” said the study’s senior-author, Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy. “Not only is the heart’s workload increased due to shoveling snow, but cold temperatures also add to the chances of a heart attack in at-risk individuals.” Furthermore, some older adults that may already have some mobility issues could become more at risk of falling while venturing out or they may just withdraw into their homes for the winter altogether. Either scenario is not good.

Minimize Risk

So what can we do to avoid these risks? Orthopaedic surgeon James Gladstone, M.D., co-chief of sports medicine at New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, offers these tips for staying safely on your feet:

• Do the shuffle. If you must walk on ice, walking in a shuffle or moving your feet only slightly apart provides better balance than your normal stride. Bending your knees just slightly as you walk will also help you keep your balance.
• Walk sideways on inclines. When walking on an icy incline such as a driveway, turn sideways. Then walk in side steps, by taking a step and bringing your other foot up to meet your lead foot, instead of your usual gait of one foot in front of the other. Walking this way while also slightly bending your knees will give you more balance and stability.
• Watch out for icy patches. Take care when exiting cars, buses and trains or when walking up and down outdoor stairs. Keep your eyes open for patches of ice.

Have someone check the safety of walkways before you venture out and be sure they have shoveled, salted or secured the path for you to safely travel on.

If you must shovel snow, here are some tips for doing it safely:

• Warm up your muscles. Shoveling is a vigorous activity. Before you go outside, warm up your muscles with some light exercise for 10 minutes.
• Push, don’t lift. Push the snow to the side as much as possible, instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist.
• Think small scoops. Small amounts of snow are easier to lift, and you’re less likely to strain your back. Never hold a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched — it puts too much weight on your spine.
• Avoid twisting. Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that stresses your back.

Get Some Helping Hands

Another tip is to ask for help or hire help to deal with the challenges that winter weather poses, whether it’s shoveling or simply walking or driving from icy point A to slippery point B. You can hire help for many different chores or needs, and not just for snow removal. Several of the more treacherous places for icy and slushy conditions are sidewalks and parking lots. Many home care agencies like Messiah Lifeways At Home can help alleviate the risk involved. They can provide door-to-door transportation to and from appointments, go grocery shopping or run errands for you, and even take Fluffy or Fido out for a walk. Having this type of help can be a life saver, literally.

Lastly, if you have an elderly neighbor or loved one you are concerned about, please check in on them on a regular basis. Make sure they have a proper heating source, food and water, their medications are filled and they can get out of the house in case of an emergency. So this winter, be safe, be smart, and stay away from the emergency room.

If you’d like more information about staying safe this winter, please contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching office at 717-591-7225 or email coach@messiahlifeways.org. To contact Messiah Lifeways At Home directly, call 717-790-8209.

Matt Gallardo

Beating the Winter Blues with Messiah Lifeways

Matt Gallardo

snowman working out

During the winter, depression and or isolation can be a challenge for both seniors as well as caregivers. Others may suffer from “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD. For people dealing with SAD, the lack of natural sunlight in the winter upsets the sleep-wake cycle and their circadian rhythms. It may also affect the balance of chemicals like serotonin and hormones such as melatonin in the brain, which can alter one’s mood. Whether someone truly suffers from SAD or just has an annual wintertime malaise, these colder darker days can take its toll. Combine that with flu season and other cold weather ailments and it’s understandable why many flock to places like Florida and Arizona during the winter. But for many, that just isn’t an option. Plus, for caregivers who likely are still working or are being relied upon by their loved one, the best they could hope for is maybe a week’s vacation away from it all. So whether you’re a senior or an aging caregiver, consider these tips that can help you beat those wintertime blues, many of which are offered by Messiah Lifeways.

Exercise

Exercise and activity are important year-round, but winter makes it challenging. If you can’t go for a walk or exercise outdoors because of the snow and cold, then its time to start your regular indoor exercise routine. Fortunately, Messiah Lifeways Wellness offers both residents and others age 55+, living in the community, many opportunities to stay active and stave off the winter blues! Messiah Lifeways Wellness Coordinator, Heidi Koch, lists a number of winter exercise classes and programs that are open to residents, community members, and even SilverSneakers  and Silver & Fit participants. You can choose from options like Yoga, Tia Chi, Pilates, strength training, cardio, balance, nutrition, healthy cooking and aquatic classes. The warm water aquatic center boasts a comfy 90 degree pool and a spa to de-stress and relax! They can also provide fitness testing, wellness assessments, and personal training which are important facets to developing a winter fitness program. Prospective members can come to the pool or any of the exercise classes to “try it out” as a guest. For more information or to set up a tour, call Heidi at 717.591.7222.

Volunteer

The physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of volunteering are powerful. From soup kitchens to mailing packages to soldiers or distributing toys to children in need, there are many charity organizations in need of help especially over the winter. At Messiah Lifeways our Volunteer Program enlists the help of all ages, but in particular residents and retirees from the community volunteer their time, talents, and spirit to other residents and clients. The hands-on work, emotional bonding, and the spirit of benevolence are enough to invigorate the body and soul through the harshest of winters. To learn more about Volunteering at Messiah Lifeways, please contact Lois at 717.790-8203.

Engage in Social Activities

It is widely acknowledged that social engagement is related to many positive outcomes in older adults. People with more social ties have been found to live longer, to have better health, and to be less depressed.¹ Unfortunately for many older adults, social circles can shrink due to illness or death, friends moving away after retirement or to be closer to family. Socialization may also suffer when they give up driving or their physical mobility becomes impaired. And lastly, the cold winter months and shorter days make it more challenging for people to socialize. But there are more and more programs and services created for seniors to revitalize and reactivate their social lives. One such option relatively new to Central PA is the Connections program. A Connections membership gives seniors from across the mid-state the chance to volunteer for each other, barter services from one another, but also offers a burgeoning social circle. This reincarnated form of “social networking” rekindles the ole’ drop in visit, outings to the movies or dinner, book clubs, membership committees, parties, and more. The possibilities are limitless, and the benefits are immeasurable. To learn more about Connections, call Geli at 771.790.8223.

Another great choice is becoming a member of your local senior center. Mechanicsburg Place and Branch Creek Place offer a great place to escape isolation for a few hours a day to socialize and connect with others especially during the winter. Sit down to hot and tasty meals, join in on activities ranging from Tai Chi and line dancing to computer classes, book clubs, and card clubs. There is something for everyone. For more information, call Marty at 717.697.5947.

Seek Professional Help

Hopefully physical activity, social and civic engagement can serve as effective tools in the battle against the winter blahs. However, there are many levels of depression, and climbing out of it is no easy task. If you or your loved one feels hopeless, maintain a constant negative outlook, have significant changes in appetite, and are fatigued, irritable or restless, it could be a sign of clinical depression. Speak to a professional about treatment options so you can beat the wintertime blues.

 ¹ National Research Council. When I’m 64. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2006.
 
This article was originally posted January 21, 2014. Revised January 16, 2015.
Matt Gallardo

A Retrospective of Assisted Living versus Personal Care in PA

Matt Gallardo

{Similar yet different}

Back in March 2013, I wrote an article examining the differences between Assisted Living Residences (ALR) and Personal Care Homes (PCH) in Pennsylvania. It stated that prior to January 2011 there was no true difference between these levels of care across the commonwealth. They were essentially synonymous, interchangeable terms. However, most facilities referred to themselves as “assisted living” rather than a “personal care home” because it sounded more pleasant and inviting. But if pressed to see their provider license, every single site would have donned a Personal Care Home certificate.

That all changed when PA Senate Bill 704 was signed in 2007 and then enacted in January 2011 by the Intra-Governmental Council on Long-Term Care. It defined and established assisted living as a separate form of long-term care in Pennsylvania.

Fast-forward 4 years  and the landscape has not changed much. Many consumers and even healthcare professionals still aren’t aware or fully understand the difference. Also the number of Personal Care Homes still far outweighs the number of ALRs across the state. For this reason, I am re-releasing the article to continue help others understand and appreciate the difference and to spark conversation about its future.

So Why the Change?

What prompted this additional level of care across the commonwealth? First, the state felt it needed to do better job of balancing public funding of institutional care with home and community programs for the PA’s seniors. Secondly, the philosophy of more choice was essential. Also according to an AARP study, “95% of older Pennsylvanians want alternatives to nursing home placement,” plus “another option was needed for many individuals who couldn’t live at home anymore, but didn’t require round the clock nursing care services.” The study also said national research showed “assisted living facilities would cost between one-half and two-thirds of the cost of daily skilled nursing care.” Additionally the bill was to be a starting point to help shift Medicaid (Medical Assistance) dollars to assisted living and away from nursing homes and therefore reduce the reliance on the much more expensive alternative.

Essentially assisted living was created to bridge the gap in care between Personal Care Homes and skilled nursing homes, but at a lower cost than nursing and in a setting that could allow residents to “age in place” for a longer period of time.

Specific Differences

Assisted Living Residences are licensed under 55 Pa. Code, Chapter 2800 by the Office of Long-Term Living. Though it does provide similar care to Personal Care Homes, they do have the capability to care for people that require heavier care for a longer period of time. Personal Care Homes are governed by the Department of Public Welfare whose regulations maintain certain limits on the care and setting that they can provide.

According to the Office of Long-Term Living, Assisted Living Residences are different from a Personal Care Home in 3 ways: concept, construction and level of care. The concept focuses on allowing a resident to “age in place” for a longer period of time before having to move to a nursing facility when their needs increase. Next, ALR construction would require larger units, private bathrooms, and the “capacity” for kitchen facilities. This model would allow for more privacy and maximum independence. Regarding level of care it would provide more assistance for a resident whose needs become too great for a Personal Care Home.

Two examples of a Personal Care Home resident needing to move to a nursing facility could include the following: if the resident requires multiple caregivers to transfer them from their bed to the toilet or if another resident needed help emptying their catheter. However, if those two people lived in an Assisted Living Residence they could remain there because of the required higher staffing ratios and specialized training for needs such as catheter care.

Interestingly, larger Personal Care Homes meet certain ALR requirements, particularly in the area of construction, but also by the concept of aging in place. This is achievable by the resident hiring supplemental care to assist them during the day along with adaptive equipment or modifications to their rooms. 

The Current Outlook

The introduction of Assisted Living Residences in PA as a cheaper alternative to nursing homes that will allow seniors to delay or avoid a move to nursing facility in essence is great. However, the reality is a little less promising, at least presently. As of December 2014, there are only 33 licensed Assisted Living Residences spanning just 19 counties as compared to 1,221 Personal Care Homes in just about every county¹.

Why such a low number after so long? First, for many Personal Care Homes, the consideration to make the change to an Assisted Living Residence or even offer both on one campus is a massive strategic decision and commitment. Many communities would have to make structural changes to their buildings or enlarge apartments, add staff, provide additional training, plus put forth a major marketing and promotions effort. All of this, of course, costs money and takes time to make happen. Secondly, the prospect of reimbursement through Medicaid is just is not there due to a lack of state funding. Lastly, there is still hesitation by some providers to wait and see how those that have obtained their Assisted Living Residences license fair in the market and perform under the new regulations.

As I stated in my initial article, (more) time is needed to determine whether the growth and viability of  Assisted Living Residences will work in congruence with Personal Care Homes and nursing homes in Pennsylvania. I think the jury is still out on ALRs, but ultimately (in theory) it’s a better option for consumers, and I think it needs to replace it’s predecessor to become sustainable on a long-term basis.

For more information, please visit the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services website: www.dhs.state.pa.us

¹ PA Department of Aging website, Dec. 2014

This article was originally published March 2013 & updated Jan. 2015
Matt Gallardo

Aging: Debunking the Myths

Matt Gallardo

“Age, ain’t nothing but a number”

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Why Everything You Think About Aging Maybe Wrong,” staff reporter Ann Tergensen reveals a number of myths and misconceptions about getting older. She states that “as we get older, friendships, creativity and satisfaction with life can flourish.”

racin grandpaI appreciate how she challenges conventional thinking from the very beginning of the article. She generalizes, “Everyone knows that with age… life inevitably becomes less satisfying and enjoyable… that cognitive decline is inevitable… and that we become less productive at work…Everyone, it seems, is wrong.” She also challenges the stereotype of growing older as a time of loneliness, depression and decline; because, as she points out, there’s more and more research that shows life can actually get better in many ways as we age.

Truthfully, as an advocate and promoter for embracing aging for Messiah Lifeways, I do have my own personal anxiety about getting older and maintain a small amount of skepticism about articles such as Ms. Tergensen’s. However, each year that goes by, as I interact with more and more vibrant and gratified seniors, and discover research that supports aging as a time of opportunity and contentment, my anxiety and skepticism wane. Likewise, my fear and reluctance about aging are evolving into appreciation and acceptance. The journey of aging that I encourage others to embrace is one that I’m learning as I go as well.

She goes on to say that growing older does have its challenges and takes its toll on our physical and mental health. But the “stereotype of being depressed, cranky, irritable and obsessed with their ailments, constitute “no more than 10% of the older population” as stated by Paul Costa, a scientist emeritus at the National Institute of Health. Furthermore, an article I wrote a while back entitled, “Ageism and Karma,” I stated that you can assign stereotypes to every generation, and while they may be true, they are often grossly exaggerated generalizations.

The WSJ article continues on by debunking 6 myths about aging.

Myth #1: Depression Is More Prevalent in Old Age - Despite the assumption that aging and depression go hand-in-hand, a 10 year study from Stanford University refutes that myth. It included 184 participants ages 18 to 94 reporting on their emotions over this 10 year period. They found that participants’ moods, which were measured by the ratio of positive to negative emotions, steadily improved with age.

Myth #2: Cognitive Decline Is Inevitable – As we age, our concentration and memory does begin to slip, which actually starts around age 30, and I can attest to that. However, barring dementia, a study from the University of Toronto indicates that older adults performed better in real world situations versus cognitive tests because of acquired knowledge and life experiences. And much like any other muscle in the body, exercising and challenging our brains is essential to combat mental decline.

Myth #3: Older Workers Are Less Productive – a vast majority of academic studies shows “virtually no relationship between age and job performance,” says Harvey Stearns, director of the Institute for Life-Span Development and Gerontology at the University of Akron. It’s also noted that in jobs that require experience, some studies showed that older adults have a performance edge and that older workers seem better at avoiding severe errors.

Myth #4: Loneliness Is More Likely - though true that social circles do get smaller as you age, several studies indicate that the friendships that you do have typically improve with age. Also they tend to have better marriages, more supportive friendships, less conflict with family, and closer ties with members of their social network versus younger adults.

Myth #5: Creativity Declines with Age – academic studies and historical figures have shown that artists and scholars may reach their peak output when they are in their 60s according to Dean Keith Simonton, a professor of psychology at the University of California Davis. He also adds that “experimental artists” improve with time and experience and take years to perfect their style and knowledge and that wisdom does increase with age.

Myth #6: More Exercise Is Better – James O’Keefe, a professor of medicine at the University of Missouri, states that with exercise as you age there is a point of diminishing returns. Therefore, moderate workout routines are sufficient, and long-term strenuous endurance exercise can cause “overuse injury” to the heart.

In conclusion, I think the article challenges traditional thinking and opens your eyes about aging by backing it up with data and research. However, it is important to focus on a particular fragment within this commentary – and it’s the word “can.” As stated earlier in the article “as we get older…life can flourish,” but it hinges on your individual attitude and outlook on aging. For the parts of aging we control, if you let it, loneliness, depression and decline will bring you down. But if you take control and find meaning and purpose and embrace aging, you can flourish.

To learn more about how you can change the conversation and flourish as you age, contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching Program at 717.591.7225 or coach@messiahlifeways.org.

Matt Gallardo

Please Put Down the Christmas Sweater!

Matt Gallardo

As a kid, I vividly recall my Grandmother instructing us every holiday shopping season, “Please, do not buy me Christmas gifts that I have to clean or dust.” We always got a laugh out of her for that, but she was serious. Make no mistake she loved exchanging gifts at Christmas, but having been a depression-era baby she didn’t really want big extravagant gifts or silly novelty gifts like an ugly Christmas sweater - yikes! Especially as she became less mobile, she didn’t want gifts that she had to dust, wash or took up lots of space. She had much simpler more practical taste. Living on a fixed income, she really appreciated the flexibility of gift cards that she could use on things she really wanted or needed. And in other cases it’s just plain difficult to buy for family members, especially when they are 2 or 3 times your age. For others who have downsized into an apartment or into personal care or to nursing care, getting large or novelty gifts can be a challenge due to a lack of space or storage.

91d572e7006025f5e456c622d2b0b3d8So put down those Duck Dynasty Chia Pets® this holiday season and think more practical and streamlined when it comes to buying gifts for Great Uncle Joe or Grandma Louise. Flowers, food, or a good book are really great ideas. Small electronics like a smart phone or an e-reader may be a good choice too. I have also included some other great suggestions available through Messiah Lifeways. These are great gift ideas for Messiah Village residents and as well as some for non-residents.

1. Membership to Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning® ($20 for 1 course, or 5 courses for residents $50 and community members $75)

2. A massage therapy session from Messiah Lifeways At Home ($40 for 1/2 hour, $65 for 1 hour)

3. Sunday Brunch at the Fireside Grille gift certificate ($25)

4. Monthly membership to Connections ($20 single, $30 household)

5. Messiah Lifeways Wellness Community Membership to the aquatic/fitness center ($45/month)

6. Two hours of technology and computer support provided by Messiah Lifeways At Home ($50)

7. Two hours of housekeeping from Messiah Lifeways At Home ($50)

8. A supporting membership to Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center & More ($25 annually)

9. Gift certificate to Bailey Street or Paxton Street Coffee Shops at Messiah Village (varying denominations)

10. A gift certificate for a shampoo/cut/set at one of the salons at Messiah Village (varying denominations)

Give a gift this year that they will really appreciate. Click on the links above or call 717.697.4666 to be transferred to the respective departments to get details on ordering gifts. If you have any additional questions or ideas, please leave a comment or contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching office at 717.591.7225.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Archive from Nov. 2012, revised for Dec. 2014
Written by: Matthew Gallardo, BASW, CCP
Matt Gallardo

Make Caregiving Manageable During the Holidays

Matt Gallardo

Ah, the holiday season. It’s the most wonderful time of year, right? As we all know it can be a very busy and stressful time too. Between the shopping, cooking, and traveling it gets hectic, especially for those who serve as a primary caregiver to a loved one. Caregivers deserve to enjoy Thanksgiving or Hanukkah or Christmas just as much as the next guy, if not more. But sometimes there just are not enough hours in the day.

As the holiday season quickly approaches, it is good to know that there are some great options out there for those caring for an aging parent or loved one.

Beat Black Friday Blues

imagesCA4PU30TFor many shoppers Black Friday is a holiday unto itself. Whether you think it’s a good idea or not, we know some people are determined to get up at the crack of dawn and get the best deals possible. If you have some shopping to do or you’re just plain busy, several solutions can make your life more manageable. First, there are some great technology solutions. An emergency call system, such as Philips Lifeline®, can be the difference between your loved one getting help immediately versus laying there for hours before someone discovers them. Their Auto-Alert option can even detect a fall and send a signal if the person is knocked unconscious, and the Philips GoSafe® emergency call system provides GPS tracking response both in and outside the home. The Philips Medication Dispensing® (PMD) System can help individuals manage medications safely and effectively. Face Time, which is on most Apple® mobile devices or Skyping can be a great way to provide face to face interaction with long distance loved ones to check in on them.

If you have aversion to technology, another option is non-medical home care. Hire an aide to come stay with mom or dad for several hours or several days. There are a number of non-medical home care agencies in the area from which to choose. Particularly, Messiah Lifeways at Home offers traditional home care services like help with bathing, housekeeping, and cooking, but they also provide unique home care services like non skilled home-maintenance, transportation, and even pet and plant care. Another great choice are Adult Day Programs. Messiah Lifeways offers a day program where loved ones can come for a full or half day of activities, socialization, meals, and receive assistance with activities of daily living. These programs are cost effective and offer great flexibility based on your need. Give yourself a gift of time and peace of mind.

Peace of Mind for Holiday Travel

As family becomes more spread across the country, it leaves many caregivers with the predicament of traveling versus staying home for the holidays. If you choose to go away for the holidays or any other time for that matter, a respite stay for the person you care for may be the answer. Respite provides short-term or temporary care. As a respite, your loved one can receive the same services a permanent resident would like meals, activities, medication monitoring, and assistance with activities of daily living. You can arrange for the individual to stay for several days up to a month. Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village offers respite in personal care for as little as a five-day stay. It provides a safe, secure, and nurturing place for them while you are out of town. Holiday activities and cooking, plus special events like Christmas concerts and holiday celebrations make the time even more enjoyable.

Additional Holiday Caregiving Tips

Unlike Santa Claus, we do not have magical powers. We cannot be in multiple places. Ask for help from family and friends and learn how to delegate tasks. Despite it being a difficult choice, consider re-evaluating family traditions that involve lots of travel or preparation time. Develop priorities for the activities that matter most to your family. Remember to include the things that you enjoy doing for your holiday celebrations. You can’t be all things to all people so don’t feel guilty about the things you cannot change. Finally, set aside time to relax and talk to your loved one about the holidays and really listen as they reminisce.

For additional information about the many options available to make the holidays more manageable, please contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching Office at 717.591.7225 or email coach@messiahlifeways.org.

 

Originally posted Nov. 2012 & Revised Nov 2014
by Matthew Gallardo, Messiah Lifeways Coach

 

Matt Gallardo

Celebrating Home Care: A Key to Aging in Place

Matt Gallardo

Every November, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) celebrates National Home Care Month all month long, and Home Care Aide Week, from November 10-16. It is a time to honor the care giving heroes who make a remarkable difference in the lives of those in need. This year’s theme is “Home is the Center of Health Care.”

untitledHome care lies at the core of helping aging and disabled Americans stay in their home for longer periods of time. It can potentially lessen the amount of time someone may spend in an assisted living residence, personal care home, or nursing home. Of course there are many other resources to help people “age in place or community.” Other options include home health care, which provides short-term medical care into the home, adult day programs, respite care, technology, home modification, and in-home medical equipment. Home care services combined with one or several of these other home-based resources can create a workable blueprint to help someone age in place.

The Evolution of Community-Based Care
There are a number of reasons for this shift toward community-based care. First is the government’s dwindling ability to fund healthcare. And with nearly 78 million baby boomers reaching age 65 in the next 20 years, coverage for institutional care will become harder and harder to get. Because of this, the free market is joining the movement away from an institutional model of care and pushing for more community support services. It is the direction health care services are headed in our country. This is why you are seeing more urgent care centers, home care agencies, and hospice providers popping up in the community. It is simply cheaper to take care of someone if they don’t have to be hospitalized or placed in a facility, which is what most people want anyway.

These 78 million boomers represent a large and powerful generation whose demands and expectations of care will be very different from what we are used to seeing. Once more the idea of bringing services into the home and modifying homes will be the future for this rapidly growing number of seniors. Other factors compounding this evolution of care include our ever increasing life spans which require longer periods of care and funding. Secondly, over the last three decades, the number of family members, especially daughters, serving as caregivers has shrunk as our society becomes more mobile and career-oriented making a move out of town, state, or country more common. The way we used to care for our elders has changed. Just as nursing homes and personal care homes have provided surrogate care for aging loved ones over the last several decades, the idea of substituting care with home care aides has become more conventional. It helps working daughters (or sons), sandwich generation caregivers, out-of-towners, and spouses to replace or supplement the care they provide.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice states that demographic shift studies translate into some disturbing data. The number of frail older people over 65 is expected to increase from 11 million in 2010 to 18 million in 2030. The percentage of frail older people who are childless is expected to rise from 14 to 18 percent during this period, and the ratio of frail, older people who have only one or two adult children is expected to increase from 38 to 49 percent. Most of these aging boomers will want to remain in their homes, but they may not be able to count on their families for long-term care when it’s needed.

Home Care Can Fill Many Niches
Not only has health care evolved to put a greater emphasis on community-based services, but home care itself is evolving. Traditional housekeeping, cooking, companionship, transportation and assistance with activities like bathing and dressing are generally offered by most non-medical home care providers. However, home care providers such as Messiah Lifeways At Home now offer a unique array of services that buoy one’s ability to live safely and more carefree at home. Some of these newer and less known options include: pet and plant care,  non-skilled home maintenance, downsizing services, assistance with home exercise programs, and technology/computer assistance.

Lastly, in a time where the expanding need along with the absence of consistent familial support continue to grow, home care staff fill a void and become more than just caregivers for their clients. They become almost like close friends or even family. They’re a large part of why home care is poised to play a key role as the center of health care in our country.

To learn more about Messiah Lifeways At Home go to messiahlifeways.org/AtHome or call 717.790.8209. For information on home care services for the entire state, visit the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) home care locator link [click here].

Originally posted November 2013- Revised for November 2014
by: Matthew Gallardo, Messiah Lifeways Coach, BASW, CCP

 

Matt Gallardo

What Is Aging in Place?

Matt Gallardo

 

What exactly does it mean to “Age in Place”? Ideally, aging in place is leading a healthy and engaging life in your own “home” for as long as one chooses. And “home” should be considered a fluid term. But, if we delve deeper, we’ll discover its meaning becomes situational, conditional, and distinct to each person facing difficult life choices as they grow older and or more dependent on others.

Aging in place has become a broad term bandied about in the senior and long-term care industries for many years. At work, I use the term several times a day and provide guidance to older adults and their families on how to “age in place.” However, for those who have little or no exposure to an aging or disabled loved one struggling to live independently or safely at home, it may be an unfamiliar concept.

One way to help define aging in place, or muddy the waters, depending on how you look at it, is to dispel what it is not:

•It’s not exclusively defined by age. When you retire at 65 you’re not suddenly aging in place. Furthermore, is a healthy 81 year old still working full-time and leading a very active lifestyle aging in place? I wouldn’t necessarily say that he is. Plus, if I claimed he was, he might respectfully disagree, since I’m referring to my father-in-law. Conversely, we could reference a 45 year old female with a traumatic brain injury in which the family is doing everything they can to keep her at home as she becomes more dependent each passing year.

•It also is not defined necessarily by where you live. Someone residing in a place other than their house, such as in a retirement or 55+ community, a personal care home or assisted living, has the opportunity to age in place. Therefore, you can age in place in multiple stages and locations too.

Thoroughly confused yet? Don’t be. You can boil the term down to whether a person has a fundamental deficit or inherent need, that without help may not be able to live independently or safely. These deficits can be quite broad. It could be that because of aging, impairment or disability that person needs some home modifications: a ramp into the house, a bedroom on the first floor, or a walk-in shower rather than a bathtub. A deficit may also be due to a loss, such as the loss of driving privileges or loss of physical or mental capacities. Aging in place manifests itself if you now need assistance coming to your current living situation for the safety, welfare or maintenance of you or your household.

Another way to understand aging in place is to talk about its primary alternative. Typically, this is choosing to move to a retirement community or care facility because it could make life easier or more enjoyable or safer than living in a private residence. Statistically, if we examine the choice of aging in place versus making a move among older adults, the percentage of those who move into a facility for care is less than 15%. Thus, the majority of older adults will be living at home and opt to age in place.

There are a multitude of different services and resources that can help people stay at home and age in place. Family or hired caregivers and/or professional home care are keys to aging in place. Other options include: adult day programs, home modification, and technology such as emergency call systems, telemedicine and even the use of web cams. Additionally, home health care and hospice services, durable medical equipment, outpatient therapy and diagnostic programs bolster the effort of people living safely and healthy at home. Wellness programs, volunteering, community membership groups like Messiah Lifeways Connections, senior centers, and transportation services can help round out a healthy and engaging life in the comfort of your own home.

To learn more about aging in place options available through Messiah Lifeways Community Support Services, call 717.790.8209 or go to MessiahLifeways.org/community-support.

Matt Gallardo

It’s National “Hug Your Physical Therapist” Month

Matt Gallardo

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When it comes to national health observance months, most people know that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The pink ribbon crusade is very prominent and has proven to be quite powerful in the fight against breast cancer. However, October is also National Physical Therapy Month. Conjointly, physical therapy plays an important role in the recovery of breast cancer patients who sometimes develop lymphedema in the breast, neck, and the underarm regions after a mastectomy, lumpectomy or damage to or removal of the lymph nodes in that area. Therapy and exercise help to restore flexibility and strength in the neck and upper arm, and improves drainage of the lymph nodes.

Like the treatment for lymphedema and all the other ailments and injuries treated by modern medicine, physical therapists often play an unsung role in the health and recovery of patients young and old. National Physical Therapy Month is hosted by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in October to acknowledge how physical therapists and physical therapist assistants can help people by improving their quality of life by restoring and improving their physical abilities. So it is certainly fitting to celebrate what therapists can do for all of us.

I have worked for and with rehab providers for nearly two decades and, unfortunately, as a weekend warrior, I’ve relied on physical therapy several times. Prior to and long after my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery, physical therapy on my knee was just as vital to my recovery as the surgery itself. Furthermore and quite ironically, I just had rotator cuff repair surgery several weeks ago and will be starting physical therapy in the middle of October once again. I also had physical therapy on my opposite shoulder for a partial rotator cuff tear that did not require surgery. It was physical therapy alone that really helped to heal and strengthen that shoulder. I might be falling apart, but the surgeons coupled with the help of the physical therapists that are putting me “back together.”

Professionally, I have worked with physical therapists for a long time. In particular, I have seen some pretty amazing results and recovery at Messiah Village in the Wagner Transitional Care Neighborhood. The physical, occupational, speech therapists, PTAs and OTAs from RehabCare do an incredible job helping residents reach their recovery goals for a variety of injuries and illnesses, such as stroke, hip and knee replacements, and degenerative and neurological disorders. In my previous role as Director of Admissions, we would admit residents that were very ill and, at first glance, had little chance of ever returning home. Amazingly, in many of the situations the therapists were able to motivate, treat and compassionately push residents to regain their strength, safety awareness and endurance. Furthermore, in conjunction with the physicians and nursing staff, they were able to help safely discharge that person home or back to their previous level of living.

D3C_5843 CMYKPhysical therapists do not treat you chemically or surgically; however, the physical, emotional and even spiritual strength they provide clients and residents warrants celebration. Physical therapists deserve a lot of praise and recognition year-round, but here in October take an extra moment to say “thank you” and give them a big hug!

Click on the following links to learn more about National Physical Therapy Month, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and MoveForwardPT.com. To learn more about inpatient and outpatient therapy available for residents and community members alike, please call 717.790.8201 or visit MessiahLifeways.org/rehab.

 

Matt Gallardo

Senior Centers: Celebrating a Community Focal Point

Matt Gallardo

September is National Senior Center Month – Celebrate!

Across the country, more and more people are beginning to recognize their local senior center isn’t what it used to be – it’s a lot more! According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) there are 11,400 senior centers across the US that serve more than 1 million older adults every day. Thanks to the Older Americans Act (OAA), senior centers have become a community focal point and one of the most widely used services among America’s older adults.

NCOA also shared that when compared with their peers, senior center participants have higher levels of health, social interaction, and life satisfaction. They go on to say that research shows participants learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic well-being.

Senior centers typically offer a wide variety of programs and services such as, but certainly not limited to, the following:

* Meal and nutritional programs
* Health, fitness, and wellness programs
* Transportation services
* Public benefits counseling
* Employment assistance
* Volunteer and civic engagement opportunities
* Social and recreational activities
* Educational and arts programs

Locally Messiah Lifeways sponsors and operates two senior centers, Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center and More and the newly christened Senior Center in Shippensburg, now known as Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center and More. On September 2, a huge gathering came to celebrate the name unveiling at the future home of Branch Creek Place located on 115 N. Fayette Street in Shippensburg. This collaborative effort between Messiah Lifeways, local and county officials, and the Cumberland County Department of Aging and Community Services further demonstrates the commitment to and value of local senior centers. Thanks in part to a $112,000 state grant, renovations will begin on Branch Creek Place this fall, with an anticipated completion next spring. At that point, the center will move from its quaint yet cramped and temporary location at the Christ United Methodist Church at 47 E. King Street.

These senior centers are friendly community gathering places where you can connect, volunteer, enjoy cultural experiences, take educational classes and a lot more. Activities like line dancing, low impact exercise, health screenings and flu shots help members stay well and active. Members also experience culture with bus trips and outings to local restaurants, theaters and historical sites. They also have many opportunities to connect with others at meal time, game time or while playing pool or singing in the chorus. Participants also have many ways to grow and learn by taking computer classes, health and safety classes or simply by meeting new people. And like most senior centers, volunteering is a big part of the experience. Whether it’s helping out at the center by answering phones, serving lunch or helping out with community service projects, members can share their time and talents.

Recently, Mechanicsburg Place was chosen as one of ten senior centers in Pennsylvania to pilot a program called the “Sip and Swipe Café.” Essentially, it’s part of the center where members can get a cup of coffee and free lessons on how to use an iPad with trained members instructing other members. There will be multiple tablets for them to use on a regular basis especially as they become more and more proficient on them. This calls to mind that senior centers are making great effort reinventing themselves. Meeting the needs and desires of the aging baby boom generation has helped inspire these changes. Senior centers are developing new programs and opportunities for this dynamic generation of older adults.

As we celebrate National Senior Center Month, get out there and check out what’s new and exciting at your local senior center. Plus, to learn more about Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center and More, please call 717.697.5947 or visit MessiahLifeways.org/MechPlace. Or to learn more about Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center and More, please call 717.300.3563.

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