Home-Delivered Meals May Keep Some Seniors Out Of Nursing Homes


Category : News and Information, Opinions and Editorials

bigstock-nurse-helps-elderly-woman-at-b-25297304A recent study from Brown University was released in the peer-reviewed journal “Health Affairs”. It indicated that increasing the number of home-delivered meals may help keep seniors out of senior homes. The study looked at the fact that in 2009, approximately 13 percent of nursing home residents were “low-care” residents, meaning that they did not need many of the services that a nursing home provides. These low-care seniors are perfectly capable of living in a less restrictive environment, if they had regular access to healthy, nutritious food.

By addressing these seniors’ food insecurity (difficulty in obtaining nutritionally adequate and safe food because of a lack of resources), home-delivered meals would allow the seniors to reside in their own homes. Researchers of the this study believes that low-care seniors fare better at home because it improves their sense of dignity and independence. Researchers also affirm the fact that meal delivery programs encourage regular social interactions and promote the overall health and well-being of seniors.

Home-delivered meals services a vulnerable population. The study’s survey results in 2009 indicated that 70 percent of those who partake in home-delivered meal programs were age 75 or older; 56 percent lived alone; 25 percent had an annual income of $10,000 or less; and 59 percent reported that the home-delivered meals provided at least half of their daily food intake. Over 92 percent of seniors who participate in meal delivery programs say that the meals have enabled them to continue living by themselves.

The study found that if every state increased the number of home-delivered meals by 1 percent, it would result in an additional 392,594 clients. At the same time, the number of low-care seniors residing in nursing homes would be reduced by 1,722 and total savings to all state Medicaid programs would greater than $109 million.

The study concludes that increasing the number of home-delivered meals would promote rebalancing. While it recognizes that meal deliveries may not be able to place all seniors back into their private residences, the study believes that meal deliveries could offset spending on institutional care and allow many older adults to remain in their homes.

To view the original study, click here: Health Aff-2013-Thomas-1796-802

Vivian Huang


The Senior Population Is On The Rise


Category : Community, Meals-On-Wheels Staff, News and Information

In 2011, 361,908 seniors aged 65 years or older lived in San Diego County, representing 11.6 percent of the total population of 3.1 million. According to the San Diego County Senior Health Report, this number is projected to double by the year 2030 to 723,572. In addition, the number of persons 85 years and older in San Diego County is projected to increase from 57,917 to 84,048 by year 2030.

With the number of elderly individuals rapidly increasing in San Diego, it is important to make sure that our seniors are well cared for.

bigstock-Senior-Couple-Being-Served-Mea-15902081As of 2009, 36.5 percent of seniors in San Diego were overweight and 21.7 percent were obese. Nearly 60 percent had been told by their doctor that they have high blood pressure and 15.1 percent reported ever being told that they had diabetes. Along with the number of seniors increasing, the number of seniors who are overweight or obese or suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes is also increasing. This could be attributed by the fact that 8.8 percent of San Diego seniors reported that they eat fast food three or more times per week.

By enrolling in Meals-On -Wheels, seniors will get the proper nutrients that they need to guarantee a healthy lifestyle. Our meals are made with fresh, natural ingredients and each meal is assessed by a team of nutritionists to make sure that they meet the nutritional needs of most individuals. In addition, special lower fat and reduced sodium meals, diabetic friendly meals and easy-to-chew meals are also available.

The San Diego County Senior Health Report also showed that 41.7 percent of seniors in San Diego currently live alone, many without regular social interaction. An added benefit of enrolling in Meals-On-Wheels is that in addition to healthy and delicious food, our organization ensures that your loved ones are cared for. Here at Meals-On-Wheels Greater San Diego, our service goes beyond providing daily meals to our seniors. Many of our clients and volunteers form friendships from their daily or weekly visits. Our senior clients also benefit from well-being checks, which every one of our Meals-On-Wheels volunteers are trained for.

For more information on where we obtained these senior statistics, visit the San Diego County Senior Health Report at: http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/hhsa/programs/phs/documents/CHS-SeniorHealthReport_2013.pdf

Vivian Huang


What To Do When Mental Illness Takes Control


Category : Health, News and Information, Support


bigstock-care-7540775Many children with older parents worry about whether or not mental illness might take control.  In addition, children with older parents also worry about what they should do to help if their parents do succumb to mental illness.

Luckily, there is a California State Law that helps all seniors should they lose their mental capacity. According to the San Diego County’s Aging and Independence Services, the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act of 1967 spells out when a court can order a mental health conservatorship. The law gives children with aging parents, or the partner of a senior who might develop severe mental problems, a way to handle issues that arise.

With the conservatorship, a person is assigned to assist seniors with mental limitations with their daily lives.This not only helps the seniors, but their families as well.

The attached article by Ellen Schmeding, director of Aging & Independence Services for the County of San Diego, spells out just how seniors can get this help, and what help is available.

Read the full report below.

Cathy Spearnak





When Mental Illness Takes Control

September 2013 | Ellen Schmeding

Most of us value our independence highly. But what happens when our choices endanger others, even ourselves? Society struggles with the right of self-determination when safety is jeopardized.

What if your relative has stopped eating because all food is “poisoned”? What if he/she stays awake for days at a time, acts violently at times and goes on frequent out-of-control spending sprees? Or your relative has trouble organizing his/her thoughts, doesn’t make sense, frequently leaves home partially undressed and get lost, but denies it.

California has a law that spells out when and how people can lose any portion of their rights. The Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act of 1967 (named after three state senators who initiated the measure) has become the benchmark for determining when a court can order a mental health conservatorship. A conservatorship shifts certain decision-making responsibilities to someone else.

To be under an LPS conservatorship, the person must be deemed “gravely disabled” as a result of a mental disorder, according to Beth Olin, LCSW, who coordinates the office of the Public Conservator. “Gravely disabled” means that the person is not capable of providing for his/her own food, clothing and/or shelter, and is unwilling or unable to accept mental health treatment.

The office of the Public Conservator has recently shifted from the County’s Behavioral Health Services to AIS, joining the office of the Public Administrator and Public Guardian. This integration provides one central place for families and our communities to go to for information about how to pursue a conservatorship. Many individuals do not understand the difference between a mental health conservatorship and a guardship, and our skilled staff can help them determine which option would make the most sense in their situation.

The Public Administrator handles estates of persons who have died without any family member or other person to handle their affairs.

Similar to the Public Conservator, the Public Guardian also handles conservatorships, but its clients go through the Probate Court rather than the Superior Court and tend to be older adults with dementia who have no one available to help them. Public Guardian deputies can become conservators of a person’s medical/health decisions or financial decisions or both. LPS conservators do not handle financial matters, so some LPS conservatees might also be clients of the Public Guardian.

An LPS conservatorship usually starts after someone ends up in a psychiatric hospital as a result of behavior that could harm that person or others. One of the 10 Public Conservator investigators meets with the patient, significant others and mental health professionals to determine if the person is gravely disabled. A person can be held at a psychiatric hospital involuntarily for 14 days, and then be discharged, remain as a voluntary patient or be detained under another involuntary hold or 30-day temporary conservatorship. The person must be given a five-day notice that the Public Conservator is pursuing a temporary conservatorship.

A Superior Court judge determines both the temporary conservatorship and what’s called a “permanent” conservatorship, but which is re-evaluated yearly, so is not necessarily permanent. Each conservatee is automatically given a public defender to assist them in legal matters.

At any one time, the County has about 900 LPS conservatees who are assisted by case managers who are County employees or representatives from one of 14 different contracted agencies. There are also about 165 LPS conservatees who are under private supervision, usually with family members.

Conservatorship “has to be the measure of last resort,” Beth says. San Diego County is fortunate to have “a richness of voluntary mental health treatment options that can be used before a conservatorship might be needed.”

But once people are on conservatorship, “the goal is to help them off it,” she says.

Beth points to a former LPS conservatee who at one point was unable to take care of herself. She initially required a locked treatment site after hospitalization. But with psychiatric help, she moved to a board and care facility, then back to her family. She enjoyed a peer support program as part of her treatment. Now she’s mentoring others who are in the same situation she experienced.

“We work under the expectation that people can be better,” Beth says. “Conservatorships are important because they can keep people safe and the public safe.”

                For more information about the office of the Public Administrator/Public Guardian/Public Conservator, visit www.PAPGPC.org or call (858) 694-3500.

Long Distance Caregiving Part 3: Having A Great Visit


Category : Health, News and Information, Opinions and Editorials

Visiting a loved one can be difficult – between kids, work or school, there’s always a commitment that needs to be taken care of and arranged before hopping in the car or getting on a plane. In this third and final installment on our long distance caregiving series, I will go over some ways to have an efficient and fun visit with a loved one that you provide long distance care for.

Plan, plan, plan ahead! Planning really cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to visiting someone that you are caring for. A visit is really an opportunity to do things that are much more difficult, if not impossible, to do from home – meet with doctors and other providers in person, do errands like grocery shop, and so on. Know what you want to accomplish before you visit – has mom not been explaining her dietary restrictions to you very well and you’d like to get the information straight from her doctor? Make the doctor’s appointment long before you get on the plane.

Socialize. This bit of advice is inspired by the Alzheimer’s Organization’s page about long distance caregiving, but I think it applies to more than just those who care for someone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Meet with your loved one’s friends and neighbors and any other relatives in the area and ask how things have been for your loved one at home. This doesn’t have to be some covert operation, but having this conversation with others may reveal things you might not otherwise know, and having a small network know that your loved one may need help with certain things, or may just need to occasionally be checked in on will help your loved one – and help ease your mind.

Take a look at medication and food. Is the food in the fridge still good? Is it healthy? Checking in on what your loved one is eating will give you a heads up on their condition and situation at home – perhaps more so than might be revealed in a phone conversation. While it is a common concern whether or not another person is taking their prescription medication correctly, actually being there and being able to see the medication is not an opportunity to be missed – make sure the medication is still good and that your loved one is using it correctly!

Assess needs and talk. Have you and your loved one been discussing a potential change on the phone – have you been considering hiring a maid service or something similar? Talk things out in person when you get the chance – it’s often easier to hash things out. Once you reach a decision and you want to do something like hire extra care, take the opportunity of visiting to interview potential services and help! You will feel more confident in the person helping your loved one if you were physically present in the hiring process.

Don’t forget to have fun. A visit is a chance to catch up on some business and logistics – maybe you and your loved one have a few doctors visits planned, need to catch up with the family lawyer, or have to go to Costco to buy some essentials – but it’s also a chance to just catch up. Let’s face it, calling mom and asking her about her day isn’t as fun as watching a movie, or making dinner with her. Remember to set aside time for the fun things. If your loved one has a difficult time leaving the house for any reason, this is your chance to take them to the movies or shopping – they will appreciate it more than you know!

Article by Nika Reyes


Long Distance Caregiving Part 2: Using technology to your advantage


Category : Health, News and Information

I have written previously about how Facebook and other social networking sites are a great way for seniors to stay connected and social. When it comes to long distance caregiving, today’s technology can be incredibly useful. While Facebook might be a great way to say hello and quickly catch up, for many caregivers tasks like planning medical appointments or reminding a loved one to take their medications are not always best executed through social media. Social media is a great tool – but it’s not the only one out there!

Electronic Tools for Long Distance Caregiving

Personal Health Records and Electronic Medical Records are great tools for managing healthcare needs and keeping track of prescriptions, conditions, doctor’s appointments and more. All important health information can be stored in one, easy-to-access, place, and can be easily shared with healthcare providers and other caretakers. The control over sharing is in the hands of the caretaker and their loved one, so privacy can still be maintained.

eCaring.com and similar sites allow caregivers and loved ones to easily work together. Loved ones and long distance caregivers have access to the easy to use eCaring software. Loved ones living at home are able to put in information about what they’ve eaten, whether they’ve taken their medication, and even what mood they’re in. Other eCaring users connected with this person can then check to make sure everything is all right at home – and eCaring itself creates reports on conditions for its users and can be used as an alert system reminding someone to take their medication or a similar task. This is a great system for consolidating all those little bits of information and having them all in one place.

BeClose is another online service but one that is in some ways more and less involved than eCaring. The BeClose system puts wireless monitors in your loved one’s home to track their movements and routines – so you know mom is watching TV or is in the kitchen. The person at home also wears a small alert button. BeClose will contact you immediately through a phone call, text, or email to alert you to any falls or physical accidents. Thus, BeClose has the advantages of not needing user input to the same degree as eCaring, but at the same time BeClose might not be as good at telling you things like whether medication was taken or breakfast was eaten. Used in conjuction, BeClose and eCaring would have many bases covered.

In conclusion, the above tools are meant to be examples of more specific long distance caregiving methods – tools to monitor health needs, daily needs, and physical activity – but there are many more out there and things like email, Skype and text messaging are not to be forgotten as great ways to easily interact from long distances. From my research, it seems like websites and software for long distance caregiving is a fast growing market, so surely more services will be created in the years to come. What I would like to caution against is privacy and choosing the right program. Programs like BeClose and eCaring could be seen as invasive for someone who lives alone and might not want someone – even their son or daughter – knowing when they’re in the bedroom or the kitchen (I could see BeClose becoming a touchy issue when it comes to the bathroom especially). Choosing a service like BeClose or eCaring is not something to be done without the input of a loved one – talk it over, conversation is key! Also, consider your loved one’s medical situation; eCaring, which needs the person at home to help update and inform, would not be the best choice for someone who easily forgets or has a condition that would make such a task difficult.

Additional source can be found here.

Article by Nika Reyes

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