What’s A Geriatrician?

“Something to do with old people.” This sums up what most people can tell you if you ask them to explain geriatrics. According to the American Geriatrics Society, the definition is simple. It’s a medical specialty focused on the high quality, person-centered care we all need when we age.

Think about it this way. Our children benefit from healthcare that’s focused on what growing bodies and minds need, so we make sure they see a pediatrician. Shouldn’t we apply that same thought process to older adults?

What’s a Geriatrician?

That’s the name for geriatrics doctors. They are medical professionals who specialize in the care of adults who are 65 and older. Most are doctors of internal or family medicine, and the only difference is that they’ve undergone an extra one to two years of training to understand and treat conditions most commonly found in older adults, such as mobility issues, osteoporosis, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

A geriatrician also has deeper experience and knowledge about helping people who have multiple chronic health conditions caused by aging. They understand how an older body can respond to different medications and treatments. 

A standard internal or family medicine doctor usually has patients who are between the ages of 30 to 60 years old. Their range of experience tends to be based on treating people at these ages. If they’re asked to care for an older adult, they may not have the depth of experience to help them understand how standard medical treatment for younger adults might impact an older patient.

Should All Older Adults See a Geriatrician?

According to this US News & World report, there are only about 7,500 certified geriatricians in the United States. Research shows that about 30% of people over the age of 65 would benefit from the specialized care of a geriatrician. There’s a growing demand for this special doctor, but there definitely are not enough. This demand is forecasted to increase 45% by 2025.

So, should you worry if you are or care for an older adult who’s not seeing a geriatrician? The general consensus is that the existing relationship you have with an internal or family medicine doctor is sensible to maintain as long as this medical professional is confident that they have the experience to treat the specific medical conditions of an older adult.

A doctor’s priority is to make sure that patients under their care are getting the best possible treatment and advice. Often, they’re the ones who will make the recommendation that an older adult under their care seek out the specialized attention of a geriatrician.

Bathroom Helpers: Making Life Easier For Seniors

It’s a matter of pride. Even as children, we’d rather take care of going to the bathroom all by ourselves. As we age, however, it can become difficult for many of us to perform everyday bathroom tasks like using the toilet, washing hands, and even bathing.

Few of us want assistance with these things. We want to do it ourselves if we can. Here are some helpful bathroom helpers for seniors to help them keep their independence.

Making it Easier to Wash Your Hands

Let’s face it, the average bathroom faucet designer did not have seniors in mind as the target audience when they created their sleek, low-profile look. They do look beautiful, but practicality – especially for seniors – leaves a lot to be desired.

Consider replacing the bathroom faucet with one that reaches farther upward and outward. It allows seniors to wash their hands without needing to bend or reach forward. If replacing the faucet is out of the question, you can purchase a faucet extender for about $10. It attaches to the existing faucet and reduces the need for bending or leaning forward.

Liquid dispensers are much easier to deal with than bars of soap. Add one of these to the counter. Many are disposable. Or, upgrade a bit and get one that operates on batteries and automatically dispenses just the right amount of soap with a motion sensor. This can be extremely helpful for seniors who are living with arthritis.

Better Aim

Here’s the thing about most toilets. They’re white. Here’s the thing about most bathrooms. They’re white or light colored, too. So, if you’re an older gentleman who might be struggling with poor vision, there’s a higher chance that you might, well, have a bad aim.

It’s embarrassing enough to miss. It’s also not easy to clean up if you’re a senior who might also be experiencing mobility problems. There’s an easy and inexpensive way to help both the men, and their caregivers – and it’s a simple fix. A growing number of manufacturers offer toilet target aids for the home market. It’s a decal that applies to the inside of the bowl, and it helps men clearly see for a better and less embarrassing aim.

A Little Help Down There

Bending down to reach behind and wipe after going to the bathroom is often difficult for elderly people with limited mobility. It’s seldom a matter of neglect, and more a problem of just not being able to do a thorough job. And, who wants to ask for help with that?

As our general population ages, a growing number of companies are creating ingenious new aids to help seniors with daily personal tasks like this. These curved wand-like aids allow seniors to use regular toilet tissue or more convenient and hygienic moist wipes for a better job of cleaning themselves after going to the bathroom. We’re also seeing more bidet attachments that can be inexpensively put in place of the toilet seat.

We’d rather take care of bathroom matters alone, and at just about any age. These mostly inexpensive and simple upgrades can help seniors retain their independence, and dignity.

More Than Memory Care

Until recently, Grace Homes specialized in memory care. It’s a distinct form of assisted living care that specifically caters to people living with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other types of memory problems. Our group of residences and staff were geared to focus on this area.

But the world of residential senior care homes is changing. The transformation comes in response to the way society views assisted living today – which is no longer only for the elderly. Today, Grace Homes is proud to be able to provide a living environment capable of caring for all types of health conditions, as well as a wider age range for residents.

Healthy Connections

There’s growing research showing the physical and emotional benefits of intergenerational living. Studies by the national Institute on Aging indicate that older adults who experience social isolation experience a variety of mental and physical disorders

Both large senior care organizations, as well as smaller residential senior care homes such as those operated by Grace Homes, are seeing the benefits of welcoming new residents who are sometimes only in their 30s to 50s. To do this, we must expand the type of care we offer.

That’s precisely what we’ve done. Today, Grace Homes is able to provide for all types of chronic illnesses and disabilities, instead of specializing only in memory care. New residents living with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, and other disabilities can be accommodated. As a result of this greatly expanded type of care, the existing residents are being joined by new – and sometimes younger – ones.

Residents and their visitors, as well as caretakers, have noticed a growing change. It was always comforting and welcoming. Residents developed deep bonds and friendships. The intergenerational camaraderie has created an even deeper sense of family in the homes.

A Growing Trend

Grace Homes is not alone in moving in this direction. Already there are hundreds of intergenerational day care facilities which have opened for business throughout the United States. There’s also a growing movement by retirement communities and organizations to forge ties with nearby preschools, high schools, or colleges. The connections encourage regular exchanges between people of different ages.

The trend goes beyond America. Similar programs have already been set up in the Netherlands and France.

Recognized by the State of Minnesota

Grace Homes now participates with the elderly waiver program administered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, which is for people over the age of 65. The trio of care homes also participates with the Minnesota’s Community Access for Disability Inclusion (CADI) program, which is for people who are under the age of 65.

It started with memory care, but the future for Grace Homes is simply care.

Heart Attacks And Strokes: A Sensible Approach To Prevention

Heart disease is so common that it’s the cause of one out of every four deaths in the United States – and that’s regardless of age. It is true, however, that the probability of complications by heart disease increase as we age.

We can and must do more to prevent heart attacks and strokes in seniors, and it starts with a preventative approach. It’s not an easy approach because neither our caregivers nor the seniors they look after are cardiologists. Even so, there are some best practices.

CACS Scan

Would you invest about $80 to find out if your heart’s arteries are getting blocked? That’s the average cost of a coronary artery calcium scan (CACS). Without this preventative scan, you may have no warning about blockage – and it’s a leading cause of fatalities.

The CACS scan is widely available, uses no dye, takes only about a minute, and is more accurate than a stress test.

Seniors Should Skip the Urgent Care Clinics

Older adults experiencing chest pain, pressure, or tightness and squeezing sensation should be taken directly to an emergency room, and not an urgent care clinic. This does not mean the care available at urgent care clinics are lower in quality – but these organizations are less likely to do more than a basic evaluation.

Someone who goes to an emergency room will undergo a thorough evaluation that’ll include multiple cardiac enzyme and ECG tests, as well as a definitive test before discharge. These “before and after” tests ensure that additional medical care and follow-ups are done.

Ask About These Advanced Lab Tests

If they’re covered by medical insurance, these advanced tests can help answer many questions raised by a cardiac episode in seniors.

  1. Advanced Lipid Profile: This advanced test measures LDL particle number and size, which are more predictive of future heart and stroke events.
  2. Homocysteine: This substance found in our bodies is important for artery and brain health. If levels are elevated, it can be treated to return them to normal.
  3. Lipoprotein A: It’s rarely used, but hundreds of research studies indicate that if it’s high, the risk of heart attack and stroke dramatically increase.
  4. TMAO: A new marker of heart and kidney health that’s been shown to cause heart and kidney damage and is associated with worsened prognosis

There’s much to be said for taking an “as long as we’re here” approach to medical attention. The more you know about potential cardiac problems, that more you can help to find treatment and solutions.

Podcasts for Seniors

They’re not just for computer geeks anymore. Last year, more than 112 million Americans said they listen to podcasts, and that was an increase of 11% over the previous year. Podcast Insights reports that nearly 44% of us have listened to at least one podcast, and nearly half of us do so at home.

As we age, many of us experience problems with vision. Reading is something we sadly have to give up. A growing number of seniors are discovering they can still keep up with what’s going on in the world by listening to podcasts. The main benefit is that these audio recordings can be stopped and started, repeated – and even slowed down.

Why podcasts appeal to seniors

Podcasting has many benefits, including psychological ones that are fine tuned for older adults. A recent Atlantic article explains that there’s an emotional appeal to listening. Older adults listening to podcasts are able to create their own versions of what they hear in these stories. Their brains become more active because information is processed at the pace it’s played.

Unlike books or television, podcasts are not visual. So our brains are engaged differently. These different areas of the brain help seniors with cognitive health. The best part about podcasts is that nearly all of them are free. FastCompany recently estimated that there are over half a million podcast shows, which have generated over 18.5 million episodes.

Amazing variety

Here’s a list of podcasts that have become popular with older adults:

Good Job, Brain! Seniors enjoy this podcast because it’s filled with trivia and includes an interactive quiz show.

Lux Radio Theater. Some older adults may recognize this title as a radio show that was produced in the 1930s through the 1950s. The original radio show adapted state plays and films for radio, and they included big name actors from Judy Garland to John Wayne. The podcast is available on iTunes, and it’s just as good as the original.

Planet Money. Some people think the name alone is a big yawn – but most listeners get hooked after just a single podcast. It’s produced by NPR, and each episode is humorous. You’ll laugh out loud as you learn what’s going on with the economy.

This American Life. Nearly 3 million people listen to this podcast weekly. It’s been running since 1995, so there are plenty of past podcast episodes.

All you need to listen to a podcast is an internet connection!

Stuck In the Elevator with Gail

 

Our More Interesting Version of ‘Meet the Staff.’

Grace Homes Housing manager

Grace Homes Housing Manager, Gail Hoch

Gail Hoch

Each month we are going to introduce to a member of our office staff.  Instead of the same ole ‘meet the staff’ with a picture and bio we wanted to make it more fun and personal.  Ours is called Stuck in the Elevator with ________.  This month you get to meet the employee who has been here the longest.  She knows this company like the back of her hand and thank goodness because I don’t know where I’d be if I weren’t able to call Gail. We are all a little sad that she isn’t in the office every day as she used to be. She has been made the House Manager of our Residential Care Homes for seniors, Grace Homes. Because of this, she has a new office in our Oakridge Home in Hopkins, MN.  Don’t let this make you think we don’t see her.  We still manage to come up with enough stuff for her to have to come back over to the offices and get us all in line.

She’s the “it girl” of Matrix.  She’s been with Matrix for 22 years.  Her seniority in the company is not what makes her unique, she has earned every bit of her status by being really good at and actually caring about her job and the clients we care for. If you have a question, you go to Gail. I followed Gail for several weeks when I first began, and my head was spinning at all of the things she was taking care of and keeping in order.  She remembers everything and still even to this day, thank goodness,  will remind me of something I am supposed to remember, and for this I am thankful. She doesn’t do it undesirably, it’s more of an older sister has your back kind of way.  Gail has a warmth to her that makes everyone feel comfortable, respected, and appreciated.

Gail earned an Associates in Applied Science degree in Office Administration and Medical Office Assistant degree from the Minnesota School of Business.  She has over 22 years experience working in the office setting.  Prior to accepting the position as Housing Manager at *Grace Homes in July 2018 Gail was the Operations Manager at the Matrix Home Health Care Specialists corporate office managing day to day operations including client intake and management, maintaining and auditing clinical records, maintaining and auditing policies and procedures, part-time staffing, creating and maintaining forms, billing, accounts receivable, and marketing.  In her new position, she is still doing much of the same with managing resident intake and admissions, house tours, resident records, staffing, and billing.

 

 

HOW DID YOU FIND MATRIX?

GH: Job placement program through college.

 

WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?

GH: Coffee!!

 

WHAT IS THE MOST RECENT APP YOU DOWNLOADED AND WHY?

GH: Messenger – the facebook app.  I did not have it downloaded yet on my new phone and someone sent me something so I had to download the app to open it.  Nothing exciting, however, the video that was shared was of two elderly women dancing to ‘Watch Me’ (whip/nae nae)… worth the download!

 

WHAT IS SOMETHING FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU?

GH: I’m going to be a grandma!

 

WHO INSPIRES YOU?

GH: Depends on the day – honestly, lots of people.  My children definitely – they inspire me to be a better parent and a better person.

 

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR?

GH: Being alone.  Okay… and spiders, centipedes, and generally all creepy – crawly things.

 

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU LEARNED LAST WEEK?

GH: I was reminded that things are not always what they seem and never judge a book by it’s cover.

 

WHAT THREE WORDS WOULD YOU USE TO DESCRIBE MATRIX?

GH: Compassionate, Experienced, Professional

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE  YOUR 13-YEAR-OLD SELF?

GH: Slow down – you don’t have to grow up so fast!

 

WHAT IS SUCCESS TO YOU?

GH: Being able to find the perfect balance in life – still working on it and I will let you know when I find it.

 

AT WHAT AGE DID YOU BECOME AN ADULT?

GH: Hmmm, interesting question… 20 maybe?

 

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT MATRIX?

GH: After 22 years with Matrix, there have been many things through the years that have kept me here- it is a company that has evolved and grown with the times, adapted and overcame.  One thing has not changed is the passion to provide the best care we possibly can and be a company that people want to work for.

 

IF YOU HAD TO EAT ONE MEAL FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE EVERYDAY WHAT WOULD IT BE?

GH: Oh my … just one… I can’t do it!  Does salad, steak, crab legs, spaghetti, lasagna, and cheesecake count as one meal?

 

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO OR PERSONAL MANTRA?

GH: Finding Balance 🙂

 

WHAT IS AN ABILITY YOU WISH YOU HAD?

GH: Go back in time.

 

YOU ARE THE HAPPIEST WHEN

GH: Spending time with the people I love.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE SENIOR CARE INDUSTRY?

GH: I hope more people find passion in caring for the elderly – it is such an important job!

 

IF YOU COULD MEET ANYONE, LIVING OR DEAD, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

GH: I can’t think of any one person… I can think of lots of people that would be interesting to meet but no one person in particular.  I know my daughter would really like to meet Tyler and Josh with Twenty One Pilots – so I would want to meet them so she could meet them….(you’re welcome Maddie!)

 

WHAT WAS THE LAST EXPERIENCE THAT HAS MADE YOU A STRONGER PERSON?

GH: Losing a beloved family member has taken tremendous strength and resiliency.

 

That is our second edition of “Stuck in the elevator.”  Next month we will have the Q&A with our RN Keeley Nanry.  Thanks for reading and if you are thinking you might want to be a part of this team check out the details below?

 

To learn more about joining our team and providing compassionate care services:

 

 

  • Apply by submitting an application via fax:  952-525-0506 Attn: HR Manager

 

 

 

Please direct any specific inquiries to Elizabeth, our HR Manager,  by calling 952-525-0505

 

 

“We’re there for you”

Matrix Home Health Care Specialists & Grace Homes