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.

Why Seniors Struggle With Athlete’s Foot

What’s up with that? Many seniors are still active, but it seems as if they struggle with athlete’s foot more often than those who should be more prone to getting it.

Athlete’s foot is actually common in older adults – and it has little to do with how often they’re in a gym locker room. Seniors are more susceptible to fungal problems because they’re often less capable at keeping their feet clean and dry.

4 Ways to Kick Back at Athlete’s Foot

It doesn’t matter what age we are. Nobody wants to put up with persistent pain and itch. Here are four ways to help seniors deal with athlete’s foot.

  1. It starts with thorough cleaning. They may need help. There are medicated soaps you can purchase that help. You can also purchase liquid soap with tea tree oil. It’s tingly and soothing, and the tea tree oil is a natural substance with antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  2. Help them keep their feet dry. The fungus and bacteria that contribute to athlete’s foot prefers a moist environment – especially between the toes.
  3. There are both medicated creams and aerosol sprays that are highly effective in curing athlete’s foot. These can be purchased over the counter. Apply all over the foot – not just on the soles. Make sure to get between the toes.
  4. It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s a good idea to apply a moisturizer after the medicated cream or spray has been absorbed. This helps promote healing.

More Tips

Socks and shoes can trap moisture, which creates the optimal environment for athlete’s foot. It might be a good idea to switch to wearing open-toe slippers. Look for slippers that have closed backs, so they won’t slip off while walking. Toes and feet get to breathe and stay dry.

Socks might need more than standard wash. Keep athlete’s foot from returning by soaking socks with an anti-fungal disinfectant soap like Pine Sol. The soaking will kill any remaining fungus that’s in the sock fibers. Then, wash as usual. Dry with a high temperature.

All it takes is a small amount of lingering fungus to bring on another round of athlete’s foot. Often, the cause is our shoes. If the fungus can live on a gym shower floor, it’s right at home on the sole of a favorite pair of loafers. The easiest way to clean shoes is to regularly spray the insides with Lysol.

Clean and dry. That’s the approach to athlete’s foot and seniors. If the problem is persistent or extremely painful, it’s time for a visit to a healthcare professional.

Technology Upgrades Residential Senior Care

It’s estimated that one in five adults in the United States now have access to a smart speaker. There are nearly 50 million of these voice-powered devices now in use. Alexa could very well be the most spoken name in the world.

These devices can offer more than quick ways to find out the temperature outside or order something from Amazon. They’re helping seniors and their care providers. Providers like Libertana Home Health and Bayada Home Health Care are using Amazon’s Echo technology to deepen access to medical assistance and use Alexa’s artificial intelligence to be a digital and entertaining friend that can reduce feelings of loneliness.

The pace is accelerating

We’ll see technology continue to interact with seniors and caregivers as manufacturers find more ways to inject artificial intelligence into the home setting. For older adults, this means an increasing ability to maintain independence because of the digital assistants like Alexa and even Apple’s Siri.

We’re already familiar with the term “smart home.” Now we’ll see this technology migrate to help older adults living residential care facilities. There are already shining examples of technology-enabled homes that are focused on helping seniors popping up across the nation. This model home in San Diego is outfitted with an impressive array of technology that encourage greater independence for seniors, as well as helping caregivers with their responsibilities.

It’s a shared goal, and entire innovation centers are opening around the country that are showcasing technology-powered support for older adults. The Thrive Center is a public-private partnership between the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Louisville Metro, as well as companies such as CDW Healthcare, Samsung, Intel, Ergotron, Lenovo and HP/Aruba. Senior health care providers, including Kindred Healthcare and major skilled nursing provider Signature HealthCare are also involved.

Connecting seniors with healthcare professionals

Our desire for digital assistants in the home is extended to the healthcare industry, too. Congress and federal regulatory agencies are working with startups and well-established companies to make telehealth more accessible to seniors. The foundation was put in place to make this happen several years ago with governmental actions such as the 21st Century Cures Act. This legislation calls for ways to help seniors make better use of telehealth opportunities.

We’ve heard about IoT – the Internet of Things – and smart speakers are ushering this digital assistance into residential care homes for seniors to create opportunities for older adults to have richer and more independent lives, while still being connected to safety and instant assistance.

Why Do Older Adults Lose Their Appetites?

“I’m not hungry.” It can be a common response caregivers hear at mealtime. Nobody wants to be forced to eat, but there’s also a concern about nutrition.

Many things can cause us to lose our appetite – and it can happen at any age – but it is a common occurrence in older adults. The biggest concern – whether it happens to us or to someone we care for – is getting to the underlying cause.

Start with Ruling Out Health Issues

Serious health conditions or side effects from common prescription medications often turn out to be the cause of loss or lack of appetite in older adults. It’s important for a medical professional to rule this out first. There are certain age-related health issues that can cause changes in appetite, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s diseases. Thyroid disorders, gum disease and even cancer may be the cause.

It’s also possible that a side effect from a prescribed medication is the reason for lack or loss of appetite. Some medications can cause dry mouth, or they can give food and drinks an unpleasant metallic taste.

Other Reasons for Appetite Loss

Once a medical condition or medication side effect is ruled out, it might be time to be a bit of a detective and try to solve the mystery.

  • Older adults tend to be more sedentary. Appetite loss might be cause by lack of exercise. It might be time for some additional activity.
  • We might not associate the two, but dehydration can cause appetite loss. Older adults are at risk of dehydration because of medications they take or age-related conditions.
  • As we age, we unfortunately lose our ability to detect flavors. Nobody wants to eat bland food. Depending on dietary restrictions, it might be time to kick up the seasoning a notch!
  • Likewise, as we age we may develop sensitivities to certain smells and aromas. The sense of smell is intricately associated with our sense of taste.
  • Dental problems or even difficulty using eating utensils can make mealtimes a dreaded occasion. An older adult may not want to eat because it’s become a difficult or unpleasant activity.
  • Loss of appetite is a common sign of depression or loneliness. It’s important to understand that disinterest in eating is different than the inability to eat.
  • Imagine that you once took great pleasure preparing meals for others and for yourself. How would you feel if that was taken away from you, and maybe because it’s just something you can no longer accomplish? Often, it’s a feeling of loss of control that contributes to loss of appetite.

It’s not always a medical condition that’s at the cause of appetite loss. The signs are easy to understand. The reason may take a bit of investigative work. Start with the easiest approach. Ask why.

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

Grace Homes Hires Its Own Culinary Director To Make Mealtimes Great For Seniors

It can be a struggle to find ways to appeal to senior taste buds. Both age and medical conditions can impact their appetites. Many older adults also have special nutritional needs. Grace Homes has solved this challenge by hiring former Houlihan’s restaurant executive kitchen manager Lori Hossli to oversee the planning and preparation of meals at its Hopkins residential care homes.

Hossli is a native Minnesotan who holds a certificate in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu. She is well known in the Minneapolis area food world for her 15-year association with popular local eateries such as Kincaids and Houlihan’s.

Hossli’s new position is not the first time she’s worked closely with senior citizens. “After attending college at Winona State University, I joined AmeriCorps Southern Minnesota,” she said. “I had my first true experience working with the elderly affected by Alzheimer’s. I also joined the activity staff at St. Anne’s Hospice and had the opportunity to interact, sing, bake, do crafts, play games, and dance with residents.”

Stepping into the position as culinary director for the residents at Grace Homes makes excellent use of Hossli’s culinary skills and her desire to make a difference in the lives of the elderly. Her extensive experience in meal planning and training will help Grace Homes residents work through the challenges associated with age and eating healthy.

“Food often tastes different for seniors than it does for you and me,” Hossli explains. “Our sense of taste and smell can change with age, and the side effects from medications can alter our senses. There are plenty of ways to make food both healthy and delicious for seniors. That’s what’s on the menu for the residents at Grace Homes.”

Hossli will work out of the Oak Ridge location and will oversee meal planning and preparation for the Hopkins senior residential care locations. The Oak Ridge location is an eight-bedroom home located in a private residential neighborhood in Hopkins. Grace Homes also has a five-bedroom residential home located just next door. Grace Homes recently added a third location, which is the five-bedroom Walnut Lodge located in Burnsville.

About Grace Homes: Grace Homes currently owns and operates three senior residential care homes. Each is located in private neighborhood settings. Grace Homes’ elevated level of staffing allows for the accommodation of residents with Parkinson’s, COPD, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cognitive challenges or dementia, chronic healthcare challenges, and persons with disabilities including those who require a two-person transfer or mechanical lift. Grace Homes focuses on providing a safe, familiar, and stimulating family home environment for residents living with memory loss and cognitive decline.