• March 29, 2017
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Meet Christine King: South Florida's Own Exercise and Health Guru

We know that remaining physically active as possible, no matter any physical limitations, is crucial to our total well being. There's a plethora of compelling evidence demonstrating that staying physically fit prevents or delays many chronic diseases, while at the same time, improving mood and reducing depression and cognitive decline.

Introducing Christine King, of Your Best Fit,  a Medical Exercise Fitness Specialist whose company specializes in creating personalized activity programs for individuals who may homebound or recovering from a health setback such as stroke or joint replacement or just less mobile and independent than they had previously been.  She founded the company after a traumatic accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. She was lucky to regain enough movement to walk again.

I spoke with Christine and she told me that when she works with a new client her team first assesses physical and nutritional needs in addition to a home safety assessment,  especially for high-risk fall clients.  For those who are sedentary, the main priority is finding efficient and safe measure to help them remian independent during activities of daily living.  

Although each client is different, a typical at home therapy program for building strength and balance at any age includes two to three 30-minute sessions per week. The essential at home equipment is simple.  A chair, rubber tubing, a playground ball and light hand weights. If motivation is the issue for you or a loved one, consider including a family member or home health aide in the daily regimen. Her team also works with caregivers to infuse physical activity into daily activities.

In the meantime, take a look at Christine's website, Your Best Fit.  It includes a lot of information, not only on exercise, where you'll find easy-to-follow videos, but also on general health, food and nutrition, and lifestyle recommendations for healthy aging. You'll see that many have found improvements getting through their regular day after just some basic therapy and regular exercise with Christine and her team.

  • May 16, 2017
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Meals Glorious Meals: Marthas Senior Gourmet: A Meal Service That Caters Solely To Seniors

There’s no shortage of gourmet meal delivery services to choose from – they seem to be the new, new thing. But luckily for us, there’s one serving our south Florida area that is exclusively intended for older individuals and it’s called Martha’s Senior Gourmet. I think it’s a brilliant concept – for three reasons.

First, the meals are geared to the varied dietary needs and taste buds of seniors. That means no fancy spices that are difficult to pronounce – can you say Sriracha?   Instead the meals are designed for those of us who have special dietary considerations whether you have heart or renal disease, gluten or lactose intolerance, or diabetes.

But what I think takes this service up another notch is their no-cost monitoring service. Their drivers are thoroughly screened and trained to observe how long it takes for a customer to answer the door, their general appearance, changes in mobility, recognition and cognition.  

So not only do they deliver a delicious, nutritious meal tailored to their customers’ individualized needs, they are providing an extra check-in to make sure that you, or a family member are doing well.  For that extra peace of mind, all you have to do is request it at the time of registration. No additional fee is charged for this valuable service.

Finally, while enrollment is super-easy on their website, they make it a priority to talk by phone to all of their customers to answer questions, help with registration or make changes or substitutions to the meals as you wish.

If only more service providers were as flexible and accommodating as Marthat’s Senior Gourmet. 

Here's their contact information: Miami-Dade: (786) 332-6366; Broward County: (954) 388-0674; West Palm Beach and Vicinity: (561) 210-9298.

  • June 01, 2017
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Hurricane Season Is Here: Be Ready For The Unexpected.

Hurricane Season officially runs from June 1 through November 30- and stretches from the Florida Keys to the top of Maine.  Putting together a hurricane plan is tedious but vital, especially for aging relatives.  It makes the pre and post storm days more manageable and less stressful.  Now is the time to prepare and stock up.

Regardless of where you live, this checklist of tips on preparing yourselves and what to have in your home during hurricane season is important to have.

 Basic Steps to Take Before the Storm

  • Put together a current list of contact information for family members and physicians.
  • Know the evacuation plans for your local municipality.
  • Secure your important papers such as insurance policies, medical insurance cards. If you have a pacemaker or other medical device, keep a list of serial numbers. Keep all of this information in a plastic bag.
  • Post emergency numbers of each phone, program them into a cell phone.
  • Inform local authorities if an aging relative(s) is alone, and let know of any special needs. This is particularly important for those who require electricity for medical equipment such as oxygen.
  • Keep some extra cash on hand.
  • Fill your car (and outdoor grill if you have one) with gas.

What to Have in the Home

  • Water (3 day supply if you evacuate, and a 2-week supply if staying at home).
  • Water purification kit with tablets of plain chlorine and iodine.
  • Food (3 day supply if you evacuate, and a 2-week supply if staying at home).
  • Flashlight 
  • Batteries. This is especially important if you or a parent has a walker or any other medical equipment that require less commonly used batteries.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Battery powered radio
  • Pre-moistened towelettes
  • Two-week supply of prescription medications with a list including the dosages and when to take. Keep these in a plastic bag.
  • Large hurricane candles (can purchase at local grocery store) and wooden matches.

If you're evacuating, don't forget to bring

  • Bedding
  • Eyeglasses
  • Extra hearing aid batteries
  • Important papers

Finally, if you or loved ones live in an evacuation zone, visit the the website of hurricane shelters in Miami-DadeBrowardPalm Beach and Monroe Counties.  Several shelters sponsored by Humane Society branches are pet-friendly. These shelters also help people with disabilities. 

  • June 11, 2017
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GoGoGrandparent: A Hotline to Uber and Lyft

So many seniors live in areas where there is inadequate public transportation, or they need assistance or special accommodation to get from one place to another.  The resulting isolation and loneliness can contribute to depression and a decline in vitality.

Uber and Lyft, on-demand transportation companies are now available in so many metropolitan and suburban areas, are great solutions for those who are accustomed to using a smart phone and the application that is required to take advantage of these services.  But since many seniors aren’t, a very smart guy has come to their rescue with a service that helps older adults access and use Uber with ease, using any type of phone. 

It’s called GoGoGrandparent and here’s how it works: 

First, call GoGoGrandparent to establish an account. A real person will answer the phone to take your information – just your home address and credit card.  Having this account means one never has to handle money and there’s no monthly bill to pay. The rides are immediately charged to your credit card.

Then, whenever you want to hail a ride, dial their number (it can placed on a speed dial of course), and press 1 to request pick up at your home, or 2 where you were last dropped off, Or 0 to speak to an operator to schedule a pick up at a different location.

Once you request a ride, you’ll hear a recording stating when the car will arrive, the name of the driver, color of the car, phone number of the driver and the fare.  The recorded voice speaks clearly, slowly and is played twice.  The price is typically  $2.50 on top of the Uber/Lyft fare.  

There are two thoughtful features that made me an immediate fan.  

The first is that they use only Uber and Lyft drivers with high ratings (4.5/5.0 or higher), that are comfortable driving older people, and who are willing to go the extra step to perhaps fold up a walker or lend a steady hand to help those with a mobility or visual deficiency.

In addtion, you can set up a buddy system. So if your parent or other loved one uses the service the account can be set up so that a text is sent to you or a "buddy"  when a call is ordered, when it picks them up and when it drops them off at their destination (see photo,right). This peace of mind is priceless!

I spoke with the founder of GoGoGrandparent, Justin Boogaard, who told me that it was his own grandmother’s frustration with the ride sharing application – the bright screen, the small print - that inspired him to make these services more accessible to seniors.

I’m not alone in thinking this is a terrific service, which was the winner of this year’s AARP Innovation@50+ Live Pitch Event in the caregiving category.  It’s available in most places where Uber and Lyft operate and  it's worth checking out. 

Go to their website and check out their easy-to-follow demo. Or simply give them a call at 1-855-464-6872.

Heads Up: GoGoGrandparent will be available in Spanish shortly.

  • June 27, 2017
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Introducing Senior Senorita: Creative Arts Therapy For Older Adults

“My services can be thought of as preventative care” is what Rachelle Behar Block, MS, LMHC told me regarding Senior Senorita, the company she started based on needs she recognized while working in the mental health field, specifically with seniors.

Senior Señorita offers creative arts therapy to homebound individuals, as well as groups and independent nursing and assisted living facilities.  “Loneliness, isolation and boredom are big issues for older people and can have a negative effect, causing depression, anxiety, watching news excessively and focusing on negative thoughts.  We provide services and activities that focus on fun aspects and less on current situation.”

Activities may include music, painting, sculpting, bead jewelry as well as other activities that cater to the cognitive and physical function level of the person or people she is working with.

Rachelle and her team make accommodations for clients, such as putting a paintbrush through a tennis ball, making it easier to hold for someone who has severe arthritis. If a client is bedbound the activity would be something that can be done on a tray, and for dementia and Alzheimer’s clients, an activity using larger pieces, for example.

In addition to the activity, Rachelle provides a sensory experience to stimulate relaxation and creativity, which includes music from the client’s era and aromatherapy, with a scent of their choice.  Both sensory stimulators aid in relaxation and stimulate positive nostalgia.

Senior Senorita’s team is made up of well-trained associates.  She offers additional services which include pet therapy and music therapy.  For more information be sure to visit seniorsenorita.com and take a look at all the different services they offer. Think about doing this sooner rather than later, before isolation and depression become an issue for your loved one.

  • January 24, 2018
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The all powerful RESPITE Care

There's no doubt that while caregiving is a loving responsibility, it can also be incredibly stressful and isolating. That's why t's so important that caregivers take both mental and physical breaks as often as possible. Breaks that are used for exercising, lunching with a friend, or even reading a book and napping have been shown to positively impact the well being of caregivers. However, in spite of its demonstrated impact, it's often impossible to find the time given the many daily contraints such as work, other family responsbilities, and finances.

Enter respite care, a short-term but critical extra amount of help and companionship that provides caregivers with just enough of a break to keep the caregiver burnout at bay. It's a simple solution that can make the difference between allowing loved ones to remain in their own home or not.  A recent article in the Baton Rouge Advocate summarizes the benefits of respite care for both the caregiver AND the care recipient and concludes it's a win-win for all.  The RAISE (Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage) Family Caregivers Act was recently passed by Congress and it will convene an advisory board who will develop a national strategy to provide assistance to the more than 40 million American caregivers. Top on the list of priorities is Respite Care. 

So where does one start? ​​The AARP has developed a step-by-step guide for creating a susainable respite plan for your loved one. It begins with identifying your specific needs. Perhaps it's a little companionship in the morning or around dinnertime. a few hours of help cleaning around the home, or some hours during the weekend when other family responsibilities and activities are necessary. 
 

The next step of Identifying sources of respite care can be more challenging. Here are four basic types of respite care resources:

  • Home Care Agencies and Companion Care Companies: There are many home care companies that provide companion/respite care.  Many "companion care" companies are licensed to provide homemaker type care which is by law (in Florida and many other states) non-medical, non hands-on care. The price varies among areas but one can expect to spend between 13.50- 18.00 per hour. I always recommend that one determines the most critcal times for care. For some it's early in the morning, having some to have breakfast with, and for others it's the hours surrounding dinnertime when loneliness can be at its peak. The advantage of this option is that all companions/aides that come to the home are licensed and insured and have undergone a background check by the company.  You can find recommendations of reputable companies by contact your local department of elder affairs, or by asking friends who may already be experienced caregivers.
  • Adult Day Care Centers: Daily programs can provide structured activities and social engagement in a safe environment for those who require close supervision. There are both private as well as county and state run centers. A good resource for this is the National Association of Adult Day Care Services (NADSA) where you'll find everything you need to know about Adult Day Care: how to choose an individual center, how to make certain it addresses your loved ones' needs and links to individual states day care associations, along with lists of individual centers.
  • Family Members and Close Friends. We all know how difficult it can be to ask for help.  For a variety of reasons it's not unusal for one family member to shoulder the caregiving responsibilities, and often caregivers don't communicate to their siblings how challenging caregiving can be. Siblings and other family members are likely to appreciate a conversation that will result in getting more involved and providing assistance on a regular basis. This can be true even if they live far away. Close friends also may see the need for help but do not know how to broach the subject.  Many are likely to have been caregivers themselves and may be a good trusted resource to turn to for objective help and recommendations. 
  • Community based organizations and resources:  Here are links to websites of large organizations that can help navigate one to respite care resources. 
  1. Eldercare Locator : is part of the Department of Elder Affairs. It will direct you to local offices around the country that often offer available programs and resources that promote healthy caregiving.
  2. Family Caregiver Alliance : Is a non-profit organization that provides information,resources and tools for family caregivers to help locate support services in their state. Those residing in the San Francisco area can take advantage of their individual consultation services. 
  3. National Respite Network and Resource Center: The organization helps to identify Respite Care Resources in several states.
  4. The Alzheimer's Foundation : offers a resource center complete with a hotline and chat option for those needing help.​

Another way to search for respite care opportunities in your community is to search on google. Suggested terms would be respite, respite care, caregiving support, companioship, the city/town of residence. If you do this here are some example of what you may find.

  • If you live in south Florida then you'll be excited to about a new company called Papas Pals:  They offer companionship to seniors who spent too much time alone. The "pals" are individuals from the community who can help with basic chores, play games or just hang and provide social companionship. There is a monthly fee of $10.00 and an hourly fee of $15.00. One can use them as frequently as desired, and can create a small network of "pals" that your loved one likes.
  • If you live in Palm Beach, Martin or St Lucie counties in Florida and have a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease you may be able to take advantage of one of eleven centers that the  Alzheimer's Community Care operates.  
  • If you live in the Atlanta area and have a family member with Alzheimer's disease you can contact the LMK Foundation and apply for a $500 voucher that can be used toward companion care from a home care agency. 
  • If you live in California you may come across the Beauty Bus that offers Caregivers respite through beauty services and pampering products.
  • If you live in Miami you'll want to know about Babas Bunch a non-profit organization that provides weekly respite care to caregivers of dementia patients. 
  • If you live in the Nashville area you'll be happy to learn about the Tennessee Respite Coaltion. They offer respite to family caregivers so they can continue to be a caregiver while maintaining their well-being.

 

Please let us know of any respite care programs and resources that you may know of. 

 

   

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Recent Posts

The all powerful RESPITE Care

There's no doubt that while caregiving is a loving responsibility, it can also be incredibly stressful and... Read more


Introducing Senior Senorita: Creative Arts Therapy For Older Adults

“My services can be thought of as preventative care” is what Rachelle Behar Block, MS, LMHC told me regarding... Read more