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Aging Wisely March 2012 - Aging Wisely

Sundowners Syndrome in Alzheimer’s Care


We continue to get a lot of questions about Sundowners Syndrome (also known as sundowning behavior in dementia).  The terms can be confusing, but it is important to understand that sundowners is not a diagnosis or condition on its own, but merely a description of behaviors that often accompany various forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and others.

Therefore, if your loved one exhibits these signs and has not yet been diagnosed with some form of dementia, you need to consider a good diagnostic workup.  We encourage everyone to download our Dementia Guide, which gives a brief explanation of the terminology, signs/symptoms of dementia and getting a diagnosis.

If you are managing care for someone with Sundowner syndrome, you will become the best resource on how to deal with your loved one’s sundowning behaviors.  Our tips for caregivers and articles on Sundowners will give you some initial pointers and you may benefit from checking out one or two of the books in Our Recommended Reading on Dementia section.  The book about understanding difficult dementia behaviors includes a lot of practical tips for caregivers.

You will develop a routine, which is most helpful to both the person with dementia as well as the dementia caregiver.  You will also learn what triggers your loved one’s agitation and restlessness as well as some things that may soothe him or her.  Talk to your loved one’s doctor (or seek a referral to a specialist) about medications and other interventions (light therapy is one example).

Eldercare professionals can also help.  You can read about some of the ideas that have been used in eldercare settings and by dementia specialists or you may even wish to get an individual geriatric assessment or eldercare consultation.  Sometimes a fresh perspective helps, and an experienced professional knows not only what research has shown to work but creative solutions and resources.

What types of symptoms and behaviors have you seen somewhat exhibit as part of sundowning?

What have you found helps your loved one (or client/patient) with Sundowners Syndrome?

We welcome your comments and feedback and would love to share your ideas and resources with our readers! 

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Discharge Planning Checklist: Care Management


Managing a loved one’s care can be stressful at any time, but crises like emergency room visits, falls and hospitalizations are especially stressful for elder caregivers.  There is a lot of information (and decisions usually) to navigate during such situations and you may feel very harried. 

Good communication with providers will help the process flow more smoothly.  Not having success getting information from a loved one’s providers?  Running in to stumbling blocks regarding patient privacy laws and hospital policies?  You should grab a copy of our “Getting Answers about a Loved One’s Care” tip sheet

The importance of using checklists to ensure consistent, quality care has been a topic of interest in recent years (see an article in Science Daily about use of checklists and the other steps that must be taken to ensure a checklist makes a difference in patient safety).  Nowhere is this potentially more important than in the transition process.  As a caregiver, using your own discharge planning checklist can provide you a mechanism for ensuring you get questions answered, and have the necessary resources to provide a better transition for your loved one.

Aging Wisely’s geriatric care managers serve as patient advocates for many families.  If you are facing an eldercare crisis or dealing with hospitalization concerns right now, we are here to help.  We can help caregivers who live in the Tampa Bay area or those with loved ones here who live afar, to execute your discharge planning checklist, navigate the healthcare system and find elder care and post-discharge resources.  Contact us at 888-807-2551.

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Medicare Analysis and Advice from Florida Medicare Experts


health and insurance and Medicare problemsConfused about Florida Medicare and other senior health insurance coverage?

Medicare is the U.S. federal system of health insurance for people over 65 years of age and for certain younger people with disabilities.  The terms Medicare and Medicaid often get confused.  Medicare is not a means-tested program, whereas Medicaid is.  Medicaid is jointly funded between the federal government and states, and actually includes a variety of programs from health coverage for children and expectant mothers to nursing home coverage for seniors.

If you are nearing retirement, or coming up on age 65 but not planning to retire, it is important to get an understanding of the Medicare program and what you need to do as you reach Medicare eligibility age.  There are some key dates around eligibility and if you miss them, it can cost you.  Depending on your work and health situations, there are a number of different options for coordinating various Medicare benefits and other health insurance coverage.

For individuals already enrolled in Medicare, your situation is likely to change over the years you are enrolled.  A healthy 65 year old going on to the Medicare program will have very different needs than someone age 90 with chronic health conditions.  It is important to periodically review appropriateness of coverage and be aware of open enrollment periods when changes can be made.

Aging Wisely offers a unique Medicare Analysis program, in which one of our Patient Advocates helps you navigate through all the confusing options with targeted advice.  We get to know you and what is important to you in healthcare coverage.  We do not sell insurance, so our advice is solely based on our knowledge and experience as healthcare professionals aligned with your specific situation.

Contact us today at 727-447-5845  for more information on Medicare Analysis or advice and advocacy.

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Eldercare: Can You Really Prepare?


senior couple

We are passionate about helping families with elder care concerns, and part of our mission is to help families be better prepared as their loved ones age and they start the journey of caregiving.

Often caregiving seems to come upon us suddenly, and may do so as a result of a sudden illness, diagnosis or accident.  Families often speak of “getting the call” that something has happened to an aging parent or that an elderly relative has been hospitalized.  However, we all know that as we age the likelihood of these events increases and there are certain steps we can take to help us be better prepared, even for such unexpected occurrences.

You might also want to read our Eldercare & Aging Wisely Planning Tips.  We offer families an “Essential Eldercare Checklist” which we highly recommend you download and read over as a starting point for both family members concerned about aging relatives and individuals wishing to be proactive with their own eldercare and aging.

We hear from many families who have noticed some concerns when visiting an aging parent, have experienced a minor eldercare crisis or have begun to assist an elder with more tasks.

A common refrain is that the aging parent or loved one sees things differently, in other words feels that everything is okay and does not wish to pursue any eldercare services or assistance.  This is an area our care managers often address with family caregivers in eldercare consultations and through ongoing work with elder clients.  Contact us to learn more or schedule a care consultation today!

We also recommend one of our EasyLiving home care articles, “Seven Ways to Talk to a Parent about Getting Home Care Help“, particularly for families considering hiring home caregivers for some additional assistance.  We will be addressing this topic with some additional hints and tips in upcoming articles.  We encourage you to sign up to get our blog posts via email!

For caregivers who would like to do a little more reading on communication with elderly parents and ways to come together and talk about eldercare issues, we have a “Recommended Reading for Caregivers” page with some excellent book suggestions!

Can you ever be full prepared for eldercare and the complexities of caregiving?  Probably not!  But, a little preparation can provide a lot of peace of mind, as can knowing where to turn for help and advice.

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The State of Elder Care in Florida


What is available to help the many seniors who live in Florida as they age in place, often away from family members living elsewhere? Florida

Florida and some other “sunshine” states are a bit unique in the “age wave”.  There is much talk of the aging Baby Boomer population and how we will manage the healthcare and other needs of this aging population.  There is also a lot of speculation about how Boomers will live out their later years and perhaps initiate (demand?) big changes in elder care.  For those of us living and working in Florida, our population numbers already mirror what is to come for the rest of the nation. 

So, how has Florida dealt with the needs of its senior population, for elder care assistance and support?

That’s a pretty big question to tackle with a lot of political issues that can be debated.  We’ll attempt to give an overview of the elder care system and identify some of the take-away lessons and information that families can use (and perhaps are instructive to other states as they deal with the “age wave”).

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs is the overarching body managing government-related aging services.  Under its auspices, there are regional Aging Resource Centers (11 Area Agencies on Aging serving as coordinated points for long-term care services).  These operate help lines (which can be accessed by one toll-free number throughout the state) and manage a variety of other programs and functions.  Although the Area Agencies on Aging have existed for some time, they were only recently named Aging Resource Centers and with that, some changes made to attempt better coordination (more of a “one stop shop”).  They have worked towards things like having a coordinated database that can be accessed online, which only makes sense in today’s world and with so many long-distance caregivers searching for elder care help online.

In addition to governmental programs, these resource centers attempt to maintain information on private businesses, other non-profits and services available for elder care.  In our area (Pinellas and Pasco counties), there has been a long, strong relationship between these various sectors.  This is vital given that a family’s eldercare experience does not exist in silos, but as a comprehensive plan often using a variety of resources.

Outlining all the types of resources for eldercare in Florida (which apply to most areas also) is too extensive for one blog post, but you can get a comprehensive overview in our “Essential Guide to Eldercare” presentation, which we offer free on Aging Wisely’s Facebook page.

What are the important take-aways from Florida’s elder care experiences?

  • “It takes a village” (excuse the overused phrase).  Entities working in silos cannot effectively meet an elder client’s (and family’s) needs and families need access to a comprehensive array of resources to create a care plan that works.
  • Families should get at least a basic understanding of how eldercare resources operate in general and in your state.  Our presentation is a great starting point for understanding things like what Medicare covers and does not.  This may enable your family to better plan ahead or at least have realistic expectations so you can explore options.
  • It takes creativity/innovation to meet elder care needs.  This is both true for states as well as families.  There is not one easy answer or resource for everyone.
  • Families need answers and elder care guidance, not necessarily just more information.  We hear this time and time again from families as the reason they value our eldercare consultations and care management assessments.  They often have long lists of phone numbers or resources to check out, but they want help knowing what makes sense for their loved one, how to prioritize and which resources are of quality.
  • There are unique challenges to providing elder care, so some innovations or ideas that work elsewhere may not be applicable to senior care needs.  Florida has tried (and continues to try) a number of different Medicaid Waiver programs, for example, in attempts to meet complex, often costly long-term care needs.  As states pilot different programs, it is vital to measure what works and does not.  Unfortunately, resources tend to be limited so finding the best solutions is important.  If you are interested in this area, do a little research on what your state offers and the data gathered on the programs.

If you are struggling to figure out what elder care resources can help your family, want personal eldercare advice and recommendations, or just have questions, contact us at 727-447-5845.

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Elder Care Services Firms Sponsoring Senior Driving Safety Course in Clearwater


Update: This Senior Driving Safety certification course has been postponed and will be rescheduled. On the evening of Wednesday March 14th, Matt Gurwell will provide a public educational presentation on Senior Driving Safety. Topics will include starting the conversation about giving up driving, how to create an agreement and resources to help. The sponsors are proud to be able to bring this event to the local area for the public, including senior living professionals and family caregivers who face this concern. For more information, please click Senior Driving Issues Presentation Flier March 14th

Aging Wisely is proud to be one of eight companies to sponsor an innovative educational program designed to contribute to the safety and independence of seniors who should no longer be driving. The Beyond Driving with Dignity Training & Certification class is taking place at The Villas of Belleair in Clearwater, Florida on March 15th and will educate eldercare professionals to effectively address this pervasive and growing challenge.

Matt Gurwell, a former State Trooper and the founder & CEO of Keeping Us Safe, LLC is excited to bring this training opportunity to Clearwater, “Companies sponsor our training because they know firsthand how desperately we need solutions to this growing problem. I so appreciate their support in the cause of Keeping Us Safe.”

Aging Wisely is a Platinum Sponsor of the event. Linda Chamberlain, President of Aging Wisely states, “In our many years serving seniors and families, the issue of senior driving safety comes up time and time again so we know how tough this issue can be for families. We are proud to sponsor this program in our local community because it not only raises awareness of an important issue, it provides concrete tools for families to better deal with concerns and assist aging loved ones through different stages.”

Keeping Us Safe, LLC is a national organization based in Cleveland, Ohio, with a mission to provide older drivers and their families with tools necessary to confront the challenging issue of diminishing driving skills in the older driver. To learn more about Keeping Us Safe’s programs or to enroll in the March 15, 2012, session of the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional Certification program, please visit or call toll-free 877-907-8841.

Aging Wisely works closely with many families on their concerns about senior driving safety, providing assessments, recommendations/resources as well as counseling and moderating family discussions about such challenging topics.

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Payment Concerns
Not sure how you are going to pay for elder care?

Is the Time Right?
Find out if its time to seek help for your loved one.

Aging in Place
How to keep a loved one safe at home, and when it may be time to consider assisted living.

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Mission Statement

Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.