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Caregiver Connection

A Quarterly Newsletter for Family Caregivers of Older Adults

October, November, December 2013

The Caregiver Connection Newsletter is a free publication of the Baltimore County Department of Aging.

Stories in this Issue:

Protect Your Own Good Health

As a family caregiver, we are always putting our loved ones’ health and well-being first. The research is clear, however. The extreme stress that family caregiving can cause actually has been shown to affect our immune systems, making us more prone to chronic illnesses ourselves. It can cause premature aging, and, in some cases, can result in premature death.

  • If you are run-down, more tired than usual, will you be able to provide good care?
  • If you have a cold or the flu, will your loved one catch it from you?
  • If you become depressed, will you be able to make good decisions? Will life become unbearable?
  • If you are not well, who will fill your shoes, whether temporarily or permanently?

These are not questions to be taken lightly. Your own good health is the best present you can give your care recipient. Because you need to be there for someone else, the importance of taking care of yourself cannot be overstated.

  1. Every day: take a vitamin supplement and brush and floss your teeth.
  2. Every week: exercise and find a caregiving buddy or support group to talk with and support you.
  3. Every month: get away to do something for yourself and add some spirituality to your life.
  4. Every year: get a flu vaccination and have an annual physical and have a real respite break or vacation.

From the informational pamphlet “The Best Present You Can Give Your Loved One: Your Own Good Health” written by the Caregiver Action Network formerly known as the National Family Caregivers Association.

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Assisting Seniors With Fall Prevention

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year one in every three adults age 65 and older falls.
Falls can be life changing and result in:

  • lacerations
  • hip fractures
  • traumatic brain injuries
  • reduced mobility
  • loss of physical fitness
  • increased risk of falls in the future

Below are some tips from the CDC and Senior Care Corner that can reduce your senior’s chances of falling.

  • Encourage exercise regularly, focusing on increasing leg strength and improving balance. 
  • Get their eyes checked and be sure they wear glasses if they need them.
  • Remove any clutter in their path throughout the house.
  • Keep a nightlight in their path where they may walk in the dark.
  • Install handrails at all stairways and entry points.
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom, at the shower and the toilet.
  • Give your senior a glass of water to stay hydrated.
  • Prepare your senior for an emergency if he or she does fall.
  1. Who will she call and how will she get to a phone?
  2. Who will check on him daily to be sure he is safe? 
  3. Is it time for an alert system that can assist in an emergency? 
  • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness. 
  •  Be sure your senior wears the correct footwear with good traction on the heels and soles and include anti-skid materials to prevent slips and falls. 

Article submitted by Tasha M. Williams.

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Recognizing Challenges Associated With Aging

Changes are certain in later life. Changes require individuals to make choices to accept, adapt, or otherwise take action to positively deal with change. Stress is a natural response to change.
Common categories of changes and challenges associated with aging include:

  • Managing time
  • Managing health
  • Responding to pain or disability
  • Negotiating new systems
  • Relationship resolutions/development
  • Social adjustments
  • Self regard and esteem
  • Bereavement, grief and loss
  • Professional identity
  • Functional ability
  • Financial resources
  • Physical attributes
  • Cultural status
  • Home environment

These categories represent significant aspects of life. Changes that are unexpected, unwanted or otherwise challenging may cause too much stress and have negative consequences, no matter how hard we try to stay positive. Monitor stress levels and take action to get help when changes and challenges feel overwhelming or too difficult. Getting support for life changes is a positive step to maintain good mental health.

Contact Maryland Access Point of Baltimore County, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 410-887-2594, for resources to deal with the challenges associated with aging, for yourself or for a loved one or friend.

Article used with permission from Mental Health Association of Maryland

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Ten Typical Age-related Changes

How do you tell the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease from typical age-related changes? The Alzheimer’s Association offers these ten signs of “normal aging”:

  1. Sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.
  2. Making occasional mistakes when balancing a checkbook.
  3. Occasionally needing help with settings on a microwave or to record a TV show.
  4. Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
  5. Vision changes from cataracts.
  6. Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
  7. Occasionally misplacing things and retracing steps to find them.
  8. Making a bad decision once in a while.
  9. Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
  10. Developing specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

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Durable Medical Equipment Changes Under Medicare in Baltimore County

Effective July 1, all of Baltimore County’s ZIP codes will be considered Competitive Bid Areas (CBA) for the following Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS):

  • oxygen, oxygen equipment and supplies
  • standard (power and manual) wheelchairs, scooters and related accessories
  • continuous positive airway pressure devices (CPAP) and respiratory assist devices and related supplies
  • hospital beds and related accessories
  • walkers and related accessories
  • negative pressure wound therapy pumps and related supplies
  • support surfaces like mattress and related supplies

If you live in or are visiting a CBA and need to purchase one of the above items, you must obtain it from a Medicare Contact Supplier if you want Medicare to pay for it. The beneficiary will still be responsible for paying the Part B deductible and the 20 percent co-insurance for the items.

Other durable medical equipment supplies not listed above may be purchased through any Medicare “approved” supplier. Remember to always ask the approved supplier if it accepts Medicare assignment, which ensures that you will not have to pay more than a 20 percent co-insurance.

Contact Baltimore County’s SHIP (State Health Insurance Program) at 410-887-2059 if you need assistance.

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Update to Diabetic Testing Supplies Paid by Medicare

Effective July 1, all diabetic testing supplies delivered to the home will need to be purchased from National Mail-order Contract Suppliers, if you want Medicare to pay for the items. This change will decrease the amount Medicare and you pay for such items, while ensuring the quality of the supplies.

You may elect to purchase your supplies at local stores like pharmacies or storefront suppliers, but be sure they are Medicare approved suppliers who accept assignment. Local stores that do not accept assignment may charge more than the 20 percent co-insurance.

Contact Baltimore County’s SHIP (State Health Insurance Program) at 410-887-2059 if you need assistance.

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Celebrate National Family Caregivers Month

November is designated as National Family Caregivers Month. It is a time to recognize the hard work and dedication of the millions of Americans who are caring for older adults. Family caregivers give their time, talent and love with the goal of keeping loved ones safe and independent in the community. In November, give thanks for family caregivers and for all they do.

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Community Resource Directory Offers Local Assistance Options

Community Resources serves baby boomers, caregivers, families, older adults, persons with disabilities and professionals in the field of aging. The diverse content of the 2013 directory includes:

  • Advocacy
  • Attorneys
  • Baltimore County Government services
  • Financial resources
  • Fitness centers
  • Home health services
  • Housing
  • Pharmacies
  • Physicians
  • Travel and more

Community Resources 2013 has been expanded to include more resources for persons with disabilities since the Department of Aging is now an Adult and Disability Resource Center known as Maryland Access Point (MAP) of Baltimore County.

Further, Community Resources in paper version is available at all Baltimore County senior centers and public libraries. The Department of Aging is pleased to continue to provide this resource free of charge.

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Revised December 12, 2013

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