Considering Senior Care Options? The Need for Companionship Is an Important Factor

Cost and convenience are at the top of the list for the majority families, but another important consideration in our senior care decisions is the quality of life our loved ones will enjoy.

Studies indicate that elderly people whose families place them in nursing homes or hospitals during their twilight years will see their health deteriorate far more quickly than those who choose in home care or some other kind of assisted living option. The primary reason for this is lower quality of life. More specifically, many aging people feel lonely and sometimes totally abandoned when placed in nursing homes or large hospitals. This lack of companionship and feeling of being left unaccompanied places undue stress on our seniors and increases their health problems.

When choosing the best elder care option for our aging loved ones – the same people who raised us, sacrificed for us, and gave us their best – we need to think about their need for companionship and do the best we possibly can to make sure they are comfortable and well cared for in their sunset years. The issue is we all have busy schedules and we’re not always available to be with them every day. This is where an in home care assisted living option can be most beneficial.

The choice of in home senior care has several benefits over the other conventional senior care options. The cost savings can be substantial, especially when you consider that nursing home fees can cause your family’s assets to quickly evaporate and cause the state to end up owning your loved ones’ house and other property. You also can’t beat the convenience of in home care for seniors-allowing them to stay in the house they are comfortable with. But perhaps the top benefit is the personalized senior care provided by the in home elder care organization.

When you choose a reputable in home care assisted living agency, you will normally have a registered nurse assigned to the treatment of your aging loved ones. This nurse will visit them as often as necessary (they can usually customize the home visitation plans based on your specific needs) and provide companionship to your valued aging family members.

The quality of the in home elder care is at least as good as what you will find in any nursing home or hospital, because it is administered by licensed registered nurses. But along with the quality is the personal touch of having a caring health professional visiting with your loved ones on a daily basis. Providing your aging family members with much needed companionship lift their spirits and greatly increase their quality of life. It will also provide relief to busy family members who have a hard time visiting with their aging loved ones on a daily basis.

So when considering the all important senior care options for our elderly family members, we must remember that they need companionship on a daily basis, otherwise they may start to feel abandoned. Having a personal RN assigned to your loved one to provide quality assisted living care and be their companion is an affordable and convenient elder care option everyone can live with.

Elder Care Options – Comparing the Costs

Move the Parents into Your Home

There are many unseen costs associated with this option. One of them is the moving expenses. If you decide to move your parents out of their home, you will not only need to get rid of a whole bunch of furniture and personal items, you will also most likely want to put the house up for sale. This entire process could put a lot of stress on your loved ones, but it will also cost a lot of time and money. What’s worse, the housing market in most parts of the country is at or near record lows for the past decade. This means you’re unlikely to get nearly as much for the home as you could if you wait to sell until the market goes higher.

Another cost to moving the parents in with you is time. If you choose this option, you become their primary caregiver. If you are already working and/or have kids to take care of, this could put a big strain on your already busy schedule. In fact, it may force you or your spouse to either cut back to part-time or give up their job entirely.

Put Your Parents into a Nursing Home

We’ve all heard the horror stories of elderly going off to the nursing home, where they are basically shut off from the outside world. They feel trapped-like they’re in a prison-and lonely. The stress of the situation tends to create more health problems. Even aside from the “human” cost, this is a very expensive option financially as well. We’ve already talked about the moving costs, but now that they’re in the nursing home, the expenses can quickly eat up their remaining assets. All in all, there is very little upside to the nursing home option.

Choose In Home Senior Care for your Parents

The third and best elder care option for your aging parent is in home care. There are several reasons why this is the case:

1) The Financing Costs are Lower Than Other Options

While senior in home care is not cheap, it’s still a lower cost option than the alternatives. One of the biggest reasons is it allows the aging loved one to stay in their present home. Right away that saves on a myriad of expenses (both time and money) for moving to your home or a nursing facility. It also saves you the trouble of putting the house up for sale when the market is bad. Furthermore, the cost of in home elder care is far less than a nursing home. Finally, because your parents will still be in their house, you can use it to finance the in home care using a method like a reverse mortgage.

2) Plans are Flexible and Tailored to the Individual

If you ship your parents off to some large and impersonal hospital or nursing home, your parents will never get the individual attention they need. Nothing against nursing homes, they do the best with what they have, but they are simply not structured in a way that they can cater to the individual. With an in home senior care agency, you’ll have a plan customized to fit the needs of your parents, which will insure that they are receiving the proper care to address their specific health concerns.

3) Provides Much Needed Companionship

Quality of life is a big issue among older people. When the elderly feel lonely, their quality of life suffers. A great advantage of in home care is that a qualified nurse will not only care for your aging parents, they will also be their friend. The nurse can check in with them as often as you like and make sure everything is okay, as well as visit with them for a while.

With this kind of individual attention, your parents are sure to enjoy a much greater quality of life in their their retirement years and will have you to thank.

Licensed Home Health Care Tips

We all hit certain milestones in our life…like driving our first car, going to college, getting married, buying a home, having children and then eventually caring for aging parents. That last one is the part of life that no one wants to think about but it eventually arrives for most of us: the day when life has come full circle and our parents now need round the clock care as they did when they were infants. Fortunately for seniors, in the twenty-first century home health care products and services have evolved to a point where there are ample options to choose from when deciding how to care for our aging or ailing loved ones.

You should look for an experienced company that will be able to provide comprehensive home health care services for elderly loved ones. Look for features such as a care plan written by a registered nurse, preparation of meals based on client needs, facilitating a safe environment, assistance in moving around such as from bed to chair, reinforcement of medication schedules and assistance with personal hygiene. These are all tasks that would be a full-time job for a family member.

A reputable, state licensed home care agency employs all of its personnel and caregivers, which means employees go through rigorous background checks, are insured and bonded by the agency as well as supervised by a state licensed registered nurse.

Individuals trying to hire a private caregiver will not have access to the resources necessary to establish client safeguards and as a result could end up putting their loved one in harm’s way. Paying a private caregiver and dealing with aspects of insurance and employment such as withholding state and federal income taxes is not something that the average person is familiar. In fact, it is downright complicated and time-consuming with plenty of pitfalls, the worst of which is an IRS audit of your financial records. Nobody wants that.

Home health care agencies provide all the services and care you will need for the aging loved one in your life. A good agency goes to great lengths to ensure its caregivers are supremely qualified and handpicked to care for your loved ones on a daily basis or as much as you need. They provide a variety of services such as meal planning and preparation, health and hygiene, homemaking duties such as laundry and light cleaning, and caregivers can be shuttled right to your home in most instances. They even provide socialization and companionship.

Are You Ready to Install a Solar Photovoltaic System For Your Home?

You have read the articles, ‘surfed’ the web and you are ready to commit to the installation of Solar for your home. The installation of a Solar Photovoltaic System for your home is a wise decision on many levels. Like many home improvements, it doesn’t happen overnight. With some proper planning, however, you will know what to expect and you can begin the process with confidence.

Estimated time required: A few days

Gather Electrical Bills:

To a large extent, the size of your Solar PV system will be determined by your present use of electricity. You should gather one year’s worth of electrical bills. Copies can be obtained from your utility company and are often available online. Your Solar contractor will use this information to determine how many panels you will need, what size panels you will need and what kind, number and size inverters you will need. Your electrical usage information is also useful in determining your payback period- how long it will take you to recoup your investment.

Estimated time required: Less than 2 weeks

Find a Certified Contractor:

There are several sources for contractor names- the internet, Solar organizations, recommendations. Your contractor must have the required state electrical license. If the person you are dealing with is not licensed, they are likely just a sales organization that will subcontract much of the work to others. You will have no say in who these others are, so be sure you trust the people you hire. Your contractor should also be registered as a NJ State Home Improvement Contractor. This registration is required of all companies or individuals doing work in NJ homes. Membership in one of the national Solar associations is also a good guide. These certifications and licenses should be displayed on the contractor’s website. If you don’t see them, ask to be sure.

Estimated time required: 1 week

Solar Site Survey:

To begin, your contractor will use ‘Google Earth’ or a similar satellite mapping service to initially check the suitability of your location. He/She will look to see if your roof can be observed from the satellite. Trees or other obstructions A careful examination of the house is required if a Solar installation is appropriate. The contractor will then get on your roof, if it is accessible, and take critical measurements. They will draw a roof plan, locating all existing roof penetrations such as plumbing vents, exhaust, chimneys and determine the general condition of your roof and its age. If your roofing material is at or near the end of its useful life cycle, it may make sense to repair/replace it prior to the installation of a roof mounted Solar panel system.

Next, they will use an inclinometer to check the pitch of the roof. This is important for two reasons. First, the inclination of the roof relative to the latitude will affect the amount of sun the panels receive and therefore how much electricity they produce. Second, a roof with a severe pitch will require additional safety equipment, such as roof harnesses and roof ladders. This can affect the cost of the installation.

Then your contractor will check out your existing electrical service and main panel. Your new Solar PV system must properly tie into your panel. An older panel might require replacement. Your contractor will also examine your attic. A Solar PV system puts additional weight on the roof, and the roof must be able to handle this extra load. The roof construction, along with attic floor construction will determine the load bearing capabilities of your roof. (for more on this – see “Local Building Permits”, below)

The contractor should also take a compass azimuth reading of your roof. It must be determined where and when the sun will shine on your roof. A northern facing roof will not get direct sun and cannot be used. Southerly facing roofs are ideal, but other westerly and easterly directions will also work.

The contractor will use a special instrument called a Solar Eye. This is a combination fish eye camera and computer. Your geographical location is programmed into the device, along with roof tilt and compass direction. This device will locate any source of shade that might hit your roof, any time of day, any day of the year. It determines what your “insolation” rate will be. Perfect is of course 100%. Less that 70% might mean alteration of the panel mounting pattern to avoid shade. In northern New Jersey, a good roof averages 4.5 hours of useable sun light per day. When all the parameters are fully known, it becomes a matter of simple geometry. How the largest number of panels be installed on the given roof surface. Ideally, we like to use the largest wattage panels we can. The installed cost per watt goes down as the size of the panel goes up. Panels come in outputs from about 75 watts to over 200 watts.

The final technical calculation required is the selection of the inverter. Your Solar panels convert the sun’s energy into direct current electricity. Your house runs on alternating current. The inverter does the job of changing direct current into useful alternating current. The panels are wired together in patterns called “strings” and each “string” is wired into the inverter. The inverter then sends alternating current into your main electrical service panel, where it will provide electrical power to your whole house.

With all this information, the contractor will provide you with a preliminary proposal.

Approximate time required: 4 weeks

Permits and Your Utility Company:

Once you agree to a proposal, your contractor will begin to deal with outside agencies… utilities and municipal building departments. You must apply to your electric utility for special electrical “net metering”. Remember, when you generate MORE electricity than you use at a given moment, the excess power goes back out to the electrical grid and your meter runs ‘backwards’, earning you a credit towards power you will take from the grid. The utility company will install a special “net metering” meter to accomplish this. The forms for obtaining utility approval are generally available online. Your contractor will obtain and file them for you.

Approximate time required: 2 weeks

When your contract has been completed and signed, either you or your contractor will apply for your NJ State rebate. The requirements and forms for the rebates are available online.

You will also need to open an account with the state of New Jersey for SRECs – Solar Renewable Energy Certificates. SRECS represent the power your Solar system produces, whether used by your home or sent out to the grid. You will earn approximately 1.1 SRECS per year for each KW of installed solar capacity you have. The SRECs have an average value in New Jersey of $ 527.00 as of July 2009. Approximate time required 2-4 weeks

We have found the most time consuming aspect of the project can be obtaining your permit from your local building department. Most building departments have little or no experience with Solar installations. Typically, here is what they are likely to require: Factory specifications for your Solar panels and your inverter.

* A complete wiring schematic of your installation, showing locations of panels, inverter, disconnect switches, strings and wiring sizing.
* Installation instructions and specifications of the roof mounting racks, specifically showing how the panels are to be mounted and how roof leaks are avoided.
* Roof loading specifications: The building department wants to make sure that your roof will be able to support the added weight of the panels you will be installing.

The average system adds about 3 pounds per square foot to your roof. Many roofs can handle this easily. Some, however cannot. You will be required to engage the services of a professional licensed engineer to make that determination. He will provide documentation to the building department attesting to the roof load capacity. Should your roof loading capacity be insufficient to handle your Solar panel system, he will recommend the required construction upgrades. Approximate time for engineering and permit approvals: 4-8 weeks At this point, all paper work is complete and permits and approvals are in hand. Your equipment is ordered from the Solar Vendor(s) by your contractor. Equipment delivery is usually within 2 weeks. Your installation will take anywhere from several days to 2 weeks, depending on the nature of your home and the system design. The municipal, utility and state inspections are arranged, usually with in another week or so and then… your system is turned on.

Your project is completed… you are now enjoying Solar power.

Live In Care – Important Things To Consider

There are times when a senior, or the family that loves them, must decide whether they can remain in their own home or if they need some form of assisted living or home care. Years of memories often keep a senior tied to their home even when it is no longer safe for them to be there alone. Rather than placing them in a nursing or retirement home, another option is to hire a caregiver to provide live in care. This allows the senior to remain in his or her own home – familiarity to their surroundings is often very helpful – and receive the 24/7 support they need.

Live in care may be right for your loved one if they need more support than can be provided through visits from hourly caregivers employed by a home care agency. If loved ones are unable to deal with the upkeep of their house or apartment, need help with shopping and meal preparation, hygiene and need full-time assistance with daily living, then this form of elder care may be the right option.

Even if a loved one has some medical needs, live in care can allow them to remain in their own home. A Registered Nurse will supervise an aide providing the service and develop a detailed plan of care, including meals, accompaniment to medical appointments and a medication regime. Both the aide and nurse supervisor are employed and managed by a professional agency.

It is optimal if you can find someone to provide care that suits the individual. Think about your family member’s outlook on life, habits, personality, cultural background and other characteristics. The agency can help you select a caregiver whose temperament is similar or compatible with that of your loved one. This is difficult to do when you are looking for an aide yourself. An agency actually has a pool of people who provide live in care for their clients. After all, your caregiver will need breaks and she cannot work seven days per week. Trying to hire and manage several caregivers on your own is a difficult and daunting task.

Lastly, you also need to have dedicated living space available for the individual you select for live in care. This should be a separate and private room own within the home. The caregiver will also need the provision of three meals a day – which they will often eat with the care recipient. The person providing care will be there 24-7 most days, but you need to have private time set aside for them each day.

Keep in mind all of these factors need consideration before deciding if this form of care is right for you and a loved one. If you need assistance or just want to talk with someone about your situation, contact a local New Jersey live in care agency. They are there to help you and will often provide a free in-home consultation.

Senior Care – 4 Tips For Retrofitting The Home

Aging in place is the term used for retrofitting existing homes to meet the changing needs of senior citizens. It helps the elderly by providing the necessary safeguards and conveniences which allow these individuals to remain in their homes, keep their independence and protect their dignity. Four simple adjustments can make the homes of our seniors safer and easier for them and any caregivers who assist them.

The four simple retrofits most often suggested by senior care professionals are:

1. Brighter lights

Special lighting on stairways, steps and hallways save the elderly from falls. Senior care professionals can make a detailed evaluation of the home and suggest additional lighting or brighter light bulbs where needed.

2. Bathroom

Adding grab bars on the toilet or in a shower increase comfort and security for your loved one and provides peace of mind for family.

3. Steps / Stairs

Ramps instead of stairs or a lift chair for a flight of stairs are suggestions frequently made by senior care professionals. They allow the mobility impaired the freedom to use their home fully without worries about falls.

4. Rearrangement

The well-trained, professional employees of a local senior care provider can assist individuals with rearranging cupboards, closets and rooms to accommodate current abilities and needs. A few simple changes provide independence and the personal satisfaction of being able to do it themselves.

Homeowners take note: check your local building codes before you begin a retrofitting project that involves stairs and ramps. Depending on the county and town in which you live, building codes may vary and a permit may be needed before you begin. This adds to the expense but is well worth the peace of mind you get knowing your project is legal and safe.

Most of the retrofits suggested here are not expensive. Home care and home health care providers can be very helpful to you if you are considering a retrofit for a loved one. They are familiar with different ways of doing things and how each type of movement restriction affects individuals aging in place. This knowledge allows these professionals to meet the changing needs of seniors. Many of these companies will provide you a free consultation on retrofitting a home. In addition, their care services are available on a temporary or full-time basis, from a few hours a month to around-the-clock care. They are true professionals dedicated to preserving a senior’s dignity, providing assistance and bringing peace of mind to all concerned.

Senior Care Help For Alzheimer’s Patients

Endless, irrational activities, continual requests for food or drink, an endless merry-go-round of medicines and never-ending questions or concerns about life, death, old friends, relatives and imagined events are just a few of the things family members deal with in providing senior care for those with Alzheimer’s and related dementia. It is easy to understand why many times the family wears out first. The day in and day out stress of being on-call 24 hours a day and attempting to fill the never-ending and changing needs of your loved one extracts a huge toll. Fortunately, senior care agencies can relieve most of these pressures by providing excellent home care for the Alzheimer’s patient and peace of mind for the family.

Senior care agencies take over the hard, demanding and physical work of Alzheimer’s care allowing you to spend valuable time visiting your loved one and enjoying their company. These agency caregivers doing Alzheimer’s home health care and senior care companion services are well-trained in a wide variety of special need situations and have Home Health Care Aide licenses issued by the State in which they work, New Jersey for example. These senior care professionals are typically matched to the patient by both personality and needs.

Personal care for clients with Alzheimer’s includes preparing special meals, dispersing medications and assisting with grooming and bathing. Activities designed specifically for Alzheimer’s patients should be used to help alleviate the symptoms of this insidious condition. Normal housekeeping and trips to the doctors or social gatherings are usually a part of this personalized caring service. Family members can feel safe if the company employing the senior caregivers is licensed, bonded, insured and require its employees to pass criminal and DMV background checks. Defenseless senior citizens are most safe with these screened, licensed and empathetic caregivers.

Senior care providers allow loved ones to enjoy the quality time they spend with each patient by taking over the difficult, 24 hour a day seven days a week care. They keep your loved one healthy and safe while treating everyone with dignity and respect.

For Caring Pet Parents

Laura and her husband went away for a conference last September. They’re are pet parents and have a Maine Coon cat, Doberman-Chow mix dog, a Cockatiel bird and three aquariums. They really hate to leave them even just for a couple of days. Laura’s brother-in-law lives just up the road, and he let the dog out and spent a little time with them while they were away.

Being a pet parent, you always hate to think what would happen if there was ever a fire while you were away. Laura and her husband have home alarm monitoring with Alarm Relay, and if God forbid there was one, the smoke detector will immediately contact their nearest fire dept. even if the alarm is disarmed. That is a really good peace of mind. Not everybody’s as caring a pet parent as some of us are. There were sixty-eight animals found dead in a New Jersey home. They stated that things got rough and the family just couldn’t care for them any longer. How hard is it to bring them to a shelter. It’s just absolutely mind boggling. They got away with only 5 years of probation and community service after killing 68 sweet, innocent little lives. Yes, they’re animals, but they do depend on us. The joy animals bring is immeasurable. It sometimes seems as if animals care about you more than humans do.

Laura received a call on their cell phone that evening (they had all their home phone calls forwarded) from a phone number they did not recognize, so they just let it go to voice mail since they were having dinner. Shortly after the phone rang once more, and they figured if it was important a message would be left. Well, her mother-in-law called shortly after and said she received a call from the police. They said that they responded to a call they received from their home alarm monitoring service, and they couldn’t get a hold of them. OH! They then realized who’s the strange phone number was! It turns out that her brother-in-law had set the alarm to “away” rather than “stay”, and therefore their dog set it off because the “away” mode means no one is home, not even a dog.

All in all, she was very satisfied with their service as if it truly was an intruder, they were right on it! At $8.95 a month, their prices are simply unbeatable. Check them out today.