Resources for Family Caregiver

Program Reduces Falls; Keeps Seniors Home Longer

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Are you at risk for falling? Risk factors include fear of falling, gait and balance issues, certain medications, clutter in the home, and some health conditions.

Are you at risk for falling? Risk factors include fear of falling, gait and balance issues, certain medications, clutter in the home, and some health conditions.

A new falls prevention program developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is expected to help seniors stay in their homes longer and postpone the move into other long-term care settings such as nursing homes.

The prevention program includes clinical in-home assessments of health, physical functioning, falls history, home environment, and medications to create customized recommendations.

The study found that the program led to significantly lower rates of falls over a one-year study period. Those who received the intervention had a 13 percent lower rate of falls, and an 11 percent reduction in risk of falling compared to the control group. Participants also had a significantly lower rate of injurious falls. Long-term care insurance claims were 33 percent lower over a three-year period. The intervention, which cost $500 per person to administer, saved $838 per person.

Falls, which occur to 1 in 3 people age 65 and over every year, can cause pain, suffering, and death, and cost an estimated $35 billion in health care spending in 2014. They are a leading risk factor for needing long-term care at home or in a nursing facility.

“While falls are preventable, we need to intervene at the right time in a way that is comprehensive and yet individually tailored,” said Richard Frank, Ph.D., the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS, whose office funded the study. “Preventing falls helps everyone: the older person, their family, and the health and long-term care systems. And this study shows that by investing in falls prevention, we can reduce long-term care use and spending.”

The risk factors for a fall include fear of falling, gait and balance problems, certain medications, clutter in the home, and some health conditions. Few interventions have taken a comprehensive approach to address all of the risk factors through one program.

Although this study focused on the rate of falls and long-term care utilization and costs, future research will examine the impact of the intervention on health care utilization and costs.

“We expect to see a similar or greater return on investment in terms of health care costs,” added Richard Frank.

The 2015 White House Conference on Aging, in partnership with the National Council on Aging, recently convened a Falls Prevention Summit to call attention to the critical role of falls prevention in healthy aging and to provide opportunities for older Americans and stakeholders to share their views and ideas on this important issue.

More information here.


Alzheimer’s Disease and Wandering

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Wandering generally follows in the direction of the person's dominant hand: to the right if they are right-handed and to the left if they are left-handed.

Wandering generally follows in the direction of the person’s dominant hand: to the right if they are right-handed and to the left if they are left-handed.

If you care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease you are most likely aware of one of the disease’s behaviors called wandering. Wandering is dangerous to the person with the disease and distressing to the caregiver. Your loved one may spontaneously get up at night and try to leave the house for no apparent reason. But wandering may be prompted by deep-seated memories of work, chores, or hobbies, or a longing to return to a former home.

The inability to control wandering is what often drives families to decide to place a loved one in a nursing home. However, there are some simple measures to prevent wandering that often work well for a time and can even help postpone that difficult decision.

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends these steps:

  • Install slide bolts at the top or bottom of doors.
  • Place warning bells on doors.
  • Camouflage doorknobs by covering them with cloth of the same color as the doors. Consider childproof knobs, too.
  • Camouflage doors by painting them the same shade as surrounding walls.
  • Create a two-foot black threshold in front of doors with paint or tape. (A rug might do the job, too.) This creates the illusion of a gap or hole that a person with limited visual spatial abilities may be reluctant to cross.

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New Guide Decodes Mental Illness for the Consumer

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The common language for diagnosing mental illness used in DSM-5® for mental health professionals has been adapted into clear, concise descriptions of disorders for nonexperts.

The common language for diagnosing mental illness used in DSM-5® for mental health professionals has been adapted into clear, concise descriptions of disorders for nonexperts.

The American Psychiatric Association recently released a groundbreaking consumer-focused guidebook to help explain mental illness in easy-to-understand language.

The guidebook, Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5®, decodes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is a resource for mental health providers that is also used to determine insurance coverage.

The guidebook provides valuable insight on what to expect from an illness and its treatment and will help readers recognize symptoms, know when to seek help, and get the right care.

Featured disorders include depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder, among others. The common language for diagnosing mental illness used in DSM-5® for mental health professionals has been adapted into clear, concise descriptions of disorders for nonexperts. In addition to specific symptoms for each disorder, readers will find:

*Risk factors and warning signs

*Related disorders

*Ways to cope

*Tips to promote mental health

*Personal stories

*Key points about the disorders and treatment options

*A special chapter dedicated to treatment essentials and ways to get help

*Helpful resources that include a glossary, list of medications and support group