Tuesday, October 17 , 2017, 1:51 pm | Partly Cloudy 79º


Craig Allen: Seniors and Their Families Increasingly Depend on Nonmedical Care Providers

In today’s world of spiraling health-care costs, many seniors and their families find it difficult to understand the wide array of services available to them. Most focus on medical needs and the services available for these needs, ignoring other nonmedical needs, which can result in deteriorating health, accelerating medical costs and an erosion of quality of life — for the senior and for his or her family members.

With the ballooning number of seniors resulting from the Baby Boomer generation aging, many highly qualified, specialty nonmedical health-care companies have entered the market to provide these much-needed services.

Dementia is one of the most challenging syndromes any senior could face. About 5 percent of the population over the age of 65 will suffer some degree of dementia. Although dementia can be caused by a brain injury, which usually results in a static loss of cognitive ability, the most common form is a progressive loss of cognitive ability brought about by one or more diseases. Dementia can affect cognitive areas such as memory, attention, language and problem solving.

Seniors often are misdiagnosed as having dementia, when in fact they have something else entirely. Conditions such as hearing loss, vision loss and other conditions can cause family members to believe their loved one has dementia. For this reason it is vitally important to have an expert evaluation to determine if the senior actually has dementia before beginning any treatment.

Alzheimer’s is one form of dementia. Dementia and Alzheimer’s often are used interchangeably, but there are several other forms of dementia, such as vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. It is also important to understand the type of dementia so that an appropriate treatment and therapy regimen can be developed.

As dementia progresses, it’s important for family members to understand how dementia affects the brain, so that the senior’s behavior can be understood. As the various areas of the brain deteriorate, the senior’s behavior is directly affected, based on the areas of the brain that are impacted, and the severity of the deterioration in those specific brain areas.

As different parts of the brain control different functions in the body, the senior’s behavior will be negatively affected in a variety of ways. The better family members can understand how the parts of the brain work, the easier it will be for them to understand and accept the changes to the senior’s behavior over time.

Dementia is a serious condition, and is something that few families can effectively address on their own. The assistance of a qualified caregiver can make all the difference, both for the senior and for the family.

One local company that provides the kind of care and support dementia patients require is Senior Helpers. Just as I provide a single point of contact for all financial matters for my senior clients and their families, I have partnered with Senior Helpers to provide a single point of contact for all nonmedical health-care needs for my senior clients and their families.

Senior Helpers has a national footprint, but has a local office owned and operated by locals, with caregivers who live in the area. This structure provides a powerful combination of a national support team with a depth and breadth of knowledge, expert training and informational support and resources, while maintaining a local focus and high-touch approach. Senior Helpers provides Alzheimer’s and dementia care, companion care, surgery assistance, sitter services, moving preparation, wellness watch, care management and a long list of personal care services, such as hygiene assistance, medication reminders, diet monitoring and meal planning. 

One of the aspects of the Senior Helpers approach is a focus on direct contact and coordination with the family members of seniors. Family members often try to provide nonmedical assistance to their senior family member, either to reduce costs or out of a sense of responsibility, or both.

While this can be good for the senior, in terms of maintaining more direct contact and interaction on a regular basis between the senior and family members, it can cause a serious deterioration in the relationships among family members, especially for the person responsible for the ongoing needs of the senior. The added work and responsibility of maintaining the household of the senior, as well as keeping up with their own household responsibilities, can be overwhelming. Quality of life can suffer, leading to resentment, anger, depression, divorce, etc.

Providers of nonmedical senior services, such as Senior Helpers, can assume the responsibilities of the family members, reducing the stress and time constraints of the family member or members who have been providing support. These expert caregivers are able to provide a much more effective solution to these needs, while freeing up the family members to spend more quality time with their seniors, without the burden of maintaining a household, cooking, cleaning, bathing, providing transportation and all of the other increasing requirements that seniors have as they age.

Click here for more information about Senior Helpers, or contact Mike Fasth at 805.687.7777.

Craig Allen, CFA, CFP, CIMA, is president of Montecito Private Asset Management LLC and founder of Dump Your Debt. He has been managing assets for foundations, corporations and high-net worth individuals for more than 20 years and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA charter holder), a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and holds the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) certification. He blogs at Finance With Craig Allen and can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.898.1400. Click here to read previous columns or follow him on Twitter: @MPAMCraig. The opinions expressed are his own.

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