Guest Speaking at Alton Senior Center

Today I had the opportunity to speak at the Alton Senior Center, where we discussed Senior Living Choices. Most seniors wish to remain in their own homes, however, as age related disabilities occur; assistance of others becomes a necessity. Most often a family member becomes the primary caregiver. Most adult family caregivers have their own families and jobs, etc. to attend to; making caregiving for their aging loved one challenging. Then there is the challenge of learning the skills necessary to accomplish this difficult job. In helping those with Alzheimer’s/dementia, mobility challenges, and other needs, it is important to know the skills to properly help.  This is why Abundant Blessings Homecare has skilled experienced professionals.  Abundant Blessings Homecare can help family caregivers have that much needed and deserved break. Whether your need is short term, only a few days a week, or up to 24/7 care we can help. We work with your schedule not ours. At the Alton Senior Center today we discussed these and other challenges seniors aging at home experience. We thank you all the Alton Senior Center for having us, you have a great program.

Activities for Alzheimers/Dementia Patients

  • Place a bird feeder just outside a window so you can watch the birds. With spring being the nest building time of year, you could also hang a bag with some nest building materials and watch the birds take things from it for their nests.

  • Cut pictures from magazines or greeting cards to make a spring themed collage.

  • Set a pretty spring table and serve some spring type foods and tea.

  • Make ice cream sundaes or floats.

  • Paint, or sort, seashells

  • Using a basic watercolor set, paint spring pictures.

  • Plant some seeds in cups for the window sill, later you can plant them in the yard together.

  • Blow bubbles.

  • Make fruit salad

  • Make Lemonade

  • String cheerios or popcorn for the birds.


When Hiring In-Home Care - Be Informed

We often have people tell us they are considering hiring an independent caregiver for their homecare needs. Sometimes the person they are considering is a neighbor or a friend who has worked with the elderly or disabled at some point. All situations are unique and every need for homecare will have a slightly different solution, whether it be hours of need or type of services. We believe each family seeking homecare solutions should have the best care for their situation whether it be an agency or an individual, but we also believe each family in order to protect themselves and their loved one should be thoroughly informed when they hire. 

Here are a few things you should be aware of when weighing your homecare options. 

1.  Many families are not aware there are certain things which are required by law of any individual or any agency who performs home care / personal care services. For example: the state of New Hampshire requires all homecare agencies to be licensed but many are not aware that any individual performing personal care / homecare services must also be licensed. This state licensing was established to protect the individual. An agency must go through a thorough licensing process in order to obtain a state license, an independent caregiver must go through a similar process. This license is different than having an LNA certificate. An individual can have their LNA certificate and still not be state licensed. 

2.  Many families are not aware that when they hire a caregiver independently, the IRS then considers them an employer. We have had families call us who have hired caregivers independently and when the family no longer needs as many hours of coverage they let a caregiver go. The caregiver then goes to the unemployement office and the family receives a bill for back employee taxes. Taxes which must be paid by an employer include Federal, Social Security, Meidcare, and state taxes if you are outside of NH.

3. There is a state registry called the BEAS registry, we find there are many people who are not even aware this exists. This registry of the Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services is maintained to keep a registry of those who have abused, exploited or neglected elderly or disabled adults. Running a check of this registry is not the same as running a criminal background check. We have seen situations where someone is on this registry yet has a clean criminal background check. 

4.  Many families are not aware that a negative TB test is required of all home care employees employed by an agency or working independently. TB can be carried by an individual for years without signs or symptoms. Any caregiver you are considering hiring independently should also be tested for TB.

5.  Drug Testingfor illegal drug abuse or prescription drug abuse. Many of the homes in which homecare services are performed have prescription medications in them. In fact, medication reminders is often one of the primary needs of homecare clients. Yet when seeking homecare services, many families often are not aware of this potential problem. All homecare providers should be drug tested. 

6. Any homecare agency must provide, as required by law, Workers Compensation Insurance. In addition an agency provides Liability Insurance and Bonding. If you are considering hiring independently, your homeowners policy may not cover such things. Talk with your insurance agent and make sure your homeowners policy is going to cover any incidents which may occur. This is not the time to think "oh, nothing will happen", we live in a society which loves lawsuits and you put at risk your home and anything else you have worked hard for if there is an accident.

7. Other considerations.

  • Sick Days: If homecare is something which you can not be without day in and day out, make certain you will have replacement if the caregiver should call out sick.

  • Qualifications and Training. Be certain the individual you hire has experience and training in the skills you are asking them to perform. For example; just because someone has worked in a nursing home does not necessarily mean they have done transfer assistance. Transfering an individual to their bed or in and out of the shower requires specific skills and techniques and must be done correctly to avoid injury to both the caregiver and the client/patient.

  • Transportation: If your caregiver will be providing transportation it is important that a motor vehicle background check be conducted prior to hire. Also, make certain your motor vehicle insurance will cover this situation or the caregiver is carrying their own motor vehicle liability policy. Our agency has a policy which will cover transportation of a client whether in the employees vehicle or the clients vehicle.

  • Physical: All state licensed agencies and individuals must have a physical from their doctor stating they are medically cleared to do such work. You should make certain you obtain the same if you are hiring independently.

These above considerations are just a few of the things we believe every family hiring homecare services should consider. For more considerations you can download the following PDF document. 

When Hiring In Home Care - Be Informed

Are you a family caregiver who feels invisible? We see you.

If you think the above title is describing you, never fear, appreciation is here. We think you're incredible.

appreciation for family caregivers

Over and over again we see family members caring for their loved ones in difficult circumstances and the emotional and physical drain is often visible. We understand that being a caregiver is pretty much an unappreciated job, making you the "invisible caregiver". We want you to know we see you there and we see the hours you put in without punching a clock. We want you to know we understand how difficult it is to see your loved one in the state they are in. Your patience, dedication, sacrifice, and compassion are without measure and we see.

You, family caregivers, are the unsung heroes. You, the family caregiver, you, the son or daughter, husband or wife who is dealing with the situation on a minute by minute basis and sacrificing so much, you are are our heroes and we wanted you to know. 

We want you to know it's ok to take some time and do something for yourself, in fact, not only is it ok, it's something you really should do (without any guilt trip either). 

In addition, we wanted to give you a reward...your very own caregiver certificate of appreciation. Go ahead and print one out for yourself or for a caregiver you know. Fill out your name and hang it on your fridge. Better yet, frame it, you earned it, you deserve it.

You, the unsung heroes.

Note: The first certificate is from us here at Abundant Blessings Homecare.  The second certificate is blank in the "from" section for you to fill out if you want to give it to someone from you. Both caregiver certificates are free to download.


For additional info on being a caregiver see 

How Seniors Can Become Safer Drivers

According to AAA (American Automobile Association), “Experts agree that driving ability generally begins to deteriorate at age 55.” Of course, everyone is different, but certain physical limitations like decreased neck flexibility (see AAA Foundation’s brochure with driving-specific flexibility exercises) and deteriorating eyesight begin to surface at about that age. It is common for people to feel that their many years of driving experience qualifies them to be better drivers, and drivers in their 50s and 60s actually do have lower crash rates compared to other age groups.  However, research shows that crash rates increase as drivers approach age 70 and certainly increase after age 75. 

Organizations like AAA and AARP provide senior drivers and their families access to various tools to evaluate current driving abilities. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety offers a survey online for drivers to measure their own performance on the road. Drivers 65 Plus: Check Your Own Performance is a 15-question survey that gives a driver immediate feedback about whether or not driving is still a good idea. An added benefit to this survey is the detailed list of suggestions that is generated in relation to the individual’s answers, which helps drivers make adjustments to become safer drivers.

AARP offers online and classroom driver safety courses for seniors. Their curriculum covers topics like minimizing dangerous blind spots, monitoring your own driving abilities and those of other drivers, the effects of medications on driving, and the importance of eliminating distractions. You can locate a class in your area at the AARP website.  Click here to locate an AARP class near you

How do you know when it’s time for you or a loved one to consider a driver safety program? You don’t want to wait until an accident has happened, especially one that could have been prevented with a few safety precautions. 

CarFit Program – Make your car safer.

CarFit is an educational program that offers advice on improving your car’s safety.  Created by the American Society on Aging, AAA, AARP, and the American Occupational Therapy Association, CarFit shows seniors how well their cars “fit” them and what changes they can make to the car for a safer fit.

Examples of CarFit’s 12 key areas which improve road safety include: 

  1. Mirrors – Knowing how to properly adjust car mirrors can greatly minimize blind spots when changing lanes.

  2. Pedal position – Good foot positioning on the gas and brake pedals can decrease fatigue and increase reaction times.

  3. Distance from the steering wheel – Drivers run the risk of serious injury if they are sitting closer than 10 inches to the steering wheel.

Drivers can download an informational CarFit brochure with helpful hints for safer driving. Click here to download.

Or, find a CarFit event near you where professionals will assess you and your vehicle.Click here to see a list of CarFit events.

AAA notes these as signs of diminished capacity for driving safely:

  • Having a series of minor accidents or near misses.

    1. Having wandering thoughts or being unable to concentrate.

    2. Being unable to read ordinary road signs.

    3. Getting lost on familiar roads.

    4. Having other drivers honk at you frequently.

    5. Being spoken to about your driving by police, family, and friends.

At the time you or a senior loved one experience any of these signs, consider learning more about becoming a better driver through one of the many quality senior driving programs. Seniors can keep themselves and others safe by learning more about how to drive on the roads today. 

An added benefit of taking a senior safety driving course is that many insurance companies will offer discounts to seniors who have completed a course, thereby reducing insurance premiums. Check with your insurance company for the safe driving programs they recognize for senior discounts.

Senior driving is such an important issue that researchers at theAgeLab at MIT University are spending time and money to know more about what senior drivers are truly encountering on the road. They are using two devices to study senior driving and the risks involved with natural aging, disease, medication, or other conditions. “Miss Rosie” is a Volkswagen Beetle that is equipped with instruments to measure a driver’s physical attributes like spinal mobility and required strength while operating a vehicle. “Miss Daisy” is a vehicle simulator with sensors attached to the accelerator, brake and steering wheel. The driver receives feedback about their visual, auditory and kinetic responses to highway, rural, urban, and desert driving situations. Both machines help researchers and the driving industry understand what the senior driver is faced with and can develop effective senior driving programs, therefore lengthening the time that senior drivers can stay behind the wheel.

If a senior loved one in your life is at the point where it may be unsafe to be behind the wheel, be sensitive. Having a driver’s license is more than just the ability to drive a car; it is also a symbol of freedom and self-sufficiency. Most people do not give up the right to drive willingly, even if he or she would agree that driving has become more difficult. To begin the conversation, one method is to share a story of, “someone you know whose older loved one has….” You can finish this sentence in a way that lines up with your situation: been in many accidents, or who caused injury to themselves, or had their insurance rates increase because of these incidents. The AAA and AARPwebsites also offer suggestions on how to begin conversations with senior loved ones about their driving.

By the year 2025, senior drivers will make up 20 percent of the driving population (Bloomberg News, 2010). In November 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), for the first time in its 40-year existence, studied safety issues for older drivers.  NTSB may use its findings to recommend car or road designs that would be safer for aging drivers and may even address medical-related issues for licensing drivers who have limitations because of dementia. With so much attention focused on driver education and promoting safer driving for seniors, senior drivers can take advantage of opportunities to learn how to keep themselves safe on the road and driving longer.

This article by The Society of Certified Senior Advisors

For a downloadable version of this article click here.

Upcoming Seminars For Seniors and Caregivers

Join us at two upcoming seminars for Seniors and Caregivers of Seniors and the Disabled

(click here to print a flyer)

Both Seminars will be held at:

Mineral Springs Care and Rehabilitation Center
1251 White Mountain Highway
N. Conway, NH

Both Seminars are Free but Registration is reguired. Please call (603) 473-2510 to register

Legal and Financial Planning in Eldercare   May 24, 2012  

6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

This seminar will cover topics such as Legal Issues and Answers, Durable and Medical Power of Attorney, Living Wills, Personal Care Agreements, Health Care Proxy, Financial Issues and Answers, Protection of Assets, Paying for Long Term Care and much more.

We will be joining Deborah Fauver, Elder Law Attorney, and Anthony Cloutier of Cloutier Estate and Financial Strategies to bring you this seminar.

From Hospital to Home   June 28, 2012

        6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Transitions of Care to Regain Your Independence for Successful Aging

This seminar will cover topics such as: Keys to successful rehabilitation, Transitions of Care to reduce rehospitalization, Family Caregiving and Advocacy, Home Safety Issues and Answers, Home Medical And Safety Equipment, Alzheimer's and Dementia, Determining When It It Time for a Nurshing Home, Avoiding Stress and Burnout and more.


Home Safety Month - Home Fall Prevention for Older Adults

Because June is Home Safety Month, we though it might be a good time to make available our Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults. This document is something which we provide to our home care clients and we thought it would be a helpful resource for family caregivers.  Click here if you would like to download a PDF version of the following article. It is also available in the "Home Care Resource Library"

If you would like more information and resources on Home Safety Month visit the website for the Home Safety Council.

Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults


  • · Keep emergency numbers in large print near each phone

  • · Put a phone near the floor in case you fall and can’t get up

  • · Think about wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case you fall and can’t get up

FLOORS:  Look at the floor in each room.

1.  When you walk in a room, do you have to walk around furniture?  If yes, ask someone to move the furniture so your path is clear.

2.  Do you have throw rugs on the floor?  If yes, remove the rugs or use double-sided tape or non-slip backing so the rugs won’t slip.

3.  Are papers, magazines, books, shoes, boxes, blankets, towels, or other objects on the floor? If yes, pick up things that are on the floor and keep objects off the floor.

4.  Do you have to walk over or around cords or wires (cords from lamps, phone, or extension)?  If yes, roll up or tape cords/wires next to a wall so you can’t trip over them.  Consider having an electrician put in another electrical outlet.

      STAIRS & STEPS:  Look at the stairs you use both inside and outside your home.

1.  Are papers, shoes, books, or other objects on the stairs or steps?   Pick up things on the stairs, and keep objects off the stairs.

2.  Are some steps broken or uneven?  Fix the loose or uneven steps.

3.  Are you missing a light over the stairway?   Have a handyman or electrician install an overhead light at the top and bottom of the stairs.

4.  Has the stairway light burned out?  Have a friend or family member change the light bulb.

5.  Is there only one light switch for your stairs (either top or bottom)?  Have a handyman or electrician install a light switch where it is needed.  Consider a switch that glows in the dark.

6.  Are the handrails loose or broken?  Is there a handrail on only one side of the stairs?  Fix loose handrails or put in new ones so they are on both sides of the stairs and as long as the stairs.

7. Is the carpet on the steps loose or torn?  Make sure carpet is attached to every step or remove carpet and put in non-slip rubber treads on stairs.

       KITCHEN:  Look at your kitchen and eating area.

 1. Are the things you use on high shelves?   Ask friends or family to place things on lower shelves or cabinets (about   waist high).

  2.  Is your step stool unsteady?  Get a stool with a bar to hold on to, not a chair.

BEDROOMS:  Look at all your bedrooms.

 1.  Is the light near the bed hard to reach?  Place a lamp close to the bed.

 2.  Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark?  Put a night-light so you can see where you’re walking. Consider night-lights that go on by themselves after dark.

       BATHROOMS:  Look at all your bathrooms.

1.  Is the floor in your tub or shower slippery?  Put in a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips.

 2.  Do you have some support when you get in and out of the tub or up from the toilet?  Have a handyman put in grab bars next to and inside the tub, and by the toilet.


1.  Regular exercise makes you stronger and improves balance and coordination.

2.  Have your doctor/pharmacist look at all your medicines, even over the counter medicines. Some medicines can make   you sleepy or dizzy and some should not be mixed with others.

3. Have your vision checked at least once an year.  Poor vision can increase your risk of falling.

4. Get up slowly after you sit or lie down.  Some medicines/conditions can make you feel lightheaded or dizzy with quick position changes.

5. Wear sturdy shoes with non-slip soles and avoid slippers and athletic shoes with thick soles.

6. Paint a contrasting color on the top front edge of all steps, so you can see the stairs better.

7. Improve the lighting in your home by using brighter bulbs.  Use lamp shades to reduce glare.

8. It is safest to have uniform lighting in a room.  Add lighting to dark areas.  Hang light weight curtains to reduce glare from bright windows and doors.


Abundant Blessings Homecare provides home care for NH and home care for Maine