Tag Archives: senior

RECOVERING FROM A STROKE

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Twenty-five years ago, Bill and his wife and their six children had gone to have dinner with Grandpa at his home. Seated around the kitchen table, they all enjoyed the Kentucky Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, biscuits, and gravy. The room was filled with chatter and laughter. Then suddenly, something radically changed. Grandpa seemed confused. He was having trouble understanding what others were saying. It was as if he could not hear.

No one in the room recognized this as a stroke. No one knew that sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, sudden difficulty walking, or loss of balance and coordination were all signs of a stroke. No one knew the importance of getting the stroke victim to a hospital immediately. They only knew that one minute Grandpa was fine, and at the next minute things had radically changed.

It was obvious that Grandpa could not stay in the house by himself. If he could not hear, he would not be able to talk on the telephone. He could not use the phone to call for help in an emergency. He would not be able to hear the doorbell ringing. He would not be able to speak with someone who came to the door.

The dilemma that families in this situation face is immense. Immediate family members may work or have young children at home. Some immediate family members may live hundreds or thousands of miles away. Placing the stroke victim in a nursing home is a very expensive option. The stroke victim’s family and the stroke victim himself often would prefer that the individual be able to continue to stay in his own home.

What services are available to help a stroke victim recover? Rehabilitative therapy usually begins in the hospital, often within 24 to 48 hours. When a patient is ready to be discharged, a hospital social worker will help develop a plan for continuing rehabilitation and care.

Some patients go to a skilled nursing facility when they are discharged. Others go to a setting specializing in rehabilitative therapy. Others return home directly.

Piecing together care in the home can be difficult. Family members and retired nurses and individual Certified Nursing Assistants may be able to cover the shifts, but it is a challenge to find them on your own. In addition, what happens if someone is sick or on vacation? Who takes care of paying the employees? Using an agency such as American Home Health definitely has its advantages.

Agencies such as American Home Health can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), or Registered Nurses (RNs). American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee.

For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

SENIOR CITIZEN ASSESSMENT FREEZE HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION

Senior Celebration

HERE’S ANOTHER WAY TO SAVE MONEY IF YOU ARE SIXTY-FIVE OR OLDER.  THE INFORMATION BELOW IS FOR RESIDENTS OF KANE COUNTY. INCOME MAXIMUMS AND DEADLINE DATES VARY FROM COUNTY TO COUNTY.  CONTACT YOUR COUNTY ASSESSMENT OFFICE FOR INSTRUCTIONS AND THE APPROPRIATE FORM.  INFORMATION AND FORMS ARE ALSO AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET. 

 IF YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE, THINK ABOUT YOUR PARENTS OR OLDER FRIENDS.  TELL THEM ABOUT THE PROGRAM.  HAVE THEM CONTACT THEIR COUNTY ASSESSMENT OFFICE.  REMEMBER THAT INCOME MAXIMUMS AND DEADLINE DATES VARY FROM COUNTY TO COUNTY.

IF YOU OR YOUR PARENTS OR OLDER FRIENDS WERE NOT AWARE OF THE PROGRAM AND FAILED TO APPLY, HAVE THEM CONTACT THEIR ASSESSOR’S OFFICE.  IT MAY BE POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO SEEK THE BENEFITS RETROACTIVELY FOR AT LEAST A FEW YEARS. 

SENIOR CITIZEN ASSESSMENT FREEZE HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION

 Are you upset that your real estate tax bill keeps increasing each year?  Are you sure that you are getting all the exemptions for which you qualify?  Are you aware of the Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption for property owners over 65?

What is the “Senior Freeze” exemption?

The Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption reduces the Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) of a home by the difference of a home between the 2016 Equalized Assessed Value and the Equalized Assessed Value of the “Base Year.”  The base year generally is the year prior to the year the taxpayer first receives the exemption.  This exemption does not freeze the amount of a property tax bill, which could change if the tax rate changes.  The assessment and tax bill may increase if improvements are added to the home.  oswHowever, if the Equalized Assessed Value of the home decreases in the future, the taxpayer will benefit from any reduction.

Who is eligible?

At least one of the owners of the property must

  • Be sixty-five or older by December 31, 2015.
  • Own the property or have an equitable interest in it by written instrument or had a leasehold interest in the single family home.
  • Use the property as his principal residence on both January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2016.
  • Have a total household income of $55,000 or less in 2015.

What is a household?   

A household means the applicant, the applicant’s spouse, and all persons who use the residence of the applicant as their principal dwelling place on January 1, 2016, whether they pay rent or not.

What is included in household income?

Household income includes your income, your spouse’s income, and the income of all persons living in the house.  Examples of income are listed below:

  • Alimony or maintenance received
  • Annuity benefits
  • Black Lung benefits
  • Business income, including capital gains
  • Cash assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services and/or any other governmental cash assistance
  • Cash winnings from other such sources as raffles, lotteries, and gambling
  • Civil Service benefits
  • Damages awarded in a lawsuit for nonphysical injury or sickness (for example, age discrimination or injury to reputation)
  • Dividends
  • Farm income
  • Illinois Income Tax Refund
  • Interest, including interest received on life insurance policies
  • Long term care insurance (federally taxable portion only)
  • Lump sum Social Security payments
  • Miscellaneous income from rummage sales, recycling aluminum, baby sitting, etc.
  • Military retirement pay based on age or length of service
  • Monthly insurance benefits
  • Pension and IRA benefits (federally taxable portion only)
  • Railroad Retirement benefits
  • Rental income
  • Social Security income
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits
  • Unemployment compensation (all)
  • Wages, salaries and tips
  • Workers’ Compensation Act Income
  • Workers’ Occupational Disease Act income

What is not included in household income?

Examples of income that are not included in household income are listed below.

  • Cash gifts and loans
  • Child support payments
  • Circuit Breaker grants
  • COBRA Subsidy Payments
  • Damages paid from a lawsuit for a physical injury or sickness
  • Energy Assistance payments
  • Federal income tax refunds
  • IRAs “rolled over” into other retirement accounts, unless “rolled over” into a Roth IRA
  • Lump sums from inheritances or insurance policies
  • Money borrowed against a life insurance policy or from any financial institution
  • Reverse mortgage payments
  • Spousal impoverishment payments
  • Stipends from Foster Parents and Foster Grandparent programs
  • Veterans’ benefits

When must I file?

If you are eligible for the Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption, you should file the appropriate form with the County Assessment Office by July 1, 2016.  You must file an application every year to continue to receive an exemption.  The eligibility requirements under “Who is eligible?” must be met each year.  Additional documentation (i.e., birth certificates, tax returns, etc.) may be required by the County Assessment Office to verify the information on this application.

What if I need additional assistance?

If you have questions, please contact the Kane County Assessment Office at (630) 208-3818.

 by Karen Centowski

 

 

Slips, Falls and Fractures

Elderly Couple Walking

A simple fall can change your life. Just ask any of the thousands of older men and women who fall each year and break a bone. Falling is the number one cause of death due to injury for people over 75 years old and the second leading cause of death due to an injury among those 45-75 years old.

Over 80% of fatal slips and falls occurred among seniors, ages 65 or older. Though falls are more devastating to seniors, they can be just as fatal to younger people, regardless of age.

Risk Factors for Injurious Falls Client’s Reduction Risk
Risk – By evaluating one’s risk for falls, he/she can make accommodations to reduce that risk Intervention – The more you take care of your overall health and well-being, the more likely you’ll be to lower your chances of falling.
Impaired vision or hearing Have your vision and hearing tested often. Even small changes in sight and hearing can make you less stable. So, for example, if your doctor orders new eyeglasses, take time to get used to them, and always wear them when you should or, if you need a hearing aid, be sure it fits well.
Cognitive impairment, impaired judgment, confusion, disorientation Consider hiring a caregiver to keep the client safe.
Impaired balance, gait, or strength

Impaired mobility or range of motion, limited activity tolerance

Neurological problems such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and syncope

Musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis, joint replacement, deformity, and foot problems

Always stand up slowly after eating, lying down, or resting. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop, which can make you feel faint.

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Even a small amount can affect your balance and reflexes.

Use a cane, walking stick, or walker to help you feel steadier when you walk. This is very important when you’re walking in areas you don’t know well or in places where the walkways are uneven. And be very careful when walking on wet or icy surfaces. They can be very slippery! Try to have sand or salt spread on icy areas.

Talk with your doctor and plan an exercise program that is right for you. Regular exercise helps keep you strong and improves muscle tone. It also helps keep your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. Mild weight-bearing exercise—such as walking, climbing stairs—may even slow bone loss from osteoporosis.

Chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and diabetes Ask your doctor about a special test—called a bone mineral density test—that tells how strong your bones are. If need be, your doctor can prescribe new medications that will help make your bones stronger and harder to break.
Medications (more than four prescription medications and blood pressure lowering medications) Find out about the possible side effects of medicines you take. Some medicines might affect your coordination, balance or blood pressure. If so, ask your doctor or pharmacist what you can do to lessen your chance of falling.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

Find out about buying a home monitoring system service. If you fall or need emergency help, you just push the button to alert the service.

Orient yourself to any new environment.

Stay away from a freshly washed floor.

Don’t stand on a chair or table to reach something that’s too high—use a “reach stick” instead.

Hold the handrails when you use the stairs. If you must carry something while you’re going up or down, hold it in one hand and use the handrail with the other.

Wear rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes that fully support your feet. Keep walkways obstruction and spill free.

Don’t let your home get too cold or too hot… it can make you dizzy. Get more than five hours of sleep every night. If you are over the age of 70 and get fewer than five hours of rest per night, you are more prone to falling.

Environmental Risk Reduction

You can help prevent falls by making changes to unsafe areas in your home. Take a look around your home. Your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways may be filled with hazards. To make your home safer:

In all living areas

  • Make sure there is good lighting with light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Keep areas where you walk tidy. Maintain carpeting and floorboards.
  • Pick up toys or other objects from the floor to clear your path. Keep electric cords and phone wires away from walking paths.
  • Arrange furniture so they are not in your walking path.
  • Have handrails on both sides of all stairs—from top to bottom—and be sure they’re tightly fastened.
  • Keep light switches and telephone near your bed.

In bathrooms and powder rooms:

  • Mount grab bars near toilets and on both the inside and outside of your tub and shower.
  • Place non-skid mats, strips, or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet.
  • Keep night lights on.
  • Don’t attempt to place a child in or take them out of the tub by yourself. Once a child is over 20 pounds it becomes dangerous to both of you to attempt this.

When a Fall Occurs

The majority of people do not see their doctor after falling, although doing so is vital to a good recovery and the prevention of future falls. Recovering from a slip-and-fall accident is multi-pronged and may involve physical therapy, exercises, rest and analgesics.

The staff member discovering the fall will attend to the patient’s immediate needs:

  1. A nurse will assess the client immediately. Provide appropriate first aid measures, stop any bleeding, apply ice to bruises, bumps or cuts.
  2. If there is a suspected broken bone, keep the client still and call for transport to the hospital.
  3. Notify the attending Physician promptly to determine the need for further evaluation.
  4. Neurological checks and vital signs as ordered or appropriate for injury.
  5. The client’s family will be notified of any fall, including injuries in a timely manner.
  6. The fall will be documented in the progress notes.
  7. The caregiver witnessing a fall or finding a patient after an un-witnessed fall will complete an incident report and send to the Nurse Manager or designee.
  8. Teaching about falls and safety will be reinforced to client and family as needed.
  9. Continue to assess client for any unidentified injury and for response to treatments or recovery.

For individuals after a fall or slip injury:

  • Make an appointment with your doctor. He will make sure you have not sustained any injuries. The doctor will check your medications and look for any that have dizziness as a side effect. He may recommend an appointment with an ophthalmologist or eye doctor.
  • Follow your physician’s recommendations. Use hot or cold packs and analgesic medication as directed.
  • Keep your appointment with a physical or occupational therapist. These professionals will show you how to do simple exercises to help you heal from any injuries. They also may recommend exercises to improve your balance and teach you how to get up properly if you do fall. Tai chi, walking and strength training may be suggested.
  • Use properly fitting adaptive equipment, such as a walker or cane, as recommended by the physical or occupational therapist. Do not borrow this equipment from a friend or family member; it must be fit to your body. The therapist also may suggest sitting on a wedge, lowering your bed and elevating your toilet seat.
  • The physical therapist can analyze your home for hazards. He may suggest backing your throw rugs with non-slip grip matting or getting rid of them completely. Other recommendations may include fixing any loose carpet or flooring and keeping clutter picked up off the floor.