Caregiving Planning Ahead

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes – What is the Differance

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a great choice for seniors who can no longer live alone, but want to stay active and social. These communities have a 93% satisfaction rate, so your aging loved one is probably not picturing what they will be like when they move into an assisted living community.
In assisted living, seniors get long-term housing and care. They are usually active, but may need help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and using the toilet. In assisted living, seniors can expect personalized care, nutritious meals, a wide range of social activities that cater to their interests, and a sense of community in a safe setting.
When you are looking for a place for your aging loved one, know that many assisted living communities have health standards for admitting residents. For example, your relative may need to be able to eat on their own or transfer between a bed and wheelchair without help.

What services do assisted living communities provide?

Assisted living communities provide services and amenities that help seniors stay healthy and active. This may include things like keeping them physically active, providing intellectual stimulation, and helping them stay socially connected. Some of those services include restaurant-style dining, activities based on resident interest and many more.

Who can benefit from assisted living?

Assisted living communities are for seniors who want to stay independent but need some help. The community will help them with things they can’t do by themselves, but they will still be able to live their life the way they want.

How much do assisted living communities cost?

The cost of assisted living can vary depending on the community, its location, and the services it offers. Generally speaking, assisted living communities — which offer more amenities and care services than independent senior apartments — tend to be more expensive. However, the difference between the cost of assisted living and nursing home care is significant, since nursing homes offer full-time medical care.
The average cost of living in a retirement home in the United States is $4,300 per month, according to Genworth’s most recent Cost of Care Survey.
 What is a nursing home?


Nursing homes are places where elderly adults who need a lot of help can go. Nurses and other people who work there help these people with things like bathing, dressing, and eating. These facilities offer the highest level of care for seniors who don’t need to be in a hospital, but do need a lot of help every day.
Nursing homes often have certain requirements that need to be met before someone can move in. These requirements can include a doctor’s prescription, a physical examination, and state approval. If your loved one doesn’t meet these requirements, then they may need to consider moving to an assisted living home or another type of care setting that is more appropriate for their needs.
What services do nursing homes provide?
Nursing homes are a place for older adults who need care 24 hours a day. In addition to the services offered by assisted living communities, nursing homes offer many medically related options:
  • Providing long-term care that is both palliative and preventative
  • Administering prescription medication, including injections, is a process that must be done with care in order to ensure the safety and health of the patient.
  • Meal options that must meet the daily nutritional requirements and the unique dietary needs of each resident, including diets that are pureed or liquid
Skilled nursing care is an important part of many nursing homes. This means that there are trained professionals available to help your loved one at all times. If your family member is very ill or has a serious medical condition, they may need specialized care from the licensed health care professionals in a skilled nursing home, instead of the senior care aides who are highly trained but may not be medically certified.

Who can benefit from nursing home care?

Nursing homes offer more care than assisted living communities. This makes them a good choice for seniors who need significant medical care and also want companionship, help with activities of daily living, and on-site amenities. If your elderly loved ones require a greater level of care, a nursing home may be the right fit. These seniors may:

  • Require a lot of care because of a chronic condition or poor health.
  • Be unable to take care of oneself without help.
  • Have progressive conditions.

How much do skilled nursing facilities cost?

Nursing home costs vary depending on the location, state funding, and not-for-profit status of the nursing home. Generally speaking, skilled nursing facilities are more expensive than other senior living communities because the residents require more help with medical needs and personal care.

The cost difference between assisted living and nursing home care is significant. The median monthly cost of nursing homes in the U.S. is about $7,989 for a semi-private room and $9,086 for a private room, according to Genworth.

Unlike many assisted living communities, nursing homes can often be paid for using government assistance for lower-income residents.

How do you decide which care type is best for your loved one?

In the past several decades, senior living choices have expanded as the needs and expectations of older adults have changed. Finding the right option that meets your loved one’s needs is an important part of keeping them healthy, active, and safe. The best way to decide which care type is best for your loved one is by talking to those with experience with these care types.

How CircleOf Caring App can help?

CircleOf caregiver app is great for keeping track of your loved ones. The app allows you to enter information about your loved one’s medical condition, medications, and appointments. The app also has a calendar feature that helps you keep track of when your loved one needs to be seen by a doctor or take their medication. The Caregiver app is a great tool for caregivers and their loved ones.

Caregiving Nutrition

Best Low Sodium Meals For Seniors

Low sodium meals are an integral part of a good, healthy diet. When updating your diet to have less sodium for what ever reason it is good to make a plan.  If you’re like most people in the U.S., you get more sodium than is recommended or needed. Here at CircleOf, we researched some of what low-sodium meals for seniors means. 

How to Start a Low Sodium Diet?

Start by understanding how much salt you eat per day and where sodium is hidden in your food.  

Do you know how much sodium you consume per day?  We didn’t, so we kept a journal and did some research. Here’s an important visual: one teaspoon of table salt, which is sodium + chloride, has 2,325 milligrams (mg) of sodium. Generally speaking, an average adult ideally consumes below 2,300 mg per day. 

There are some foods that naturally contain sodium. These include vegetables and dairy products, meat, and shellfish. While these foods don’t have a lot of sodium, eating them adds up.  We found a handy list about sodium in vegetables here to help out.   

As much as 70% of the sodium we eat comes from food processed or packaged foods, and only about 5 % comes from that additional shake of table salt.  Why?  Because salt is used as a preservative as well as a flavor pop.

Suffice it to say that we are a salt loving bunch and our sodium intake adds up throughout the day. The average American eats close to 3,400 mg of sodium a day.  That amount is way above the U.S. recommended Dietary Guidelines.  

How Much Sodium Per Day, for Seniors

We talked about the average adult above, but now let’s look at how that is for Seniors.  Here seniors are defined of as 50 years or older.

Experts say it is best to remain near 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day as a guideline. This average daily amount ensures you get the amount of sodium that your body can manage. If you constantly push to 2,300 mg or higher per day, you increase the likelihood that you may develop health issues.  

Why is Sodium Harmful to our Heart?

Sodium affects our kidneys and heart. Our kidneys balance sodium in the body. When sodium is low, the kidneys hold on to it. When sodium is high, the kidneys release some in urine.

If the kidneys can’t eliminate enough sodium, it builds up in your blood. Sodium attracts and holds water, so the blood volume increases. 

Isn’t blood volume good?  Not necessarily.

The heart has to work harder to pump blood, which then increases pressure in the arteries (i.e. blood pressure). Over time this increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

Heart Issues Can Improve With a Low Sodium Diet

How do you lower your blood pressure?  A low sodium diet. OK, that wasn’t funny; stay with us.

A person dealing with any heart issue should not consume too much sodium in their diet and your doctor will send you home with those instructions.  

We found some tasty recipes online that can are simple and lip smackin’. I particularly liked the Blueberry Pancakes from Kim at Insanely Good Recipes.  For savory snacks and meals we appreciate Jenny from Happy Muncher.

Drugs Can Affect Sodium Levels

IMPORTANT for Caregivers!

We need to watch water or what we eat, but we also need to know how medication may affecta sodium levels. Diuretics, corticosteroids, sodium chloride, anabolic steroids, estrogens, and sodium bicarbonate all impact sodium retention. 

Some medicines have sodium in them in the form of sodium bicarbonate to make them fizz.  Paying attention or keeping a journal of what is consumed is the only way to ensure the sodium levels do not increase to dangerous levels.

Low Sodium Shopping Advice

The best way to go shopping for low-sodium foods is to look for natural options. This includes vegetables, fruits, and other options that will not add sodium.

  • Read labels
  • Eat fresh foods 
  • Fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and meats (not injected with a sodium containing solution)  
  • Choose low-sodium products, if you buy processed foods
  • Go for whole-grain rice and pasta and skip seasoning packets
  • Eat at home  
  • Remove salt from recipes 
  • Grab a cookbook for high blood pressure or heart disease
  • Replace salt with herbs, spices and other tasty flavorings

Tip: Choose Low Sodium Foods When Eating Out

When you are dining out,  look for healthier food options.  

Eat whole grains plus food with fruits and vegetables in them. Treat yourself and your future self to something better for you than a hamburger from the local fast food joint. 

Lower Sodium and You 

You can do it.  You do all kinds of things you consider difficult. 

Information is the first step. If you are a caregiver and or someone who needs to lower their sodium for health reasons you got this.  

There are lots of avenues to crafting good low-sodium meals for seniors. It will take time to pinpoint what works well and is ideal for you and your loved ones taste buds.  

The CircleOf Caregiver app can help you plan, shop for and stay on top of your loved one’s new and improved diet.  A lower sodium diet will help you improve your health.  Food is life. A low sodium meal for seniors, or anyone, makes heart sense. 

Also Read: 

Benefits Of Music Therapy For The Elderly

8 Tips to Make Your Care Calendar

* U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.govn

Caregiving Mental Health Wellness

Benefits Of Music Therapy For The Elderly

Why are people talking about music therapy for the elderly? Music has a unique way of bringing joy and jolting positive memories. A single song can spark positive emotions and feelings in seconds.

There are plenty of different things that elderly people grapple with as they age. Isolation, illness and limited physical activity negatively impacts emotional, mental, and physical health. How to help?

Music Therapy is a formal process of using different musical techniques to help people with emotional, mental, and physical health. It’s especially useful within the senior population.

What Is It?

Music Therapy is different ‘treatments’ that include listening to, singing, and even creating music. According to the American Music Therapy Association, formal music therapy was defined and first used by the United States War Department in 1945. It helped military service members recovering in Army hospitals with occupational therapy, education, recreation and physical reconditioning. A music therapy session included listening to music, creating music, and dancing.

As caregivers, we are always seeking ways to have a positive impact on the health and wellness of those we take care of. This includes those in physical rehabilitation, working on their range of movement, and all of those who need more motivation to get moving. Music is shown to be effective at helping people get through emotionally tough times and better cope.

How Does Music Therapy For The Elderly Work?

Music therapy has shown to be effective for symptoms of emotional, physical, and even spiritual needs. Music therapy is a go-to a clinical treatment plan for therapists who are working with elderly patients as well as those who have survived a stroke or have dementia or alzheimer’s.

Music helps stimulate cognitive function and opens up new opportunities to learn skills. It also helps activate knowledge and memory. This type of therapy offers both short and long-term benefits with recall.

Recent research backs this up and points to the fact that music may improve mental health as much as exercise. A scientific review published in JAMA concludes that music’s benefit to mental health is actually comparable to that of exercise.

Looking for a healthy exercise for those who have cognitive decline such as demetias and alzheimers? A dementia patient may be able to remember things better or at least feel joy and happiness associated with music.

Music Therapy Treatments

There are several different kinds of music therapy treatment options available for those who need it. These include:

Song Selection

A lot of us enjoy hearing the music they grew up with. It’s best to go with their generation of music. My mom loved Neil Diamond, as do I, so we belt out anything from Hot August Nights. With song exercises, people choose the songs that uplift their spirits and that help make their day. We all like to relive the good times in our lives and feel the happiness.

Name a Song

Name a song or name that tune is common activity in music therapy. While it seems simple on the outside, this is a memory exercise. First, play a short clips of music. Next try to recall the song’s name, melody and lyrics. This helps dig up some memories from the past and strengthens memory recall.

Sing Along

Karaoke anyone? A lot of seniors will find plenty of happiness being able to choose their favorite songs to play. Sing-alongs bring just as much joy, if not dancing. For any larger groups, the therapist display the lyrics to the song for everyone to sing along with. Some therapists have found more success by having different performances of popular sing-along songs. This is a good way to get friends and family play too.

Play Classical Music

This is a genre of music that is well known to be good for mental health. Not only is it relaxing, but it’s a good way to promote relaxation and mood. Give seniors the chance to enjoy more downtime with this music, it can help promote more restful sleep.

Benefits and Expected Results Of Music Therapy For The Elderly

Music therapy is a simple way to keep our brains active and young. It helps our loved ones recall memories and ward off depressive thoughts and feelings. Depression is common among the elderly. Music helps our aging population enhance speaking skills and improve their memory. It can also help to slow the deterioration of speech skills when one suffers from dementia.

Physical Skills: Music therapy can be a good way to encourage people to move. It can help them get more movement into their daily life by encouraging them to dance more. They burn more calories and keep better movement in their daily life through clapping, toe-tapping, and shaking what their mama gave them.

Cognitive Well-Being: Music therapy is a good way to help people retain their memories and process them. Music is one of the best ways to recall something from because it has strong ties to events and memories from the past.

To achieve the best results with music therapy, you need to find the right music. The music needs to resonate with the person you are caring for. Learn what music was played during their wedding or other significant moments in their lives. It’s all about resurfacing joy and purpose.

Music therapy is a fun addition to help your loved one age gracefully. It can ward off depression and help boost their spirits in more ways than one. The CircleOf app is designed to help ensure that caregivers can organize, collaborate, and ask the tam for the next song in your mixed tape. So gather your care circle’s custom music selection and help your loved ones move through the tempo of aging.

Caregiving Community Planning Ahead Technology

8 Tips to Make Your Care Calendar

Planning and managing a calendar Being a caregiver in the family requires time and effort in managing a lot of responsibilities for the loved one. It can feel like a full-time job, and at times, can be overwhelming. Caregiving centers around relationships and time. Two valuable gifts. When you share the responsibility with your friends and relatives, everything becomes a lot more manageable.

 A caregiver calendar will help you delegate important tasks and coordinate with others.  Organizing time and tasks helps avoid caregiver burnout as well as significantly improve the quality of care your loved one receives.

Read below for a few tips on making a calendar for your circle:

1. Make a list of everything that’s needed

Before you start delegating tasks, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the different things that need to be done to care for your loved one. It can be general tasks like routine bill payments or checkups, as well as very specific ones like a particular type of soap you need to use for sensitive skin. Take note of the length of time these tasks take to make sure that everyone can adequately make room to accomplish them in their schedule. 

2. Assess your helpers’ skills and schedules

Knowing your helpers’ skills and vacant time will help you decide which tasks you can delegate. If someone has a background in finance, then maybe they can help with handling the budget and expenses. If someone has a background in nutrition then maybe he or she can help take care of their diet. When it comes to coordinating schedules, if someone is working on the night shift, then maybe they can visit in the afternoon so you can step out to run errands. Knowing generally what everyone’s skills, hobbies and schedules are will help you create a caregiver calendar that benefits everyone. 

3. Create a schedule that works for everyone

Try mapping out a schedule that takes everyone’s skills, schedules, and interests into account. Create a few variations to know which one works best for all. It’s not just about the one giving care but also the one being cared for. Different conditions will require different kinds of care, from the duration, frequency, to the actual tasks themselves. 

Consult everyone involved and get their opinion. Clearly define the needs of the one being cared for, and the responsibilities of each caregiver. Most importantly, make sure that the one being cared for is on board and comfortable with the plans you’re making.

4. Keep everyone informed

It’s important that everyone generally understands the condition of the person they’re caring for.  This helps build your care circle camaraderie and to be consistent with the person you are taking care of. 

Of course, some information can be sensitive and shouldn’t be shared with the public. However, knowing the situation can actually make others spring into action and help out. Find a balance between what needs to be communicated to your caregiver group and what is better kept to a smaller group. 

5. Create a good working relationship

While we want to count on our family to lend us a helping hand, it’s very important to set boundaries and respect them—that’s why having a caregiver calendar is instrumental in helping everyone stay accountable when it comes to their assigned tasks, while allowing them to tend to other aspects of their lives. 

When it comes to caregiving, always proceed with compassion and patience, for the one you’re taking care of as well as the ones you’re sharing the responsibilities with. Consider their hours of work, whether or not they will have enough energy to do tasks right after their shift, or if they can help in some other way that doesn’t require them to be physically there. Respect their time and needs as well. 

Know what they’re comfortable with in terms of the help they can give. Some might be more willing to share their skills and time rather than help financially. Every kind of help matters. Take the time to let them know they’re appreciated.

6. Learn to prioritize

As you build your care calendar, you’ll notice certain patterns, overlaps, or inconsistencies. This is an opportunity to prioritize the needs of the one you’re taking care of. Identify which tasks are critical and time-bound versus flexible. What are the things you have to do personally and what are the tasks that you can delegate to other caregivers in your family? 

Take the time to teach other caregivers how certain tasks are done so that you can confidently leave those to them in the future. Find ways to lighten your load, so you can provide a consistent quality of care for your loved one. 

7. Simplify tasks

Learning to break down complex tasks can be an easy way to reduce the back-and-forth between caregivers in the family. Simplify tasks into easy steps to help guide them on what needs to be done. For example, if the task is to have a checkup, then it needs to be broken down into simpler tasks like setting up the appointment, getting certain tests done if needed, and the actual doctor’s appointment.  

This will allow other caregivers to chip in and volunteer to do the task if they have more capacity to help during that time. 

8. Take advantage of available technology

Nowadays, there are many ways to coordinate with caregivers in your family from group chats, to emails, to video calls. Make good use of these tools to efficiently communicate with others certain updates or changes to your care schedule. These also allow you to keep even the family members that are abroad or in another state up to speed, creating solidarity among everyone.

Keep your care calendar organized. Make sure that every caregiver is informed of pending tasks as well as other important updates with CircleOf. Privately share information and coordinate care conveniently and securely with the app so you can take care of your loved one, while also making sure not to forget to take care of yourself. Schedule in time for breaks and a bit of pampering for yourself knowing you have other caregivers to rely on.

References family


Five Lessons I Learned from Dad on Our Last Journey Together

Dad, a teacher by profession and a lifelong learner, was always there to offer advice and support throughout my upbringing. His values were firmly established in his early days on a farm and his character shaped during his time spent in the navy in World War II. While he was firmly set in his values, he was equally open-minded, curious by nature, and genuinely interested in people.

Caregiving with love respect and boundaries. Family road trips and love.

As a teacher, Dad had flexible summers and we could take long trips. The most memorable of these was a round trip from Florida to California in a used “sleeps four” camper that barely slept two. Mom, who was more of a city girl, reluctantly agreed to the trip, but spent most of her time just making sure that my brother and I didn’t kill each other in the backseat. And while Dad made sure to document the whole trip in photos, I built my postcard collection.

Family trips. Family vacation and road trips that set values that helped us with caregivng As a family caregiver our roles transitioned from Dad and daughter to caregiver and care recipient, and we both found ourselves at a low point in our lives.

Those summer adventures left an impression on me and I spent my adult years on the move always looking to see what was around the next corner, until my path and Dad’s converged again. On this new journey, our roles transitioned from Dad and daughter to caregiver and care recipient, and we both found ourselves at a low point in our lives. As we navigated our losses, Dad, directly and indirectly,  Here are five of those lessons that I carry with me today.

1. Boundaries work both ways, and safety and dignity are not mutually exclusive

Dad was relentless in his quest to teach me this lesson, and eventually, I came to agree that certain risks were Dad’s to take, even if it meant we might all participate in the consequences. In my attempt to keep Dad safe, I suppressed his spirit of adventure, the same spirit he had instilled in me.

We were both feeling trapped, resentful, and trying to break free from the chains of our new roles. I had set boundaries to protect my limits, but realized that Dad also had a right to establish boundaries. It wasn’t until I agreed to help him fulfill his desire to jump out of a plane on his 94th birthday that I finally learned this lesson.

2. When I acknowledged that we were both on a journey to a common destination, we could align our itineraries

Despite the fact that Dad had been a caregiver many times over, when I was explaining that I helped other family caregivers, he was confused by the term caregiver. He said, “If you’re the caregiver, what am I? The care victim?” We both laughed until it brought us to tears. I realized that just as caregiving did not come naturally to me, being cared for did not come naturally to Dad. Understanding that the destination of this last journey together was Dad’s end-of-life helped me better align my path with his and focus on making positive memories.

3. Winning is losing when fear and ego lead the conversation, so why not lead with curiosity?

At the beginning of my caregiving journey, the conflicts ranged from minor skirmishes to epic battles. One day I walked in to find Dad on a six-foot ladder trying to Velcro one of his paintings to the ceiling. After I made sure he got safely down the ladder, I asked, “So Dad, why are you putting a painting on the ceiling?” I could see that Dad’s motives were inspired by dignity, independence, and a desire for control and that my motives were most often inspired by protection and fear for Dad’s safety. But in asking that question, I found that when I replaced resistance, fear, and anger with curiosity I could better understand what drove Dad’s decisions.

4. We are where we are supposed to be. The greater the challenge, the greater opportunity for growth

At first, I viewed caregiving as an unwelcome side trip and put a lot of effort into getting back to my original journey. As time went by, I found that paddling against the current was exhausting and keeping me from stepping into the flow of my caregiving journey.

One day it hit me like a bolt of lightning that I hadn’t strayed from my scheduled journey. I realized that being Dad’s caregiver was part of it. When I embraced my place on the path next to Dad, I was able to experience the growth and learning that only a great challenge can offer. Gratitude for the challenge helped me shift from “I have to be a caregiver” to “I get to be a caregiver”.

5. Stay connected to your passions. They are self-care

Dad made oil paintings of landscapes despite the fact that his eyesight was going. I called it his Impressionism phase. He would get lost in paint and canvas, and this activity brought him so much joy.

I would note with amusement, awe, and a touch of jealousy that Dad could be carefree for hours, whereas my mind was always full of worry. But it also taught me that I, too, was allowed to get lost in activities that brought me joy. I also recognized that Dad’s painting sessions were a form of meditation and self-care that helped him thrive into his 99th year.

Dad continued to teach me life lessons during our time as travel partners on the caregiving journey. Adventure in life and living was his dignity. He kept teaching me.

Dad challenged me to be a better caregiver and, in the process, taught me lessons that will serve me well as I continue through life. You can read more about our journey and the strategies that helped us both thrive in, Navigating the Caregiver River: A Journey to Sustainable Caregiving, now available on Amazon.

Thank you and take care of your self as you take care of others.

Theresa Willbanks and her family continue to help other caregivers as they work on setting boundaries and staying close to the people you love and care for.  
We have other articles on the importance of boundaries for health and care support.


Top 5 Eye Problems Resulting From UV Exposure

We all know that UV radiation is harmful to our skin, but did you know that it can also cause a number of eye problems? These problems can range from minor irritation to severe damage that can lead to vision loss. Let’s take a look at the top five eye problems that can be caused by UV exposure!

5 Eye Conditions Caused By Sun Exposure

UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation. It has a shorter wavelength than visible light, making it invisible to the human eye. Sources of UV lights are the sun, video display terminals, high-intensity mercury vapor lamps, xenon arc lamps, and welder’s flash.

 Exposure to UV radiation can cause several eye problems, including:

1. Photokeratitis

Photokeratitis is an eye condition caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial light sources like tanning beds. Symptoms include pain, inflammation, and decreased vision. Treatment of photokeratitis usually involves resting your eyes, using cold compresses, and taking over-the-counter pain relief medications. If the condition persists or worsens, you should see an eye doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

2. Pinguecula

Pinguecula is a condition that can cause yellowish, bumpy growths on the white part of your eye. These growths are caused by long-term exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Over time, these rays can damage the proteins and cells in the eye’s outermost layer. This damage can lead to the development of pinguecula.

Pinguecula is a relatively common condition, affecting an estimated 2 to 3 percent of all Americans. It is seen more often in people who spend a lot of time outdoors, particularly in sunny climates. People with fair skin and light-colored eyes are also at higher risk for developing pinguecula.

Most people with pinguecula do not experience any symptoms. In some cases, however, the condition can cause redness, irritation, and blurred vision. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see an eye doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

3. Pterygium

A pterygium (wing) is a wedge-shaped piece of flesh that projects from the corner of the eye. A pterygium may be congenital but more often is an acquired condition. It may be caused by various factors, including sun exposure, dust, fumes, and wind.

Pterygia are benign and do not metastasize, but they may grow large enough to cause astigmatism, blurred vision, or even blindness. Sometimes, pterygium can grow large enough to cover part of the pupil and affect vision. If this happens, you may need surgery to remove the pterygium. Pterygia can be alarming, but they are usually painless and do not require any treatment unless they grow large enough to cause problems with vision.

4. Cataracts

Cataracts are a common eye condition that results from sun exposure. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage the proteins in the lens of your eye, causing them to break down and clump together. This leads to a decrease in vision and, eventually, cataracts.

While most people associate cataracts with aging, young people can also develop this condition. In fact, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), about 20 percent of Americans with cataracts are under age 40. 

Aside from UV exposure, there are several other risk factors for cataracts, including diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, certain medications (such as steroids), and previous eye injury or surgery.

You may experience symptoms such as blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night, and increased sensitivity to light if you have cataracts. In the early stages, you may be able to improve your vision with new glasses or contact lenses. However, if cataracts progress, you will likely need surgery to remove them.

5. Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a deterioration of the macula, the small central area of the retina that controls our fine vision. It’s estimated that 1.75 million people suffer from this condition, primarily affecting those over 60. Although many cases are mild and don’t result in vision loss, some can be more severe and lead to a decline in vision or even blindness. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. 

Dry macular degeneration is the most common type, accounting for about 80-90% of all cases. In this form of the disease, your macula slowly breaks down over time due to a buildup of waste products called drusen. While dry macular degeneration usually doesn’t lead to vision loss, it can progress to the wet form of the disease.

Wet macular degeneration is less common but more serious. In this form of the disease, abnormal blood vessels grow under your retina and leak fluid or blood. This can cause permanent damage to your macula and lead to a rapid decline in vision. Wet macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness. There is no cure for it yet, but there are treatments that can slow its progression and help preserve your vision.

Is someone from your family suffering from eye problems due to UV exposure? We know the struggles of being an unpaid caregiver to a loved one with disabilities like eye vision problems. To help you manage the stress and gather emotional support during these challenging times, we recommend you check the CircleOf app today!

The CircleOf app simplifies planning, communication, and finding resources for unpaid caregivers and patients. Download the app and give it a try. It’s free!


What Are the Different Types of Rehabilitation Facilities?

Some people are more likely than others to need special medical care. For example, if someone you care for has had a stroke or brain injury, they may require physical rehabilitation services at a facility that can help them recover their mobility and resume living life fully again.
A person with Parkinson’s disease might also find value in these types of programs that focus on improving strength training techniques so as not to worsen symptoms caused by rigidity from decreased muscle control.
There are various types of rehabilitation facilities, each with its focus and level of care. The type of facility that’s right for someone will depend on their individual needs.

Long-term Acute Care Facilities

Long-term acute care facilities (LTACs) are a specific type of facility that provides care for patients with complex medical needs. LTACs are often used when patients no longer need the level of care provided by a hospital but still require more care than can be provided at home or in a nursing home.
LTACs usually have a team of specialists who work together to create a treatment plan for each patient. This team may include doctors, nurses, therapists, and other health care professionals. The goal of treatment is to help patients improve their health and quality of life.
Patients in an LTAC often have chronic illnesses or face multiple health problems. They may need help with activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, and bathing. They may also need assistance with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility

Inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) are another type of rehabilitation facility that provides care for patients who have had a recent hospital stay and need more time to recover before going home. IRFs are designed to help patients regain their independence. The care team at an IRF will create a custom rehabilitation plan for each patient. Inpatient rehabilitation facilities provide around-the-clock care for people recovering from severe injuries or illnesses.
According to occupational therapist Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L, of Emory Healthcare in Atlanta and founder of, “Inpatient rehabilitation is the most aggressive, with patients having 3 hours a day of therapy about five days per week.” The length of stay at an IRF will vary from patient to patient. Some patients may only need a few days of care, while others may need a few weeks.

Skilled Nursing Facility

Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are rehabilitation centers that provide care for people who need skilled nursing or rehabilitation services. SNFs can be stand-alone facilities or part of a larger hospital complex. Services typically provided in an SNF include 24-hour RN coverage, Physical Therapy (PT), Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech Therapy, and long-term care.

A Skilled Nursing Facility is necessary when an individual can no longer complete activities of daily living (ADLs) on their own and requires assistance. The most common reason a person needs an SNF is because they are recovering from a surgery, illness, or injury and need help with activities such as bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, and eating. Some people also need skilled nursing care if they have a chronic illness such as dementia, heart failure, or diabetes.

How Therapy Helps

Physical rehabilitation facilities offer medical care and therapies to help patients recover from an injury or illness. There are many different types of therapies, but the goal of each one is to help patients regain their independence. 

The role of therapy in getting patients stronger is to help them regain lost function and improve their quality of life. therapies in physical rehabilitation facilities are a key part of this process, as they can help patients relearn how to perform everyday activities and build up their strength. “They are instrumental in working together to address each client’s deficits and improve independence and their level of function,” Stromsdorfer says. All these therapies aim to help the patient live as independently as possible.

  • Occupational helps patients regain their ability to perform activities of daily living. Occupational therapists teach patients how to do everyday tasks, such as dressing, eating, and bathing.
  • Speech therapy helps patients regain their ability to communicate. In addition, speech therapists work with patients to help them improve their speaking skills.
  • Physiotherapists can help them regain movement in their limbs.
  • Physical therapy helps patients regain their strength and mobility using exercises and other techniques to help patients improve their movement.

Find Your Options for Rehabilitation Services

As a family caregiver, you should be familiar with all the options for rehabilitation services to ensure that your loved ones are getting the best care they need. According to Stromsdorfer, the hospital’s therapist assesses the patient’s level of function and determines the best rehab for their case. “Don’t feel like you are alone in this decision as your acute care therapists and case managers are trained to help you with this decision,” she added.

If you’re finding it hard to decide the best rehab options, it is better to ask for help from a circle of care that may include family members, friends, and the community. With this, our CircleOf app can help. We keep you connected with your support networks and even provide resources to discover new caregiving tools, experts, and information.

When you’re overwhelmed with all the family caregiving ideas, download the app (for FREE) and get things done the stress-free way!


10 Senior Caregiver Duties You May Do

No one ever expects to end up being a caregiver for their elderly parent or loved one, but it can be a challenging and rewarding job all at the same time. If you’re in this position, it’s important to know what duties you may be responsible for.

What is a caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who provides unpaid care to a family member, friend, or neighbor who is unable to care for themselves due to illness, old age, or disability.

Caregiving can be extremely demanding both emotionally and physically and can take a toll on caregivers’ own health. In fact, according to a study on family caregiving by Statistics Canada, having too many tasks and responsibilities when caring for a family member or friend can be a major source of stress, especially when caregivers feel they lack the resources to meet the needs of their care receiver.

To best care for their loved ones, caregivers should take time for themselves and get the support they need. Whether it’s building a support team, or taking a break through respite care, it is crucial to regain a sense of balance and joy in this challenging time.

What Is The Role Of A Senior Caregiver?

The role of a senior caregiver is often undervalued and unpaid. However, family caregivers play a critical role in the long-term health and well-being of their loved ones.

1. Caregivers assess medical needs.

Good caregivers always assess the medical needs of their patients and work to ensure that those needs are being met. They are often the first line of defense when it comes to noticing changes in a loved one’s health. Caregivers may also be responsible for administering medication or treatments, so it’s important that they are able to identify any potential health problems and take the necessary steps to address them.

2. Caregivers prepare a care plan.

Typically, a care plan is prepared in consultation with the individual they are caring for and other involved parties, such as doctors, nurses, and family members. The care plan covers all aspects of the individual’s care and includes goals, interventions, and monitoring tools. This helps ensure that all necessary tasks are completed and that the client receives the highest possible level of care. The care plan also serves as a communication tool between the caregiver and the client’s family or other involved parties.

3. Caregivers assist with basic needs.

There are varying levels of assistance with activities of daily living that caregivers provide, depending on the individual’s needs. Assistance may be limited to delivering environmental support, such as reminding individuals to take their medications or eat breakfast. For individuals with more significant needs, caregivers may provide hands-on personal care, such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. In some cases, caregivers may also need to help with basic needs such as eating and using the bathroom.

Caregivers provide companionship.

4. Caregivers provide companionship.

This is often one of the most important aspects of their job, as many seniors or people with illnesses may be isolated and lonely. Companionship can help improve mental and emotional well-being and make life more enjoyable. They offer support and friendship to people who may not have anyone else to turn to. This can be a very important service for people who are isolated or otherwise unable to socialize regularly.

5. Caregivers help with housekeeping.

Many caregivers do help with housekeeping. This can be a great benefit to the elderly person they are caring for, as it can help keep their home clean and organized. Some people only need help with basic housekeeping tasks such as cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping, while others require more intensive assistance such as medication reminders or help with mobility.

6. Caregivers monitor medications.

Caregivers often monitor medications, especially if they are caring for an elderly or disabled person. Sometimes, caregivers will be responsible for administering medications, while in other cases, they will simply remind the person taking the medication when and how to take it. Either way, the caregiver must be aware of all medications being taken by the person in their care and any potential interactions between those medications.

7. Caregivers assess the care plan regularly.

Assessing their care plan regularly will ensure that they are providing the best possible care for their elderly patients. This includes evaluating the patient’s condition and needs and making any necessary changes to the care plan to ensure that it meets those needs. Caregivers should also be sure to communicate with their patients and their families about the care plan so that everyone is aware of what is going on and everyone is on the same page. By regularly assessing and tweaking their care plan, caregivers can provide high-quality, individualized care for their patients.

8. Caregivers prepare meals.

In general, caregivers often play a role in preparing meals for senior patients. This can include cooking meals from scratch, helping to order food from a restaurant or grocery store, or preparing frozen meals. Caregivers may also be responsible for ensuring that seniors receive enough nutrition and hydration, which can be especially important for those unable to cook or shop for themselves. In some cases, caregivers may also be responsible for feeding senior patients directly.

9. Caregivers assist with transfer and mobility.

As a caregiver, you may be assisting with transfers and mobility for your loved one. This can include helping to move them from their bed to a chair or aiding in their ambulation if they are able to walk on their own. In some cases, caregivers may also be able to provide some physical assistance with transfers. For example, they may be able to help an individual stand up from a seated position or move from one chair to another.

10. Caregivers provide transportation.

Caregivers often provide transportation for senior patients. This can be important for older adults who need help getting to doctor appointments or other necessary appointments. It can also be helpful for seniors who need assistance with grocery shopping or running errands.

Overcoming The Caregiving Isolation

It’s no secret that taking care of elderly family members can be a challenging task. Not only do you have to worry about their physical and emotional well-being, but you also have to manage your own busy life at the same time. In fact, there are a lot of consequences associated with caregiving responsibilities, like increased risk for stress and burnout.

However, there are ways that caregivers can overcome the challenges caregiving presents. One way to combat isolation is to build a support group. This includes family members, neighbors, or the community. But how do you do that?

If you’re a family caregiver, Circleof is the app for you. It allows you to connect with your support team, who understands the unique challenges you’re facing. You can organize and collaborate with them easily, and maintain regular communication so that everyone is on the same page. Download Circleof today to build your own circle of care!


How To Assemble The Right Care Team and Get The Support You Need

A health crisis can dawn upon you or your loved ones at any moment in life without any prior warning. Whether we are an adult or child, single or married, young or old, the health care needs of our family members should always be non-negotiable. It creates a challenging time that can be overwhelming, so it’s crucial to establish a reliable and efficient support system.

3 Ways to Make a Care Team

A core care team can help you manage your everyday caregiving responsibilities. This team may include close friends and family members or even close neighbors who can help with the day-to-day tasks and activities. A carefully selected caregiving team will make taking care of a loved one more manageable for you and make the sick person’s life better But, how do you effectively create a care team? Here are some tips to consider:

1. Identify Your Personal Needs

Before you can start assembling your care team, it’s essential to evaluate your health and daily needs. For example, do you have any chronic illnesses or disabilities that require ongoing support? Do you need help with daily activities like cooking and cleaning, or is it more about emotional support? Consider your own needs when determining what type of help you need from your care team.

2. Identify The Right Core Team Members

Once you have an idea of the kind of help you need, start reaching out to family and friends who you can deeply rely on and are happy and willing to help you in your health care journey. Apart from family members, this team can also include co-workers, neighbors, or anyone in your community. Keep in mind that you don’t have to rely solely on blood relatives – anyone who is supportive and genuinely cares for you can be a valuable member of your team. It’s ideal if you keep the size of the team to up to 5 members as it can avoid unwanted confusion and communication gap. 

3. Have An Honest Conversation

Once you’ve identified potential care team members, it’s a must to have an open and honest conversation about your needs and expectations. It can help ensure that everyone is on the same page. It’s also crucial to discuss what each person is comfortable with and their availability daily.

Read more: The Cost of at-Home Dementia Care

Download the Free Circle off App

Upon making an account on your CircleOf App, you can easily manage every daily caregiving activity. It’s a one-stop solution to manage and organize all your caregiving tasks. With the endless features of the app, such as real-time calendars, group messaging, and video calling, it gets highly convenient for your core team to execute the health care plan. Not just for the team but for the individual as well, the CircleOf is an excellent medium to connect with people going through similar circumstances. Suppose your core team faces challenges in managing your daily health care routine. In that case, there are ample resources constantly updated in the app to educate the team about taking care of their loved ones.

· Review And Update Regularly

 Like any other new change, it will take time to figure out the best caregiving routine for a specific individual. As a person’s needs change over a while, it’s essential to review your care team and ensure that everyone can still meet your needs. It might mean adding or adjusting their roles as needed. Keeping your care team up-to-date with the Circleof push notifications ensures that you get the support and help you need from those who can best provide it at a given time.

Assembling a good care team can be challenging, but with the right approach, it is possible. By being honest, open, and communicative with your team members, you can build a strong support network that will help you manage your mental health and the overall health of your loved ones more effectively.

Read more: 3 Tips That Make Dementia Care Less Frustrating

What Are The Importance Of Building A Care Team?

The importance of building a care team cannot be understated:

  1. It allows you to have a group of people dedicated to helping you with your care needs. You can be like an open book to them who you can share your happiness, sorrow, and even anger with.
  2. It can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed by your care responsibilities. Having a team can help share the load and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  3. It can help you find the support available for you and your caregivers.

 Having a team in place can help everyone stay positive and focused on providing quality care. Lastly, it can provide peace of mind knowing that a group of people are ready and willing to help you with whatever you need.

A care team provides support, advocacy, and education to patients and their families. They are an invaluable resource, offering guidance and assistance to both the patient and the individuals responsible for taking care of the family member. Furthermore, a care team can provide much-needed emotional support during what is often a very stressful time.

Read more: 7 Practical Yet Simple Steps to Improved Family Communication

When communicating with your care team, it’s important to be clear and concise. Be sure to include all relevant information when sending out updates, and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you’re unclear about something.

Effectively connect with your care team by utilizing a communication and organizing app like CircleOf. It’s the perfect tool to collaborate with your care team and quickly seek support when needed. You can take advantage of its unique features and build your all-star care team today!

Caregiving Dementia

3 Tips That Make Dementia Care Less Frustrating

When I tell people that I provide dementia care, the most common response is an exclamation of sympathy and a comment about how patient I must be. I know dementia caregiver stress is legitimate for many reasons and I can understand their reactions. But I’m not a particularly patient person and I rarely feel called upon to be patient with my clients. Why is that?

The secret to a more enjoyable experience in caring for someone who has dementia lies in our expectations. Here’s what my expectations are when I’m with someone who has dementia.

1—Reminders and memory-jogging will not work with dementia

When I was raising my children, I spent a lot of time explaining what they needed to do and then reminding them of what they had forgotten. When they had a test at school, I helped them by quizzing them on spelling words, times tables, and history facts. I expected repetition and reminders to be effective. They were effective, because my children had the ability to retrace their thought processes and recall information.

With my dementia clients, I do not expect memory testing to work. People experiencing dementia are losing memories, but they are also losing the ability to remember. Quizzing them or jogging their memory will not help them remember. It will only make them feel embarrassed, inadequate, and lost. Instead of trying to jog their memory, I happily repeat whatever information they need, whenever they need it. My expectations are aligned with their abilities.

2—A person with dementia will read my feelings and moods expertly

I expect people who are experiencing dementia to be operating without rational thought, yet their intuitive thought systems to be operating normally. This means that they will be experiencing none of the distraction our rational thought systems provide and have all the more time to read my feelings and moods.

Whenever I am with someone experiencing dementia, I assume the role of mood creator. I make sure that I am not radiating sadness, concern, or amazement at their impairments. For both of us, I am looking for something beautiful, funny, or heartwarming to enjoy. There is always something from one of those categories available in the present. If not, we go for a walk or drive to find it. I know managing mood is my responsibility.

Build your own circle of care

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3—Rational thought will not be available to someone with dementia

I think of dementia and rational thought in terms of functions. The top three functions I do not expect my clients to be able to perform are seeing cause and effect, prioritizing ideas or actions, and being able to follow the steps of a task or sequence. Because I don’t expect them to be able to do these things, I don’t become frustrated when they can’t. I understand that they don’t have those skills and use my own when they’re necessary.

So, although it seems obvious to me that icy sidewalks mean dangerous walking, I don’t expect it to be apparent to my clients. And when we need to get ready to go somewhere on time, I focus our attention on the next thing that needs to be done, not on the destination or looming deadline. When a task needs to be done, we do it together as teammates.

When our expectations match our companions’ capabilities, there is less dementia caregiver stress and less stress for the person experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s. This is the secret to lowering frustration and stress for both partners in the dementia care experience.

Judy Cornish is a former eldercare lawyer and the former owner of Palouse Dementia Care, a dementia care agency that provides in-home dementia care to seniors in northern Idaho. She is the author of Dementia With Dignity and The Dementia Handbook as well as the creator of the DAWN Method of dementia care. Judy believes that with a little training, families can provide excellent dementia care at home with less stress and more companionship.