Category Archives for Caregivers

Spring Cleaning…for SAFETY!

AT MARISA HOME CARE, we know that every one of our clients would like to recover from illness or surgery in the comfort of their own home. We know that elderly clients want to live out their lives surrounded by the homey space that contains their beloved memories and reinforces their daily routines…
We also understand the many environmental barriers that prevent people from returning home after a hospital stay, and the physical limitations sometimes imposed by the aging process.
Much of our work at Marisa is providing the person-to-person, short or long-term care that enables a client to remain at home as long as possible. Our caregivers perform household chores, cook, help with personal hygiene and provide transportation to doctor appointments and family events. Care-giving is our business and we are grateful to be able to assist families in need of a helping hand.
We also want our client families to know that there are simple accommodations they can put in place to make living at home a safer option for their loved one — accommodations that may help prevent a hospital stay or delay a move to assisted living if implemented proactively!  
For example, over 27,000 older Americans actually die each year from fall-related complications, and the number is growing as Baby Boomers age into retirement. We’ve created a Marisa Home Safety Checklist as an aid in home fall-prevention and as an overall guide to creating a safer, more accessible living zone for our clients.
We hope you will make the checklist part of your Spring Cleaning routine for yourself or an aging parent. Walk through the house with the list in hand and make notes; what simple actions can you take to create a secure space? It’s heartbreaking to leave a house permanently when living at home becomes impossible, and our wish is to give you options that will increase the quality of life for you and your family.


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How to Know When a Parent Needs Help

Caring Hands“Do you need me to go grocery-shopping for you, Mom?” I asked, opening the door to her refrigerator. It took a moment to realize that I was staring at all of the unopened food I had purchased for her the week before.

“No,” my mother answered from the dining room. “I don’t have a big appetite. I just start with a can of Ensure in the morning.” I pulled opened the freezer. It was packed solid –mostly with all of the groceries I’d delivered to her over the past several weeks.

My mom needed some assistance with meal preparation to overcome a diminished appetite, but because she was a capable and independent person I had missed the signs. If I’d known about the ADL and IADL resources I could have periodically  reviewed the checklists with my mom and opened up a conversation on how to head off small issues before they became big health problems…

There are basic living tasks that represent a person’s healthy ability to live at home. These are known throughout the senior care industry as Activities of Daily Living (ADL), and a person’s abilities are judged by how well they are able to accomplish…

  1. Personal hygiene
  2. Dressing
  3. Eating
  4. Continence
  5. Transferring (moving; standing up and sitting down)

There are more advanced tasks, the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL), that are related to performing the essential ADL tasks — and they are just as important for safe, independent living. Can a person appropriately…

  • Use communication devices?
  • Arrange for transportation?
  • Shop for food or clothing?
  • Do simple housework or laundry chores?
  • Safely manage their medications?
  • Pay their bills (and avoid financial scams)
  • Prepare food and keep prep space clean?

Using ADL /IADL as a checklist is a good way to gauge when a parent or patient could use extra help or home modifications. For example, can your elderly mother use the toilet? (ADL) And, in related moves, can she get herself to the bathroom, use toilet paper, pull up and fasten her clothing and wash her hands? (IADL) Using a checklist helps you think of solutions; maybe all mom needs are some well-placed grab bars and elastic-waisted pants to maintain continence and independence.

To keep an elderly person in his or her home as long as possible, a home care agency is often brought in to help with both ADL and IADL tasks. Post-surgical patients who wish to keep a rehabilitative stay in assisted living to a minimum are also candidates for home care — and usually welcome the opportunity to heal with caregiver help in their own home and on their own schedule.

 The ADL not on the list

With a growing number of Baby Boomers reaching senior-status, the gap between caregiver demand and caregiver availability is rapidly widening. Senior technology is attempting to bridge the home caregiver shortage with virtual caregivers via home monitors and safety alert devices that perform simple tasks. More immediately, technology gives older citizens the opportunity to pay to participate in services provided by virtual senior centers and virtual retirement communities. Connectivity also addresses a serious senior issue NOT on the ADL/IADL checklists — but perhaps it should be: isolation.

In How to End the Senior Loneliness Epidemic, author Melanie Haiken quotes Geriatrician Carla Perissinotto of the University of California, San Francisco: “Assessment of loneliness is not routine in clinical practice and it may be viewed as beyond the scope of medical practice. However, loneliness may be as important a predictor of adverse health outcomes as many traditional medical risk factors.”

In analyzing data from the National Institute on Aging’s Health and Retirement Study, Perissinotto also found that “adults age 60 or older who identified themselves as lonely were 59 percent more likely to experience decline in their ability to perform daily activities and had a 45 percent higher likelihood of dying.”

A safety monitoring system, online groups and a computer may be important components of helping a parent combat isolation and live independently at home, but a human caregiver from a reputable agency may bring a life-extending social element into your mom or dad’s circle of care. Older parents may require help with cooking, showering, shopping and vacuuming, but to stay healthy they may equally need human touch, conversation, empathy and laughter.

Once you know a parent needs help, Marisa Home Care will be there, in person, to help you and your family.


By Jean MacLeod for Marisa Home Care

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Caring Hands

“Was it one pill at 2:00 PM…or two pills at 1:00 PM?”

Medication Management & Safety for Caregivers


There has been a lot of recent news coverage on the ‘Opioid Epidemic’.  The focus has been on the overuse and abuse of these powerful painkillers, and while these drugs can become addicting they are also our frontline defense against extreme chronic pain.

Learn: Opiate, Opioid, Narcotic – What’s the Difference?


When a family member has been prescribed narcotics for healing and pain management, it is important to monitor for correct usage to keep the patient both safe and comfortable.

As a caregiver, there are some actions you can take that will simplify dispensing narcotics and other types of medication, and help you stay on top of your family member’s health.

ALL the Meds

First, check with ALL of your family member’s doctors and pharmacists to put together a complete list of medications and potential drug interactions. Patients often have several physicians for varying issues, who may not know there are other medical personnel or multiple pharmacies involved.

You can also search the internet for interactions caused by the wrong combination of drugs, or for medicines contraindicated for specific health conditions or allergies. It is important to know the health history of your family member, so you can advocate against a potentially disastrous prescription or drug combination.

Ensure that your family member continues a full dose of prescribed medication for the correct amount of time and doesn’t try to save money by cutting pills in half.

Get Organized!

Does this look like your bathroom counter?

Pill bottles in basket

Throwing all the patient’s pill bottles in a basket is a recipe for mixing up or missing meds — and disorganization can be dangerous. Here are some ideas to keep pill-taking orderly and on track:

  • Pill Reminders allow you to set up an entire week of medication dispensing by day and time. These plastic, compartmentalized boxes should be see-through, and have removable pill slots so a patient can take pills to-go when away from home for the day. Pricing can range from just a few dollars for a basic pill reminder model, to a couple of hundred dollars for an automated pill ‘tracking system’
  • Medication reminder APPS for smartphones send a message or beep an alarm to remind either the patient or the caregiver about medicine in a timely manner
  • Refrigerator visuals are basic, but a check-off chart in plain view can offer a methodical safeguard against too little or too much medication
  • Other creative med reminder ideas to consider

Pills in a dispenser box marked with days of week

The Hospice Option

Another resource to assist with medication management is hospice care. The old vision of hospice was of a place where people went to die, but hospice has evolved into a system of in-home, modern-day pain management – helping medically compromised people live out their lives in comfort.

A patient must first be admitted to hospice under a medical diagnosis that fits hospice coding, and the patient must be willing to forego ‘life-prolonging’ treatment. This does not mean a patient’s physical needs are ignored, but the hospice medical team will treat the patient with medication to maintain quality of life rather than use invasive, life-extending procedures.

Home Care Help

A reputable home care agency can provide professional caregivers and nursing staff, for both short-term and long-term situations. Marisa Home Care staff can accompany a patient to a doctor’s appointment and translate a medical diagnosis or care updates for family members living out of state. Medication management and in-home patient care is a 24/7 job, and a family caregiver deserves the partnership with supportive, affordable assistance whenever feasible. ~

Marisa Home Care logo of Turquoise Flower with Company Name



We’re here to help: visit Marisa Home Care online for free resources or call us NOW at 248.354.7600.



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