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Seven Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles for Seniors with Dementia

Seven Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles for Seniors with Dementia

As children, a challenging jigsaw puzzle could keep us occupied for hours. Not only was it fun to sit together as a family, jigsaw puzzles helped develop spatial and visual skills as we grew up. Although our parents never told us that. These aptitudes follow us into adulthood, but can fade, especially for seniors living with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Piecing together a jigsaw puzzle is excellent exercise for the brain to hone these skills again. There are other benefits to making jigsaw puzzles. Here are seven benefits for seniors with Dementia:

  1. It’s a Brain Workout – Making a puzzle uses both sides of the brain. While the right side is exercising the creative thoughts of the image on the puzzle, the left side is using logic and reason to piece the puzzle together.
  2. It Makes Them More Focused – And when they are focused on a task, they are less agitated. Puzzles require concentration, which can help loved ones relax.
  3. Increased Memory and Perception – Depending on the image, the puzzle can jog the senior’s memory. They can still recall holiday scenes or classic images from magazine covers like Norman Rockwell paintings, and spark conversations.
  4. Interaction with Others – While puzzles can be a solitary activity, making one with someone else can provide conversation, collaboration and shared accomplishments.
  5. Improved Physical Health – A calmer disposition and lower stress levels benefit the physical body as well as the mental health of a person. The less agitated a senior is, the better their overall health will be.
  6. Slower Decline of Cognitive Functioning – In a recent study, researchers found that seniors with memory loss who worked on puzzles for 45 minutes two times a week had improved scores on memory tests. These improvements accounted for approximately six to nine months delay in symptoms or decline.
  7. A Sense of Purpose – feeling a sense of accomplishment can be rare for people with Alzheimer’s. Those tasks they used to do with ease can cause frustration now. A simple project, such as finishing a puzzle, can give them a big boost in pride and sense of purpose.

Although there are many benefits to making jigsaw puzzles, not all puzzles are appropriate.  Too many pieces will cause frustration. Small pieces can be difficult for them to pick up. Monochromatic or detailed images may be too difficult to decipher.

Pick a puzzle that might elicit pleasant memories. Place it on a surface where there is plenty of light. A white tablecloth will help the senior distinguish the darker pieces against a light background.

Spend time with your loved ones while they work on the puzzle. Don’t make the puzzle for them, but guide them when they seem to get agitated. The activity will be fun for both of you.

If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Care Services in Park Ridge IL, please contact the caring staff at Inspired Care Home Health today. Call and talk to our friendly caring staff at 847-787-7572.

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Five Tips for Improving Senior Dental Care

Five Tips for Improving Senior Dental Care

We are taught from a young age about the importance of dental care. Aside from the cavities that can develop in children and adults, more risks arise as we age. Poor dental health can affect overall physical health, nutrition and well-being.

Keeping natural teeth is an important goal for seniors, because it’s easier for them to eat. Healthy eating in turn reduces inflammation and infections of the teeth and gums, thus reducing the risks of medical conditions such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s. If your loved one already has Alzheimer’s, they will probably need your help. Day-to-day activities are a challenge for them as their memory skills decrease.

Here are five tips for helping your elderly loved ones care for their teeth.

  1. Purchase an electric toothbrush. Conditions such as arthritis, weakness and hand tremors can make it difficult for seniors to hold a toothbrush. An electric toothbrush with a wide, easy-to-grip handle will help. If you don’t think they will be able to operate an electric model, another option is to modify a standard toothbrush with Velcro or a large handle.
  2. Remind them to brush. Gentle reminders will coax them to brush their teeth. Gain their attention with a light touch or signal before beginning to speak. Talk clearly and softly, and face them when talking.
  3. Brush or rinse after every meal. Because trapped food particles can cause bacteria, it’s important for the senior to brush after every meal. Build this into their daily routine.
  4. Help them. If they have difficulty brushing their teeth, offer to help. This may not be easy because they usually don’t want to have someone else stick something in their mouth. Here’s a technique you can use. Stand on their dominant side, holding the brush. Have them hold your hand as you gently brush their teeth. Place your other hand on their opposite shoulder, pressing gently to distract them from the brushing.
  5. Keep them hydrated. In addition to the natural process of aging, many medications can cause a decrease in the amount of saliva. Limit their intake of alcoholic beverages and beverages high in sugar or caffeine, such as juices, sodas, teas or coffee (especially sweetened). Dry mouth can lead to mucositis, caries, cracked lips, and fissured tongue.

It’s important to ensure your loved one maintain proper dental care. Otherwise, their health will suffer and that will lead to unwanted complications. Aside from the health problems, you probably don’t want to have your loved one face the experience of a visit to the dentist’s office.  Keep their teeth healthy to avoid this risk.

Sources: DailyCaring.com, ADA.org

If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Care Services in Barrington, IL, please contact the caring staff at Inspired Care Home Health today. Call and talk to our friendly caring staff at 847-787-7572.

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Five Tips for Handling Stress in Alzheimer’s Patients

Five Tips for Handling Stress in Alzheimer’s Patients

Seniors with Alzheimer’s are often sensitive to their surroundings. They may begin to feel anxious or agitated.  They move around or become upset in certain places. This anxiety may be caused by medical conditions, medication interactions or from being in unfamiliar situations. They are reacting to their inability to negotiate new environments. These symptoms often occur when they move to a new residence, have a new caregiver, or are hospitalized.

Knowing how to handle their anxiety will ease their worry.  Here are five tips for handling stress in Alzheimer’s patients.

  1. Reduce Noise – Sound can cause undue stress on a person living with dementia. If sound reverberates too much it can agitate and disorientate the senior. Decorate their space with noise-absorbing materials like carpets and curtains. If outside noises are too bothersome, keep the windows shut. However, silence can be just as disturbing as noise, so adding soft, gentle background music helps.
  2. Improve Lighting – Lighting is important for people living with dementia. Since people with dementia are often older, they may be struggling with their sight. Keep all rooms well lit. Use natural light as much as possible, and when using electrical lights, use the highest wattage possible for the fixture. Place the lamps and lighting carefully, so there aren’t dark corners in a room. Shadows can make a person with dementia feel scared and distressed.
  3. Monitor Comfort – How is the senior feeling? Are they hungry? Thirsty? Do they need to use the bathroom? Are they tired? Perhaps they have a medical condition that is irritating them. Or the room may be too warm or too cold, making them uncomfortable. Be sensitive to their fears and discomfort, and help them express what is bothering them.
  4. Provide Reassurance – Speak slowly, clearly, and rhythmically when you see them becoming agitated. Take their hands in yours, using the hand over hand method, which is the safest position to use when someone is panicking. They won’t be able to grab you, and you’ll be able to pump their palm to add pressure in the hand to help calm them. Once they’re feeling calmer and safer, you can get back to the original care task. Keep instructions very simple and brief.
  5. Simplify Tasks – For someone who is living with dementia, losing items can be common. It can also be incredibly stressful. Ensure that everyday items such as toothbrush, slippers, etc. are easy to find and within reaching distance. Place stickers on the cupboards, naming what can be found within them. Pictures are a good option also, as they may begin to forget the meaning of words. Another option is to replace cupboard doors with glass doors so all the items inside can be seen. This will encourage a person with dementia to be as independent as possible, and help eliminate any stress when they are looking for something.

If the senior’s symptoms begin to worsen, or are uncharacteristically reactive, see the person’s primary care physician to rule out any physical causes or medication-related side effects.

Sources: www.alz.org, www.dailycaring.com

If you or an aging loved-one are considering Senior Care in DesPlaines, IL, please contact the caring staff at Inspired Care Home Health today. Call and talk to our friendly caring staff at 847-787-7572.

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Five Ways to Cope with Sundowning

Five Ways to Cope with Sundowning

As dusk settles on the day, people with Alzheimer’s and dementia may have increased behavioral problems or difficulty sleeping. These symptoms are known as sundowning, and may last into the night. Sundowning is also known as late-day confusion, and becomes prevalent in mid-stage to advanced dementia. Because sundowning continues into the night, it’s hard for people with Alzheimer’s to fall asleep and stay in bed. As a result, they and their caregivers may have trouble getting enough sleep and functioning well during the day.

Here are five ways to help your loved one cope with sundowning.

  1. Stick to a Schedule – People with dementia have trouble learning new routines. When introduced to something new, they can become stressed, which can lead to sleeplessness. Keeping them on the same schedule every day will help them to be more calm and collected and sleep better at night.
  2. Keep it Light – Turn on lights in the evening and keep the home as well-lit as possible. Brighten the lights with higher wattage bulbs. And close the draperies at dusk to minimize the shadows.
  3. Keep them Active – People with sundowning have trouble sleeping at night, which results in fatigue. Fatigue in turn, can trigger sundowning, which creates a vicious cycle. Those suffering from fatigue may want to sleep more during the day. This makes it difficult to fall asleep at night. Keeping seniors awake and active during the day can decrease sundowning smptoms at night.
  4. Avoid Stimulants – There are foods and activities which may contribute to sleeplessness. Seniors who are experiencing sundowning should avoid nicotine, alcohol and beverages with caffeine. They should eat a light meal at night to feel more comfortable. Also, discourage watching television when they wake up at night, as it may stimulate the senior.
  5. Create a Calm Environment – For someone with dementia, the world can be a scary place. Comfort and familiarity helps them cope. Fill your loved one’s life and home with items they find comforting. Furnish their space with cherished items such as family photos, special mementos, and their favorite blanket. This may help ease the transition and curb their sundowning symptoms.

If the person with dementia is awake and upset at night, approach him or her in a calm manner. Never argue with them, but try to find out what they might need. Offer reassurance and try to get them back in bed without using physical restraint. A little understanding goes a long way.

If you or an aging loved-one are considering Senior Care in Inverness, IL, please contact the caring staff at Inspired Care Home Health today. Call and talk to our friendly caring staff at 847-787-7572.

Sources: Healthline.com, Alz.org, Alzheimers.org

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The Effects of Bad Air on Senior Health

The Effects of Bad Air on Senior Health

As temperatures rise during the summer months, air quality decreases. This makes breathing difficult for those who have respiratory ailments or heart problems, and can also make healthy people more susceptible to respiratory infections. Air pollution and smog aggravate heart disease, lung disease, asthma and diabetes, among other ailments.

While younger people can adapt to these changes, seniors are more susceptible to this environmental hazard. Their bodies are less able to compensate for the fine particle pollutants. They’ve breathed in more pollutants than younger people over their lifetime, and perhaps have been smoking for a good part of their lives, or grown up in a household with smokers. In addition, their lungs are less elastic and less able to filter out polluted air than when they were younger. As a result, they have weaker immune systems and have more difficulty fighting infections. They may end up requiring more medications, have more visits to their physician, and more visits to the emergency room, adding to their already high medical bills. In extreme cases, they may even die.

So how can seniors be kept safe when air quality decreases?

First of all, they should be made aware of any health concerns they have that can be made worse by air pollution. Their caretakers should be informed of these ailments also, and be taught to watch for signs of complications. When pollution is high and advisories are issued, seniors should refrain from strenuous outside activities. They should also stay indoors.

Air quality inside the home should also be monitored. The air inside the home can quickly become just as bad as outside when the house is kept locked tight with the air conditioning running. Invest in good-quality air filters, one with a HEPA filter to clean pollen and dust from the air, and one with a carbon-activated filter to remove foul odors and gaseous chemicals. A HEPA filter must be cleaned often to prevent it from becoming clogged.

If the air quality is especially poor outside, it may take a few days for the body to recover. And if someone is regularly exposed to high levels of unhealthy air, the health consequences can linger for months or even years.

If a senior has plans to be outside, be sure to track air quality in their area by checking newspapers, listening to the radio or visiting online sites. If someone you know has asthma or other lung conditions, be sure they take extra cautions when air quality is poor.

Source: National Institutes of Health

If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Care Services in Lake Zurich, IL, please contact the caring staff at Inspired Care Home Health today. Call and talk to our friendly caring staff at 847-787-7572.

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Five Ways to Help a Family Living with Alzheimer’s

Five Ways to Help a Family Living with Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.7 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s Disease. And there are more than 15 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers taking care of them. Odds are that you have someone in your family with the disease, or know someone who does. You may have witnessed or lived with the strain of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s. The disease takes a toll on everyone around them, not just the patient.

Here are five helpful ways you can lend a hand to the person with Alzheimer’s or their caretakers.

  1. Educate yourself about the disease – learn to recognize the signs and stages of the disease. What behavioral changes can you expect over the coming months? How should you address each of these changes? Learn how it affects family members and how to respond. Be patient, as the disease affects patients and families differently.
  2. Offer to help – This can be a simple trip to the grocery store, a warm meal brought to their table, or a car ride to the doctor. Or offer a reprieve. Spend time with the person living with dementia so family members can go out and visit with friends. Taking away just one responsibility will ease the burden on the caregiver.
  3. Engage with the senior– If you visit, don’t ignore them or talk over their heads. Talk directly to them with a smile on your face. Listen patiently as they struggle to find words to reply. Don’t interrupt them while they are speaking, and don’t try to force them to recall events from the past.
  4. Stay in touch – Send a card to the senior, call the caregiver, or stop in for a visit. Extend an invitation for them to join you at a family event or fun excursion. Know their limitations regarding health and stress factors such as noise, and be prepared to alter the plans if necessary.
  5. Offer a shoulder to lean on – Listen to both the senior and the caregiver. You may have heard the story already, but don’t stop them because they don’t remember telling it. Also listen to the caregiver. While you can’t change the situation, just letting them express their challenges and frustrations can relieve some of their stress.

It’s important to remember that the person with Alzheimer’s is the same person they were before the disease. Have the same conversations, enjoy the same activities, and most important, don’t pull away from them. Your friendship and support are appreciated, even if the senior can’t express their emotions.

Source: alz.org

If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Care Services in Arlington Heights, IL, please contact the caring staff at Inspired Care Home Health today. Call and talk to our friendly caring staff at 847-787-7572.

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How Walkers Help Seniors Maintain Independence

How Walkers Help Seniors Maintain Independence

While not every senior will need a walker for assistance, those that do are often reluctant to start using one. They see it as a sign of getting too old, sick and frail to maneuver on their own. What they do not see, however, is that a walker can make them more independent. It can help them walk more safely, increase the amount and distance they can walk, and decrease their pain and discomfort while walking. Using a walker can increase self-confidence and improve their health.

Who could benefit from using a walker? Most seniors using walkers have musculo-skeletal (muscle/bone) or neurological health problems. They might have arthritis, mainly in their knees and hips, or a fractured bone, are post-surgical, or are recovering from an illness. Other conditions which may lead to walker use are Osteoporosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, or hemiplegia.

Before purchasing a walker, however, the senior should consult their doctor or a physical therapist for a balance assessment.  There are different types of walkers, each having unique features. A physician can match a walker to the senior’s physical needs.

A standard walker has four straight legs with rubber feet. It requires the user to lift it to move forward. A senior needs good balance to handle a standard walker. For smoother movement, adding wheels to the front legs and glides to the back legs makes it possible to walk without lifting the walker. There are also four-wheeled walkers, or rollators. These often come with fold-down seats and brakes. A triangular design with three legs offers better maneuverability indoors. The best model depends on the senior’s gripping ability, upper and lower body strength, and weight. While wheels help the walker move more smoothly, it also requires greater control so it doesn’t roll ahead of the user. Adjustable walkers are the best option so the senior can adjust its height. A professional should also instruct the senior on the proper way to use the walker.

Once a senior has a walker, their home should be made walker-safe. Pathways should be wide and clear, and area rugs should be removed from floors so the walker doesn’t snag on the edges.

A walker should be regularly checked for wear. Wheels, glides and rubber feet wear out more quickly if used outdoors. Parts are replaceable, though. Before purchasing a walker, check to see if you have to purchase manufacturer parts only, or more readily available universal products.

Once someone has a properly fitted and measured walker, they have a wonderful tool to help prevent falls, increase strength, well-being, and independence.

If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Care Services in Park Ridge IL, please contact the caring staff at Inspired Care Home Health today. Call and talk to our friendly caring staff at 847-787-7572.

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Seven Effective Dementia Communication Techniques

Seven Effective Dementia Communication Techniques

Dementia affects the brain, which in turn changes the way those who are affected by the disorder hear, process, and respond to conversations. As a result, it’s important to adapt your communication habits to techniques they will understand. The easiest way to adapt is nonverbal communication. This includes body language and facial expressions. Here are seven effective dementia communication techniques:

  1. Get the person’s attention. Approach them from the front and address them by name. Introduce yourself and sit down to be at eye level with them. To stay focused, remove yourself from distractions. Put down the phone, shut off the television/radio and close the door from crowds. Move to quieter surroundings if necessary.
  2. Keep patient and calm. Project a positive and calm disposition. Give the person your full attention and do not interrupt them while they are talking. Use facial expressions, tone of voice and physical touch to help convey your message. Match your expressions to your mood.
  3. Speak clearly and slowly. Keep your pitch low and your tone even. Keep your questions easy and try to avoid open-ended questions. Only ask one question at a time. If the person doesn’t answer right away, wait for them to respond. After a few minutes, repeat the question.
  4. Listen Carefully. Don’t interrupt them when they talk. If they struggle for words, make some suggestions. Listen for the meaning and feelings that underlie the words. They may be saying one thing, but feeling another.
  5. Observe their nonverbal reactions. Watch for nonverbal cues that may suggest frustration or impatience, such as a frown or a raised voice. Redirect the conversation if they start to show stress.
  6. Respond with affection and reassurance. People with dementia often get reality confused with imagination and may recall things that never really occurred. Never try to convince them they are wrong. Rather, stay focused on the feelings they are demonstrating and respond with comfort, support, and reassurance. A gentle touch or hug is also reassuring.
  7. Remember the good old days. Remembering the past is soothing and reassuring for patients with dementia. While they can’t recall events that happened 30 minutes ago, they can recall events from 30 years ago. So avoid questions that rely on short term memory. Instead, ask questions that ask about the past.

Even if a loved one has lost most of their verbal skills, remember that people with Alzheimer’s can understand kind touch, laughter and smiles. And never assume that they are completely oblivious to their surroundings. They have good and bad days. Never talk with others about them in their presence.

If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Care Services in Barrington, IL, please contact the caring staff at Inspired Care Home Health today. Call and talk to our friendly caring staff at 847-787-7572.

Sources: DailyCaring.com, Caregiver.org

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Ten Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Aging Parents

Ten Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Aging Parents

Yes, we’ve all heard that story about feisty Aunt Mary. Only about 21 times! So what should we say when mom or dad starts to tell the same story for the 22nd time? Simple – just listen.

As our parents start to age, they experience many new happy events, such as the birth of a great-grandchild. But growing older can also bring with it dwindling independence and health. This may cause frustration on their part as they lose control of part of their lives. So how can you help them cope without being disrespectful? Careful dialogue is one of them.

Here are ten things you shouldn’t say to your aging parents.

  1. “You’ve told me this already.” Take advantage of the story to ask questions that might open a new discussion. If mom is telling you about Uncle Bill’s trip to Ireland again, don’t ask her about Uncle Bill’s trip, ask her about her own favorite childhood vacation.
  2. “How did you miss your doctor’s appointment?” Scolding a parent can be demeaning. Rather, talk it through to find out why they missed the appointment to see if the issue can be addressed in the future.
  3. “You’re too old to drive.” Driving is a sign of independence and very hard for someone to relinquish. Approach the issue by saying you’ve noticed a lot of reckless drivers on the road, and you’re afraid something will happen because of another driver’s bad habits.
  4. “I just showed you how to do that yesterday.” Yes, you may have shown them how to use the DVR. But instead of telling them how to do it, write down detailed instructions using illustrations and possibly colored notes or tape on the device.
  5. “You should be using your cane/walker!” This is another protest against aging. The senior sees it as a sign of weakness. Simply tell your parent you are concerned that they might fall, and the consequences could be devastating.
  6. “What has that got to do with what we’re talking about?” Seniors often lose their train of thought and change the topic mid-conversation. You can gently try to bring the talk back to the original topic, or say nothing and just listen.
  7. “I want your china when you die.” Seniors certainly don’t like to be reminded that they will be dying soon. Rather, you can ask if they have stipulated the disbursement of property in their will to make sure their belongings go to the right person.
  8. “You shouldn’t be living alone anymore.” Your parent will see this as giving up their independence. Instead, express your concern that if something should happen to them, like a fall, nobody would be there here to help.
  9. “How can you not remember that?” You just had a conversation with your dad reminding him that the furnace needs repair. When you talk to him the next time, he’s forgotten. Try posting notes around the house as reminders, or make the appointment yourself then call him the morning of the appointment to tell him the repairmen are on their way.
  10. “You never feel good.” Elderly people often start conversations talking about their failing health. Listen patiently, and if it’s something new, suggest a course of action. If you’ve heard the same complaints, listen anyway, then re-direct the conversation when you have a chance.

Compassion goes a long way when dealing with seniors. In addition to failing health and waning independence, their memories are beginning to falter. Put yourself in their shoes and consider your words carefully before speaking.

Dailycaring.com, Nextavenue.com

If you or an aging loved-one are considering Senior Care in DesPlaines, IL, please contact the caring staff at Inspired Care Home Health today. Call and talk to our friendly caring staff at 847-787-7572.

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Seven Reasons Seniors Need Pets

Seven Reasons Seniors Need Pets

Loneliness is an unwelcome guest in senior households. In many instances, one spouse outlives the other, leaving the surviving spouse in an empty house. All their children have lives of their own, and may even live out of state. Thus, visits are rare. Friends have passed on, and neighbors change over the years.

If the senior is active and able to get out and about, they can participate in social and community events. If they don’t drive, they are housebound, and at the mercy of others to provide rides. They feel like they are imposing on others, so rather than call for a ride, they stay home.

Seniors can become very lonely if they don’t leave their homes. One solution to alleviating their loneliness is to bring a pet into their home. Pets provide a love and companionship that is like no other. Here are seven reasons seniors need pets in their lives.

  • Health Benefits – Pets help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase physical activity. While some seniors may not be able to walk a dog outside, they still get exercise when they feed the dog or let them out. Something as simple as getting up out of a chair for a few minutes helps their circulation.
  • Knowledge – When a senior brings a pet into their home, they may want to read up on the breed or the animal. It can stimulate their minds and make them want to read more.
  • Less Worry – Pets live in the here and now. Seniors can learn from them. And who doesn’t smile when puppies wag their tails?
  • 24/7 Availability – Pets never take a day off. They are around morning, noon and night. They don’t go away for holidays or disappear two weeks for vacation. They are built-in companions who will never leave the senior’s side.
  • Purpose in Life – Pets create the need for routine. They need to be fed and toileted and groomed. They give seniors a reason to get up in the morning, even when they are depressed and lonely.
  • New Interests – Having a pet can involve the senior in more outside activities like communal pet walks. Even walking around the block with a pet can result in finding new friends. Especially those who share common interests, like walking their own dogs!
  • Protection – Large dogs make great protectors, but can be too much for a senior to handle. But even a small dog can help protect a senior. As soon as a prowler hears barking on the other side of the door, he will think twice about intruding.

Seniors aren’t the only ones who benefit from this relationship. Rescue dogs can make the best pets for seniors. A saved life can save another’s life. And because most seniors are retired, they can devote a lot of their time to their pets.

If there is a senior in your life who can benefit from owning a pet, ask questions first. Do they want one? Can they handle the tasks that come with pet ownership? Does their living situation allow pets? Do they have the finances for supporting a pet?  Never surprise a senior with a pet. Do your homework first. It will prevent problems later. And it can also make for the best of relationships.

If you or an aging loved-one are considering Senior Care in Inverness, IL, please contact the caring staff at Inspired Care Home Health today. Call and talk to our friendly caring staff at 847-787-7572.

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