Daily Webinar Alert: Impact of COVID-19 on Medical Decision Making

JFCS continues to gather important resources for dealing with the impact of COVID-19. We are sharing the below information for an outside resource:

Daily 30-minute Webinar available at 1 PM EST Monday-Friday (through April 24)

“Impact of COVID-19 on Medical Decision Making: POLST and Other Important Considerations for High-Risk People” Hosted by Dr. David Barile, Palliative and Geriatric Physician, Founder & Chief Medical Officer Goals of Care Coalition of New Jersey

The purpose of the webinar is to help educate people and address their questions regarding POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) and advance directives for the populations at high-risk for complications of COVID-19 (e.g., nursing home residents, frail elders, people with compromised immune systems and underlying medical concerns) and their surrogate decision makers or healthcare proxies.  Dr. David Barile will explain what a POLST is, why it is an important document, how to complete the form, and under what circumstances someone should have one.  Each session is followed by a Q & A period. Once registered, you can submit your questions.

 To register, go to goalsofcare.org 

The Truth About Long Distance Caregiving

About 1 in 8 family caregivers live more than an hour’s drive from the recipient of the care. Whether you are in a different city, a different state, across the country, or across the globe, as caregiver you want to be there without always being there.

According to AARP, these are five steps to staying informed and effective as a long-distance caregiver.

  1. Establish Access

Caregiving often involves having the legal authority to make financial and healthcare related decisions. Having good information channels to accessing this information is crucial to a long distance caregiver. Try to arrange as much as possible during an in-person visit, when you can work with your loved one to locate, organize and fill out necessary paperwork such as a will, power of attorney and medical care plan.

  1. Create a Team

In the digital age, you can handle many important tasks remotely, such as paying bills and ordering prescriptions; however, you will need others to be your eyes, ears and sometimes hands on the ground. It is natural for long distance caregivers to feel guilty about delegating certain jobs to others, but do not try and do it all. Delegating regular check-ins and more hands-on care to nearby family, friends or professionals can be in the best interest of your loved one, especially in cased of serious or complicated health issues.

  1. Find a Local Coordinator

A local care manager can supply local knowledge and help with caregiving logistics. One option is to hire a reputable caregiving professional, also known as geriatric care manager, aging life care manager or eldercare navigator or coordinator. These professionals are often licensed nurses or social workers and can be valuable mediators or sounding boards when family members disagree on care decisions. A care manager can help make tough choices easier on the caregiver and care recipient – such as knowing when it is no longer safe for a loved one to live at home – by presenting an array of options from a knowledgeable, outside perspective.

  1. Stay in the Loop

Establish ways to communicate regularly with your local team and loved one, whether through organization apps, group emails or social tools like FaceTime and Skype.

  1. Make the Most of Visits

Nothing replaces an in-person visit. When you can manage one, come with a list of things you need to know or discuss.

How can JFCS help you to navigate these challenges?

If your loved one resides in Princeton, NJ or the surrounding Mercer County area, consider a membership in the award-winning Secure@Home program offerings through JFCS. Our Secure@Home team of highly skilled Senior Care Consultants provides a comprehensive umbrella of care management services to help older adults age comfortably, independently and safely in their own homes.

Membership includes a complete home assessment, care plan, 24-hour emergency telephone availability, “Chore Corps” volunteers and regular check-ins, preferred provider list and wellness lectures.

If you are concerned about your loved one, please call JFCS at 609-987-8100 and ask to speak to a Secure@Home representative.

Kosher Meals on Wheels Offers Solutions for Seniors

Meals on Wheels is known across the country for delivering hot meals directly into the hands of older adults. The program is designed for those who face challenges in accessing nutritious, hot meals due to limited mobility and/or limited income.

Why Kosher?

Meals on Wheels is an incredible resource to aging adults who need the accessibility and nutritional resource; however, older Jewish adults could not turn to Meals on Wheels if they wished to maintain a Kosher diet. Kosher Meals on Wheels (KMOW) fills that gap and allows Jewish seniors to maintain their traditions, bringing a sense of comfort as they age.

JFCS delivers Kosher Meals on Wheels to Jewish seniors in West Windsor, East Windsor, Hightstown, Hamilton, Princeton and Plainsboro. Deliveries are made twice a week and include 5 total meals, one for each day of the week. The hot, Kosher meals are prepared by our partner Greenwood House then distributed by JFCS volunteers to our local communities. Greenwood House staff and volunteers deliver KMOW to those in the Trenton, Lawrenceville, and Ewing communities. Meals are $25 per week and some scholarships are available.

Call us at 609-987-8100 to learn more about how to receive KMOW deliveries.

Interested in delivering more than a meal to seniors?

We are always looking for motivated volunteers to serve as KMOW drivers for our local seniors. The older adults who receive meal deliveries look forward to the friendly face and short conversation – many recipients face isolation as well as nutrition challenges as they age. Our volunteers are valuable eyes and ears on the ground for our staff, regularly reporting back if there are visible concerns of declining health or living conditions. Our staff has been able to intervene quickly and provide additional support to the senior in cases where a volunteer has provided valuable feedback.

If you are interested in becoming a KMOW delivery driver, contact our Volunteer Coordinator Eden Aaronson at EdenA@jfcsonline.org.

For non-Jewish seniors who do not need Kosher meals, connect with Meals on Wheels to find delivery options in your community.

How do I Talk to a Family Member about Senior Care Options?

The holidays are a wonderful time for families to gather and share in memories and traditions. However, meals around the table can also spur on questions about the health of our aging family members.

“Did Dad almost trip coming up his own front step?”

“Did Nanna look this frail last year?”

“Does Uncle Stu seem more forgetful?”

Family gatherings can shine a light on deteriorating health in our loved ones and be an opportunity to discuss senior care options from in-home care to assisted living.

What are signs your loved one needs help?

Some of the most common signs of concern include*:

  • Changes in mood or extreme mood swings
  • Cluttered, dirty and/or disorganized house
  • Disheveled clothing / poor personal hygiene
  • Expired/spoiled groceries
  • Confusion and uncertainty when performing once-familiar tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Trouble getting up from seated position
  • Unexplained bruises

How to start the conversation?

As with many difficult topics, beginning the discussion is often the hardest part. Open-ended questions are the best way to encourage them to talk. Sit back and really listen to their answers.

These conversation starters may help:

  • How is it living at home alone? Do you still feel safe? (OR give specific examples i.e. Are you concerned about the stairs? Do you have trouble getting into the bath?)
  • Do you feel lonely sometimes? Would you like to spend more time with people your own age?
  • How do you feel about driving? Would you be interested in other options for transportation, so you don’t have to worry about getting where you need to go, car maintenance costs, traffic, parking, etc.?
  • Is it ever hard to manage your finances and keep up with paying your bills?
  • Ever wonder about getting a helping hand with housekeeping and laundry?
  • Would you feel less stress if you didn’t have to worry about the house?

Speaking to your aging loved ones about care options can be difficult, starting the conversation is the first step. Multiple conversations may be needed to understand your loved one’s needs and wishes AND balance those with the best options for a safe, comfortable and fulfilling lifestyle. Remember these tips to have a helpful conversation each time:

  • Talk in person. This isn’t a conversation to have by telephone if you can avoid it. Instead, pick a day when you and your parent are well-rested and relaxed. Block out a time and a location where you can talk without interruption.
  • Empathy, not sympathy. No older adult wants their child to feel sorry for them. But empathy is another matter. Your kind, calm voice and demeanor will show you care – and that you’re trying to understand the fears and frustrations they may feel. The idea of accepting in-home care or moving to a senior living community is tough. You begin to help as soon as you really begin to listen.
  • Don’t rush. Once you’re armed with knowledge, you may feel ready to make a decision. But your parent may need more time. Allow them the time they need to find the words to express how they’re feeling. Coming to an unpressured mutual agreement now will continue to pay dividends as you move forward together.
  • Plan to talk again. And again. As much as you might want to wrap things up in one conversation, the reality is this will likely be a series of talks. Unless your aging family member is in eminent danger, that’s okay. It’s a process, not a once-and-done discussion.

*Signs Loved One May Need Help sourced by A Place For Mom. (link https://www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice)