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Comfort Keepers
23900 Lyons Avenue
Santa Clarita, California  91321

Website: www.comfortkeepers.com/caregivers/205/
Phone: 661-287-4200
Fax: 661-287-4440

Categories: Senior Care

Not Going Anywhere: Seniors Now Frequently "Age in Place"
Aging is inevitable; thankfully, spending one's golden years in an "old-folks home" no longer is. As our population grows older, society has been forced to find ways to better serve both our seniors and those who love them. One of the most welcome developments are reputable in-home care businesses that provide invaluable services (think: bathing and hygiene care; medication monitoring; transportation to doctor's appointments; light cleaning; meal preparation and much more). Myles McNamara, owner of Comfort Keepers In-home Care and a certified senior advisor, shares his thoughts about the business.

What inspired you to go into in-home care?
My mother was a family caregiver for my grandmother. I lived the dynamics that I now try to solve for other families.

What motivates someone to call a company like yours?
The biggest fear of a senior is to be displaced from their home, to be put in a facility. The guilt, stress and strain of "The Sandwich Generation," those adult children caring for their own children and family as well as their parents, is growing exponentially as the Age Wave hits. To see the face of a senior when, with a helping hand, they realize they can remain in their own home, is amazing. When an adult child can rest assured that their loved one is being looked after, is safe, and happily in their own home is equally awesome.

What facts should families know before bringing someone into their home?
In-home care is a non-licensed industry in California; anyone can hang a shingle. There are companies out there doing scary things to undercut price. They wrongly classify their caregivers as independent contractors to avoid accountability. Things like criminal background checks, liability insurance, worker's comp protection, proper training and supervising of the caregivers in the field - they put all that burden and potential exposure back on the client without their knowledge.

How can readers learn more about living well and aging in place?
I do a weekly radio show on KHTS 1220AM, called "Aging with Power," every Tuesday at 11 a.m. I have subject matter experts on to help educate and empower people as we all deal with our own aging, or that of a loved one. So tune in, and if there is a particular subject you're interested in, e-mail me at scv@comfortkeepers.com.
Visit Comfort Keepers In-Home Care at 24355 Lyons Avenue, Suite 110 in Newhall or call
287-4200.
Taking Care of the Family Caregiver
Comfort Keepers In-Home Care Recognizes the Importance of National Family Caregiver Month

The next time you feel like you've endured a long day at work, think about the following description of a 'typical day' for Joanne, one of more than 50 million Americans who have provided care for an elderly, chronically ill, or disabled family member or friend in the past year:

Joanne works in the accounting department for a commercial real estate developer.
Once her workday is done, she races home to feed her family. On her way out the door to take her son to his soccer game, she throws in a load of laundry. Then she heads over to her mother's house. Several months ago, Joanne started to notice that her mother wasn't eating properly and that most of the food in the refrigerator was spoiled. So now, she spends 3 - 4 nights a week at her mother's house cooking nutritious meals, filling her pillbox, and making sure her mother is bathing properly. Some days her mother looks at her like she is a stranger. Joanne has been juggling her roles as mother, wife, employee, daughter, and now family caregiver for several months and the stress is becoming harder and harder to handle.

There is a good chance that you know someone like Joanne who is currently caring for a loved one. What you may not know is that recent medical research has found that the stress associated with caregiving can lead to a weakened immune system, and in some cases even premature death for the caregiver.

Specifically, family caregivers who provide care 36 or more hours weekly are more likely than non-caregivers to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. For spouses the rate is six times higher; for those caring for a parent the rate is twice as high.

November is National Family Caregiver Month, a time to honor, thank and assist family caregivers. The National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) sponsors this annual celebration. Each year the President issues a proclamation thereby providing official recognition of NFC Month and America's family caregivers.

"The research results are not surprising at all," said Suzanne Mintz, president of NFCA, a family caregiver herself and tireless advocate for other caregivers.

"Year after year, the number one request from family caregivers has been for time off - a break from their daily caregiving responsibilities. Being a family caregiver can be a very rewarding experience, but the stress levels associated with it can reach extreme levels," added Mintz.

So, to all family caregivers, we honor you, God bless you, and please take care of yourself!

Myles McNamara, owner of Comfort Keepers In-Home Care, is a Certified Senior Advisor and works professionally with the elderly on issues relating to senior independence. He can be reached at
661 287-4200
Staying Independent—Long-Term Care
Question: What exactly is long term care?

Answer: Long-term care is the day-in, day-out help that is received for health and personal needs. More and more, this type of care is being performed at home, rather than in an institutional setting. While many people plan for retirement, many don't consider that one day they may need help getting dressed, vacuuming the carpets or even shopping for groceries in order to live out their "planned retirement." We also don't anticipate the sudden onset of diseases that have not left us disabled, but certainly less able to perform our daily tasks without support.

When you plan for your retirement, be sure to include plans for long-term care. If you don't plan in advance, your solutions for care will be restricted. Payment for long-term care is now the largest out-of-pocket healthcare cost for older persons. So, it would be worth it to understand not only the different types of care available, but also which agencies can assist you and whether long-term care insurance makes sense for your situation.

Another challenge for many is knowing when to seek long-term care services. Consider the elements of your lifestyle that you cherish most and determine which long-term care services offer you the greatest flexibility to maintain them. Comfort Keepers In-Home Care is one option for help with things like shopping, cooking, medication reminders, light housekeeping and transportation. And, companionship goes a long way when it comes to living your retirement years alone. There are clearly situations where staying at home is not the best option, even though it may be the desired option. Arm yourself with lots of information and resources. The more informed you are about what is available, the better choices you will be able to make. For more information on senior living and elder care options, go to www.comfortkeepers.com.

Myles McNamara is owner of Comfort Keepers In-Home care and works professionally with the elderly on issues relating to senior independence. He can be reached in Santa Clarita at (661) 287-4200.

If you have questions you would like to see answered in this column, mail them to Comfort Keepers @ 24355 Lyons Avenue Suite 110 Santa Clarita, CA 91321 or via e-mail to santaclarita@comfortkeepers.com.
Staying Independent: In-home Emergency Response System
Question: I really enjoy living in my home but lately I've been feeling afraid at night. My kids live in another state so they can't be here to help and my friends have their own health problems. Do you know how I can feel safe without having to move out of my home? I'm 84 yrs. old.

Answer: Continuing to live in your home or "aging in place," is what most people strive to do. Unfortunately, our bodies tend to slow down and not work as well as they used to, and our minds may not be as sharp as they once were. These facts of nature can cause fear and uncertainty as we grow older. Fortunately, there are several options which allow you to stay in your own home. If your fears are because you may fall or suddenly become ill in the middle of the night, you may want to consider an emergency response system. This technology allows you to access emergency help when you need it. A small transmitter is worn on a wristband, as a pendant, or clipped on a belt. The transmitter should stay with you at all times - you can even wear it in the shower! Once the button is pressed, an operator responds to your call immediately. Help is available 24 hours a day.

An emergency response system can be arranged in your home by calling Comfort Keepers In-Home Care in Santa Clarita at (661) 287-4200. Sometimes our fears are due to loneliness which can make us feel vulnerable, especially at night. If this sounds familiar to you, consider having a companion stay with you. Just having another person in the house can bring a great deal of comfort and allow you to sleep better. Since family and friends aren't available, a home care company such as Comfort Keepers may be your solution. Services include friendly companionship, transportation, shopping, home cooking, medication management, bathing/shower assistance and more. These services are designed to allow you to live independently and remain in the comfort of your own home.

Remember, as you make your choices, be sure to communicate them with your family. Not only will these solutions give you great comfort and allow you to remain independent in your home, it will also give your family peace of mind knowing your needs are being met.

For more information on elder care and senior living options, go to www.comfortkeepers.com.

Myles McNamara, owner of Comfort Keepers In-Home Care, works professionally with the elderly on issues relating to senior independence. He can be reached in Santa Clarita at (661) 287-4200
Misuse Of Medications by Seniors a Serious Danger
By: Myles McNamara

Accidental poisoning of seniors is a silent epidemic plaguing our generation of elderly. Many medications that are beneficial to others are inappropriate for seniors and can be deadly if taken in combination with other remedies.

Over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs, sedatives, antidepressants, pain medication and prescription medications can cause adverse drug reactions and fatal injuries. Frequently, the reactions to these medications include dizziness, instability with walking, falling, and disorientation or confusion. These signs are often dismissed simply as the consequences of growing older, or as symptoms of another disease which may result in needing additional medications. Following are tips to avoid a potential problem.

Make sure the individual can read the medication labels. Often they will attempt to do so without their glasses or in the dark, causing mistakes in taking the correct medication or dose of medication.

A record of all medications, along with the dose and time they are supposed to be taken, should be kept and updated frequently. Include all over-the-counter drugs and all prescribed medications from each physician the individual sees for care. This record should be taken to each doctor's visit to assist with the coordination of care.

Store all medications in the original containers and in the same area. Seniors often reach for a medication in a "familiar location" and if it has been moved from its usual place, they may accidentally pick something else up by mistake. This will also prevent having anyone take outdated drugs.

Choose an individual to manage the care of the senior with all of the doctors that they see and the medications they take and select a single pharmacy to fill all prescriptions. Oftentimes a family member or reliable friend can assist in this process. A consulting pharmacist or a geriatric care manager can also help.

Search the Web for general information on medications and drug interactions or expected geriatric reactions. Websites that offer information include www.drugdigest.org, www.webmd.com, www.ccgp.org, and www.seniorcarepharmacist.com.

Make certain the senior understands that the misuse of medications is one of the leading causes of death in their age group. Taking a variety of different prescriptions may be necessary in a handful of patients. However, for the majority of seniors, a good diet and daily exercise can play key roles in helping to keep them healthy.

Myles McNamara is owner of Comfort Keepers In-Home care and works professionally with the elderly and their families on issues relating to aging. He can be reached in Santa Clarita at (661) 287-4200.
Knowledge Is Power
By: Myles McNamara

I remember years ago, I worked for a company and was involved with contract negotiations where it was common place to hear the saying, "Preparation is knowledge and knowledge is power at the bargaining table." The more you knew, the more power and leverage you had. This is true in so many aspects of life, isn't it? Of course, "The Bargaining Table" becomes a metaphor as we move away from contract negotiations and into preparing for the different curve balls life throws at us, in addition to the responsibilities of just becoming an adult.

As we become an adult, and time marches on, many of us are coming to the realization that we are now faced with caring for those who cared for us growing up: our parents. As our parents age and meet health challenges, possible Dementia, the worry of outliving their money, wanting to continue to stay in their own home, etc., we realize there are no easy answers to many of the changing dynamics we're faced with. The idea of parenting our parents is an adjustment in life that is difficult to imagine. Again, preparation is knowledge and knowledge is power! It's going to happen folks, we cannot stop Father Time, so all we can do is prepare.

There are two shows I'd like to make you aware of that I am involved in, one Radio and one local TV, that we are trying to provide just that, preparation and knowledge. The first, "The Senior Hour", is a weekly radio show on our local Hometown Station, AM 1220 KHTS on Wednesdays at 11AM that I co-host with Dr. Gene Dorio and Barbara Sterns-Cochran. The other is "Actively Aging", a new show I'm excited to host on SCVTV on our local channel 20.

Both shows discuss topics relevant to seniors, their adult children, and other loved ones that may be involved in an aging family member's care. Finances, legal issues, health and well being, travel, and other topics that can be of great preparation and knowledge for the active senior, not so active senior, and those struggling with challenges. And the best part, you can help choose the topics! I'd love to get input from people to bring their subjects of choice to the show(s). You can email KHTS at seniors@hometownstation.com for topics on The Senior Hour or me for either show at santaclarita@comfortkeepers.com.

Although the age wave is upon us, many times when an adult child or spouse is caring for an aging loved one, they feel they are the only one struggling with that challenge. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many support groups, seminars and such dealing with just that. And now, there are two shows on two different mediums as well. So lets prepare, gain knowledge, and obtain power together. Send me any topics of interest and tune in!

Myles McNamara, Certified Senior Advisor and owner of Comfort Keepers In-home Care, providing assistance to seniors in the comfort of their own home. Offices located at 24355 Lyons Avenue, Suite 110. (661) 287-4200 www.comfortkeepers.com
In-home Care: Buyer Beware
By: Myles McNamara


The other day I was adding up all the money I could save by not purchasing car insurance, homeowners insurance, earthquake insurance, paying taxes, etc. The savings would mean nothing compared to the catastrophic results should an accident or disaster occur, or the dreaded audit. What many fail to realize is that these same dangers exist with families needing in-home care for themselves or a loved one. They may hire someone privately, or utilize an Independent Contractor agency, and not even be aware of their risks or responsibilities. Most of the examples I listed above are required by law. Unfortunately, some still choose not to abide. But, did you know that if you hire an Independent Contractor, or someone privately, to work in your home, by law you now become the employer of record and must deduct and submit payroll taxes, including disability and unemployment insurance. You must also declare such items on your annual tax returns, signed under the penalty of perjury, for which there is no statute of limitations. With no statute of limitations, if and when these violations are discovered, with the cost of back payments, interest, fines and legal fees, it could significantly impact one's estate. A great website to visit regarding these issues is www.4nannytaxes.com.

And the risks do not stop there. If a worker is injured while performing their duties, you are responsible for their immediate and long term medical expenses. Has a criminal background search been completed on this person you are entrusting your loved one to? There are predators out there looking for these types of employment opportunities. Risk of financial, physical or sexual abuse is a reality. I have seen instances where a family hired someone privately, referred by a friend, to care for a loved one, only to realize later that this person was not in the country legally, had gained access to checking accounts, valuables in the home, and even in one case had their name added to the deed to the home!

Now let me be the first to acknowledge and be sensitive to the fact that home care is costly. Unless there was foresight to purchase Long Term Care Insurance, home care cost is paid out of pocket. But, not being aware of the legal requirements, knowingly not complying, or to save a few dollars per hour, could prove more costly and catastrophic, not to mention the safety of our loved ones.

Please visit www.comfortkeepers.com for more information on choosing home care, and click the "All home care is not the same" banner.

Myles McNamara, Certified Senior Advisor and owner of Comfort Keepers In-home Care, providing assistance to seniors in the comfort of their own home. Offices located at 24355 Lyons Avenue, Suite 110. (661) 287-4200 www.comfortkeepers.com
Home Care vs. Home Health
Q: I am confused. I thought in-home care included medical, but the more I have talked to people involved in In-home care, medical is separate. Could you clarify this for me?

A: Great question, and one that addresses confusion experienced by many. Home "Health" is medical in nature. This is prescribed by your physician, and a nurse, or other licensed medical professional, will come to the home and attend to whatever has required the visit. It could range from wound care, administering medication, pain management, checking vitals, etc. The visit is very quick in nature, tasks accomplished, and they're gone in usually less than an hour. Insurance will pay for Home Health if prescribed by a doctor.

Home "Care", on the other hand, is non-medical and assists with what is called "Activities of Daily Living', or ADLs, defined as the things we normally do on a daily basis, including any activity we perform for self-care such as bathing, dressing, transferring from bed or chair, walking, eating, toilet use, and grooming. Home Care also provides assistance in the area of "Instrumental Activities of Daily Living", or IADLs, that include preparing meals, managing money, managing medications, shopping for groceries or personal items, performing light or heavy housework, and using a telephone. A great web site for more information on ADLs and IADLs is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activities_of_daily_living.

Medical Insurance does not pay for Home Care, and unless there is a Long Term Care policy in place, is primarily private pay. Most Long Term Care policies will require assistance with at least 2 ADLs, usually requiring an assessment from your physician, before you can activate coverage. Other coverage options could result if the reason for Home Care needs is a result of a work related injury or automobile accident. Normally, however, the need arises as our loved ones age, wish to remain in their own home, but are no longer able to safely perform ADLs and IADLs.

Myles McNamara, Certified Senior Advisor and owner of Comfort Keepers In-home Care, providing assistance to seniors in the comfort of their own home. (661) 287-4200 www.comfortkeepers.com
Holiday Visits with Aging Loved Ones
By: Myles McNamara

Holidays are a wonderful time of the year, and frequently they are the one or two times a year we are able to spend time with parents or other aging loved ones. If we do see them daily, sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees, and may not recognize a cognitive and/or physical decline. Regardless of whether you see someone daily or occasionally, here are some recommended "Quick Check" activities.

1. Accompany your parent or loved one to their next doctor's appointment. Hear first hand what the doctor has to say.

2. If your parent drives, run an errand with him/her, observe their driving skills and determine if their abilities present any concerns.

3. Look in the refrigerator. What's inside? Do they appear to be getting adequate nourishment?

4. How is their hygiene? Do they smell clean, or is a bath needed? How about breath? Does it appear that teeth are being brushed regularly? How is overall appearance in terms of hair, grooming and ability to match clothing? Are the linens and towels clean?

5. Do basic tasks seem to be more challenging, frustrating or time consuming for your loved one? Example, getting ready to go out, preparing a meal, everyday coping, etc.

6. Does it appear that they are able to take care of their personal finances sufficiently? Is there a reasonable amount of cash in his/her wallet?

7. Does it appear that the mail is normal or is it stacking up? Do you see any suspicious items like possible past due or shut off notices?

8. When your loved one sees people they know, are they able to remember names?

9. Is there an awareness of potential safety concerns (e.g., turning off the stove or coffeepot, extinguishing candles or cigarettes properly, awareness of sharp objects, wet floors, etc)?

Unfortunately, there is no magical age when you should start to be concerned about your aging parents or loved ones. Some people need assistance as early as their 50's or 60's, while others may remain self sufficient into their 80's and 90's. The point is, be prepared, know what to look for, and be there for them when they need help.

Myles McNamara is owner of Comfort Keepers In-home Care, providing assistance to Seniors in the comfort of their own home. 24355 Lyons Avenue Suite 110 He can be reached at (661) 287-4200
Arthritis Tips
by Myles McNamara

With Comfort Keepers In-Home Care being a proud sponsor of Santa Clarita's annual Arthritis Walk, I thought I would devote this article to just that. Few diagnoses can create such a transition from the routine in life, as does arthritis. Activities such as sports, traveling, and driving are often too painful to continue, and realizing the physical limitations can be disappointing. Being a caregiver in times such as this can be a stressful situation, but here are some tips that may allow the caregiver to alleviate a loved one's emotional and physical pain associated with arthritis.

• Become as educated as possible with the conditions of arthritis and be knowledgeable on any new treatment options available.

• Because arthritis usually affects the hands first, writing may be more difficult for them, but finding the right balance of comfort may only require a small triangle cushion found in many office supply stores.

• Pill reminders can reduce the stress of taking pain medication throughout the day.

• Do not let the loved one sit idle and resting for long periods of time, as they may become stiff and in pain if they begin moving. Instead, make sure they move around at least a little bit each hour to create blood flow and movement in the legs and arms.

• Just because a loved one may not be able to do the activities they enjoyed doing in years past, involving them in your life and your families may provide that rewarding feeling of participation again.

• An exercise routine can focus on painful areas and reduce discomfort through better fitness.

• Arrange cupboards and furniture with their reduced flexibility and movement in mind.

• Use safety rails in the bathroom and along stairways so the loved one can maintain their balance and still be provided with reassuring support.

• If possible, anytime large items are used, it may be easier to condense the item such as soap or soda into a smaller, lighter bottle that they can lift easier.

• In the kitchen, use lightweight dishware and cups with handles when they are eating.

• Do not be afraid to attend arthritis support groups that can help caregivers adjust emotionally and better understand the condition.

Myles McNamara, owner of Comfort Keepers In-Home Care, is a Certified Senior Advisor and works professionally with the elderly on issues relating to senior independence. He can be reached at 661 287-4200
Aging with a Plan
Aging is a fact of life that we will all face during our lifetimes. However, what is different about aging is that it is not something that we typically study and become proficient in. Rather, aging often creeps up on us and, once apparent, requires immediate attention. The issues of aging are also unique in that people usually only get one try. In other words, we simply do not get the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and "do it better" or "try harder" the next time.

Over 20% of American's population is over the age of 55. Today, of the over 280 million people in the United States as recorded through the 2000 Census study, over 24 million are between the ages of 55-64 and another 35 million are age 65 or older. So what does that mean to you? It means that there are a lot of people competing for limited resources - whether it be medical personnel specializing in geriatric care, in-home care resources or retirement communities, etc. As such, planning ahead is now more important than ever.

Planning Ahead involves:
1. Knowing what signs to look for that may indicate functional challenges (both physical and mental).
2. Understanding living arrangement alternatives to be prepared if or when a change becomes necessary.
3. Being anticipatory and preventative.
4. Ensuring necessary legal documents are executed.
5. Developing a financial or retirement plan.
6. Evaluating insurance coverage options.
7. Creating a legacy of memories while still possible.

You are not alone. Seek support and counsel. Talk with friends, neighbors, co-workers, and other people you see frequently whether at your place of worship, clubs, Senior Center,etc. Ask them if they know of anyone you might talk with who is currently facing or has recently faced the challenges associated with supporting an aging loved one. Do not hesitate to ask. You will find people truly want to help and comfort you.

Myles McNamara is owner of Comfort Keepers In-home Care, with bonded and insured caregivers providing assistance to seniors in the comfort of their own home. He can be reached at (661) 287-4200
Meet Us on the Inside
Myles McNamara and Martha McDaniel
Myles McNamara and Martha McDaniel
photography by Ted Dayton

Owner: Myles McNamara

How did you determine the name of your business?
We are a national franchise, with each office independently owned and operated. There are almost 600 offices, with international offices in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Singapore and Portugal.

What inspired you to go into this business?
I met an uncle at a family reunion who was involved in the senior services industry. Non-medical in-home care was a relatively new concept that allowed seniors to stay in their own home in their twilight years rather than being placed in a skilled or assisted-living facility. Many times a helping hand is all that is needed with bathing, meal preparation, transportation and medication schedules to enable seniors to stay where they want - their own home. I saw it as an opportunity to not only own my own business, but to do so by helping moms, dads and grandparents.

What's the coolest aspect of your business?
Imagine looking any aging friend or loved one in the eyes and telling them that they cannot continue to remain in their home of 30, 40, or even 50-plus years; telling them that they must leave all of their memories behind and be placed in a facility. To be a solution for families in this predicament, to be able to offer an alternative, is very cool. We also assist in the home with all people over the age of 18 who struggling with illness or recovering from an injury.

What is the most amazing thing about what you do?
Bringing a smile to a senior's face. Being there for adult children who do not want to place a loved one in a facility.

What is unique about your business?
I'll take this opportunity to say "be careful!" Private-duty home care is non-licensed in California, and anyone can say they do it. Some of these care options offer lower prices but don't inform the client of their tax liabilities and exposures. Folks can visit www.4nannytaxes.com for more information.

What's one thing that someone out of the loop would never guess about you?
Before Comfort Keepers, I was in the entertainment industry for over 15 years as an actor doing commercials, prime-time TV, soap operas and film.

For more information on Comfort Keepers In-Home Care, call 287-4200 or 818-360-1995 or visit www.comfortkeepers.com.
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