Caregiving – A growing issue

National Family Caregivers Month

Today, there are more than 65 million family caregivers in the U.S.

That number is expected to grow each year, and many of us will eventually become or need a caregiver at some point in our lives.

In honor of National Family Caregivers month, we’ll describe what a caregiver is and the help available to them.

Are you a caregiver?

Put simply, a caregiver provides care for another person. They often care for older adults, and people with disabilities or illnesses. Generally, there are two kinds of caregivers, paid and trained professionals and unpaid family caregivers. Most people fall under the category of family caregivers.

Family caregivers usually provide care to a child, spouse, partner, other relatives, or a friend. They do it because they love and respect that person and want to be there for them, or out of a sense of duty or loyalty.

Family caregiving can be a rewarding experience. However, depending on the level of care someone needs, it can be challenging.

Services and supports are available

If you find yourself fitting the definition of a family caregiver, you’re not alone. There are many programs available to help you. One example is an Adult Foster Care or Adult Family Care (AFC) program. This program pays eligible caregivers to provide live-in care for someone who needs full-time care. You can find more information about AFC program requirements and benefits here.

Caregiver Solutions from Boston Senior Home Care offers help to caregivers. Our Caregiver Advisors will work with you to put a caregiving plan in place. Our services include:

  • In-home support, such as light housekeeping and meal preparation
  • Respite care, adult day health, and companion services
  • Caregiver counseling, education, and training
  • Referrals to social services and supports
  • Support groups to connect with other caregivers
  • Specialized support for older adults with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s Disease
  • User-friendly technology to keep everyone connected and engaged
  • Electronic pets that look and feel like real dogs and cats to help comfort loved ones with anxiety or dementia

There’s no charge for the program and enrolling is fast and easy. If you or a caregiver you know needs support, please call 617-292-6211 or submit an online referral.

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Falls Prevention Awareness – Things you can do to prevent falls

September 18–24, 2022 is Falls Prevention Week, a national health campaign to raise awareness on preventing and reducing fall risks and helping older adults live without the fear of falls.

For an older adult, falls can be serious and costly. According to the CDC, each year, three million older adults are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries and one out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or head trauma. In 2015, the total medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion.

Falls are a threat to the health of older adults and can reduce their ability to remain independent and in their communities. However, falls do not have to be an inevitable part of aging. There are ways to reduce your chance of falling or help a loved one prevent falls.

Here are four things the CDC recommends to help prevent you or your loved ones from experiencing falls:  

1. Talk to your Doctor

  • Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk of falling.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines for any side effects that may cause dizziness or sleepiness.
  • Tell a provider right away if you fall, worry about falling, or feel unsteady.

2. Do Strength and Balance Exercises

  • Do exercises that make your legs, and core stronger and improve your balance. Ask your doctor about the best exercise program for you.

3. Have Your Eyes and Feet Checked

  • Have your eyes checked by a doctor annually. Get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for activities such as walking.
  • Have your healthcare provider check your feet once a year. Discuss proper footwear and ask whether seeing a foot specialist is advised.

4. Make Your Home Safer

  • Get rid of trip hazards (throw rugs, electrical cords, pet toys).
  • Add grab bars inside your shower or bath and next to the toilet.
  • Put railings on both sides of the stairs.
  • Make sure your home is well-lit.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on bathroom floors.
  • Wear well-fitting shoes around the house.

In addition to these useful tactics, Boston Senior Home Care offers a variety of health and wellness programs and healthy aging workshops that empower individuals to take charge of their health by learning self-care techniques and ways to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.

To learn more about the programs we offer, click here.

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Grandparents Raising Grandchildren – Back to School Help is Available

Students across the country are getting ready to board school buses for their first day of classes. New clothes and buzzing excitement for the opportunity to meet new friends and teachers.

Although a new school year means a fresh start, the post-pandemic world continues to place additional stressors on those raising and caring for school-aged children and young adults.

For grandparents raising their grandchildren, the academic year brings a unique set of challenges. Many grandparents find that raising grandchildren is much different from when they raised their children. And, in many cases, they weren’t expecting to need the financial resources and energy required to care for young children.

Grandparents are not the only ones experiencing difficulty when the back-to-school season begins. Children being raised by their grandparents often struggle academically and require extra help.

For many children, afterschool programs provide the added support they need. Consistent participation in these programs can help improve academic performance, boost class participation, and develop critical social skills.

But, how do grandparents get assistance with the educational needs of their grandchildren?

Boston Senior Home Care is here to help! We offer a variety of services and supports, including one-on-one counseling, assistance with school clothes and supplies, scholarships for afterschool programs and tutoring, referrals to foster care and guardianship resources, and financial assistance, such as the SNAP food assistance program, and more.   

Do you know grandparents raising grandchildren? Refer them to Boston Senior Home Care.

To learn more about the ways we can help, contact us at [email protected] or visit www.bshcinfo.org/help-grandparents-raising-grandchildren.

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The Importance of Culturally Responsive Aging and Mental Health Services

In a recent MAMH blog, “Culturally Responsive Aging and Mental Health Services,” Nandy Barbosa discusses the importance of her work as a former MSW intern and bilingual case manager at Boston Senior Home Care. Having migrated from Cape Verde with her family in 2019, Nandy shares her unique insight into the importance of providing culturally responsive care to ethnically diverse older adults. Read the full interview here.

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Social Media – Keeping Kids Safe Online

Social media is part of our everyday lives and there is no way around it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat – we all know these apps. But, are they safe for children and teens? Much has been reported about kids being exposed to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, trolling and privacy risks on social media. So, how can parents keep their children safe online? First, let’s examine the safeguards already in place.

Most social media apps require users to be at least 13 years old.  In fact, 20 years ago, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was created to give parents control over what information is collected from their children online. COPPA requires websites and online services to obtain consent from parents before collecting personal information from children younger than 13. Under the law, parents and guardians have the right to review their child’s information, delete it, and refuse to permit further collection of personal data.

Although legislation can help protect children, it’s important that you talk with your kids about using social media wisely. Here are some tips.

  1. Establish an age limit based on facts.  Some studies show that children younger than 11 years old who use Instagram and Snapchat are more likely to exhibit problematic behavior including having online-only friends and showing signs of anxiety and irritability.
  1. Monitor without spying. Regularly check your child’s privacy settings.  Most social media sites give you the option of making the account private and open only to those that have been “friended.” Check on what information they are viewing and responding to. Learn about new apps to make sure they are appropriate.
  2. Protect their privacy. Make sure personal information including phone numbers, location, and date of birth are not shared with anyone you and your child does know personally.  Only accept friend requests from people they know.  Make sure they understand that posting photos and videos can jeopardize their safety and character.
  3. Limit screen time.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screentime to two hours a day for children.  Children need plenty of face-to-face interactions and physical activity.
  4. Talk about social media use and keep lines of communication open. Remind your child that what they share online stays there forever – even on apps that are supposed to delete content.  Before sharing they should ask themselves: Is it illegal? Harmful to me? Embarrassing to me or someone else?  You can’t monitor your child’s social media 24/7 so maintaining communication and modeling good social media habits in front of your child can help them with their own social media interactions.

Social media can be great for kids to stay connected with friends and family, volunteer or get involved in the community, meet and interact with others who share similar interests and communicate with teachers and other students. But, parents must remain vigilant in safeguarding their children in the digital age. Luckily, there are online resources to help you navigate social media and talk to your children about online safety:

  1. Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Mass.gov
  2. Online Safety for Children – City of Boston
  3. Online Community and LGBTQ+ Youth
  4. Child Welfare Information Gateway
  5. Commonsense Media
  6. Parentology
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World Elder Abuse Awareness – June 2022

Elder abuse is not a subject that is easy to discuss nor is it something that is often reported.  Yet, it is a serious and growing problem in the United States.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, commemorated every year on June 15th, brings to focus the issue of elder abuse. The purpose is to share information about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults and the resources and supports available to increase victim safety.

Elder abuse is defined as an intentional act or the failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult aged 60 or over. According to statistics from the Department of Justice, at least 10 percent of the population over age 60 have experienced some form of abuse. Usually, the abuse occurs at the hands of a family member, caregiver, or a person the older adult trusts. The trauma of elder abuse can result in premature death, the deterioration of physical and mental health, destruction of social and family ties, and devastating financial loss. Abuse most often takes place where older adults live, in the home, or in institutional settings such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Elderly women, and those over age 80, are more likely to be victimized.  

One of the most preventable forms of elder abuse is self-neglect or the diminished capacity of older adults to care for themselves. Self-neglect can include a lack of basic hygiene or food and proper nutrition, unsanitary or unsafe living conditions, the inability to pay bills, or properly manage medications. Self-neglect is a complicated issue and can be a sign of depression, grief, dementia, or other medical condition. In many cases, the older adult will refuse to seek assistance for fear of losing their independence. However, by accepting help, many older adults can become more capable of living independently and can continue to live at home. 

If you or someone you know shows signs of abuse and needs help, reach out to our Information and Referral specialists at Boston ElderINFO. Call 617-292-6211, email [email protected], or submit a referral online at by clicking here. Our Information and Referral specialists can answer your questions and guide you through your options.

If you are concerned about an older adult or have reason to believe they are a victim of elder abuse, call the Massachusetts-based Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275. You can also file a report online at https://www.mass.gov/reporting-elder-abuse-neglect.

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Living on your own terms

In May, the Administration for Community Living leads the national observance of Older Americans Month. This year’s theme, Age My Way, celebrates the strength of older adults and the many ways they stay resilient – involved, committed, and connected to their communities. At no time was this resiliency more remarkable than during the coronavirus pandemic. Evidence suggests that older adults were physically most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, and many experienced short periods of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Yet, research also shows that older adults as a group were more resilient to mental health disorders than younger people, and that maintaining friendships and connections to others helped older adults build resilience and reduce stress.   

The popular Golden Girls TV series theme song, “Thank you for being a friend,” written by Cindy Fee, may offer some insight as to why some older adults were able to stay positive amid all the stress and chaos of the pandemic. A lifetime of experience and perspective and connections to friends, old and new, helped many older adults through the most difficult periods of isolation and loneliness. It certainly helped Barbara Hillman.

At age 80, Barbara stays physically fit by working out on her treadmill three times a week.  She also works part-time for Boston Senior Home Care, which provides opportunities for her to stay active, involved, and up to date on new technology.  “During the pandemic, learning about Zoom was the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” said Barbara. “Zoom helped me to stay in regular contact with my friends and family. It was so important for me to talk with and actually see my friends as well as my children and grandchildren. It kept us all close.” 

Barbara is also active in St. Paul AME church, where she has been a member of the congregation for more than 45 years. “I serve on a committee that welcomes new members to the church and I help them learn about programs they can get involved in,” explains Barbara. “Throughout the pandemic, I stayed in touch with all new members, providing guidance and answering questions. I love meeting new people and staying active and involved in my faith community has always been important to me.”

Participation in activities, connections to others, and the wisdom and resilience of age, all played a role in Barbara’s ability to thrive in her unique way despite the pandemic’s hardships. Her resilience is truly an inspiration to us all.

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TD Charitable Foundation Supports Boston Senior Home Care

Donation to help older adults remain at home and in the community

BOSTON, MA – April 29, 2022 – The TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, recently donated $5,000 to Boston Senior Home Care (BSHC) as part of the Foundation’s commitment to giving back to the community.

BSHC’s CEO, Meg Hogan, stated, “Too many seniors are living at home, alone, isolated and with little or no supports. We thank TD Bank for supporting our work in 14 supportive housing sites in Boston to positively impact the lives of more than 1,800 Boston residents through the delivery of coordinated, supportive services and evidence-based health and wellness programs.”

BSHC provides continued onsite activities and multicultural community-based services, which provide access to essential services and resources. Resident tenant counselors at BSHC’s Supportive Housing sites act as advocates and advisors, and play a key role in connecting older residents with resources to safely age in place. This contribution supports TD’s longstanding commitment to community enrichment through its The Ready Commitment, a multi-year platform that actively promotes inclusivity, economic vitality, environmental wellbeing and health, enabling people of all backgrounds to succeed in a rapidly changing world. As part of The Ready Commitment, TD targets CAD $1 billion in total by 2030 toward community giving in four critical areas: Financial Security, a more Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health.

Through this platform, TD aspires to create a more inclusive tomorrow – helping people of all backgrounds feel more confident, not just about their finances, but about their ability to achieve their goals. For more information, visit td.com/ca/en/about-td/ready-commitment/.       

About Boston Senior Home Care

Boston Senior Home Care is a private, nonprofit human services agency dedicated to ensuring that individuals, particularly those of limited means, can remain safely in their homes with dignity and independence. Founded in 1974, the agency provides independent living resources and supports to older adults and people with disabilities, as well as caregivers and their care recipients. Boston Senior Home Care is one of Boston’s Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs), serving the neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Charlestown, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, North End, South Boston, and the West End.

For more information, visit bshcinfo.org.

About the TD Charitable Foundation

The TD Charitable Foundation is the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, one of the 10 largest commercial banking organizations in the United States. Since its inception in 2002, the Foundation has distributed over $200 million and more than 19,400 grants through donations to local nonprofits from Maine to Florida. More information on the TD Charitable Foundation, including the online grant application, is available at TDBank.com

About TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than nine million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,200 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, NJ.  To learn more, visit www.tdbank.com.

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol “TD”. To learn more, visit www.td.com.

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Boston Senior Home Care receives funding from Charles H. Farnsworth Trust to support older adults in supportive housing

Grant will support low-income older adults and people with disabilities most impacted by COVID-19

BOSTON, MA – April 29, 2022 – The Charles H. Farnsworth Trust, managed by Bank of America Charitable Foundation headquartered in Boston, MA, recently awarded Boston Senior Home Care a $20,000 grant. Funds will provide low-income older adults in Boston Senior Home Care’s Supportive Housing program with a variety of services and supports to reduce social isolation and provide access to health and wellness programs that can improve their overall health and wellbeing. 

“We are extremely grateful to Charles H. Farnsworth Trust for their support of our Supportive Housing Program, which operates in 14 publicly subsidized residential buildings throughout Greater Boston,” said Margaret Hogan, Chief Executive Officer. “The program continues to fill a critical role as a “safety net provider” in the delivery of social services and supports to residents during an unprecedented disruption in all facets of their daily lives. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of having community-based agencies focus on keeping older adults healthy and socially engaged. We understand the challenges that social distancing and isolation have created among residents, and we continue to offer new and meaningful ways to help them remain active and support their individual needs.”

About Boston Senior Home Care

Boston Senior Home Care (BSHC) is a private, nonprofit human services agency dedicated to ensuring that older adults and individuals with disabilities, particularly those of limited means, can remain safely in their homes with dignity and independence. Founded in 1974, BSHC provides older adults with affordable in-home care and community-based services. The organization also offers long-term services and supports for people with disabilities, education to help individuals maintain a healthy lifestyle and manage their chronic diseases, as well as resources and supports for caregivers. BSHC is one of Boston’s Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) serving Beacon Hill, Charlestown, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, North End, South Boston, and West End. For more information, visit bshcinfo.org.

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Good news is on the horizon. Pandemic restrictions are easing, masks are coming off and people are feeling more comfortable getting out and being with friends again. If you have spent too much time sitting at home and need to get out and stretch, perhaps it’s time to try yoga.

Yoga is an ancient practice that involves movement, meditation, and breathing techniques to promote mental and physical wellbeing. The traditional practice of yoga was quite rigorous. But, many schools of yoga have now simplified the techniques and made it easy for people of all ages and abilities to do.

For years, I’ve worked with Boston Senior Home Care (BSHC) to offer wellness and fall prevention programs, including yoga, for older adults and people with disabilities in their Supportive Housing program. During the pandemic, that practice continued but, like most health and wellness programs, we turned to virtual programming to keep residents safe. Two yoga programs that were converted to an online, virtual format were mindfulness and laughter yoga. BSHC’s tenant resource coordinators were invited to join the virtual sessions along with residents. Those virtual classes proved to be time well spent for all involved.

While mindfulness and laughter yoga are vastly different, they both provided a practical and accessible way of helping older residents cope with social isolation. For eight weeks, residents learned about mindfulness and its benefits to their health, wellbeing and resilience. Each week, I taught new mindfulness techniques and then work done with residents in the prior week’s class were reviewed and performed to help participants deepen their mindfulness practices. At the conclusion of the mindfulness program, laughter yoga was then introduced.

The eight weeks of mindfulness yoga training were spent in relative silence by practicing calming breathing exercises, listening to sounds to increase focus, and scanning the body for tension. But, the laughter yoga program that followed was the complete opposite. With laughter yoga comes chanting, “Ho Ho, Ha Ha Ha” and “Yay!” Happiness was in the air! Attendees learned about the many health benefits of laughter yoga, and they experienced an aerobic exercise that helped them reduce stress, boost their immune systems, burn calories, and lifted their spirits.

During the challenges of the pandemic, came peace of mind and laughter. Both of these qualities are foundational to becoming healthier and happier people – today and beyond. Perhaps it’s time for you to give it a try!

About the author, Debbie Lyn Toomey MSN, RN, is the owner of Ultimate Healing Journey, LLC. She is a keynote speaker, mindfulness practitioner, laughter yoga leader, and corporate trainer. Debbie authored the book, The Happiness Result – More time, More health, More love, More success.

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