Why should I get the flu shot, when statistics show that this year’s vaccine is only 23% effective?

The CDC states that this is a very uncommon year and still recommends getting vaccinated because the flu virus could shift again before the flu season ends. This is the only protection we have at this time and may reduce and prevent severe outcomes such as hospitalization or death.

People 65 or older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu including pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions.

Flu symptoms include cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also experience vomiting and diarrhea. A person infected with the flu may have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

Here are some preventative actions for this flu season to make sure you and your loved ones remain healthy:

  • Build up your immune system by getting enough rest; eating healthy- include lots of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet; drinking lots of water. These are essential in strengthening your immune system to help fight the flu.
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash hands often, cover coughs, and avoid people who are sick.
  • Seek medical advice quickly if you develop flu symptoms – early treatment with antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu lessens the severity of symptoms and shortens the duration. GENENTECH offers a $10 coupon towards Tamiflu at www.tamiflu.com.
  • Encourage those who spend time with older adults to get vaccinated against the flu. The flu is air borne and can be passed from person to person. It is important that people who spend time with the elderly, including family members and caregivers, get vaccinated against the flu.

All SafeHarbor caregivers are urged to get the flu vaccination to ensure the best care for our clients.

For information about SafeHarbor and home healthcare on Staten Island call: 718-979-6900


Pretty nurse and senior patient in a wheelchair looking at camerReturning home from the hospital can be a traumatic experience for the elderly for many reasons. In most cases the patient has been 100% dependent on hospital staff and the transition to life with less help at home can be a challenge. Assistance may be needed in the home because the elderly person may need help or supervision with certain activities. While many people can provide a certain amount of care themselves, they may need assistance part time or with certain tasks. The need of a registered nurse may also be necessary.

In the case of a fall in the home that leaves a person with hindered mobility, assistance with moving a patient and catering to their needs is essential, and can help to prevent additional injuries. Each year one out of every three older adults (aged 65 or older) falls. Falls are the leading cause of death for people 65 or older. The good news is that many falls are preventable. The elderly should exercise when possible to increase balance and leg strength, have vision checked periodically, and safeguard their homes from falling hazards. Some medications do not work well together and can increase the likelihood of falling.

Alzheimer’s patients might need assistance in tasks such as cooking, bathing, dressing, as well as supervision and all around care. 5.2 million people over the age of 65 in the US have Alzheimer’s, and 70% of those people are cared for at home.

Stroke victims may need help with day-to-day tasks. 40% of all stroke victims will fall in the home within a year of the stroke. Over 750,000 Americans suffer from stroke each year. It is the fourth most common cause of death. On average, a stroke occurs in America every 40 seconds. Stroke victims can develop dysphagia, which makes it harder to swallow. With dysphagia, victims may inhale food/drink into the lungs and airways, causing asphyxiation. Pneumonia can develop from this as well. Speech-language pathologists should evaluate the victims ability to swallow and talk. Rehabilitation should be considered for stroke victims, as they will need to restore muscle function and strength for everyday tasks. For these reasons qualified supervision is prudent.

When returning from the hospital the addition of certain items can make home care easier. The installation of a portable toilet containing a bucket, grab-rails, and raised seat in the bedroom can make things accessible. Moreover, the use of adult diapers can help alleviate accidents. When taking a shower or bath, make sure the levers or knobs are clearly labeled and elongated for easy use. Additionally, rubber mats in the shower as well as shower chairs can help prevent falls. For the main bedrooms insert a light switch or lamp near the bed to illuminate the room to prevent falling in the dark. If you are using the stairs in your home, install and check the handrails annually. Furthermore, if you use the stairs multiple times in the day, consider adding a stair-lift inside your home. Lastly, all of these excellent items can make home care easier for you and your loved one.

For more information contact Safe Harbor at (718)-979-6900

18In-home care and assisted living facilities has been an increasing segment of elder care in the past decade. Approximately more than 1.8 million people live in nursing homes today and will gradually decrease in years to come. Statistics have shown a slight decrease in the number of seniors living in nursing homes for every year that goes by and medicine seems to play a major role for these results. The improved health of seniors, more choices for the elderly and the rising costs of health care today all contribute to this new trend.

Elder care is of the utmost concern now as 79 million baby boomers turn 60 and over.  Of course, the preference both personally and financially is to remain at home as long as possible.  

Many elderly people today have managed to remain living in their homes with community support services and these systems are becoming a worldwide trend as populations age. Adult children seek viable and reasonable choices for taking care of their elderly parents. As such, home care is the most flexible choice.  There are many community support system options for your older loved one including:

Adult Day Care: is non-medical care with community based programming to meet the needs of adults with disabilities

Chore and Personal Care Assistance: Service is provided by individuals to elderly people who need help to maintain independent life. Personal care offers assistance to maintain bodily hygiene, safety and daily activities for every-day life. A personal care assistant can do what your elderly loved one can’t.

Care Management: Helps clients gain access to waiver and other local services. Care managers are responsible for ongoing monitoring of the clients plan of care and oversee the process of the level of care.

Housing Assistance: Includes provision of physical devices, emergency assistance situations that require relocation.

Meal Services: Includes meals that are served and delivered to the house.

Protective Supervision: Provides supervision to people in their homes that have weak and frail or may suffer a medical emergency.

Respite: Supervision and care for a loved one while the family takes a short-term relief or respite.

Social Services: Social reassurance/ friendly is able to visit, group or individual counseling, and money management.

Transportation: Offers access around the community and special events for clients who don’t own transportation.

For more information contact Safe Harbor at 718-979-6900

Laughing With Elderly LadyToday, many people don’t understand the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. By knowing the meaning of both terms you will be able to determine the correct symptoms for you or a family member.

Dementia refers to a set of symptoms, not the disease itself. Some of the symptoms include: memory loss, personality change, and impaired intellectual functions, trauma to the head, brain tumors, stroke or diseases like Alzheimer’s.

These cognitive problems are an obvious change compared to the person’s cognitive functioning earlier in life and are severe enough to get in the way of ordinary daily living, such as social and occupational activities.

A perfect analogy to term dementia is “fever.”

Fever refers to a higher temperature, specifying that a person is sick. But it does not give any evidence about what is producing the sickness. In the same way, dementia means that there is something wrong with a person’s brain, but it does not deliver any information about what is causing the memory or cognitive complications. Remember, dementia is not a disease; it is the clinical presentation or symptoms of a disease.

There are many probable causes of dementia. Some causes are reversible, such as certain thyroid conditions or vitamin deficiencies. If these problems are recognized and treated, then the dementia reverses and the individual can return to their normal functioning.

Nevertheless, most causes of dementia are not changeable. Rather, they are worsening diseases of the brain that decays over time.

Conversely, Alzheimer’s is a specific disease that attacks the brain. It is considered the most common form of dementia and causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually grow slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.  In its early stages memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s individuals lose the ability to convey on a conversation and respond to their situation. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to twenty years, depending on age and other health conditions.

Alzheimer's is not a typical part of aging, though the greatest known threat factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer's are 65 and older. But Alzheimer's is not just a disease for older people. About 5 percent of individuals with the disease have early onset Alzheimer's (also known as younger-onset), which normally appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.

Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are accessible. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from developing, they can briefly slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

When it comes to screening for Dementia or Alzheimer’s there is no substitute for a thorough examination by a skilled physician.

For more information on care for a loved one suffering from these illnesses contact Safe Harbor at (718)-979-6900.

bigstock-Fallen-Senior-11703836Trips and falls can be extremely devastating for seniors. Fortunately, some simple tips can help keep elderly family members safe when they're on the go and at home, and prevent injury:

Check Your Vision

·See your doctor for a vision check up every year and pursue treatments that will correct any problems you find out. Weak depth perception can lead to problems navigating uneven or slippery terrain.

Exercise Weekly

·Healthy seniors who live home should exercise at least twice a week to retain strength and agility. (Make sure to contact your doctor before starting any exercise program.)

Wearing The Correct Shoes

· Avoid shoes that don’t fit you correctly. Wearing Ill-fitting footwear can increase your chances of falling on slippery surfaces and decrease your overall stability. Search for shoes with a rubber sole that suggests a good grip while walking.

Check Up On Your Equipment

·If you currently use a cane or a walker, make sure the rubber tips are intact. Worn out tips can decline the dependability of your device and even cause a traumatic fall. New rubber tips are available for purchase at your local surgical supply store or drugstore.

Research Your Medication

·Have you medications reviewed by a medical professional, since some medicines contain side effects including dizziness or a lack of stability.

Stay Indoors During Inclement Weather

·Stay home during dangerous weather conditions such as heavy rain or snow, or when there is an accumulation of snow or ice on the sidewalks.

Update Your Home

·Search around your house for fall hazards, including unsecured area rugs, loose electrical cords, and items on the floor, like papers, slippers and other mess.

Children of elderly parents are being provided with the valuable option of in-home senior care. Deciding how to take care of your aging parent comes with limited choices. You can bring them to a nursing home, move in with you, or hire a home health care service to take care of their everyday needs. Today many people choose the first two options, and frequently choose either or, even though there are common challenges to each.

Many people are not aware of the usual difficulties with putting an elderly loved one in a nursing home. Seniors typically get lonely and it is hard for someone to be relaxed in an odd place where they don’t see their family members often.

Moving your elderly parent in your home has its own challenges. If you and your spouse are working, there is usually no time to take care of your loved one and their health. In addition, most people don’t specialize in elder care and may not have the ability to correctly care for your senior.

Home care is a developing service today and it has many benefits for your loved one. Safe Harbor Healthcare Services provides benefits from hiring an in home service care agency to take care of your parents everyday needs.

Reduced anxiety and stress

Moving your loved one in a nursing home can put major stress on you, your loved one, and other family members. Quite often their health issues can become more severe and lead to further medical complications. Receiving elder care in your loved one’s home can provide them with comfort and a stress free environment. They will also feel the same independence and quality of life they’ve been used to.

Needs of care is customized to individual

In home care services provides one on one support for your elderly one, unlike huge institutions such as nursing homes and hospitals. Hiring a home care agency assures your elderly loved one will receive personalized care every day.

Saving money

With in-home health care for your parent, you will save thousands by not having to deal with outrageous hospital bills, nursing bills, or even the state taking ownership of their house. At a fraction of the cost, in home care services saves your loved one and the entire family’s money in medical bills.

For more information about In-Home Health Care Services, contact Safe Harbor Healthcare Services at 718-979-6900

fruit-salad-11289323714od5As your loved one gets older, the importance of eating healthy is vital for a longer life. The benefits of eating healthy include increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, more energy, and better management of health problems. That’s why Safe harbor has come up with nutrition and diet tips for your elderly loved ones.

How many calories do adults over 50 need?


  • Very active woman needs about 2000 calories a day

  • Someone who is a little active needs about 1800 a day

  • Not physically fit needs about 1600 calories a day


  • Very active men need about 2400-2800 calories a day

  • Someone who is a little active needs about 2200-2400 calories a day

  • Not physically fit needs about 2000 calories a day.

What does your body need?

  • Fruit: Try to eat whole fruits instead of juices for more fiber and vitamins. Make sure to watch the portion size and have 1 to 2 servings every day. Go for color rich fruits such as berries and melons.

  • Veggies:  Color is important in this category. Try to incorporate antioxidant rich vegetables including kale, spinach and broccoli. Make sure to also orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots, squash, and yams. The serving size should be 2 to 2 ½ cups of veggies every day.

  • Calcium: Drinking enough calcium can prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. It is important to drink milk since it maintains your bone health. Older adults need 1,200 mg of calcium a day through dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese. There are also non-dairy choices including tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale.

  • Grains: Choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and more fiber. Look for breads, pastas, and cereals that list whole grains in their ingredients. Try and eat 6-7 ounces of grains each day.

  • Protein: Adults 50 and over need approximately 0.5 grams per pound of their bodyweight. To find out the right amount you simply divide your bodyweight in half to know how many grams of protein you need.


Senior woman in a wheelchair Elderly people (65 years and older) are more prone to heat stress than younger individuals for many reasons:


• Elderly people don’t adjust well as young people do to abrupt changes in temperature.

• They are more probable to have a prolonged medical condition that upsets normal body responses to warmer temperatures.

• They are more likely to take prescription medicines that weaken the body's capability to balance its temperature.


Tips to protect the elderly from heat-related stress:

• Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic, and non-caffeinated beverages. Also, avoid exceptionally cold liquids since they cause cramps.

• Make sure to get enough sleep.

• Take a nice cool shower or bath.

• Seek an air-conditioned environment if it’s probable.

• If you don't have air conditioning, go visit an air-conditioned shopping mall or store to cool off right away.

• Wear clothes that are loose.

• If you can, stay indoors during the heat of the day.

• Stay away from vigorous activities.

• Sunblocks and sunscreens with (SPF 15) are extremely helpful when one is exposed to direct sunlight.

Safety on the Road for Aging Drivers


Helen's first car was a navy blue 1959 Monte Carlo. In her first 48 years of driving, she was
accident free; however, beginning in 2010, she was involved in several minor fender benders.  At
82 years of age, Helen is still in adequate physical health with a sharp mind- she still considers
herself a good driver, but why do these accidents continue to occur?  

Helen's story is not uncommon and you might have asked yourself these same questions.  
Helen might be your mother, sister, grandmother or friend.  Just because you or a loved one is
getting older doesn't always mean it is time to stop driving; however, there are several changes
associated with aging that everyone should be aware of.


Reaction Times

One of the most important abilities to have when driving is the power to react quickly.  Other
drivers, road conditions, weather, heavy traffic and several additional components make it
necessary to think and react fast.  Over time as muscles weaken, it might be more difficult to
move quickly.  Furthermore, it might be harder to think quickly as well.  By following these tips,
you or a loved one can avoid accidents:

-break early when you know you need to stop
-for every 10 mıles per hour you drive, leave 10 feet of space.  (ex.  40 miles per hour/ forty feet
behind the car in front of you)
-Avoid high traffic areas when possible
-Call your local AAA agency and ask if defensive driving classes are offered.  AARP also offers
-Use the right hand lane on the expressway.  Because traffic moves slower in this lane, you will
have more time to think and make decisions.
-Be conscious that your mind and body might be going through changes.  Talk about these
changes with your doctor during annual checkups.



Diseases and conditions such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, dementia and other
ailments may limit one's ability to operate a vehicle and, therefore, it might be time to stop
driving.  Alzheimer's disease and dementia can make driving difficult because limited memory
can cause one to forget how to get to simple places such as the *bank or grocery.  The worst
part of these conditions is that the driver might not realize what is going on and thus doesn't
recognize a problem. In the case of a stroke or arthritis, driving may be more difficult because
reaction times and the ability to move quickly can sometimes be greatly diminished.  If you or a
loved one is at risk *for any of these conditions, have a doctor evaluate your overall condition.

Physical Changes


Weakening muscles and stiff joints are common with aging.  This can make it harder to turn your
head or to turn the steering wheel quickly.  Being physically active is a benefit to your health
overall and can loosen your body so that these physical maneuvers can be made easier. Another
good idea for aging drivers is to drive with an automatic transmission and as always, make your
doctor aware if stiffness or discomfort is getting in the way of your ability to drive.


Hearing Loss

The ability to hear while driving is of utmost importance. Horns, sirens, sounds from your
vehicle and other external noises are warnings that could result in injury or even death if
ignored.  Beginning at age 50, American Hearing Association recommends having your hearing
checked every 3 years.  Many hearing issues can be treated by a doctor and in severe cases, a
hearing aid can successfully improve hearing ability.  Keeping the car quiet by not blaring the
radio is always good advice even for people with no hearing loss.

Vision Loss

Eye diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma decrease the ability to see
properly while medications can also complicate proper vision.  Even if you or a loved one has
not been diagnosed with these ailments, decreased vision is usually associated with aging,
thereby making it difficult to read signs, recognize places and gauge how soon you need to
break.  By visiting an optometrist, you can have your overall vision tested and also learn about
removing a cataract if necessary.  In addition to this, it's a good idea to avoid night driving as this
is the most dangerous time for the visually impaired to be on the road.



It is not unusual to increase your intake of medications as you get older.  Various medications
have a wide arrange of side effects and many can make you feel lightheaded, drowsy and not
fully alert.  Because all drugs affect people differently, it is best to consult a doctor or pharmacist
with a full list of your medications.


When is it Time to Stop Driving?

The thought of having to stop driving can be overwhelming and depressing; however, it's one
of the most important decisions you will have to make because continuing to drive when you
shouldn't puts yourself and others in danger.
Because each individual ages at a different rate with different circumstances, there is no set age
when you should cease driving.  To help you answer this question, you should ask yourself the


– Do I find myself lost even on roads that are familiar?
– Have loved ones or my doctor commented on my safety when driving?
– Do people, cars or objects seem to appear abruptly and without warning?
– Is it often that other cars honk at me?
– Is staying in my lane an issue?
– Do I not drive as often as I used to because I am questioning my own driving ability?
– Do I have trouble effectively using the break and gas pedals? Do I ever confuse the two?

If you are answering yes to most of these questions, it might be time to consider other
transportation options. While sacrificing your license might feel like losing your independence,
you are protecting yourself and others. If you answer yes to only a few of these questions, it is
best to consult your doctor and loved ones to determine how you can maximize your safe driving

At SafeHarbor Home Care, we provide care to meet more than just the medical needs of
our clients. Our trained caregivers provide services that maintain our clients' dignity and
independence and their quality of life. We know that it so important, especially during periods
of illness and recovery, for people to be in familiar surroundings and continue to enjoy daily


Please contact SafeHarbor to learn how we can help you or a family member with the activities
of daily living, including help outside the home. Our licensed and trained caregivers can
accompany you or a loved one wherever you need to go–medical appointments, errands, family
or social outgoings. Call us–we can help

Recently, The Joint Commission has launched a campaign called “SPEAK UP.”  It is a program designed to empower patients to become advocates for themselves to prevent errors in the field of health care.  It is necessary to “Speak Up” to make sure you or your loved one are getting the proper care and that protocol is being followed to ensure that your health is in the best of hands. 

At Safe Harbor Homecare, we want you to be involved in the care we are providing to you.  We feel it is important to have you as part of the process every step of the way.  With a better understanding of the care we are providing, it builds a stronger trust and bond between our homecare aids and patients making the overall experience easier and more enjoyable for both parties. 

Each letter in the acronym “SPEAK UP” stands for a different way you can get involved in your care and become a better advocate for yourself. 

S- Stands for speaking up if you have any questions or concerns.  It is your health and you should understand everything that is going on with how you are being cared for.  If you do not understand something, do not hesitate to ask again or for further explanation.  It is our duty to make sure that you feel comfortable and we want you to appreciate the care you are receiving. 

P- Stands for paying attention to the care you are receiving.  Knowing the specific care you are getting and if it is correct will help avoid errors and keep you involved in your care plan.  It is important to ask questions if something does not seem right.  Always make sure your care giver is wearing the proper identification and that he or she knows who you are and the proper doses of medication you receive.  Also note if your home care professional is washing their hands.  Hand washing prevents infection; you should not be afraid to remind them to do this.  Being aware of the care you are receiving reassures you and avoids mistakes from being made in this important field of care.

E- Stands for educating yourself about your condition, care plan, and services you will be receiving.  Ask your doctor about your condition and what kind of care you should be getting.  Also be sure to read all documents before you sign them.  Ask questions if you do not understand any aspect of a document.  It is your care and educating yourself as much as possible on your condition and care plan will help ensure you are getting the best care you can. 

A -Stands for asking a close friend or family member to be your advocate in times of need.  There may be times when you will be too stressed or not feeling well enough to “speak up” for yourself.  The person you select to be your advocate will be there at these times to ask questions for you and make sure you are getting the proper care.  They should also be aware of your wishes for life saving efforts and what to do if your condition worsens.  They should also read over important documents with you, so both of you fully understand the care plan you will be receiving. 

K- Stands for knowing what medications you take and why you are taking them.  Ask your doctor information about the medications you are given and if they are safe to take with other medications or over-the-counter medicines.  Be aware of the side effects of each medication.  Make sure the prescription is legible and if not, ask for it to be printed to guarantee the pharmacist gives you the right medicine.  Your advocate should also be aware of the medications you are taking and the correct dosages.  If your home care professional is administering your medications, make sure it is the right prescription and dosage.  Staying aware can avoid mistakes in administering medications. 

U- Stands for using a home care organization that is reputable.  It is important that they meet their own standards and of home care organizations nationwide.  Ask if they have worked with people with your condition before and the services they offer for you.  Be sure the home care organization is accredited and follows the rules that keep patients safe and makes sure quality standards are high. 

P- Stands for participating in your home care plan.  You are the core of your home care.  Every decision should be made with you, not for you.  You should have a say in every step of your home care plan.  You should know and get along with your home care professional and understand the treatment you will be receiving from them.  Ask about alternative options in your specific care and what is best for you. 

Safe Harbor Homecare has been serving Staten Island for nearly half a century.  Our business is prided on delivering high quality nursing and home health services to our patients and to maintain our long standing reputation for excellence in home care on Staten Island.  We urge our patients to learn about the “SPEAK UP” campaign and become advocates for themselves.  We want our patients to be involved in their care plans, so their experience with our service is the best it can be.