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Maintaining a Care Plan for Older Adults

January 29, 2024

Developing and maintaining a care plan will help you balance both your life and that of the person to whom you are providing care!

Are you a caregiver for an older adult with dementia or another chronic health condition? If so, do they have a care plan? Having a care plan can help you as a caregiver, especially if there are multiple caregivers, to aid with transitions and to have all important information in one place.

What is a care plan?

A care plan is a form [1.48 MB] where you can summarize a person’s health conditions, specific care needs, and current treatments. The care plan should outline what needs to be done to manage the care needs. It can help organize and prioritize caregiving activities. A care plan can give you a sense of control and confidence when managing caregiving tasks and help assure you that the care recipient’s needs are being met.

Care plans can especially be helpful if you care for more than one person.  Forty-two million Americans are caring for someone aged 50 or older; 24% are providing care for at least two people.

What should I include in the care plan?

The plan should include information about:

  • Personal Information (name, date of birth, contact information)
  • Health conditions
  • Medicines, dosages, and when/how given
  • Health care providers with contact information
  • Health insurance information
  • Emergency Contacts

How do I develop a care plan?

  • Begin a care planning conversation with the person you care for. Use Complete Care Plan [PDF – 1 MB] to help start and guide the discussions.
  • If the care recipient is unable to provide all the information needed, talk to others who regularly interact with them (a family member or home nurse aide) and invite them to join the discussions and help complete the form.
  • Ask about suitable care options for the person you care for. Medicare covers appointments to manage chronic conditions and discuss advanced care plans, including planning appointments for people with Alzheimer’s, other dementias, memory problems, or suspected cognitive impairment.
  • Try to update the care plan every year, or more often if the person you care for has a change in health or medicines. Remember to respect the care recipient’s privacy after reviewing their personal information and discussing their health conditions.

What are the benefits of a care plan?

  • Care plans can reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations and improve overall medical management for people with a chronic health condition, like Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Care plans can support you, the caregiver, so you can stay healthy.
  • Care plans can help retain quality of life and independence for the care recipient.

What about my own health?

If you’re a caregiver, taking care of yourself is crucial. Make sure to discuss any concerns you have as a caregiver with your health care provider. Caregivers can experience emotional, psychological, and physical strain. In addition, caregivers often neglect their own health. This neglect can increase their risk of having multiple chronic conditions. Nearly 2 in 5 caregivers have at least two chronic health conditions. Caregivers of people with dementia or Alzheimer’s are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and lower quality of life than caregivers of people with other chronic conditions.

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Seniors in Care Facilities Have More Protection Available This Year: CDC Encourages Vaccination Against Flu, COVID-19, and RSV

January 22, 2024

New research in this week’s MMWR finds that most nursing home residents haven’t received an updated COVID-19 vaccine or the new RSV vaccine.

This year, for the first time, vaccines are available to protect older adults in the United States against all three fall/winter respiratory illnesses: flu, COVID-19 and RSV. Older Americans who are not vaccinated are at greater risk of serious illness.

Leading up to this virus season, and throughout the fall, CDC has worked with other federal agencies, state and local health departments, and health care partners to address vaccine access issues and encourage uptake. CDC was a key participant in the Long Term Care Facility Summit on October 18, 2023, which was co-hosted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy. In addition to other activities, CDC regularly:

  • Monitors all reports and data about the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines.
  • Convenes bi-weekly calls with long-term care partners to address challenges/develop solutions.
  • Works to improve equitable access to vaccines by connecting manufacturers with long-term care pharmacies to prioritize vaccine distribution for the Bridge Access Program.
  • Distributes a weekly newsletter with respiratory virus resources and information specific to long-term care providers. (e.g., toolkits, FAQs, clinical resources, vaccine confidence resources)
  • Supports the education of partners through participation in speaking engagements and webinars.
  • Engages with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) toidentify solutions to address feedback from long-term care  partners around billing and reimbursement challenges which have been a barrier to vaccine administration. As a result, CMS issued a letter to plans and pharmacy benefit managers to outline the concerns and provide guidance on ways to improve practices.

Health care providers can continue to do their part by offering recommended vaccinations to residents. Nursing homes are encouraged to collaborate with state, local and federal public health, and long-term care pharmacy partners to address barriers contributing to low vaccination coverage. Vaccination is a key way to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death from flu, COVID-19 and RSV.


CDC works 24/7 protecting America’s health, safety and security. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are curable or preventable, chronic or acute, or from human activity or deliberate attack, CDC responds to America’s most pressing health threats. CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and has experts located throughout the United States and the world.

Recognizing Symptoms of Dementia and Seeking Help

January 8, 2024

As we age, our brains change, but Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, up to 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed. It helps to understand what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to brain health.

Normal brain aging may mean slower processing speeds and more trouble multitasking, but routine memory, skills, and knowledge are stable and may even improve with age. It’s normal to occasionally forget recent events such as where you put your keys or the name of the person you just met.

Symptoms of Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease

In the United States, 6.2 million people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. People with dementia have symptoms of cognitive decline that interfere with daily life—including disruptions in language, memory, attention, recognition, problem solving, and decision-making. Signs to watch for include:

  • Not being able to complete tasks without help.
  • Trouble naming items or close family members.
  • Forgetting the function of items.
  • Repeating questions.
  • Taking much longer to complete normal tasks.
  • Misplacing items often.
  • Being unable to retrace steps and getting lost.

Conditions That Can Mimic Dementia

Symptoms of some vitamin deficiencies and medical conditions such as vitamin B12 deficiency, infections, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), or normal pressure hydrocephalus (a neurological condition caused by the build-up of fluid in the brain) can mimic dementia. Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines can cause dementia-like symptoms. If you have these symptoms, it is important to talk to your health care provider to find out if there are any underlying causes for these symptoms.

For more information, see What Is Dementia?

How is Dementia Diagnosed?

A healthcare provider can perform tests on attention, memory, problem solving and other cognitive abilities to see if there is cause for concern. A physical exam, blood tests, and brain scans like a CT or MRI can help determine an underlying cause.

What To Do If a Loved One is Showing Symptoms

Talk with your loved one about seeing a health care provider if they are experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia to get a brain health check up.

Be Empowered to Discuss Memory Problems

More than half of people with memory loss have not talked to their healthcare provider, but that doesn’t have to be you. Get comfortable with starting a dialogue with your health care provider if you observe any changes in memory, or an increase in confusion, or just if you have any questions. You can also discuss health care planning, management of chronic conditions, and caregiving needs.

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