All Posts in Category: Patients Care

Alzheimer’s Post-Diagnosis Steps 

Do you have a loved one recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? You and your family are not alone. Currently, more than 6 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years. Despite the prevalence of Alzheimer’s, it is often a lonely experience for those diagnosed and their families.  

Having a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is life-changing. Everyone will feel the effects of the disease, so it’s essential to have a plan in place to ensure support and relief for everyone. Here are some helpful tips and steps for your loved one and yourself after a diagnosis. 

Protect Your Health as a Caregiver 

As a caregiver, you’ve decided to be your loved one’s primary caretaker. The best thing you can do to care for them is to stay physically and emotionally strong. 

In order to do this, it’s vital that you take care of yourself—and that includes getting enough rest and exercise; eating well; staying socially connected with friends and family; setting aside time for hobbies or other interests, and finding ways to relax. Home Health Companions can help you relax and provide you with a caregiver three or more days a week, four hours daily.  

Find a Support Group 

After a diagnosis, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. Finding a support group can help both those diagnosed and their caregivers cope with the life changes: 

  • Find a support group near you. Alzheimer’s Association chapters, community centers, and local senior centers often host support groups for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. You can also search online for local groups that meet in person or on the phone. 
  • Call the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline at (866) 232-8484 to learn more about helpful resources in your area and how they can help you navigate this new stage in life. 

Develop a Daily Care Plan 

You should develop a daily care plan for your loved one. This can be customized to their individual needs and refined as their condition changes. The plan should be realistic for your family and consider the time, resources, and finances that may be needed to provide care. 

The first step in developing a daily care plan is making sure you have all the necessary equipment and medications at home. Doing so ensures that if anything happens while you’re out running errands, a designated person to help will have everything they need. Having your daily care plan written and displayed in the home is helpful, so others who help have clear guidelines to follow. 

Seek In-home Care Services 

If you have a family member diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and would like them to stay in their home, the proper care services must be available. In-home care services can be lifesavers for both the person living with dementia and their caregivers. They allow Alzheimer’s patients to remain in a familiar environment while assisting in areas such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry. It also gives caregivers time away from daily household duties to give attention to other aspects of their life. This is especially important if you work full-time or still raise children at home. 

Home Health Companions Is Here to Help 

The more you know about the disease, the better equipped you are to care for your loved one and yourself. At Home Health Companions, we pride ourselves on our compassion and knowledge to help individuals and their families with Alzheimer’s.  

We offer in-home assessments where we can determine the best course of action to give you and your loved one the support you all deserve. Together, we’ll discuss all of your options and help empower you to make choices that ensure the best quality of life, security, and happiness for the entire family. 

At Home Health Companions, we’re proud to be a licensed in-home care company that specializes in working with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. To start your in-home assessment, contact us at (214)295-8213 or at our website contact form.  

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How One HHC Caregiver Helped Improve a Client’s Quality of Life 

It’s no secret that finding a caregiver for your loved one can be an overwhelming process. You want to know they’re getting the quality care they need, but you also want to make sure they’re happy and comfortable in their own space. 

But what if you don’t have family or friends to navigate this process for you?  

The Need for Home Health Companionship & Caregivers 

A Home Health Companions client was previously diagnosed with Alzheimer-Dementia. In addition, the client began to experience severe symptoms like UTIs, pneumonia, edema, severe pain, weight loss, and depression. They spent most of their time in and out of the exhausting cycle: emergency rooms, hospital admissions, rehab, and back home.  

The doctors believed many of these trips could have been avoided if the client had proper medication compliance. Since they live alone with no family or supervision nearby, there was no one to help them keep track of their 30 different medications — a serious concern, especially with their memory challenges.  

The Limitations of Medicare Home Health 

Although Medicare Home Health services provided this client baseline care, they were not receiving the care that was fully needed. Medicare programs can provide impactful solutions, but these programs often fall short with limitations like time constraints as well as the types of services a patient can receive like medication management. After an in-home assessment by one of our nurses, we discovered this client needed round-the-clock care, medication management, and medication delegation, all of which as a licensed home health provider we offer.   

How One HHC Caregiver Changed A Client’s Life 

It was a difficult path to get there, as a result of a Home Health Companions’ in-home assessment, this client like thousands of others found a caregiver who could provide the hands-on care needed at home. Eight-hour daily supervision from one of our Certified Nurse Assistants transformed this client’s quality of life, by helping them perform daily activities, delivering health care at home and providing medication management.  

This story is an unfortunate reality for many individuals. We serve clients like the above every day at Home Health Companions who deserve personalized, hands-on care.  

We’re here to help you find the same kind of peace of mind for you or your loved ones with free in-home assessments and consultations. We’ll work together to find the right fit for your unique situation. 

Sign up for a free in-home assessment to discuss your custom care options. It’s time to find the quality of care you deserve.  

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How to Select the Best Home Health Care Services for Your Loved Ones

Home health care services can include a variety of benefits for both the elderly and the chronically ill. They allow people to receive the necessary medical care and support they need in the comfort of their own home. Whether your loved one is in need of companionship and conversation or recovery help, Home Health Companions has a service that can suit their needs. We offer aging life care, caregiver and companionship, private duty nursing and other in-home care services. How do you know which is best for you? Let’s explore some of the popular in-home health services to understand what might be best for your loved ones.  

Caregivers and Companionship 

Sometimes, a friendly face is all it takes to brighten someone’s day. This service is the perfect option for anyone who has recently lost a spouse, friend, or is struggling with loneliness. It can also be a great option for anyone who has memory loss and could benefit from light supervision. Oftentimes, companion and conversation services also come with meal preparation services. 

In-Home Recovery 

If your loved one has recently suffered a stroke or other health emergency, in-home rehabilitation services can help them recover. This service includes physical therapy, speech therapy, or muscle rehabilitation. Regardless of what their rehabilitation journey looks like, in-home recovery services can help. 

Housekeeping and Laundry 

For assistance completing daily, weekly, or monthly chores, consider consulting a housekeeping and laundry service. This in-home service can help with routine housekeeping such as washing dishes, vacuuming, laundry, dusting, and changing the bed sheets. Housekeeping services can help alleviate a lot of the physical strain on your loved one. 

Meal Preparation 

Another popular in-home health service is meal preparation. Meals are often prepared during daily visits. This service ensures that your loved one has plenty of healthy and delicious meals to eat. 

Incontinence Care and Personal Hygiene 

If your loved one needs daily care with bathing, toileting, dressing, and grooming, this is the service for them. In-home incontinence care and personal hygiene services can help them feel fresh and confident. 

Medication Reminders 

Sometimes it can be challenging to stay on top of medication. That’s where medication reminders come in. Caregivers will monitor adherence to medication timing and dosages to ensure that your loved one is staying on track. 

Errand Service and Shopping 

For many people, it can be difficult to get out, especially after an injury or medical emergency. When you select errand and shopping services for your loved one, you can ensure that their errands are run and their weekly shopping is completed. 

Transportation 

Feeling cooped up all the time can make your loved one feel trapped or confined. Thankfully, there is a service that can help them get out and explore the world safely. When you need to arrange for your loved one to make it to and from appointments, transportation services come in handy.  

Home Health Companions is Here to Help

At Home Health Companions, we understand how important it is to get the appropriate care for your loved ones. That’s why we provide the best in-home health services to suit your family’s needs. The above list can be used as a guide during your in-home assessment to develop a custom solution for your family. Contact us today at 214-295-8213 to speak with a representative regarding your home health needs. 

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Female Home Health Private Nurse

What Is a Private Duty Nurse or Caregiver?

The COVID-19 pandemic transformed the way we view our lifestyles, goals, and careers. One survey showed over half of employees now want a career that allows them to contribute even more to society and their communities.

If this is you, you’re not alone. Does the thought of helping people who need care give you a sense of purpose? If so, becoming a private duty nurse or caregiver may be a rewarding career choice for you.

But… What is a private duty nurse? Who needs private duty nursing? What are the duties of caregivers? And why should you become one?

Let’s explore these questions in more detail to help you know if it’s the right fit for your goals and ambitions to contribute to the world around you.

What Is a Private Duty Nurse?

A private duty nurse is a registered nurse who provides specialized healthcare services in a patient’s home. A caregiver can also work in assisted living facilities or a hospital.

Private duty nurses may work under the direction of an established agency or on their own. Their goal is to provide quality care and improve the lives of those they serve. They may work on a short-term or long-term basis.

Who Needs Private Duty Nursing?

Private duty nursing is typically required when a patient needs constant special care, such as someone who has had major surgery or has a terminal illness. Private duty nursing has no age limit, but it’s common for the elderly and individuals with chronic diseases.

Some common medical conditions that may require private duty nursing include:

Duties of a Private Duty Nurse

As a private duty nurse, you’ll be responsible for providing compassionate, one-on-one care to patients according to their needs.

Some of the duties will be directed by a physician, while others will be based on your own assessment of the patient’s condition.

Directed duties may include:

  • Monitoring the patient’s vital signs, such as temperature and blood pressure
  • Taking blood samples for testing
  • Administering medications
  • Wound care and dressing

Discretionary duties may include:

  • Helping the patient bathe and dress
  • Feeding patients
  • Shopping
  • Preparing meals

Why Become a Private Duty Nurse in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Area

If you’re looking for a way to make your nursing career more exciting, challenging, and rewarding, becoming a private duty nurse is the perfect solution. At Home Health Companions, our exceptional private duty nurses have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others by supporting what matters most: home, health, and relationships. Apply now to serve others, further your healthcare career, and enjoy competitive pay, benefits, and continuing education opportunities.

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What is the Difference Between Medicare Nursing and Private Nursing Care?

Quality care is delivered in the home.  

When your loved one’s needs begin to change and evolve, they deserve extra love, care, and attention. Thanks to home health care, many services can now be delivered in the comfort of their own home rather than in a hospital or assisted living center. 

With home health care, you can help create a quality of life for your loved one, empowering the confidence, convenience, and comfort of their care today, tomorrow, and in the months to come.  

Choosing a Home Health Care Provider 

There are two main routes you can take in home health care: Medicare Nursing and Private Nursing Care. Let’s define each method to determine which is best for your loved one.  

What is Medicare Nursing? 

Medicare nursing is a type of limited care covered by Medicare. Medicare is a government-funded health insurance program serving qualifying seniors ages 65+ and other eligible individuals with disabilities. Medicare nursing typically supports short-term care over long-term care solutions.  

The type, length, and scope of care the patient qualifies for depends on their doctor’s approval and Medicare regulations. To receive Medicare nursing services, you must work with a Medicare-certified home health care agency.  

What is Private Nursing Care? 

Private nursing care is for seniors or individuals with disabilities who need specialized assistance in the home. Private nursing care is paid for privately instead of through Medicare. As a result, private duty nursing care is personalized and flexible to provide for the patient’s individual needs.  

Private duty home care patients can receive as much support as they need, whether short-term or long-term.  

Differences Between Medicare Nursing and Private Duty Nursing Care 

While both types of care can be beneficial, there are some key differences to be aware of, particularly regarding pricing, services, and the overall structure of care:  

Medicare Nursing in Home Health Care 

Payment Methods 

Does Medicare pay for home health nursing? Yes, to an extent. 

Medicare pays for the services your Medicare-certified home health agency provides during a 30-day period. Patients can qualify for more than one 30-day period, depending on their eligibility.  

Application Process 

To qualify for Medicare home health benefits, you must meet each of the following criteria

  • Primary care physician’s approval for at least one of the following services: 
  • Part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care 
  • Physical therapy 
  • Speech-language therapy 
  • Occupational therapy 
  • Patient must be homebound or unable to leave home without assistance. 
  • You must receive services from a Medicare-certified home health care agency. 

Types of Services 

Medicare only covers part-time or “intermittent” skilled nursing care. Intermittent care can only be less than 8 hours daily and fewer than 28 hours weekly.  

You can receive this care for as long as you remain eligible and your doctor verifies you need it.  

Overall, Medicare nursing services can include: 

  • Skilled nursing care 
  • i.e., wound dressing, certain injections, IVs, tube feedings, and teaching about medical care. 
  • Physical therapy 
  • Speech-language therapy 
  • Occupational therapy  
  • Medical social services, such as counseling. 

Medicare nursing does not cover the following services: 

  • 24-hour or full-time care. 
  • Long-term care. 
  • Medication management and administration.  
  • Homemaking or housekeeping. 

Private Nursing Care 

Payment Methods 

Private duty home care is private-pay, meaning you have control over the services, timeframes, and care methods. Private duty home care is typically covered by a combination of long-term care insurance, private medical insurance, the patient, or the patient’s family.  

One of the main differences between Medicare and private duty home care is that Medicare only pays for skills-based visits. This means a nurse will visit the patient’s home and check their vitals for a quick visit. Unlike private duty home care, Medicare is intended as a temporary service until nurses teach these same skills to the family or the patient gets better.  

Application Process 

With private duty home care, you will still need to be pre-approved by a doctor but you are not limited to the number of hours needed with a nurse for services. When you partner with a home health care agency, they will help match your loved one with the right services and plan based on their unique needs.  

Types of Services 

Private duty nursing care is indefinite and tailored to the patient’s medical and day-to-day needs. It can be offered either short-term or long-term and typically provides specialized nurses and professionals to deliver quality in-home care. 

Even if a nurse is scheduled with a patient for four hours, they will deliver comprehensive, customized services. During that time, they can provide expert wound care, medication management, or simple oversight, to mention a few.  

At Home Health Companions, our licensed nurses provide personalized one-on-one medical care for our patients, including general and specialized services such as: 

  • Medication and pain management 
  • Post-operative and wound care 
  • Diabetic care 
  • Heart disease and hypertension 
  • Respiratory therapy and care 
  • Foley/Colostomy care 
  • Personalized care plans, including light housekeeping and personal hygiene 
  • Parkinson’s care 
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia care 
  • Cancer care 
  • Hospice and palliative care 

Having flexible, diverse care options is essential, especially if your loved one needs specialized care and skills not paid for by a Medicare home health nurse.  

Key Differences Between Medicare Nursing and Private Duty Nursing Care 

In summary: 

  • Private duty home care offers a variety of specialized services, while Medicare only pays for limited care services
  • Private duty home care can be customized as a short-term or long-term solution, while Medicare is a temporary service. 
  • You do not have to qualify for private duty home care, while Medicare nursing requires ongoing doctor’s approval and the maintaining of other eligibility requirements. 

Find the Best Private Duty Nursing Home Health Care for Your Loved One in Dallas/Ft. Worth 

At Home Health Companions, we are on a mission to help you find the best care possible for your loved ones. With a team of exceptionally skilled nurses and caregivers, we are honored to create customized care options for your family members and their unique needs.  

Give us a call today at 214-295-8213 to learn more about our 24/7 private duty nursing care services. Together, we can provide the support and specialized care your loved one deserves in the comfort of their own home. 

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Home Health Companions: Safety help in Transferring a Loved One with Mobility Limitations

Moving or transferring a loved one with disabilities requires particular strength and coordination skills to prevent the caregiver and the loved one from injury. While a person with mobility limitations might need assistance to do basic activities like moving from the bed to the wheelchair or from the wheelchair to the toilet seat, the caregiver must also be prepared and knowledgeable in properly transferring the person.

 

Wheelchair training for caregivers and other basic tips are essential in transferring loved ones with mobility limitations. While these tips are easy to learn for the person’s family, hiring a professional from Home Health Companions (HHC) to help with mobility is a better approach to ensure your loved ones are moved safely.

Life is beautiful with our loved ones around. And as humans, we are wired not only to care for ourselves but also our loved ones. The urge to always care for loved ones, whether young or old, remains an innate desire for most humans. 

But the task could be challenging or even require expert hands when the loved one has disabilities and requires special mobility needs. It even becomes more difficult when you don’t have the time to start learning how to lift an elderly person from a chair. 

Read the techniques below to learn about practical wheelchair training for caregivers for safe transferring care. While some tips you will learn below are easy guides for family members, some require the expertise of professional transfer caregivers to execute. 

Let’s dive in.

 

Re-design the house for easy movement

Modifying the house for effortless accessibility is one of the first steps in transferring or moving a loved one with disabilities with ease. If the person with the disability is a kid, you might not have any issue modifying the apartment for easy movement. 

However, suppose your parents are the ones with mobility limitations. In that case, you have to sit them down and have a critical discussion with them about making necessary upgrades to the house to enhance easy navigation. 

Of course, they might initially bring up resistance because they are already used to the house arrangements. Ensure to convince them why you must modify the house to support their day-to-day movement within and without the apartment.

Some of the quick fixes would include:

  • One-floor living apartment
  • Transfer Training Handouts
  • Stair-free Entrances
  • Well-lit Rooms
  • Transfer Devices for Elderly
  • Grab Bars
  • Well-adjusted Toilet Heights
  • Vinyl Flooring 

More importantly, you can consult caregiver professionals such as Home Health Companions for the home safety evaluations of the loved one’s apartment. 

 

Learn proper body mechanics & communication

As stated above, transferring a loved one with mobility limitations effectively without hurting them or yourself requires special skills. You need to learn proper body mechanics for transferring patients and effective communication to do this effectively.  Learning how to lift an elderly person from a chair with proper body mechanics is now a must.

In this context, proper body mechanics for transfers primarily relates to how you move your body while moving a person with disabilities. The positioning of your legs and arms matters as much as the person you want to carry. 

Mind you, if you engage in poor body mechanics for transfers while moving your loved ones, you might mistakenly hurt yourself, eventually resulting in back pain. You should save your back and get a third person to assist you if you feel a strain.

Also, communication is vital when moving or transferring a loved one from a wheelchair. You must carry the person you intend to carry along at every stage. Talk to the person and explain what you are doing and intend to do. When you need them to participate in the transfer process, ask the person kindly what you need them to do.

 

8 Important Rules to Observe When Making a Wheelchair Transfer

You need strength and coordination to transfer a person in and out of a wheelchair. To successfully move a loved one with mobility limitations to or from the wheelchair to a car, toilet or shower seat, you need to observe these basic rules:  

  1. Move the wheelchair very near to where you want to transfer the person.
  2. Only transfer the person on their stranger side
  3. Position the wheelchair well and lock it while the person moves in or out of it.
  4. Adjust the foot pedals, and the leg rests well in order not to obstruct the transfer.
  5. Have a gait belt in hand to prevent injury to the person
  6. Embrace proper body mechanics for transfers to protect your back. Genuflect during the move and let your back maintain a natural curve position.
  7. When moving upward on a stair, ensure the person sits comfortably while pulling the wheelchair backward.
  8. Ensure the person is sitting with their legs 90 degrees at both the knees and hips

As established earlier, communication is vital to have a safe transfer process. Always remember to tell them what you intend and how you want to do it. 

 

Benefits of hiring a Home Health Companions’ Caregiver for help with transfer mobility 

Maybe the processes involved in moving a loved one with mobility limitations are too challenging for you. Or you don’t even have the strength and coordination skills to perform safe transfers for a person in a wheelchair. Don’t worry yourself too much; help is available if you are open to hiring a professional caregiver.

Only a few professionals have the training, strength and coordination to transfer people with mobility limitations safely. And Home Health Companions is one of the few places you can hire the best hands for the job.

The Home Health Companions is a one-stop caregiver service provider. Our team of professional and experienced caregivers makes it easier to remain at home and still be cared for when challenges occur in your loved ones’ daily lives. Our establishment offers professional body mechanics for caregivers.

At HHC, we provide other tailor-made services to meet a range of needs, whether you require caregivers and companions for ongoing care or recovery care. 

Our caregiver services feature these benefits:

  • Companionship for the person
  • Safe transfer of persons with mobility limitations 
  • Safeguarding transfer devices for elderly
  • Meal Preparation
  • Providing adequate transfer aids for the elderly
  • Light Housekeeping and Laundry
  • Incontinence Care and Personal Hygiene
  • Medication Reminders
  • Professional caregivers in body mechanics
  • Errand Service and Shopping 

Conclusion 

Now you have learned essential tips on safely transferring persons with mobility limitations. Though the techniques and rules appear simple and easy to follow, it takes special strength and coordination skills to ensure a safe transfer.

Hence, contact Home Health Companions for the best professional hands if you require caregivers to fill in for you in transferring your loved ones.

If wanna see more of Home Health Companions you can read other articles or go to our social media channels: Facebook and Instagram @Homehealthcompanions

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Why You Should Hire a Caregiver from Home Health Companions 

Have you recently noticed unusual signs in your parents? Maybe your parents find it challenging to perform basic household chores. This is just one sign that it might show that they are gradually aging, and it could be beneficial to hire a caregiver.  

Hiring an in-home caregiver might be one of the best decisions to help support your parents in this phase. Professional caregivers can help your aging parents get the specialized care and adequate support they need to age gracefully. You can also be at peace knowing that your parents are provided exceptional care and are in safe hands.  

The fact that you’re considering hiring a caregiver service for an elderly loved one shows how thoughtful and intentional you are about them. If you’re looking for a home health company that can help support the people you love, below are some of the answers to questions you might have and how to find the best caregivers.

How Caregivers Can Help:

Caregivers are professionals who perform basic tasks and offer specialized care to an aging or disabled person.  

These professionals are unlike domestic maids because they undergo formal training like nursing aides and caregiving courses. Also, they usually boast of in-depth experience in caring for older adults. These features assure a higher quality of care and help for your loved ones. 

Below are some of the duties of a caregiver: 

  • Grocery shopping, meal preparation, and feeding 
  • The offering of personal care such as bathing and dressing 
  • Transportation to appointments and other errands 
  • Essential housekeeping duties like laundry, light cleaning, etc. 
  • Medication reminders and walking assistance 

Benefits of Hiring a Caregiver 

As rightly stated, professional caregivers receive formal training to handle various circumstances. Due to this attribute, having a professional caregiver is advantageous. Some of the benefits are: 

1. Provision of Companionship 

According to research, one of the significant problems older adults face is loneliness and isolation. The lack of interaction of seniors with family members and peers often leads to anxiety, depression, and other disorders. 

An effective way to prevent your aging parents from the side effects of social isolation is by ensuring that they have regular social interactions. Putting this in place will help prevent and reduce the probability of seniors experiencing cognitive decline and depression. 

Providing a caregiver is a wise way to boost an older person’s interaction because companionship is integral to home care services. The nature of older adults makes them often become friends with their caregivers. Thus, the companion caregiver gives emotional support while an older adult is aging. 

Moreover, a caregiver can help your aging mom or dad get out of the house to socialize while enjoying more significant engagement opportunities like going on walks, seeing movies, listening to music, etc. 

In short, the offering of companionship to elderly ones by caregivers impacts their happiness and overall well-being in a positive way. 

2. Professional Expertise 

The knowledge and training in-home caregivers possess help them be in the best position to cater to the needs of aging loved ones. Their expertise makes them knowledgeable about various medical conditions that affect seniors. These health issues include: 

  • Dementia 
  • Alzheimer 
  • Parkinson 
  • Stroke and other health diseases 

The ability of caregivers to detect changes in loved ones’ physical and mental health can enable you to diagnose medical problems in their earliest stage. Also, their professional expertise makes them capable of cooking nutritious meals while managing medications.  

It is safe to say home health aides have all it takes to keep your loved ones happy, safe, and healthy. Thus, you can have peace of mind as a relative knowing that your aging loved ones are receiving world-class treatment from their home caregiver. 

3. Support for the family caregiver 

Caring for a senior loved one is challenging, particularly when you don’t have professional training in-home care. You can relate catering for older adults to a full-time job because of its high demand. Even when you are not physically present to help or assist them, your mind is always with them.  

Rather than constantly worrying or thinking about their well-being and safety, hiring a caregiver will serve as a stress relief for you. This action will give you the support you need to meet your loved one’s demands.  

As the eldercare services step in to perform their job, you get to remove the burdens of caring for an older adult. In all, the support from in-home caregivers serves as anxiety relief and, at the same time, reduces family members’ risk of experiencing burnout. 

4. Provision of safe transportation services and support for independence 

The moment you realize that your parents’ driving is beginning to pose a risk to both themselves and other people, telling them to give up driving might be the best decision to make. Even though this might not go well with them, you have to do this for their well-being.  

This action will cost them a lot of things as the lack of consistent transportation can hinder your loved ones’ routines. It can also restrict their ability to visit friends, run errands, attend religious services, etc. More importantly, it can increase their feeling of helplessness as they have no other choice than to depend on other people for a ride. 

Hiring a Home Health Companions helps minimize the adverse effects of your parents’ giving up the keys. Private home care will help take your seniors to social activities, appointments, and taking medical tests such as a colonoscopy, endoscopy, etc. Due to this provision, they enjoy a higher degree of independence which ultimately eases their negative feelings like loneliness and depression. 

In addition, the personal care and hygiene your aging parents receive from their eldercare enable them to enjoy their old age at home rather than at a care facility. Thus, your loved ones receive personalized care while retaining their: 

  • Comfort 
  • Confidence 
  • Dignity  
  • Independence  

 

5. Affordable and Flexible 

Hiring a caregiver is cheaper than putting a senior in a facility. This verdict is true because you get to decide the number of hours the caregiver will be working; this will help prevent you from paying for care you do not need. Also, insurance policies are often enough to cover a significant portion of the cost of in-home care, whereas it isn’t for assisted living facilities or nursing homes. 

From reports, older adults who receive home care after an illness or injury exhibit lower hospital readmission rates and recover faster than those who are taken care of in a care facility. This feature will eliminate heavy emotional burdens while allowing for significant financial benefits for you and your loved one. 

Moreover, caregivers help you complete most of the tasks that would have been your responsibility, allowing you to enjoy more time and flexibility. In summary, you get more physical and mental energy to focus on other parts of your life while managing your time wisely. 

6. Support for daily living activities 

Generally, caregivers go through training in various aspects, including: 

  • Mobility assistance 
  • Lessening the possibilities of accident or danger 
  • Movement and positioning of elderly, etc 

All these attributes enable in-home help to improve your loved one’s safety at home. 

Also, a dementia caregiver helps ensure that your aging loved one is in good condition. This provision is essential because seniors commonly experience physical and mental degradation during their aging process. This phenomenon often results in poor hygiene that may result in adverse effects like skin irritations and rashes on your elderly family member’s health.  

Hire Home Health Companions  

Now that you know how beneficial hiring a caregiver will be for you and your loved ones, you’re most likely wondering how to go about the hiring. Truthfully, the hiring process can be tedious for those who don’t know how to do it. Since your priority is to provide your older loved ones with the best care, finding the qualified in-home help that best suits their needs can make the search process even more difficult. 

But there’s nothing to worry about now that you have heard about Home Health Companions. The Home Health Companions is the one-stop service provider for everything caregiving. Our team of professional and experienced caregivers makes it easier to remain at home and still be cared for when challenges occur in your loved ones’ daily lives. 

Here, we offer custom-made services to meet a range of needs, whether you require caregivers and companions for ongoing care or recovery care. Our caregiver services include but are not limited to: 

  • Companionship and Conversation 
  • In-home Recovery 
  • Meal Preparation 
  • Light Housekeeping and Laundry 
  • Incontinence Care and Personal Hygiene 
  • Medication Reminders 
  • Transportation 
  • Errand Service and Shopping  

Contact us today and see your dream of offering your parents the best care they deserve in their golden years come to reality. 

Conclusion  

Hopefully, we were able to ease your doubts about hiring a caregiver for your loved ones with the information you now have about professional caregivers. Hiring a caregiver is one of the best investments you could make for your parents. Connect with Home Health Companions and allow us to help support you and your parents as they age gracefully. 

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Caregivers Provide Light Housekeeping Services for Seniors | Elder Care, Senior Home Care Helping Seniors Live Well at Home

Respiratory Therapy & Care

When we think of respiratory problems, we automatically understand that a case of this nature could be potentially life-threatening because, without our respiratory system, we cannot function. However, some specialists can help provide you with the best treatment to improve your quality of life for these respiratory problems. These therapies or respiratory care include evaluating and diagnosing a patient with respiratory issues and providing treatment plans, management, and ongoing assessment to improve and help a better quality of life for people living with this problem. A patient of any age, especially someone older, can receive respiratory therapy as many diseases, injuries, conditions, and symptoms can impact breathing. Patients would benefit from care to make breathing easier.

 

Home Health Companions provides Respiratory care for patients in the short-term, long-term, and indefinitely for rehabilitation after an illness or for patients with progressive diseases that will not recover. Respiratory therapy involves using many tools, strategies, technology, and equipment to manage symptoms and improve breathing over time.

While it’s simple to hire any group to aid you or your family with breathing problems, you want a group dedicated to sticking with you and providing the best care. At Home Health Companions, our trained nurses help to guide you through your healing or coping processing with the guidelines created by your Respiratory therapists responsible for evaluating and treating you. In making the best route for care to resolve or assist problems and illnesses within the lungs, The main priority is diagnosing your issue, whether lung disease or breathing disorders, managing breathing equipment, and evaluating your blood oxygen levels.

Our program helps individuals who suffer from issues with breathing, such as:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Cardiac Failure
  • COPD
  • Emphysema
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Lung Cancer

In addition to your treatment plans we:

  • Assisting doctors in creating and monitoring treatment plans
  • Educate patients about their conditions and properly use therapeutic types of equipment
  • Measure the lung capacity of our patients to determine the severity of your condition
  • Providing essential treatments for diseases
  • Taking notes and keeping records of each patients’ treatments and prognoses
  • We provide in-home assistance with cooking and much more
  • Aid in transport if a patient needs to travel, whether for medical or other reasons.

Get the help and service you need to achieve better respiratory function.

 

References

What is Respiratory Therapy? | Becoming a Respiratory Therapist (fnu.edu)

Respiratory Therapy | Standards of Care

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Hypertension & Heart Disease 

Are you or a loved one living with hypertension or heart disease and seeking care. Home Health Companions is the group for you. When living with Hypertension or heart disease, there are numerous things that you must take into account, like the complications that come with these health issues. 

High blood pressure puts you at risk for: 

  • Cerebrovascular disease. 
  • Chronic kidney disease. 
  • Congestive heart failure. 
  • Coronary artery disease. 
  • Peripheral arterial disease. 
  • Retinal disease. 

Herat diseases such as coronary artery disease (CAD) and Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH) can put you at risk for: 

  • Aneurysm.  
  • Arrhythmia: your heart beats abnormally 
  • Heart attack: blood flow to the heart is interrupted, and the heart muscle dies from lack of oxygen 
  • Heart failure: your heart is unable to pump enough blood to the rest of your body 
  • Ischemic heart disease: your heart doesn’t get enough oxygen 
  • Peripheral artery disease.  
  • Stroke and sudden death 
  • Sudden cardiac arrest. 

While Hypertension, generally known as High blood pressure, means having higher than normal blood levels, Heart disease is any condition that affects the structure or function of the heart. However, even with the two being different high blood pressure may place you at risk for heart disease.  

The main risks factor for heart disease is high blood pressure. Your risk increases if: 

  • you’re overweight 
  • you’re not physically active enough as needed  
  • you smoke 
  • you have a high intake of fat and cholesterol 

The treatment of Hypertension and heart disease varies depending on their severity. Therefore over at Home Health Companions, we offer private duty nursing staff specifically trained to assist you with tracking your blood pressure and a heart condition. Moreover, we provide ongoing care, including transportation, in-home help with food preparation, general care preparation, companionship, and medication management.  

Medication 

Medications used to treat heart disease and Hypertension may include the following as the primary goals are to prevent blood clotting, improve blood flow, and lower cholesterol levels: 

  • Aspirin to prevent blood clots 
  • Calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitors to help lower blood pressure 
  • Nitrates to treat chest pain 
  • Statins to treat high cholesterol 
  • Water pills to help lower blood pressure 

Adjusting to the idea that you have to prioritize your medications and maintain a particular lifestyle can become too much. Seek help with Home Health Companions as we’ll guide and take care of you every step of the way.  

Get help! Check out our website @https://www.homehealthcompanions.com/ 

 

 

References  

https://www.osfhealthcare.org/blog/hypertension-and-heart-disease/ 

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-are-hypertension-heart-disease-and-stroke-related 

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension 

Hypertension and heart disease | OSF HealthCare 

https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart-disease/what-is-heart-disease/types-of-heart-disease 

 

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Diabetes Care

Diabetes is a lifelong treatable yet deadly disease if it’s not treated quickly and correctly; the condition is a case in which the body either can’t produce or properly use the insulin produced in the Pancreas. Insulin is an essential substance created in our bodies as it helps to carefully regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood to ensure that the body functions appropriately. A high amount of sugar within the blood can result in organ failure or damage to our nerve or blood vessels.  

Symptoms of Diabetes  

  • Blurred vision  
  • Darkened skin (armpits and neck). This condition often indicates insulin resistance. 
  • Erectile dysfunction 
  • Fatigue (feeling tired or lethargic), irritability, and anger  
  • Frequent or recurring infections 
  • Frequent urination  
  • Fruity-smelling breath: This can be a warning sign of diabetic ketoacidosis. In this condition, ketones build up in the blood, mainly affecting type 1 diabetes and requiring prompt medical attention. 
  • Increased thirst  
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet 
  • Slow-healing cuts and bruises 
  • Unexplained weight loss 

 

Types of Diabetes  

  • Gestational diabetes- occurs during pregnancy and puts both mother and child at risk of developing diabetes later.   
  • Prediabetes – blood sugar levels are higher than usual but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. 
  • Type 1 – This is a condition in which a person cannot produce or regulate insulin because the body is attacking the Pancreas (insulin-dependent diabetes, also known as autoimmune) 
  • Type 2 – This is a condition in which a person cannot regulate the insulin produced by their body. 

People should treat a condition like this with a high level of care, so Home Health Companions provides a way for clients to be given the help they need to reduce the chances of it becoming deadly. With diabetes, you have to ensure you eat on time, seek the physician’s help once you have an open wound, and maintain a healthy diet. 

What we offer at Home Health Companions is: 

  • Wound care  
  • Medication management  
  • In-home help  
  • Meal preps  
  • Wellness checks  

References 

 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetes/ 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-management/art-20045803 

https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/27/5/1047/27412/Global-Prevalence-of-DiabetesEstimates-for-the 

https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/37/Supplement_1/S14/37696/Standards-of-Medical-Care-in-Diabetes-2014  

https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes 

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Wound Care: Prevention and Management of Chronic Wounds

Wound Care 

What does Home Health Companion provide for wound care, and why is it important? 

A wound is created from an internal or external break in the body’s tissue. Almost everyone has had a laceration, avulsion, abrasion, or puncture, whether minor or severe, but how it is cared for determines how well this wound will heal.  

Each wound requires a different level of care; some can be treated at home, and others may need the attention of doctors or trained personnel. Treatments range from many approaches such as debriding, removing stitches, taking pain medication to handle the pain, plus bandage changes, and more.  

Treatment is necessary to prevent infections due to improper care and neglect of the appropriate steps to ensure the area is cleaned and bandaged, depending on the type of wound. Injuries affect both the younger and older demographic, but members of the aging population are at a more significant disadvantage. Severe wounds may be caused by heart transplants or hip replacements that are more popular amongst older individuals but do not exclude the younger demographic in cases like these or other instances. Full-time or part-time care is needed. However, finding a suitable facility to provide the help necessary can be very tedious.  

Advantages of Wound Care: 

  • It reduces the risk of infections (Necrotizing fasciitis & Cellulitis) 
  • It helps to make healing faster  
  • It allows better medication and pain management 
  • It tracks the healing progress 
  • It helps in regaining full mobility 
  • Limits possibility of the wound having to be reopened 

 

Any facility can provide care, but Home Health Companions offers the best care with trained personnel to ensure each client receives the care their injury requires. The severity of a wound determines the level of attention a wound will need, especially if it needs to remain open, with HHC for wound care includes: 

  • Bandage changes to keep the area clean while it heals 
  • Debriding/ cleaning the wound  
  • Monitoring the healing process 
  • Medication management  
  • Helping with household chores to ensure the wound doesn’t require strenuous activity. 
  • Checking for infections or signs of infection  

 

When you want the best care to heal or even help you or a family member throughout the healing process, choose Home Health Companions. We are trained, and above all, we want to see you get better for yourself and the people that care about you.  

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Wound Care Stages

Pain management

Pain is any discomforting feeling you experience when something is wrong, either physically or mentally. The discomfort experienced may cause insurmountable pain in some instances, which requires a pain management plan to help alleviate this issue. Pain Management is highly effective, and they help eliminate potential substance abuse by trying to decrease the discomfort being experienced by an individual.  

CAUSES OF PAIN 

The most common causes of pain include: 

  • injury 
  • medical conditions 
  • surgery. 

TYPES OF PAIN 

There are two main types of pain:  

  • Acute pain- A sudden, short-lived pain and generally a normal response to an injury or medical condition 
  • Chronic pain – Continued pain typically lasts for three months and beyond healing.  

 

HOW IS PAIN TREATMENT GUIDED? 

Pain management is designed to fit each client/ patient based on the pain range from intensity, duration, aggravation, relieving conditions, and cause. Pain management has a role in identifying the precise source of the problem and isolating the optimal treatment. 

 

PAIN MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES 

A person’s emotional wellbeing can impact the experience of pain, understanding the cause, and learning the appropriate ways to cope. Home Health Companions sees the need for Pain Management and the necessity of using the proper treatment to manage and increase our client’s quality of life. The pain a client/patient feels may take them away from their daily routines, so Home Health Companions works hard to prevent or decrease this issue by providing care or treatment the best way possible.  

Key pain management strategies include: 

  • Pain medication  
  • Psychological treatments  
  • Physical therapy 
  • Support groups.  

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PAIN MEDICINE 

The right choice of medicine depends on:  

  • The location, intensity, duration, and type of pain 
  • Activities that ease the pain or make it worse 
  •  lifestyle impact such as loss of appetite or quality of sleep 
  • Medical conditions  
  • Another medication intake 

 

REFERENCES  

https://www.medicinenet.com/pain_management/article.htm 

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/pain-and-pain-management-adults 

https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/aba6263 

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Health Care Services

Postoperative Care

Postoperative Care or Post-op Care is the immediate care a patient receives after surgery throughout the inpatient( (admission) and outpatient (discharge) period if necessary.

After surgery, most individuals cannot care for themselves or tend to over-exert their bodies. Therefore, a patient may require the assistance of someone else, as most critical surgeries can leave patients with impaired physical and social skills and possibly prolonged hospitalization. Hence, planning postoperative rehabilitation ahead of surgery is crucial for both the surgery and healing stages. The road to recovery is challenging, physically and mentally, and different for everyone. A patient and doctor consult is recommended to grasp what post-surgery will look like to prepare themselves for the journey ahead and get a postop plan designed by a rehabilitation professional to help them recover faster.

Postoperative care is highly effective and can refer to any needs after surgery, such as care coordination, including wound care, pain and medication management, bathing, eating, and other necessities. Trained rehabilitation specialists work closely with patients to restore their quality of life, and Home Health Companions provides that for all patients.

Exerting yourself trying to manage your postop care can have negative consequences, leading to a drawn-out recovery process that could have been prevented by preparing to have the right help. Get help with Home Health Companions, and allow us to provide the care needed to make your healing process more comfortable for your mental and physical well-being.

Choosing Home Health Companions to recover is the best decision you could make. Reduce the risk of complications and return to your daily routine most effectively and efficiently, thanks to our trained team of nurses and specialists prepared to care for your needs after any surgery.

 

 

Advantages of Postoperative Care:

  • Reduces the risk of postoperative infections and pulmonary complications.
  • It makes a recovery more manageable and helps to make healing faster.
  • Allows for better medication and pain management.
  • Tracks the progress of recovery.
  • It helps in regaining full mobility.
  • Limits potential overexertion.

 

 

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/postoperative-care

https://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/Pa-St/Postoperative-Care.html

https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/home-self-care#1

https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx

 

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Health Care Services

The importance medication management and delegation

According to the National Institutes of Health, about 50% of American patients fail to take their medications properly, contributing to 700,000 emergency room visits and approximately 10.7 million prescription misuse. Through Medication Management from a licensed healthcare professional, clients can ensure proper consumption of prescribed medications and achieve a therapeutic outcome, as intended by the physician. Medication Management from a healthcare professional limits the chances of medicine under or overdose while increasing the likelihood of appropriate medication administration. Medication Management is one aspect of proper medication administration, and Medication Delegation is another.  

Medication Delegation is when legally qualified healthcare professional with authority to perform medication administration transfers that authority through delegation to an unauthorized person. During this process, unauthorized personnel is trained by the healthcare professional to oversee a patient’s medication intake, administration, progress, side effects, and communicate with doctors. 

Home Health Companions provide access to both Medication Management and Medication Delegation to ensure the proper health of our clients. 

BENEFITS OF MEDICATION MANAGEMENT 

● Proper use by patients 

● Improved administration of all medications 

● Lower medical costs 

● Lower chance of drug abuse or misuse

● Lower cases of over or underdose 

● Peace of mind for patients and their families 

WHAT A MEDICATION PLAN SHOULD INCLUDE

● Assessment of current medication management 

● Medication reconciliation 

● Clinical reviews of a patient’s medication 

● Therapeutic drug monitoring 

● Adverse drug reaction management 

Medication Management and Delegation are two actions that work well individually but even better together. As people get older, the number of medications and the complexities of how they are to be taken may increase. This poses difficulty in keeping up with daily or hourly medication reminders, and a more hands-on approach may be necessary. Home Health Companions can provide trained individuals with Medication Management and Medication Delegation services to improve a patient’s quality of life by taking the stress away from at-home medication upkeep. Both processes include setting up a daily regimen for clients based on their specific needs. This process includes identifying issues within a patient’s current medical plan and setting a new way of achieving the client’s medical goals based on the agreement between the doctor, caregiver, and the client’s health care providers.  

SERVICES OFFERED MAY INCLUDE:

● A daily regimen that involves having a pill dispenser or organizer

● Creating medication boxes for daily medications 

● Taking pill counts for narcotic medications

● Assigned personnel that ensures a patient is taking their medication correctly 

● Assigned personnel tracking the progress and efficiency of drugs and reporting it to the patients’ doctor

● Assigned personnel that are monitoring for side effects 

Home Health companions are one of few home healthcare providers that offer Medication Management and Medication Delegation services. These efforts help decrease client hospital readmissions associated with medication misuse. We aim to give families and clients peace of mind in knowing they are appropriately cared for. 

References

https://www.freedomcareny.com/posts/medication-management

https://www.myterracepharmacy.com/understanding-medication-management-importance-and-benefits

https://www.cno.org/fr/exercice-de-la-profession/outils-educatifs/ask-practice/delegation/

https://www.mdpain.net/blog/the-importance-of-medication-management

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Health Care Services

Benefits of Yoga for Seniors: A Beginner’s Guide

If you have this idea that yoga is only for those who are young, fit, and able to contort as if they’re double-jointed, then you are in for a surprise. Yoga has become a hugely popular fitness activity for both young and older people alike.

Per The Good Body, between 2012 and 2016, the number of people engaged in yoga grew by more than 50% and continues to trend upward today. Seniors comprise a substantial increase, having risen in numbers by 300% in that same period and continue to increase.

Yes, you read right: 300%.

Seniors already know that exercise helps them ward off pain, improve mobility, and stay healthy longer. Yoga has proven one more way to enjoy the benefits of better range-of-motion, increased strength, expanded lung capacity, as well as feeling a greater sense of wellbeing.

You don’t have to cart around a yoga mat or even greet people saying “namaste” to join in and begin a yoga practice. Yoga can be modified for you no matter your physical level which makes it perfect for you regardless of age.

Here we highlight a brief history and some basics to immerse you into the world of yoga, along with some easy beginner poses you can try at home. As with any new exercise you want to do, consult with your doctor before you begin.

 

The Backstory of Yoga in the U.S.

It might feel like yoga is a new trend for those of us in the U.S., but per History its introduction is attributed to a Hindu monk named Vivekanada who came to Chicago in 1893. He provided lectures about yoga for the World’s Columbian Exposition. The concept he described, however, was rooted primarily with a philosophical focus rather than the posed-based version people associate with yoga today.

By the 20th century, a physical activity focused yoga came into practice offered Swami Kuvalayananda. He saw the correlation between a yoga and its benefits for medicine. This yoga, termed Hatha, became popular in India in the 1930s and largely favored in the United States.

Yoga rose in popularity by the 1990s with a mainstream audience when it was picked up by fitness gurus and celebrities.

 

The Language of Yoga

The purpose of many yoga styles is to help people cultivate a mind and body connection through stretching, breathing, strengthening, and balance by way of poses (called ansanas). There are over a dozen different types of yoga practices.

Here we highlight a few that you’ll see most often:

  • Hatha – Features a slow-paced series of sitting and standing poses. The focus is stretching, not boosting your heart rate.
  • Iyengar – A methodical and precise form of yoga with an emphasis on form. Participants use tools like bolsters and straps to help them achieve the poses with correct alignment.
  • Kundalini – This is often called “yoga of the awareness” and can be appealing for those interested in a spiritual practice as well as the physical benefits.

Other popular types of yoga like Bikram and Ashtanga are more intense, which might not be best for seniors. There are always, however, modifications that can better suit a style for you. Chair yoga is one example where yoga poses are modified for those who cannot make the up and down transitions.

 

Basic Yoga Poses

Yoga for you should never push you or injure you but offer you the benefits of stretching and breathing. These are some basic poses which you should only do if you’ve been cleared by your physician to start.

Training in a group setting at your local gym, studio, or senior community center is also helpful. You’ll enjoy learning while being observed by a professional, and can make some new friends in the process.

Here are a few poses to give you an idea of what you might find in a class:

Upward Salute

Benefit: A natural way to stretch your entire body and give yourself a boost of energy. Helps reduce back pain and stiffness.

  • Stand up with feet firmly planted and use a wall for brace if needed.
  • Raise your arms overhead and reach as though you’re trying to touch something just out of reach.
  • Extend the stretch and breathe in and out a few times.

Tree Pose

Benefit: Helps with balance and core strength.

  • Stand straight with a long back and feet planted and aligned. Your arms should hang straight along either side of your body.
  • Take a few breaths and find an object on which to focus your attention.
  • Slowly shift your weight to your left leg and begin to raise your right foot off the floor. Align the sole of your right foot with the inside of your left thigh. Your toes should be pointing down and your pelvis should be completely straight. Repeat using the right leg for balance.

This can be modified in several ways depending on your needs. For additional balance try keeping a chair nearby to support you if you tilt. If you have weak knees you can do the pose while laying on your back. If you have problems with your lower back, try the pose against a wall for support.

Child’s Pose

Benefit: Helps to stretch hips, thighs, and ankles. Reduces stress and fatigue.

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Center your breath and begin to let your thoughts slow down.
  • Spread your knees wide apart while keeping the toes of your right foot touching the toes of your left. Sit into the pose and rest your buttocks on your heels.
  • Sit up straight and lengthen your spine up through the crown of your head.
  • On a deep and relaxed exhalation, bow forward, draping your torso between your thighs. Your chest should rest between or on top of your thighs. Allow your forehead to come down to the floor. Keep your arms long and extended with your palms facing down.
  • Press back slightly with your hands to keep your buttocks in contact with your heels. Lengthen your body from your hips and reach with your arms to extend the stretch further.
  • Soften and relax your lower back. Breathe slowly.
  • To release from the pose, gently use your hands to bring your torso back upright and sit back on your heels.

Plank Pose

Benefit: Tones the abdominal muscles while strengthening the arms and spine.

  • Begin on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Breathe smoothly.
  • Spread your fingers and press down through your forearm and hands. Do not let your chest collapse.
  • Gaze down between your hands, lengthening the back of your neck and drawing your abdominal muscles toward your spine.
  • Tuck your toes and step back with your feet, bringing your body and head into one straight line. Keep your thighs lifted, and keep your hips sinking. Your back should be straight and continue straight down your legs without your backend dipping.
  • In contrast, if your butt sticks up in the air, realign your body so your shoulders are directly above your wrists.
  • Draw your pelvic floor muscles toward your spine as you contract your abdominal muscles. Keep your head in line with your spine.
  • Extend the straightened stretch for while you breathe smoothly for five breaths.

 

Begin

It’s never too late to make the most of what you have. Perhaps in your youth you took the marvel of your body’s abilities for granted, but now you are wiser you can begin to care for you.

Whether you embrace it as yoga or just consider it exercise, stretching and focused breathing are both tools that can help you feel better instantly. Speak with your doctor, pick your place to learn, and then get out there and strike a pose!

 

Bibliography:

https://www.thegoodbody.com/yoga-statistics/

https://www.history.com/news/yoga-vivekananda-america

http://www.homehealthcompanions.com/motivation-to-move-study-finds-mild-exercise-helps-decrease-pain-and-improve-activity-level-in-older-adults

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Health Care Services

Dancing for Seniors: A Guide with Great Ideas

Exercise is important at every stage of life, but for seniors, it can significantly improve quality of life by improving balance and even cognitive health. No matter how old you are, find the activity you enjoy.

Because, really, who wants exercise to feel like drudgery? If you don’t, then consider dance as a better option for getting active. Laden with twirls and swooshes, dance comes off as fun.

Here, we’ll highlight what makes dance beneficial and unique, some popular styles of dance to consider, and then how to find instruction nearby.

 

Dance Benefits: More Than You’d Expect

The perks of dance are many. As with any form of exercise, particularly if you’ve been less active in recent years, be sure to consult with your doctor before getting started.

Here are the biggest benefits from dance:

  • Cognitive: Dancing is a multifaceted activity that engages more than just your body. You must learn the steps, which fires off synapsis and associations in your brain.

    Since dancing involves music, too, your brain is doing more work at a subtle level. Listening to music with its varied structures, sounds, and rhythms calls on your brain to process and make sense of what you hear.

  • Cardio: Music triggers hormones that raise your pleasure sensors enough to turn into happy feet. This means that you naturally get a cardio workout that you hardly notice.
  • Flexible and Mobile: Maybe you’ve heard the adage, “someone can’t chew gum and walk at the same time,” meaning they can’t do two things at once. For seniors, the ability to multi-task while on their feet does become more of a challenge over time.

    Then, poor balance leads to falls.

    By consistently engaging in dance, you become reacquainted with thinking fast on your feet—simply by working to keep your chasey in motion to the music.

    Per S. News, researchers found a 31% reduction in falls and a 37% reduction in fall risk for those aged 65 and older when reviewing clinical trials on “dance-based mind-motor activities” from around the world.

  • Creative: When you dance, you are also interpreting the music and expressing yourself through movement. You are an artist on your feet. Go ahead and allow yourself to channel a bit of Fred Astaire while you shimmy and sway. It’s good for your brain and spirit.
  • Social: As humans, we all need some level of human contact. And dancing is often a social affair! Even if you go for some form of line dancing rather than ballroom, you are among people doing an activity that everyone can enjoy. Being social is good for your mind, your body, and most importantly your sense of wellbeing.

 

Styles of Dance and Where to Find Instruction

Whether you have prior dance experience or not, and even if you can’t get up on your feet, there is dance that will work for you!

The essential component of dancing is to get your body moving to music and to engage your muscles and your mind. Here, we feature styles of dance you can explore:

  • Line dancing – Popular with country and western enthusiasts, this style of dancing involves groups gathering in lines and performing the same moves as a unit. There is something euphoric about people moving in unison!
  • Ballroom dancing – Formal movement by couples that include dance styles like the waltz, cha-cha, rumba, foxtrot and many others.
  • Jazzercise – This is touted as exercise, but really, it’s about moving to the music of jazz. If you love this type of music, you’ll be fooled into the fun of it rather than feeling you’re doing a workout.
  • Freeform – Let your dance creative flag fly! This is literally for everyone because you move as you feel the music.
  • Chair dancing – Also called seat dancing, this is moving to music while seated. You’d be surprised just how much cardio you can get from moving your arms and torso to rhythms while you sit!
  • Ballet – This is a dance that is precise and highly formalized for steps and gestures, and brings big benefits with all-encompassing movement of the body.
  • Folk dance – This could be dance that reflects traditional customs of specific places of origin.
  • Clogging or tap – Use your feet like instruments as they clack and clomp to music. Clogging is stamping your feet to music, and it originated from folk dance in the United States. Tap dancing is not just about moving your feet, but also about creating rhythms with taps on special shoes. You become part of the music, in a sense.

 

Where to Find Dance Instruction

The most obvious place people will find dance instruction is at dance studios. Arthur Murray franchised studios began in 1912 and can be found all over the U.S. and even in other parts of the world. They offer group and couples dancing for every level.

For those interested in ballet, studios are a good source for classes, and the Dallas/Fort Worth area has many that offer lessons to the public.

Many community centers offer dance classes, too, particularly for line dancing, seated dancing, and folk dancing. A quick internet search for any of these dance styles along with “near me” will show you places that provide dance.

Don’t be shy to admit you’re a senior, either, or acknowledge your novice level as you search! Many programs for older adults are catered specifically to you and at affordable or free rates, too.

 

Dance to Your Health

Staying active is good for you in mind and body. The most important payoff is that you’ll feel better. Dance allows you to step out of your everyday thoughts and be in the moment of pleasure, to just experience your life.

Do your homework as to the style or two you’d like to try and search for resources near you. Remember to take small but consistent steps into dance and the benefits will follow. Be sure to consult with your physician, and then get out there and move your feet!

 

Bibliography:

http://www.homehealthcompanions.com/motivation-to-move-study-finds-mild-exercise-helps-decrease-pain-and-improve-activity-level-in-older-adults

https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-10-01/shall-you-dance-study-finds-dancing-helps-seniors-avoid-falls

https://dancedfw.com/

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Take Your Health Care Career to the Next Level for Free

Less than a decade ago, your best option for earning a higher degree was to go to a traditional college. The concept of online courses was a small niche or a supplement to in-class courses at a big university.

But then, out of the mist of the world wide web came Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are designed to bring knowledge to the masses. The idea was revolutionary when the first classes launched in 2006. Web innovator Dave Cormier wanted to see if students could learn without attending a classroom.

If students weren’t held back by geographic and financial roadblocks, could more information-sharing impact more people?

Today, the answer is undeniably “yes.” The landscape of education has changed since that first class, and multiple universities have come onboard in offering online courses—often, for free. The pandemic has exponentially expanded the need to adapt to online, too. There is no turning back now, and that’s good news for you!

Termed “MOOCs” and “Open Course Ware” (OCW), you can learn register to learn any subject from the comfort of your home.

Here, we explore some of your options as a CNA, Nurse, or other health care professional.

 

Your Reasons to Continue Learning

There are plenty of reasons to look at MOOCs to sign up for now, including to:

  • Stay Current: Whether you’ve recently earned your degree or certification or not, the reality is that a career in medicine means constant change. If you want to stay on top of your skills, renew your information regularly.
  • Further Your Career: Not only will you need to earn credits to keep your certifications current, you’ll be strategic with your future career growth in mind.
  • Bust Boredom: As varied as the situations and your clients might be, there is a reality that you might find yourself bored in the day-to-day of work. By engaging your brain with new information about your field or even related areas, you maintain a sense of wonder about what you do.
  • Keep Your Mind Sharp: You don’t have to make every course you take count towards credit or gain “certification value” when continuing your education. Learning for learning’s sake is good for your health, and equally beneficial to your career in almost every way. Online courses, especially those that are free, permit you to keep your brain active with new information.
  • Adapt: While your experience means you know how and what to do in high-stress and fast-paced situations, the act of learning helps you adapt even more fluidly to situations and ideas. Remaining a life-long learner allows you to pivot and shift more easily with any change.

 

Your Access to Courses

The courses offered by universities and colleges are funneled through online learning platforms which provide the interface to shop and sign up for classes. The options are almost overwhelming, so doing your research, starting with the biggest providers.

Where to Find MOOCs

EdX was launched as a joint effort by Harvard and MIT and contains courses from dozens of universities around the globe. There is an emphasis on free courses, but students have access to pay a fee to earn certificates and credits.

EdX also features a “micromasters” program with graduate-level coursework at a fee a fraction of what you would pay for in-person programs.

Udemy has both free and fee-based courses from universities, and online instructors are also available on this website on an individual basis. If you decide to pay for a course, you gain access to it indefinitely.

Coursera offers free, fee-based and subscription courses to choose from. Again, the options are almost overwhelming. A search of “healthcare” brings up a list of 1066 options. All classes are clearly ranked by students, though, which helps you discern if the course will work for you. They are also categorized for beginners on up.

LinkedIn (formerly Lynda.com) offers an annual subscription membership. Courses completed on this platform allow you to tout your accomplishment via LinkedIn and other platforms.

Study.com features courses available for free and then breaks out other offerings for fee-based bachelors and masters programs. Free courses for healthcare include Medical Terminology, Health Issues for Aging Populations, and Improving Critical Thinking and Clinical Reasoning.

Classcentral.com funnels all the providers for MOOCs into one place. You can take a class from the University of Glasgow, Stanford University or Johns Hopkins, for example. Class Central provides this database in exchange for commissions.

 

Things to Keep in Mind as an Online Student

You might hear that there was once a disadvantage from online learning like the lack of being considered “serious,” but today’s educators continue to evolve to meet today’s challenges and needs.

Even the concerns of student engagement have been washed away with the rise of tools for student-teacher and peer-to-peer interaction. Technology permits students to work in breakout sessions on Zoom, for example. Whiteboarding strategy, too, allows for incredible interaction with other students. In fact, one sure path to success is to be sure you maximize the connection between students during courses.

Another advantage of moving the classroom to your computer is that you are no longer restricted by time or borders as to when, where, or with whom you learn. You also have options for testing out different formats, instructors and subjects to find what makes the most sense for you.

Do your homework to discover what courses or platforms to start with. If your goal is to obtain certifications and degrees, just imagine how portable your accomplishments will be from your online degree to the places you can use your education in the future.

As a health care professional, you’ve signed up to do important work. Caring for yourself as a lifelong learner will assure you career success and a greater sense of personal and professional fulfillment.

You are on a journey of improvement where free courses and the internet allow you more control to determine your path to success.

 

Bibliography:

https://www.edx.org/

https://about.udemy.com/

https://www.coursera.org/

https://study.com/articles/List_of_Free_Online_CNA_Courses_and_Classes.html

https://www.classcentral.com/subject/nursing

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Age Tech Trends to Track for Health Care

Maybe you’ve heard it said: “Aging isn’t for sissies.” The popular adage reveals the reality that there are many challenges to growing older. In the past, it was assumed that decline was the inevitable that seniors could expect. However, today’s elders are living longer, remaining active, and have more resources than ever before.

The increase in life expectancy comes at a time when worldwide birthrates have reduced. In the U.S, for example, the Census Bureau predicts that by 2034 the trend will amount to an unprecedented exchange of older adults outnumbering children.

The impacts of this shift on society and the economy will continue to play out, but the corresponding strain on the healthcare system is already being realized. Healthcare providers are faced with caring for a larger portion of older patients while resources (including dollars and caregivers) continue to decrease.

As the healthcare industry works to find the balance, it’s technology that has proven to be the game-changer. Termed “Age Tech,” companies have stepped up, especially in the past decade, to offer solutions aimed at serving the healthcare industry and (specifically) seniors.

The flurry of constant technology change is a daunting climb for some. Here, we highlight a few of the most significant trends and how they could impact those we care for in the near term.

 

Age Tech for Healthcare Providers

The whirlwind of companies getting into Age Tech is increasing as innovators seize on the opportunity to solve issues. Many of the pioneering ideas are exciting because they are bringing health care professionals together with other stakeholders who serve seniors and senior tech users themselves into the mix to create new ideas.

Per The Gerontechnologist, which features the 2021 Age Tech Market Map, there are 15 areas where technology experts are working to deliver solutions to serve seniors. Top tier categories include “Health,” “Wellness” and “Senior Living.” These reveal the largest number of companies onboard, too.

Other categories with fewer companies include “Housing,” “Legacy” and “End of Life Planning.” The acknowledge some of the most pressing challenges in the industry, such as the caregiver shortage, connectivity access and tech setup challenges for seniors.

Challenges aside, the transition to using more technology continues—most notably in the healthcare industry where tech helps streamline operations and offer patients more options.

The category “For Healthcare Providers” features a number of companies such as Vitalerter and Quil, both of whom are focused on care management technology used to monitor clients and alert medical staff of important, real-time medical data.

 

The Longevity Economy

Seniors are a savvy consumer group that are already having an increasing economic impact, and the trend is expected to continue. Per the AARP, the longevity economy represents the sum of all activity serving the needs of Americans over 50, including both products and services they purchase and the spending that generates.

The prediction is that elders will account for half of U.S. GDP by 2032.

Older adults don’t expect to age into silent oblivion, and today they are more willing to try and utilize technology. They want to “do for themselves” for as long as possible. Technology is looking for new ways to help extend and improve quality of life for seniors to meet the goal of independence.

The technology area “Independence” is divided into subsets of “Everyday Assistance,” “Sensory Aids,” “Mobility,” “Transportation,” “Finance” and “Activities of Daily Living” with companies like Naborforce connecting caretakers with seniors through an online portal.

Other areas that feed into serving both healthcare providers and seniors include “For Home Care Providers,” “Social & Communication,” “Cognitive Care” and “Tech-Enabled Home Care.”

Services such as Lifepod, for example, offer “patient-centered custom interactions” to keep seniors engaged and safe at home. The virtual assistant helps elders maintain routines, as well as provide immediate connection to community support if needed.

 

Aging as an Adventure

Aging as an adventure is no longer just for seniors. With more elders than young people in the population soon, caregivers and other senior care professionals are being called on to do more.

The Age Tech industry is working to address this need for families and employers who recognize offering support to their staff who must balance home care life with work life is a benefit. Torchlight, for example, can intuitively deliver information to aide caregivers as they explore the services and options they need to care for seniors (and young children, too).

While aging is still an adventure, Age Tech innovators are seeking new ways to make the ride less bumpy—for both seniors and those who serve them. As a result, the technology which might have once been only the tool of youth is proving to be of service to everyone no matter their age.

 

Bibliography:

https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2018/03/graying-america.html

https://www.vitalerter.com/

https://quilhealth.com/

https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/home-and-family/personal-technology/2013-10/Longevity-Economy-Generating-New-Growth-AARP.pdf

https://naborforce.com/our-services/

https://www.torchlight.care/

https://www.thegerontechnologist.com/

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Health Care Services

Feeling Old? Get Outdoors!

If you’re old enough to remember the days when kids were told to head outdoors and play until dinner, then you’ve clocked some years.

In past generations, summertime, particularly for children in small towns, meant full days of outside adventure. Children ran around their neighborhood teaming up with other kids for activities without adult supervision. And often, after suppertime they went out and played some more until dark.

After full days outside, children came home tired and ready to rest. Their skin and hair were sundrenched, their lungs cleansed with fresh air, and their bodies a bit stronger after hours of activity.

If you remember those times you are lucky to have had the foundation of outside fun. Today, both children and adults spend more time than ever inside in front of screens and in hermitically sealed environments distant from the natural world.

And for seniors, this retreat is more problematic due to increased health issues that keep the outside world at bay.

If you find yourself feeling sluggish and a bit low in your older years, it could be (at least in part) that you don’t get enough of nature anymore. The good news is that the solution is right outside your front door. With small and actionable steps and a bit of knowledge, you can improve your energy, state of mind, and spirit by setting aside time to once again commune with nature.

 

Nature Deficit Disorder: It’s A Real Thing

Per a report featured in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, “adults in the U.S. spend only about 2% of their time outdoors.” Put another way, the average adult spends only 33 minutes per week outside.

The deficit hits young and old alike and the cause is largely technology. We all spend unparalleled time in front of screens at home. In the youngest generation the numbers are show-stopping: stats reported by OSF Healthcare reveal that children ages eight to ten spend an average of six hours per day watching tablets, phones, and TVs (with the number going up for each age group from there).

Seniors are impacted with a sedate indoor imbalance as well. Per the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, seniors surveyed reported spending most of their time at home, up to 72%. And the remaining time spent at other indoor errands and appointments rather than outside.

We are all suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD), a condition that is wreaking havoc with our internal settings, sleep patterns, emotional wellbeing, and physical health. You won’t find NDD listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders, but there is a lot of common sense to the concept that as beings of the earth we’ve lost touch with nature.

Coined by American author Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods, NDD is defined as “health and behavioral issues resulting from less time outdoors that encapsulates the human condition at a time when technology and being inside (at a desk or on the couch) dominate our lifestyles.”

 

The Benefits of Nature for Seniors

No doubt that aging comes with challenges and change. Sometimes, as with all difficult transitions, the knee-jerk response is to pull inward and stay indoors. It turns out that this reaction can work to worsen our ails of aging.

Eastern and natural practitioners have long understood the value of contact with nature. And today, even traditional medicine is returning to the basics and acknowledging the importance of natural therapy.

Per Scientific Reports one survey study found that adults who spent 120 minutes a week in nature enjoyed an improved feeling of good health and wellbeing. And where the feeling is, the behavior is likely to follow. Feeling rejuvenated leads to making better choices and yields improved outcomes such as lowering the likelihood of depression.

The study also suggests that “living in greener urban areas is associated with lower probabilities of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma hospitalizations, mental distress, and ultimately mortality.”

Less tested theories such as “grounding therapy” (which involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth) are showing promise in small studies, too.

If the grounding idea seems a bit farfetched to you, just note that even access to seeing nature can lift your spirits. You’ve probably experienced this in moments when your mood was low and you stepped outside for a brief walk to clear your head.

Retirement communities are recognizing the impact of nature in architectural design as well. Residents enjoy rooms with a view, and shared spaces full of windows bring the world in on a regular basis. Seniors who can see the seasons, take in natural light, and watch birds and plants show an improved quality of life and cognitive health.

If you’re still not convinced that nature is good medicine, note these other benefits:

  1. Outdoor contact goes hand-in-hand with physical activity. Stepping outside will incite you to move. The adage “use it or lose it” kicks in when you engage with nature. Small steps may lead to a walk of some distance as you progress.
  2. Fresh air reduces risk of sickness. It turns out the environment indoors, especially in the winter months, is filled with concentrated levels of germs that have nowhere to go. Getting outside will break up your exposure and give your lungs a cleanse.
  3. Natural light helps you sleep better. As we age, we struggle to keep our brain on track as cellular activity changes and slows. While studies show that human touch via massage can help trigger the neurotransmitter serotonin, regular exposure to natural light keeps the brain’s on and off switches in sync as well. Per the CDC, the light/dark cycle of the sun has a powerful effect on the circadian clock regulating sleep and alertness.

 

Get Outdoors Fellow Earthlings

So much of today’s technology and ease of living indoors is a marvel. But all the focus on the inside has detached us from our connection to the outside.

It’s also nice to know you can do something so basic to help yourself feel better. Step into the breeze, catch some sun with your shades on, and take in the beauty of the seasons and the sky overhead. And if you feel really bold, take off your socks and shoes and nestle those toes in the grass. Remember, by earth’s timeline, you are still just a kid who should spend some time playing outdoors.

Bibliography:

https://www.nature.com/articles/7500165

https://newsroom.osfhealthcare.org/screen-time-for-kids-how-much-is-too-much

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4641054

https://www.sonima.com/meditation/mindful-living/nature-deficit-disorder/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3

https://www.healthline.com/health/walking-barefoot#how-to-walk-barefootsafely

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/emres/longhourstraining/light.html

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Health Care Services

6 Ways to Keep Your Eyes Healthy as You Age

Your eyes might be the windows to your soul, but more than that they’re your window out to the world. When we’re young, most of us take eyesight for granted—but as we age, we start to notice subtle and not-so-subtle changes.

It’s sometimes the small things (the small print, to be exact) that we recognize becomes harder to read. Called “presbyopia,” this shift usually begins around 40. As time progresses, the use of readers or bifocals becomes necessary to read the fine print, like those tiny words on prescription bottles.

Other things you might notice include how difficult it becomes to distinguish an object from its background when they’re the same color. Even light—especially the dramatic shifts of light—is challenging to see through. Studies suggest that it’s the rod cells responsible for low light vision that weaken as we age. For someone with light vision issues, driving at night is problematic as the eyes can’t easily accommodate the flashes of bright headlights.

For many, changes in vision are just taken as a matter of course without a thought of seeing an eye specialist. Per the CDC, “An estimated 93 million adults in the United States are at risk for serious vision loss, but only half visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months.”

Although our eyes do change with age, vision loss is not actually an inevitable part of growing older. With proper care, you can keep your eyesight and resolve issues earlier for better results in the long term. Here, we’ll detail a couple of eye diseases your doctor will look for during an exam along with 6 ways to keep your eyes healthy as you grow older.

 

Cataracts and Glaucoma

If you notice differences in your vision, it could be a sign that underlying health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. An eye specialist will be able to address possible reasons for differences in your vision and monitor your eye health.

Our eyes are susceptible to age, family history, and the environment. Two of the more common diseases a specialist will look for are cataracts and glaucoma.

A cataract is a clouding of the otherwise clear lens of your eye. Cataracts develop slowly, but with time will interfere with a person’s vision. Per the Eye Institute, “Cataracts are very common as you get older. In fact, more than half of all Americans age 80 or older either have cataracts or have had surgery to get rid of cataracts.” Further, it’s estimated that one in six Americans over the age of 40 already have started developing cataracts, and women are slightly more likely to develop them than men.

Most people who have cataracts develop them due to aging. Other health factors that exacerbate cataracts include diabetes, excessive exposure to sunlight, smoking and obesity.

Glaucoma is a condition that damages your eye’s optic nerve and worsens over time. Often linked to a buildup of pressure inside the eye, this disease can be hereditary, but is also triggered by underlying diseases. Early detection and treatment can stave off the worst damage due to glaucoma, but without regular screening it remains a silent problem.

Per the CDC, 3 million Americans have glaucoma, and worldwide it’s the second leading cause of blindness. Establishing a baseline state of your eyesight with an eye doctor is recommended so you can stay ahead of this problem if ever it develops.

 

6 Steps for Healthy Eyes

Your eyes require regular maintenance to assure they “go the distance.” Take these steps to protect them, and you’ll keep your vision healthy along with the rest of you, too.

  1. See an eye doctor: Get an examination with an eye doctor to determine the “baseline status” of your eyes. According to a survey conducted for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), it was found that two out of every three American adults reports having problems with their sight, including blurry vision, double vision, seeing flashes of light, and red and watery eyes.

    However, of the 64% of people noting problems, only 13% actually saw an eye doctor. The AAO recommends that once you establish a baseline, for those 65 and older it’s especially important to see an eye doctor once a year.

    Depending on your vision issues, you might have relationships with an ophthalmologist who can perform medical and surgical interventions for diseases of the eye. An optometrist, on the other hand, is the eye doctor that examines, diagnoses, and treats your eyes. And an optician is someone who fits you for glasses and contact lenses.

  1. Exercise: As we age, the question of regular physical activity is even more essential. It’s the path to keeping the health you have as long as possible. Exercise helps with every aspect of your wellness, even your eyes! Exercise allows for good oxygen intake and blood flow, which supports eye health.
  1. Sleep: Just like exercise, sleep is important at any age. As you get older, a good sound sleep helps diminish depression, memory loss, and a host of other chronic conditions. When it comes to the eyes, sleep allows time for your eyes to enjoy continuous lubrication which flushes out toxins like dust, smoke, and allergens.
  2. Wear sunglasses: Wearing shades does more than help you look sharp—obviously, their primary purpose is to protect your eyes from the sun. Overexposure to ultraviolet rays increases the risk of cataract formation and eye cancer. Make sure the sunglasses you wear not only make you look good but also block out 100% of those UV lights.
  3. Avoid falling: You already know that preventing falls reduces your risk of broken bones and head injuries. It also makes you less likely to get a poke in the eye, which is actually something fairly common when elders take a fall. Be sure to increase lighting in dark spaces, secure stair railings, and cushion sharp corners of furnishings and home fixtures to protect yourself.
  4. Wear goggles when you’re being handy: Half of all eye injuries happen in or around the home, and most often during improvement projects. If you’re a do-it-yourself type, be sure to wear goggles as you work.

 

Your Vision Matters

Maybe the best thing about growing older is learning that nothing you have in the present should be taken for granted. You know the aging is a mixed bag of changes, but you don’t just have to accept them silently. Take steps to protect your eyes and make it a point to visit an eye doctor at least once a year. Then, you’ll be in a position to make the right decisions to help you retain your eye health so your “windows to the world” continue to serve you.

 

Bibliography

https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/fastfacts.htm

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/majority-us-adults-eye-problems-no-exams-survey

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Let’s Talk About Anxiety In Older Adults

We accept that certain things occur as we age: our metabolism slows, our skin wrinkles, our eyes see less clearly. 

What is less understood are the possible changes in mental health for seniors, especially around anxiety disorders. 

Anxiety is more likely to go overlooked by both the patient and the physician when it’s camouflaged by physical illness. Untreated anxiety can lead to cognitive impairment, depression, poor physical health, and lower quality of life. 

Per the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, “anxiety affects 10 to 20 percent of the older population though it is often undiagnosed. Among adults, anxiety is the most common health problem for women, and the second most common for men, after substance abuse.”

Anxiety disorders are largely misunderstood by seniors and may be a source of embarrassment. Plus, seniors are more likely to believe that emotional problems are a weakness of character best resolved on their own. 

Here, we highlight what anxiety is, how to spot possible symptoms, and a broad look at the range of treatments. 

 

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure. The real problem is in determining the difference between normal anxiety and a possible mental health issue, because some level of anxiety is part of being human. 

In any dangerous situation we face, our brains respond with an alert. Anxiety is a mechanism meant to protect us that, once ignited, can become a vicious loop of illness. 

The problem with anxiety (also known as “fight-or-flight response”) is that it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy of brain activity. We feel anxious regarding particular triggers, even when the triggers are no longer a danger to us, and then cycle back to that emotion again and again. 

Anxiety impacts people of all ages, but seniors come to it with a unique perspective. During their lifetime, the topic of mental health has changed quite a bit. What was once taboo is now much more acceptable. 

It has only been in recent decades, however, that society has looked upon mental illness not as a weakness but an imbalance requiring treatment. By the time seniors today experience symptoms like excessive worry or fear, avoidance of social situations, poor sleep, and hoarding, it’s likely that they’ve endured the symptoms for a lifetime. 

 

A History of Our Understanding of Anxiety

Anxiety disorder manifests in varied ways that are often unique for the individual. For seniors who are more isolated or less active, the symptoms tend to increase, because there is no social source to help recognize the issue. The irony of untreated anxiety disorders is that they produce more of the same behaviors which lead to more anxiety! It’s a vicious cycle. 

Anxiety has been cloaked in misunderstanding for thousands of years. When Greek philosophers pondered it in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, they surmised it was associated with women. In fact, the word “hysteria” derives from the word uterus. From there and through the Victorian era into the 19th century, hysterics were the realm of the ladies. 

Then, after the American Civil War, doctors recognized something they termed “irritable heart syndrome” in men after they returned home from the war. Today, that illness is known as Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Finally, fast forward to the 1950s when talk therapy became popular. The use of drugs and psychotherapy continued to evolve, and the language of mental health became more familiar in society’s vocabulary. By the 1980s, the term anxiety disorder was officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.

 

Anxiety Categories

With time and study, the mental health profession has refined and identified anxiety disorder categories and how they may manifest in individuals. There are several, but the most common forms of anxiety for seniors include: 

Phobias: An intense fear of a place, thing or event that isn’t truly a threat. Some phobias are fear of heights, fear of enclosed spaces, and fear of germs.  

In elders, a certain social fear commonly with age where a person feels embarrassed about the inability to remember names or the like. Some physical symptoms of social phobia that can appear in these cases include heavy sweating, heart palpitations, shortness of breath. 

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): Constant obsessive worry about a wide range of things from personal health to family issues or the fear of impending disasters are considered GAD. Symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, irritability, nausea, and difficulty sleeping may surface in these cases.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A person who suffered physical or emotional harm (to themselves, or if they were a witness). A person experiencing PTSD might experience flashbacks. People with PTSD sometimes also feel emotionally numb between episodes and find it difficult to feel affection for others. PTSD often shows outwardly with someone who loses interest in things and becomes aggressive or violent.

 

How to Talk About Anxiety with Your Health Care Professionals

Because anxiety so often goes untreated, it can become the gateway to other mental disorders including depression and cognitive impairment. There is a close association of anxiety and memory, for example. 

People dealing with ongoing anxiety sometimes have underlying health issues such as chronic fatigue and syndrome, too.

The key to getting answers and treatment for anxiety is to discuss persistent symptoms openly. If you receive home care, talk about your concerns with your health care professional in order to get tips and advice for how to take the discussion to the next level. 

 

Treatment Options

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment to remedy anxiety. Each person’s care must be tailored to their situation. Learn about your options and then work with your doctor to decide what steps to take. 

Anxiety.org offers extensive information on the many treatments available. If you feel overwhelmed once you’ve spoken to your doctor or mental healthcare experts, consider working with an Aging Life Care certified professional. He or she will help you weigh the options and manage the communication between all your medical care providers.

Most treatments for anxiety require assistance from medical and mental health care staff in tandem. The most common treatments fall broadly into these areas: 

Professional Therapy: A number of these therapies involve talk with a mental health professional. Patients work through their anxiety symptoms and identify the underlying triggers and practice coping skills. Therapies run a gambit of types, including cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, and even hypnosis. 

Medications: Pharmaceutical research is ongoing. The current drugs available for anxiety-related ailments include antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta blockers. None of these are intended to be used without some form of talk therapy as well. Working with a psychiatrist or counselor is part of the treatment mix, and anti-anxiety drugs are not generally intended to be used indefinitely. 

Brain stimulation: Therapies have advanced dramatically since electroshock therapy of the 1950s. Today, brain stimulation treatments are often done under anesthesia and are targeted with the use of electrodes and electrical stimulation of areas of the brain. 

Self-help: A big step in resolving anxiety disorders comes with knowledge. Be your own advocate and explore self-help books, meditation, diet and nutrition, and exercise as avenues to alleviate symptoms. 

 

Learn and Talk About Mental Health

The ongoing push in the mental health field has been to normalize the conversation about anxiety. Teaching the public that there is no shame in having mental health problems is an ongoing effort. 

Your doctor can’t help you if you don’t talk about the symptoms you experience. The good news is that there are many treatment options available, and you don’t have to endure the pain of an anxiety disorder silently.

 

Bibliography:

https://www.aagponline.org/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=anxiety

https://www.anxiety.org/treatments

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Safety Tips for Home Healthcare Providers

As with every vocation, there are positives and negatives to working as a home health care professional

On the upside, you provide an invaluable service that improves the quality of life for the clients you serve. 

As an added bonus, your skills are in high demand. Home healthcare is a rapidly growing industry. Per the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment for home care providers is projected to grow 34% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

You also work with a diverse range of people and quickly increase your knowledge and expertise as you encounter unique situations. But there are risks to you and your clients, so knowing how to avoid them can help keep everyone safe. 

Dangers for home health providers on the job range from challenges within the space where you deliver care to exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The key to assuring you remain injury-free (the better to serve your clients without interruption) is to understand potential dangers and stay one step ahead with a plan. 

Here, we highlight a few of the most significant risks and the safety tips you can easily implement!

 

Lifting and Transferring Patients

For home healthcare professionals, a portion of work regularly involves transferring patients from one activity to another. The physical labor of pushing, pulling, and lifting another person mean possible injuries to your own back, knees and neck. 

The home environment is unique as far as caregiving goes. A person’s house is not designed for patient care, meaning you might be missing equipment. Plus, the room is tight for the work you’re out to do. 

Patients return from hospitalization sooner these days, too. They more often have short-term mobility issues while in recovery as a result. Perhaps you’ll struggle to move patients while working solo, particularly those who are physically larger than you are. 

Patients need help with transfers for activities including:

  • Bed to chair
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • And bathroom assistance

Musculoskeletal damage can happen to caregivers with overexertion, particularly with tricky lifts and pivots in awkward positions. The repetition in the range of motion can have effects over time, too.

So, how do you stay ahead of the risks? Utilize all the tools and available to prevent injury. Specifically, you can avoid significant wear-and-tear on your body and keep your patient safe if you follow proper lifting and shifting procedures. 

 

Ergonomic Solutions for the Home Healthcare Provider

Ergonomics has come a long way in helping people in the healthcare industry recently. Furniture, equipment, and tasks have been re-imagined to help people efficiently and safely work to care for patients. 

Electrical and mechanical devices are available to assist with the hoist and transfer process, for instance. Other electrical devices like draw sheets, slide boards, rollers, slings, and belts are available, too. 

Solutions to streamline tasks range from built-in weighing scales to rolling toileting or shower chairs and adjustable beds. Each home needs to be assessed separately to see which devices will work best in the space.

Bringing ergonomic devices into a person’s home can be a challenge. Good communication between the patient, family, and service provider will help make decisions for the needed adjustments. 

As an in-home care professional, your job is to keep yourself and the patient safe. If you foresee any issues of mobility, discuss solutions with your employer to brainstorm ideas with you, the patient and the family. 

Per CDC guidance, there are some even more basic tips to help reduce your risk of injury: 

  • Use ergonomic devices when available. 
  • Do not stand in one position while bending, twisting, and reaching to perform a task. 
  • When manually moving a patient, stand as close as possible to the patient without twisting your back. Keep your knees bent and feet apart, and avoid rotating the spine while in motion, and make sure one foot is in the direction of the move.
  • Use a friction-reducing device such as a slip sheet whenever possible. Using gentle rocking motions can also reduce exertion while moving a patient. 
  • Pulling a patient up in bed is easier when the head of the bed is flat or down. Raise the patients knees and encourage the patient to push if possible, to help with a transfer. 

 

Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Injuries

Working with sharps expose healthcare professionals to potential dangers of bloodborne pathogens, including Hepatitis B and C as well as HIV. Stabs from contaminated needles and sharps such as scalpels are the primary sources of accidental infection. 

Add in human error and distractions that come with an in-home environment such as family, pets, and clutter, and it’s clear that home healthcare providers must be extra-diligent to remain safe from jabs. 

It is vital to understand and plan for working with sharps. Take these steps to stay safe while working with your patients: 

  • Participate in your employer’s blood pathogen program. 
  • Educate the patient and family in the proper disposal of sharps. 
  • Avoid using needles whenever safer alternatives are available. 
  • Help your employer select safe sharp devices whenever possible. 
  • Refrain from recapping or bending contaminated needles. 
  • Before a procedure, plan for the disposable of contaminated materials in advance. 
  • Bring your own leak-proof and puncture-resistant sharps containers with you on visits. 
  • Secure used sharp containers while in transport.
  • Report any needle and sharp injuries.
  • If you are jabbed by a sharp, immediately wash the area with soap and water. 
  • If fluid is released in your eyes, nose, or mouth, flush those areas with water. 

 

Other Safety Hazards

Working in someone’s home can be an unpredictable environment for a healthcare professional. You bring your expertise into a space that is not usually suited for the work you do (or the needs of your client). The area may be tight and filled with clutter. There may not be ramps and grab bars to help with lifts and transfers. 

You also might have to deal with challenged family dynamics. The neighborhood could be dangerous for all you know.

Until you’ve established a relationship with your client, you must be vigilant about the condition and nature of his or her needs for care, the area of town, and the state of the home. 

Environmental Hazards: On your first visits with a client, be sure to note any issues that you feel pose a threat to the work you need to do. Have a discussion with your employer and with the client about this subject.  

Be organized with your materials and prepare for the unexpected by having ample PPE and other supplies like a hazard disposal container. Ask that pets be kept away during visits and discuss any issues of poor hygiene or noncompliance for safety with your employer. 

Violence: Protect yourself from ever becoming a victim by going to home visits with a plan. Per the AJMC, “while 75% of nearly 25,000 workplace assaults occur annually in healthcare settings, only 30% of nurses and 26% of emergency department physicians have reported incidents of violence.” 

Make sure you’re informed of the patient’s medical conditions and mental status before your initial visit. Ask about any history of aggression and learn if there are any family dynamics in the home you should know about, and also if there are firearms in the home. 

At every visit, be aware of the exits and trust your judgement if you feel unsafe. If you encounter any physical or verbal abuse, or your client is inebriated, remain calm and leave and then inform your employer immediately. 

Travel to unsafe neighborhoods requires planning in advance as well. Travel during the daytime, when possible, and park in well-lit highly visible areas where you can see all around you. 

When you drive in new areas, be sure to leave your windows up and doors locked. Leave all your supplies in the trunk of your vehicle, and let your employer know your route and schedule for each day’s visits. 

 

Prepare and Be Aware

Your work as an in-home healthcare professional is a vital service. You are making a difference in the lives of others and building a career with paths to other opportunities.

You want to enjoy the rewards of doing your job well and, under optimal conditions, to be the most effective. By preparing for possible hazards in advance, you reduce the chance of ever suffering from them.

 

Bibliography

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides-and-personal-care-aides.htm

https://www.osha.gov/home-healthcare

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2010-125/pdfs/2010-125.pdf

https://www.ajmc.com/view/violence-against-healthcare-workers-a-rising-epidemic

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5 Reasons Massage Is Good for You as You Age

Your wisdom is a testament to the lifetime of lessons you’ve picked up. And while the wisdom is welcome, the wear and tear that the corresponding years have put on your body is not! Even if you wouldn’t change any of your life, your body clearly isn’t in the conditions it was when you were younger. 

Now it’s time to put that life knowledge to use by taking better care of you. Whether you’ve been diligently looking after your health for years or are playing “catchup,” adding something like massage therapy to your regimen could be the ticket to restoring some of your youthful vigor. 

For many people, massage is considered an indulgence—a rare event meant to give yourself a pampering gift. Today, however, massage is a mainstream supplement to medical practices, and is considered a beneficial treatment for many of the ails of an aging body. 

More people associate massage with health benefits than ever before. AMTA Massage cites that 86% of individuals view massage as being “beneficial to overall health and wellness.” And while massage is good for people of all ages, here we’ll highlight the five most important benefits for seniors. Then, there are also a few tips to help you select the therapist right for you! 

  1. A wellness plan you can control: Traditional medicine is only one avenue of treatment. Procedures and pharmaceuticals are essential, but can still fall short of treating the entire person.

    People are increasingly turning to Eastern and natural options when they realize something is “missing” that can’t be solved by a doctor visit. Per the CDC, a nationwide government survey reflects that 36% of U.S. adults aged 18 years and over use some form of complementary and alternative medicine to help fill in the gaps not met by traditional Western medicine.

    More than ever, people understand the value of trying nontraditional practices for wellness. Massage is one of the most popular treatments that fall into this category.

  2. Pain management: It’s an unfortunate reality that most people think aging and pain are inevitable. However, with the proper care, pain doesn’t need to be a dominating presence in an aging person’s life.


    Pain is your body’s way of alerting you that things are out-of-whack, most often in your musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Inflammation is your body’s go-to response for many of those underlying issues, and that inflammation leads to pain.

    Per Harvard Health, massage can relieve pain through several mechanisms, including relaxing muscles, tendons and joints, and helping “close the pain gate” by stimulating nerve fibers and impeding the pain messages to the brain.

    If you think of those aches and pains as tattoos of a full life lived, that can make the pill a bit easier to swallow. However, you needn’t lay down and just accept chronic pain with no relief. By incorporating massage as a part of your pain management strategy, you could enjoy a wider range of motion and less pain overall.

  3. Help for better sleep: Getting a good solid night of sleep can become a struggle for people as they age. If we persist in getting inadequate amounts of sleep, it adds up to increased stress and a reduced immune response.


    As we get older, our internal clock recalibrates. As changes in the brain cells occur, it impacts message about when we are hungry and when we feel tired or alert.

    To help combat this, science reveals that massage triggers serotonin, a neurotransmitter that induces a calm feeling. Seniors report sleeping more deeply and for longer periods when they receive regular massage treatments.

  4. Assist in physical and mental relaxation: You’re old enough to know that stress is a part of life at any age, but it turns out that stress is particularly hard on older people.

    Seniors deal with ongoing stress related to changes in health, fears about money, and a general concern about overall wellbeing. The persistence of stress manifests in the body by way of tense muscles, chronic pain, and decreased blood flow.

    Massage therapy improves blood circulation by mechanically assisting the blood flow back to the heart, much like exercise does. Increased circulation promotes the removal of waste products from the body and reduces heart and pulse rate through activation of the relaxation response.

  5. Better healing for injuries and illness: As we age, joints and muscles tighten, which can make it more difficult to heal from injury because range of motion is restricted. Massage keeps your muscles, connective tissues, joints, tendons, and ligaments more fluid and less injury-prone in the long run.

    Massage helps healing at the cellular level, too. A recent Atlantic article cites research led by McMasters University where scientists studied the biological changes brought on by massage. Here’s how it went:

    Young men pushed themselves to exhaustion on stationary bikes. Their leg muscles were checked prior to and right after exercise. Right after a vigorous workout, each participant’s muscles showed microscopic tears and inflammation. The men received 10 minutes of massage, and then their muscles were checked again after 2.5 hours.

    With just limited massage, the pushing and kneading reduced signs of inflammation. Massaged muscles produced new mitochondria, too, which assisted in a faster recovery.

    Athletes and trainers have known for a long time that massage helps heal stressed and strained muscles. If you think about it, aging is just one long marathon, and your body shows signs of the exertion of a lifetime!

 

Selecting a Massage Therapist

If you’re new massage, you’ll want to think about how to select a therapist suited for your needs. Here are a few tips to assist you in the search: 

  1. Identify your goals and related health issues.
  2. Get referrals from friends.
  3. If you use an in-home health professional, ask them about their services for massage or for any recommendations.
  4. Once you have potential candidates, ask for a brief consultation with each to discuss your goals and the therapist’s expertise for your particular concerns.

 

Besides…You Deserve a Massage

Incorporating massage therapy into your wellness regimen puts control of your wellbeing back in your court. As a non-invasive treatment, massage works to reduce pain, relax you, and help you bounce back from injury and illness. 

Whether your goal is to keep the physical abilities you have or to feel better and even improve, you’ve got solid reasons to schedule massage treatment on a regular basis. Not only does massage have medicinal value, it’s also a way to treat yourself well, and there is nothing wrong with that!

 

Bibliography:

https://www.amtamassage.org/publications/consumer-views-use-of-massage-therapy/ 

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/04news/adultsmedicine.htm

https://www.health.harvard.edu/alternative-and-complementary-medicine/therapeutic-massage-for-pain-relief

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/aging-and-sleep

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/02/study-of-the-day-massage-speeds-up-muscle-healing-reduces-pain/252242/

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Top 3 Amenities That Make Aging in Place More Successful

Wherever older people gather (particularly those of the baby boom generation), you can pick up on a prevailing vibe. We like to describe it as the energy of empowerment. These days, elders are not like their Depression-era parents. They are more active and have more expectations in growing old. 

Seniors make up an exceptionally large “piece” of the consumer pie, and they know what they like and want. With more Americans aging into this demographic every year, they are actively looking for places to remain active, keep learning, and age well. 

Per this MarketWatch article about boomers, “households with people age 80 and over jumped 71% from 4.4 million in 1990 to 7.5 million in 2016, according to Harvard’s Join Center for Housing Studies in its ‘Housing America’s Older Adults’ report. As baby boomers age, the number of households in this group will more than double by 2037.”

Every year, outlets like U.S. News publish the best places to age in the United States. The locations share common attributes that appeal to older Americans—at least, those who are in that group today. Often, they are warm, urban, and affordable cities with lower tax rates. This year’s list of high-ranking cities for retirees includes several based in Texas. 

When it comes to aging in place, elders look to balance where they live with the amenities that matter most. For you and your aging story, make it a point to assess the amenities available wherever you want to live. Weigh pros and cons of location in comparison to the perks. Then create a plan that will set you up to age and live well.

The Amenities Seniors Want

The truth is, no matter where you live, the amenities only matter if you use them. It’s essential to know yourself, do your homework, and make sure the benefits match with what will be most important to you. 

Of all the offerings, we’ve found that there are three that top the list:

1. Affordable appropriate homes: Seniors, like everyone else, want affordable and appropriate housing. Per Urban Wire, what may be less factored in when determining the age-in-place strategy is the long-term financial impact.  

2021-Q1-Clients-Top 3 Amenities to Age in Place Successfully-4This is especially true for determining whether to remain in a current home or right-size to something smaller. “According to the 2017 American Community Survey, over 40 percent of seniors age 55 to 75 years, and 38 percent of seniors age 75 and older live in 3-bedroom houses, suggesting a potential mismatch between the size/maintenance for the home and the needs of the inhabitants.” 

This decision will require a balance between budget and your emotions, too. Since housing is the primary amenity, it’s critical to plan in advance and bring in an expert. 

Make the investment of time and a consultation fee to call in a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS), too. That person will walk you through the options required to modify your existing house or one you’re about to buy.

The good news is that many of the modifications to your home won’t always cost a lot of money. Making doors wider, installing ramps and bars can all be done at affordable rates and as needed. 

Beyond updating a house for mobility requirements, it’s essential to factor in regular ongoing maintenance investments of your house, too. With more information, you’ll know if you’re better staying in an existing home or aging in place in something smaller.

2. Social connection: No matter where you age, staying connected to people is key to your mental, physical, and emotional health. Per the CDC, the health risks of loneliness for elders can be associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia, 29% increased risk of heart disease, and a 32% increased risk of stroke. 

2021-Q1-Clients-Top 3 Amenities to Age in Place Successfully-1Today’s seniors realize the value of social connections and keeping the relationships they’ve built, especially in the wake of 2020 and worldwide lockdowns. This basic need might be one of the primary reasons elders often choose to age-in-place in a home they’ve lived in for many years, since they have connections nearby.

When it comes to communities, seniors are less interested in outdated models where they’re warehoused away. More seniors are opting for intergenerational communities where they can remain for every stage of life instead.

To be and remain connected, you’ll want to plan your social calendar early. Volunteer for what you value, join a group or two, and dive into your favorite hobbies. 

Go ahead and reach out to family to build on existing bonds. And for those connections that have gathered dust, accept that the ball is in your court to reach out. You’re older, wiser and can take on the responsibility.

For most of us, it’s the family ties and/or friendships that enrich our lives most. Connect with your life-long loved ones and make a point to form new ones and foster them. Make connection a mission in your later years in organizations where you have things in common. Be the friend to others by reaching out first and often. 

2021-Q1-Clients-Top 3 Amenities to Age in Place Successfully-2With retirement, you will discover there is a whole world of things that happen during the day. A great way to connect with services and friends is through senior centers in your area. Over at FYI 50 plus, they have a robust list of them available in the state of Texas, for example. 

If the pandemic has taught us anything, we’ve discovered the huge universe of social activity online, too. You can join any number of groups on the internet. Over at One Family, they suggest a list of 20 of them! You can find those who have had a “similar walk of life” in Silversurfers, for example, or groups devoted to a passion such as dog or cat owners. 

Ponder your story of aging as it unfolds and make decisions about how you’ll stay involved in the word with others. Then take action now! Whether you’re a social butterfly or more of an introvert, you’ll want to tap into the resources available where you’ve chosen to live.

3. Services access: One major interest to seniors is the ability to get the services they want and need with ease. Whether you maintain a car, select public transit and rideshare, or prefer to walk, take proximity to services into account.

You can start by exploring what’s available at the state level. A review of your state’s human services website will provide insights of issues you’ll want to keep in mind. In Texas, for example, the Department of Health and Human Services outlines their areas of responsibility to support and protect the interests of seniors.

Another worthwhile investment could be to walk through your options with a professional. Whether your several years away from your older years, or they’re just around the corner, consulting with a certified Aging Life Care Professional will give you a better sense of what is available.

It’s essential to map out the logistics of the services you’ll need. Are you within walking distance of a grocery store, some restaurants, a walking trail, and entertainment outlets? How close are your doctor and other medical services? Where is your nearest community center and indoor exercise facility?

Research and Prepare

Aging in place is preferred by more seniors than ever because it can be affordable and far more comfortable than the other options. But to live well, it’s essential to do your homework and plan for different possible outcomes with changes in health.

In addition to where you live, it’s vital to maintain and expand your social circle. Take a look at the opportunities to engage in the community and consider how you’ll continue to grow and learn.

Note the services that are needed now and think forward to which others will be necessary as you age. You’ll want easy access to a grocery store, pharmacy and shopping in your area, for starters.

Aging is a journey that includes joys and challenges. Reduce the fear and uncertainty you have about this natural process by preparing in advance. Do your research, form a plan, and then go on and enjoy aging well.

 

Bibliography:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/boomers-are-reinventing-retirement-housing-imagine-galleries-walkability-and-multi-age-communities-2019-05-22

https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/slideshows/the-best-places-to-retire

https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/american-seniors-prefer-age-place-whats-right-place

https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html

20 social networking sites for over 50s | OneFamily

https://hhs.texas.gov/services/aging

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/staying-social-as-a-senior#5-ways-to-get-social

https://www.fyi50plus.com/senior-centers-and-recreation-centers/

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4 Signs of Dental and Oral Trouble for Seniors

What goes “snap” in the night? Unfortunately, it can be a snapping jaw, painful sore tooth, or other oral woe. Any type of agony is troubling, but tooth pain can be especially distressing, especially after nightfall.

About that time someone realizes the discomfort is unbearable is when emergency dental services are hard to come by (and expensive). For seniors, problems associated with dental care are on the rise, too, because more elders have their natural teeth compared with just a generation ago.

This is good news but, as it turns out, also the source of more oral troubles in this population.

As a home health care provider, you might be the first line of defense for your clients when it comes to managing dental issues. By paying attention and coming harnessed with information, you can be a useful resource for your client to address oral health care.

Dental Hygiene and Seniors

As we age, our oral chemistry alters. Cells renew at a slower rate. Tissues become thinner and less elastic, and our bones aren’t as dense. 

In addition, our immune system weakens, making us more prone to infection. And if we do become ill, it can take longer to bounce back. 

When someone’s mouth environment shifts, they might see signs of it in their gums and teeth. Sometimes, these changes signal underlying health issues that need further attention. 

2021-Q1-Nurses-4 Signs of Dental And Oral Trouble In Seniors-2

1. Dry Mouth: As we age, our mouth produces less saliva. Food particles consequently don’t break down as quickly. This is why older teeth hold on to globs of white goo between teeth and dental work. Yuck!

Saliva helps protect teeth from decay while also contributing to gum health, too. When someone produces less saliva, it might make them prone to cavities and gum disease. It can also lead to frequently dry cracked lips and even fissured tongues. 

Dry mouth alters how food tastes and ease of swallowing, too. Health conditions such as diabetes and stroke (and the use of medications to manage other conditions) contribute to the production of less saliva as well. 

2021-Q1-Nurses-4 Signs of Dental And Oral Trouble In Seniors-32. Cavities: Decay occurs when plaque in the mouth converts the sugars and starches from food into acid. Acid attacks the tooth enamel, which leads to cavities. 

Per the American Dental Association (ADA), more seniors are experiencing tooth decay in their older years than ever before. “According to a 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, approximately 18% of adults aged 65 years or older with retained natural teeth had untreated caries, and by 2009-2012 that number jumped to 68%.”

2021-Q1-Nurses-4 Signs of Dental And Oral Trouble In Seniors-43. Gum Disease:  Receding gums occur when gum tissue pulls away from the teeth, exposing the base (or “root”) of the tooth. This makes it easier for bacteria to get into the tooth and lead to decay and inflammation. 

Sometimes, overaggressive brushing causes receding gums, but diseases such as periodontal disease or gingivitis are more frequently the culprits. In addition to the receding gums, a prominent sign of gum illness is the appearance of excessive bleeding during brushing. 

4. Lining of the Mouth: The mucosa is the membrane lining inside the mouth. As we age (and depending on our behaviors) oral cancer may appear here. 

The use of tobacco and excessive alcohol as well as family history and extreme sun exposure can put someone at higher risk of oral cancer. Alterations of the mucosa such as swelling, lumps, bumps and rough spots merit attention, however, no matter the medical history of the elder. 

There are other possible symptoms of oral cancer you can share from Web MD. One of the more common is the presence of white, red, or speckled patches in the mouth. If any of these issues persist, they should be looked at by a dentist.

Preventative Care Is Key

Be sure to talk about the importance of dental care with your clients. Discuss the need to be vigilant to note changes in their mouth and teeth. Review the maintenance of good oral hygiene, including: 

  • Brushing both morning and night
  • Flossing once a day
  • Keeping dentures clean
  • Scheduling regular dental visits
  • Reporting any changes in the teeth or mouth

For some seniors, the ability to keep vigilant with their oral health can be a challenge with changes in underlying health conditions and medications. In addition, seniors suffering from cognitive decline will struggle to keep to a hygiene regimen.

Dental Care Issues

Cavities, oral cancer, and other matters of dental hygiene are routinely reviewed during regular dental visits. Unfortunately, many seniors do not have dental insurance, and may not be able to afford the out-of-pocket expenses of dental care. 

The CDC found that slightly less than one-third of adults aged 65 and over have dental insurance. Adults 65 and over had one dental visit in the past 12 months, and for some seniors, regular dental visits were even less frequent or likely. 

There are dental insurance options for older Americans, but they must be considered based on individual needs and budgets. Investopedia breaks down their picks of the top seven dental insurance carriers for 2021, offering a good place for seniors to explore what’s available. 

The mouth has sometimes been described as a mirror that reflects the greater health of the individual. Certainly, whatever is going on inside someone’s body will eventually manifest in the state of the mouth!

We spend a lifetime taking our mouth and teeth for granted. Yet it’s how our body receives nourishment. We send our thoughts to the world by way of our mouth and express our happiest moments when our lips curve up into the smile. Provide your clients with useful information about good oral hygiene, and alert them to possible issues and changes that may arise. Seniors can make better decisions about their oral health if they are armed with better knowledge.

 

Bibliography:

https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/aging-and-dental-health 

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/oral-cancer#1

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db337.htm

https://www.investopedia.com/best-dental-insurance-for-seniors-4844535

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Age In Place with the Home Team Advantage

Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” But truly, no matter the stage of life, we all need support. For seniors who want to age in place, a “home team” makes all the difference. 

As the over-50 population grows, more seniors want to age in the very places they’ve lived forever (or those they’ve adopted for the amenities they want most). But even though remaining independent and staying close to what we value is important, some of us face aging with a certain fear that we won’t be able to manage it.

2021-Q1-Referrals-How to Age in Place (Home Team Advantage)-1

Per an AARP survey, “While 76% of Americans age 50 and older say they prefer to remain in their current residence and 77% would like to live in their community as long as possible, just 59% anticipate they will be able to stay in their community.”

The main goal for seniors aging in place is to maintain their health and stay in the home they enjoy. However, as we age, our body changes and causes a long list of limits in mobility. This makes falls the biggest rick for seniors living on their own.

Age Safe America tracks the statistics on this issue: “falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions and 40% of those admitted will never return to independent living and 25% will die within one year.”

Select Four Members for Your Home Team

Forming a plan to age in place means learning all that you can about how to “age-i-size” your home. By selecting your team of professionals equipped to do just that, you’ll have the support needed to make solid decisions and worthwhile investments for your health and safety.

First base: your indoor pro. The National Association of Home Builders considers home remodeling for clients aging in place one of the fastest growing segments in their industry. The population of elders is growing rapidly, as reported by the United Nations: “in 2018, for the first time in history, persons aged 65 or above outnumbered children under five years of age.” 

This means more people are seeking services and solutions to help them age well and stay home. If your aim is to retain your independence, you’ll want someone reliable who can help your home adapt with you. 

Certified Aging-in-place Specialists (CAPS) are trained to address the types of modifications specific to those aging. Given that the aging process is gradual, CAPS are suited to help their clients manage current needs for the house and also advise for possible projects down the road. 

2021-Q1-Referrals-How to Age in Place (Home Team Advantage)-2

Given that CAPS are certified professionals, sometimes their work may be covered by Medicaid. Research this, but even if the expense is yours, working with a pro could save you money in the long haul because the work done will be done right.

There are a number of resources detailing the types of projects—both large and small—that you might consider to prepare your house, such as those listed over at National Institute for Aging. 

Here, we highlight three broad areas to consider where a CAPS pro can help: 

  • Lighting: As we age our eyes strain to adjust to changes in light, our ability to focus is reduced. One basic but significant fix is to add lighting to stairs and passageways. Even a specific coat of paint can change the impact of lighting. By selecting lighter non-glare colors for walls and white ceilings, light is refracted, making it easier for you to see in a space.  
  • Mobility: Stairs and bathrooms are the problem-points for falls for seniors. Interestingly, it turns out that many falls occur on flat surfaces, too. Adding handrails wherever there is motion (particularly when someone shifts from one position to another) is a good way to stay safe.
  • Accessibility: Making frequently used spaces such as interior and exterior stairs easier to reach helps seniors with access and reduces the likelihood of injury, too. Ramps are an option to eliminate stairs. Restructuring kitchen spaces and bringing washings machines to a main floor improves user experience and reduces injury risk, too. 

To find a CAPS expert in your area, visit National Association of Home Builders and use their directory. 

Second base: your outdoor pro. One of the more overlooked issues for preparing to age in place is budgeting for ongoing costs of home maintenance, inside and out. Beyond modifications, your home exterior will also need upkeep. 

Plowz and Mowz is a free app tool that allows users to check out contractors and read reviews. Angie’s List is another trusted resource where providers are rated. Finding the right professional is easier now than ever before so you can build your real “dream team.”

You can also tap into old fashioned methods to find your outdoor pro referral, such as word-of-mouth and suggestions from other local service providers. Ideally, by establishing a relationship with a service provider, you can secure regular and trusted help at fees you can incorporate in your budget for better planning.

2021-Q1-Referrals-How to Age in Place (Home Team Advantage)-4

Third base: your organizer/cleaner pro. As you’ve added in years, your home has likely accumulated stuff. Unfortunately, some of those things end up clutter that pose a fall hazard.  

Even if you’ve decided to age in place in a home you’ve lived in for years, bringing order to those familiar spaces can provide you and your home a fresh start. Consider a consultation with a professional organizer to walk through your rooms and things. They can help you decide what to consolidate and remove entirely. 

Home Advisor, Angie’s List and Find My Organizer are online resources where you can begin your search. Chat about pricing and services and think about what your home could be like with a bit less stuff and cleaner, more open spaces. 

You can also make a word-of-mouth inquiry with friends and other service providers in your community for organizers and house cleaning services. If you have light housekeeping, laundry and meal preparation needs (or desires) too, check out a one-stop service like Home Health Companions to arrange these tasks for you. 

Home Plate: your total resource pro. Information is essential to aging in place successfully. And as long as you can gather tools and ideas, you will have options in how you live your life. 

Depending on the complexity of your health situation and in-home needs, consider working with a professional advocate trained to help seniors: an Aging Life Care professional. These certified providers become the person who helps you make sense of medical needs while also linking you to valuable resources for aging comfortably in your home.

If you feel overwhelmed trying to track all the treatment information, differing medical details and instructions, for example, an Aging Life Care professional helps streamline and make sense of it all.

The Home Run Is Preparation!

Every stage of life is new to you, so it’s no wonder you have questions! We all face a period of learning as we grow older, especially with the new normal of aging in place. Don’t be afraid to dive in and discover the resources and options in this remarkable part of your life.

And remember, being independent doesn’t mean you should expect to do all of this alone. It’s okay—and prudent—to create your home team to help stay healthy and safe.

 

Bibliography:

https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/community/info-2018/2018-home-community-preference.html

https://agesafeamerica.com/home-safety-seniors-statistics-solutions/ 

https://www.nahb.org/education-and-events/education/designations/Certified-Aging-in-Place-Specialist-CAPS

https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/ageing/

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/infographics/aging-place-tips-making-home-safe-and-accessible

https://www.plowzandmowz.com/

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The New Reality of Being “Old” In A Post-COVID World

If there is anything that aging teaches us, it is to expect things never to stay the same. Yet, since the outbreak of COVID-19, change has been so swift that it’s been hard to keep up. One constant, however, has been that coronavirus poses the greatest risk to seniors.

It’s not even been a year since the first reported cases in Washington State, which decimated an assisted living community. From then on, scientists have worked rapidly to understand the symptoms, the impact, and the evolving treatments for this disease. 

The positive news of late is that a vaccine will soon be available to the public. But life as we knew it, particularly for elders, will never go back to what it was. Older people will need to adjust to a post-pandemic world. Keeping pace with the new normal and understanding how and why certain changes are essential will serve seniors well and help them stay healthy. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 in elders 

There is still significant confusion about COVID-19 in the public view, including questions of its infectiousness and how best to remain protected. Some of this is due to misinformation, such as the idea that COVID-19 only impacts the elderly. Another point of confusion is that so many patients remain asymptomatic, while those who fall dangerously ill and die do so in the seclusion of a hospital ICU. 

Furthermore, the science community is still out on why people have such a range of symptoms. Per Health Harvard, the gambit of severity is perplexing, but new research suggests that it might have something to do with an inadequate interferon response. For those patients, “their antibodies mistakenly attack and neutralize their interferons. And there are others who have a genetic mutation that prevents their body from producing enough of a certain type of interferon.” 

But why are seniors a specific target of the disease? It could have something to do with a weaker immune system. Science has discovered that as we age, our immune system does begin to lose some of its strength. Per Compass by WebMD, the data about aging and immunity show that our T-cells tend to slow down in response to invaders, so we get sick more often and take longer to recover. 

For adults, how we understand the symptoms of COVID-19 keeps evolving, but the most common we know are: fever, body ache, dry cough, fatigue, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of smell. If the illness escalates, it can lead to underlying conditions such as pneumonia (resulting in even higher fever), more severe cough, and a frightening shortness of breath. 

2020-Q4-Referrals-3-new-deal-for-the-old-post-covid-2With additional cases and more medical insights, the target for diagnosis of COVID-19 is always moving. Recently, for example, doctors have noted that seniors can present with delirium as a first indication. Per MedPage Today, 28% of COVID-19 patients 65 and older presented to the ED with delirium, and it was the primary symptom for 16% of patients. An alarming 37% of patients with delirium did not present with typical COVID-19. 

A New Life for Seniors 

Once the vaccine is widely circulated, it will still be a while before we can return to something in the ballpark of life as it used to be. For seniors, many choices and expectations will be altered permanently. A list of the most immediate changes older people can expect are featured here, but as with everything, it is always evolving!

2020-Q4-Referrals-3-new-deal-for-the-old-post-covid-3“Mask up” often: The number-one thing that has been clear during this pandemic is that we all expel and inhale germs all the time, which poses a risk when someone is sick. Even once we’ve reached public immunity for COVID-19, seniors may need to remain prudent and mask up in public settings. For activities such as shopping and travel, keeping a mask on could be considered standard practice.  

2020-Q4-Referrals-3-new-deal-for-the-old-post-covid-4Travel changes: Per RISMedia, travel for seniors could be different as well. Expect more elders to travel by car for trips of 800 miles or less, rather than navigating a crowded and busy airport. And foreign excursions may be curtailed in exchange for closer in-country destinations. For those who do fly and can afford it, seniors might spend their dollars flying business class or purchase a ticket for a middle seat to create some distance on a plane. 

2020-Q4-Referrals-3-new-deal-for-the-old-post-covid-5Disinfecting: If you’ve ever felt like a lone germaphobe in a world where others just don’t care, now is your time to shine! You’ll see how every business and service everywhere continues to pitch cleanliness. The disinfecting of surfaces and air will be essential for any business that serves the public. Anticipate a response to the desire for greater physical distance to impact the design of shared spaces and architecture, too.

2020-Q4-Referrals-3-new-deal-for-the-old-post-covid-6Vaccines required: You know that if you travel abroad or work in medical fields that vaccines are often required. As we move into the vaccine phase for COVID-19, expect that certain employers will require a vaccine for their employees, and specific businesses such as those serving travelers may expect customers to get vaccinated prior to getting aboard planes and cruise ships.

Technology connect: Don’t hang up those technology tools you learned to use during the pandemic! Teleconferencing with physicians will continue as a prime method to keep communication open between patient and doctor. 2020-Q4-Referrals-3-new-deal-for-the-old-post-covid-7Expect less time in travel, less exposure in medical settings, and more quality face-to-face with your doctor—often virtually—in the future.

Seniors have gotten used to the delivery of groceries and other services via the click of a button on their phone, too, and these services will continue to be in demand. And since staying in touch needn’t wait anymore until gathering in person, elders will also use their phones or tablets more often to connect with family and friends all over the world.

2020-Q4-Referrals-3-new-deal-for-the-old-post-covid-8Age in-place: Occupancy in senior living communities has taken a hit during the pandemic. It’s a trend that persists as more families elect to age in place longer than they might have just a few years ago. 

The article, How COVID-19 Will Shape the Future of Senior Living. New Models of Care, More Aging In Place, over at Barrons, provides an insightful breakdown of the impact on senior living facilities. “Before the crisis, roughly a fifth of senior-living communities had occupancy rates of below 80%—a level that could make it harder for them to weather the slowdown, especially as costs increase and cash flow takes a hit.” 

While assisted living and memory care will recover, the economy and lowered confidence in the senior living industry will have many elders electing to age in place instead. Demand for in-home services including caregivers, companions, and private duty nursing offered by providers such as Home Health Companions will continue to increase.

Accepting and adapting for your health

In the future, armed with this newfound information gained from the pandemic, seniors will need to be more cautious about infections and veer away from large gatherings. However, thanks to technology and a myriad of options available today, the later years need don’t have to remain uninteresting or isolated!

Seniors know a thing or two about adapting because they’ve lived long enough to know that change is a part of life. Of course, nothing is meant to stay the same, but how we come to deal with the differences is what really matters.

Bibliography:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-basics#:~:text=When%20the%20virus%20does%20cause,which%20often%20indicates%20pneumonia.https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/89788https://rismedia.com/2020/08/18/seniors-expect-new-normal-post-vaccine-world/http://www.homehealthcompanions.com/caregivers-companionshttps://www.barrons.com/articles/how-covid-19-will-shape-the-future-of-senior-living-new-models-of-care-more-aging-in-place-51590767276

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Should You Inspect Your Poo?

Let’s head to the bathroom for a moment, particularly at the time you need to relieve your bowels. Feeling a bit uncomfortable? It’s okay, you’re not alone—but we should all be mindful, because what goes on in your stool can help you know more about what is going on in your body. 

Perhaps you have a preferred moniker for relieving yourself? Maybe you veer to the “comfort room” language, or “go number two,” or even “drop a deuce.” No matter how you term it, this is obviously something we all do and is a kind of whisperer as to the inner workings of your digestive system. 

What goes on down there?

So, now that we’ve gone to the bathroom, it seems reasonable to ask: do you look inside the toilet? Do you turn and take a quick peek before you hit the flush? 

2020-Q4-Clients-3-Should You Inspect Your Poo-1It’s fine to admit that you do and probably built into each of us to take an interest in our feces. As animals, the instinct to look is primal. We look to see what is coming out because at an almost instinctive level we “know” that matter has things to tell us about our body. 

The stats in a study conducted by gastroenterologists and reported over at Discover provide some insight into our behavior on this subject. They found that only 27% of participants looked at every stool and wipe, and that 6% never looked at their feces or toilet paper. The extreme ends of this study are significant. 

Do you look every time? Or do you never take a look? Most of us fall in the other 67% of this population and at least look now and then. To see why periodic stool inspection matters, it’s important to have a layman’s understanding of what goes on in the digestive process. 

The story of digestion starts when you take a bite. You masticate (a fancy word for chew) and introduce saliva to the food to help break down sugars and assist it toward your throat and into your esophagus. 

The food moves down your esophagus by means of peristalsis, which are wavelike contractions of the muscles in the digestive pathway, until it is sent to your stomach. There, the food is showered in gastric juices so that the proteins break down. 

The food then passes through the small intestine where it is bathed in bile—which digests fats—and pancreatic juices—which contain enzymes to digest carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. 

The walls of the small intestine also release enzymes to help with digestion on this massive journey of five meters in length. Once the food finishes its path through the small intestine, nearly all the nutrients of the food have been absorbed. 

The food then moves into the large intestine where the main function is to absorb water, remaining nutrients, and salts, and convert waste products into a more solid form to be excreted from the body. The colon ends in the rectum and anal canal where the fecal material is ready to be expelled from the body through the anus. The IBD clinic provides this wonderful video of the process described here.  

Your body is a well-ordered combination of systems that all take place mostly inside of us, so when we emit anything it affords us a chance to at least pick up a clue as to what is happening inside.

Go ahead and look

If you are going to take a look at what you’ve dropped in the bowl, then it will help if you know a few things about what is normal in the first place. You’ll be inspecting your stool for color, consistency, and timing to compare with your baseline in the future.

What will be noteworthy are those instances of continued anomalies in your bowel function. So, as you go, keep track to report to healthcare professionals when there are any significant changes. One such person would be your in-home healthcare professional, such as those of Home Health Companions. These are people who see you regularly and will be part of the team to keep you on target with your health needs and concerns. 

Now let’s break down each of these categories with the terminology and information that will make your inspection more useful. 

Color: The typical color of your stool is likely in the medium brown range. If you produce something quite light or nearly black, then keep an eye for color should the trend continue. And what can other colors mean? 

  • Per Penn Medicine states that an especially light-colored stool could indicate infection, inflammation, or the blockage of bile ducts. 
  • Blood in your stool could mean several things, including bleeding in the rectum or anus (hemorrhoids commonly cause this) to swelling in the lining of your stomach. 
  • Black stool could be associated with something you’ve eaten or bleeding taking place somewhere along your digestive tract. If you find your stools are black after several voids, you’ll want to report the change to your doctor. 

Consistency: Once you’ve established what is your “regular,” pay attention to any stool that is too hard or too mushy or difficult to clean away with toilet paper. Specifically, you are looking for variations of shape and texture don’t go away in a few days. 

Over at Healthline they detail a system called the Bristol Stool Scale based on a study of 2,000 people, through which they determined seven types of stool with associated grades. We’ll hit on just a few of the points on the scale here:

  • Type I, appearance of marbles, this indicates constipation. This is something you’ll also have realized based on your length of time spent on the toilet. 
  • Type 3, log or hot dog shapes, are considered normal stool. 
  • Type 7, a watery mess that’s hard to clean with wiping, indicates full-on diarrhea. Of course, you most likely knew something was off if you had stomach cramping prior to going to the bathroom in the first place.

With any of these variations on the scale, there is usually nothing to do if you have a one-off incident. But make note if the how long any outlier continues, as this will be information to share with your doctor. 

Timing: How often do you go? Whether it is once a day, or once every couple, you know your standard. 

2020-Q4-Clients-3-Should You Inspect Your Poo-3A lot is made of regularity, and for good reason. Someone dealing with constipation feels the discomfort akin to carting around an anvil. Per a report on GI health over at U.S. News if you go (or don’t in this case) longer than three days, it’s time to let a medical professional know. Constipation is most often caused by lack of water or fiber, but could also be associated with other issues such as a change in medications. 

On the other side of the stool spectrum, a bout of diarrhea is awful and makes you feel uncertain you can even leave your home safely. A significant factor for this, especially as we age, can be a change in food sensitivity. Food allergies have become a hot topic in recent decades with many hypersensitive to the lactose and gluten in foods, for example. 

But aging and food sensitivity have become more prevalent now that more people live longer. It is possible that foods you once ate when you were younger suddenly turn on you as you age. In Today’s Dietitian, Larissa Brophy explains how food sensitivities come on with age as our immune systems change or undergo “immunosenescence.” 

Our innate and adaptive immune systems are impacted as we grow older, causing specific alterations of the various cell types of the immune system. Mast cells, for example, are key to food allergy reaction, and as we age their reactions in the digestion process are altered. 

Everybody’s doing it…

It’s not that we want to gravitate to bathroom humor on this topic—we just want to make sure you benefit from knowing as much as you can about reading your overall health. Keep your eye out for changes in stool color, consistency and timing that persist for longer than a few days. 

2020-Q4-Clients-3-Should You Inspect Your Poo-4If you still feel a bit squeamish about the subject of “number two” and taking a glance in the bowl, consider the Groom of Stool as described over at Historic UK. Back during the 15th century, Henry VIII designated the first “grooms” for the role of royal poop inspection. Grooms of stool were an honored breed, and considered a position generally assigned to the sons of noblemen or members of the gentry. After Henry, the tradition of royal fecal inspection persisted for several centuries, because change in stool can be the window to what is going on inside. So, think of yourself as being rather regal, and go ahead and take a look!

Bibliography:

https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2019/march/poop

https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/do-you-look-at-your-poo-if-not-heres-why-you-should

http://www.ibdclinic.ca/what-is-ibd/digestive-system-and-its-function/how-it-works-animation/#:~:text=Digestion%20works%20by%20moving%20food,break%20down%20into%20smaller%20molecules.

http://www.homehealthcompanions.com/caregivers-companions

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/slideshows/how-often-should-i-poop-and-other-toilet-topics?slide=9

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Health Care Services

How to Successfully Team with Your Patient for Better Results

You know (and I do, too) that not all our behaviors work in our best interests. Some of us eat too much sugar, sit on the couch too often, and imbibe the additional beer—knowingly to our detriment. Many of us want to do better, but we are instead drawn to what is easy, preferring instant gratification and the rewards it brings. The reason for the disconnect, as psychologist Dan Gilbert explains, is that we walk around with an illusion of our personal history—we believe that who we are right now is who we will remain the rest of our lives. When we imagine our future selves, they’re just wrinklier versions of the same person we are now—behaviors, beliefs and preferences in-tact.

Diving deeper, this comes from the false belief that we don’t change, which can leave us stalled, even when faced with information that asserts we must. In the healthcare sphere, patient resistance to caretakers trying to help positive change happen is a daily problem. The disconnect comes between the sterile clinical side of medicine advising what we “must” do versus the reality of human behavior, as seen in those receiving care. 

2020-Q4-Nurses-3-How to Team with Your Patient For Better Health Outcomes-2Patients most often resist medical treatments when they perceive the choice is one of life versus quality of life.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 125,00 people with treatable ailments die each year in the United States because they don’t take their medication properly. And 10-25% of hospital and nursing home admissions result from patient noncompliance at home. 

If you’re a health care provider, you understand this; you’ve witnessed it countless times. The good news is that there are now more tools and options in your medical toolbox to help you work together with patients. The message has finally shifted from a cold and clinical perspective to one rooted in personal empowerment. You and the patient are a team.

What really inspires patient engagement?

Before we can delve into how to encourage teamwork, let’s define what patient engagement is. Per healthcare communications expert Spōk, medical providers sometimes confuse engagement with other measures of satisfaction and experience. So, to be specific, engagement here is: “Actions individuals must take to obtain the greatest benefit from the health care services available to them.” 

2020-Q4-Nurses-3-How to Team with Your Patient For Better Health Outcomes-3Engagement requires good communication and collaboration between the patient and healthcare provider. When patients are engaged, they are more likely to remain out of the hospital and comply with your care plans, thus reducing the likelihood of additional costs such as further diagnostic testing, referrals, and additional surgeries. 

A patient-driven strategy

So, how can you work in tandem with your patient to see these improvements in engagement? Here, we highlight several concepts that empower patients. You are an essential part of the medical environment, and technology has proved a boon, too, as has the advance of information access. The total result has been a melding of lessons that have significantly altered the overall in-home-care patient experience. 

  1. True collaboration: To achieve cooperation, the goals for healing must be meaningful to the patient. Dropping pounds, lowering blood pressure, or adjusting triglycerides may not be compelling if driven by metrics alone. It’s far better if the payoff is a relatable reward—for example, achieving the health for more fun activities, such as dancing or being able to pick up a grandchild easily. Brainstorm with patients to set their targets, and encourage family support if the patient wants the boost.
  2. Make change easier: Change is tough, especially when it is thrust upon someone due to a health issue. Tech has stepped in with solutions from reminders for medications to tracking behaviors, all of which make creating new habits more fun and manageable. Clinics and pharmacies also use tech to send text reminders for appointments and refill prescriptions. Some medical outlets offer perks such as rewards for goals met and memberships to services such as gyms. Turning behavior change into a game-like challenge to manage rather than a problem to overcome shifts the dynamic. 
  3. Medical Report Record Form History Patient Concept

    Communication control: Nothing is quite as empowering as the access to information. Assuring patients can easily communicate with their physicians via email has been a significant change from healthcare delivery of the past. And now that more medical records are digitized, patients can receive their medical information faster, too. In this paradigm where the patient is part of the solution, tools of communication have made all the difference. 

  4. Honor the patient experience: Perhaps the best way to empower patients and to establish trust is to honor the patient experience. Individuals must be able to speak freely and tell their story, even if some details fall outside the data needed for medical records. For some, it is therapeutic to share their journey and even hear from others on a similar path. Invite patients to join online groups and in-person gatherings to encourage personal storytelling. 

When health care professionals can step back and see the person behind the patient, the foundation for effective interaction is laid. Sometimes the act of listening is what is key. When there are setbacks, it will then be easier for a patient to acknowledge them and pick up to move forward again if they feel heard.

An improved care experience

Today, it is hard to remember the old, patriarchal climate of medicine when patients were subservient and clueless in their healthcare situation. We’ve come a long way in recognizing the value of a collaborative environment. For the patient, the advantage is increased adherence to medical directions, which translates to better outcomes. 

With the use of technology, access to information, and a focus on teamwork, patients can take a personal stake in their care. And for health care providers, patient engagement means your work is more likely to make a positive difference.

Bibliography:

https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_the_psychology_of_your_future_self?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

https://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/adherence_report/en/

 

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Teach Your Old Skin New Tricks with These Three Tips

2020-Q4-Referrals-2-Teach Your Old Skin New Tricks with These Three Tips-1The aging process can be a hard pill to swallow as you look in the mirror, but take a step back and recognize the marvel of your body—even as it changes! Did you know, for instance, that your skin is the largest organ of your body (covering an average area of 20 square feet)? It turns out that outer package of yours amounts to a significant portion of your body, so caring for it properly can pay off.

Though you may feel like a bucket of bones, it’s really your skin (wrinkles and all) that is keeping you all together. And caring for it can make a huge difference in how you feel. Your skin protects you from microbes and the elements, helps regulate your body temperature, and alerts you via the sensation of touch to pull back from the hot handle of the pot or wrap warmly when you head outdoors on a cold day. 

In this post, we’ll list the best ways you can keep your skin in top-notch health as you age.

1. Hydrate

2020-Q4-Referrals-2-Teach Your Old Skin New Tricks with These Three Tips-2You started to see the differences in your skin with age as it lost elasticity and became thinner. Your veins might have begun to appear more visible, and those wounds you once bounced back from now take longer to heal. 

Often, the first response is to address the appearance of aging with the usual anti-aging serums and creams. It’s debatable if you can really “reverse” aging, but maybe you can camouflage it a bit. More importantly, if you want to keep your skin healthy (thereby giving it the best chance it has at aging more slowly), it’s essential to keep your body and skin hydrated. Here’s how:

  • Drink water
  • Avoid the sun
  • Use sun blocks with moisturizing creams
  • Stop smoking
  • Run a humidifier during dry months. 
  • Take fewer baths and use fewer soaps

2. Investigate

Given that your skin encloses the rest of your bones, muscles and organs, it makes sense that it can foretell other issues going on within. Changes you see that are skin-deep merit closer attention. It’s not uncommon to experience more bruising with age, for example, which can be a side-effect of medications or other medical concerns. If you see bruises more frequently in places you can’t easily explain, be sure to mention them to your doctor. 

The most common skin changes that come on with age are benign, such as age spots (flat, brown colorations that come with years in the sun), and skin tags (flesh-colored growths of skin that spout up from the skin’s surface like a tiny tongue, often on your neck). 

Skin cancer is the primary reason to routinely investigate your skin, as it’s the most common type of cancer in the United States. Primary causes of skin cancer include exposure to the sun along with sunlamps and tanning beds, all of which deliver those ultra-violate rays most harmful to the skin. The importance of early detection for skin cancer is imperative. 

The principle types of skin cancer include basal and squamous cell carcinoma, both of which which grow slowly and rarely spread to other parts of the body. The third skin cancer melanoma is the most dangerous because it can spread to other organs, though it is rarer than the others. 

A monthly review of your skin is a time to spot new growths, such as a sore that does not heal, or bleeding moles. Check birthmarks and other parts of the skin for the “ABCDEs of skin changes.” This anacronym helps you track as you inspect. If you see any of these changes, see your doctor.

2020-Q4-Referrals-2-Teach Your Old Skin New Tricks with These Three Tips-4A = Asymmetry (one half of the growth looks different from the other half)

B = Borders that are irregular

C = Color changes or more than one color

D = Diameter greater than the size of a pencil eraser

E = Evolving: this means the growth changes in size, shape, symptoms (itching, tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), or shades of colorIf you work with a home healthcare provider such as those at Home Health Companions, he or she can help you track skin changes and keep a regular record. And if you’ve had any issues with skin growths that were pre-cancerous or any cancer of any kind, then yearly or bi-annual checkups with a dermatologist could be recommended (and should be added to your health resume).

3. Mitigate

You can’t undo the years of damage to your skin from sun exposure and aging, but you can protect your skin going forward. Be sure to work in the following practices to reduce further harm and enjoy your older skin!

  • Limit your time in the sun. You can be outside, but now is the season of life to bask under umbrellas and in the shade of trees rather than in direct sunlight. 
  • Wear clothing that covers your skin; and if it is hot, keep the items loose. Long sleeves, slacks and hats are key. Make sure the hat covers both the back of your neck and shades your face well. 
  • Use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and select sunscreens that list “broad spectrum” on the label
  • No more sunbathing which includes tanning beds.

You might not be able to alter the years that show on your skin, but you can insure it goes the distance with you and keeps you intact. Remember to treat your skin like the wonder of your anatomy it is with attention to hydrate, investigate, and mitigate it as you move on in health.

Bibliography:

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/picture-of-the-skin#1

https://brighamhealthhub.org/learn-the-abcdes-of-skin-cancer/

http://www.homehealthcompanions.com/caregivers-companions

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Isolation During COVID-19: The Silent Killer

Striking a balance between quantity and quality of life is something for both patients and health care professionals to consider. Medical science has the means to extend life, but if additional days come at the price of personal well-being, a patient may opt out of treatment altogether. 

Since COVID-19 first broke out in the United States in March 2020 in an acute care facility, health experts have warned that older people are at a higher risk if they contract the virus. The understandable response has been to segregate the older population to their homes (or facilities) to reduce potential infection. However, as quarantine has continued, the ramifications of prolonged isolation have posed a significant health problem as well. 

In the article “The hidden Covid-19 health crisis: Elderly people are dying from isolation,” several examples of the adverse impacts of isolation are detailed, including that of Chester Peske, a 98-year-old male who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease before the pandemic began. 

2020-Q4-Clients-2-Isolation During the Pandemic, A Silent Killer-2

It wasn’t just that Chester’s family couldn’t visit once his facility was closed to visitors; it was also the reality that the daily activities of life and social interaction at the facility were discontinued, too. Within a short time, Chester’s health declined. He stopped eating and withdrew until he was identified with failure to thrive and sadly passed away without his family being able to say goodbye. 

Chester’s example is an unfortunate one that has been repeated in other elder care environments, too. It’s even manifested among the caregivers serving this population, since they, too, have to isolate to protect their clients. Due to exclusion from people and purpose, elders are also reported to suffer more falls, are less ambulatory, and have seen other existing conditions accelerate, such as dementia. 

Data as to the impact of isolation as a cause of death is not widely available, but family and care takers are reporting more stories like Chester’s. People in quarantine are “being robbed of whatever good days they have left, and the situation is accelerating the aging process,” per Joshua Uy, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

Isolation-Health Impact

2020-Q4-Clients-2-Isolation During the Pandemic, A Silent Killer-1We are social beings. We need to feel connected to others and have a sense that we’re realizing our purpose. And yet, we live in a culture where many experience loneliness even during normal times. From Designs for Health, a recent article makes the point that even with all the technology available today, people feel lonelier than ever. “Nearly 35 percent of all US adults over the age of 45, 80 percent of those under 18 years, and 40 percent of those over 65 years are reported as lonely.” 

The use of quarantine as a remedy to stave off infection has unintentionally exacerbated mental health problems for some, and hit seniors hard, in particular. The lack of family contact and social interaction has led some seniors to experience mental health problems alone, including depression and anxiety. 

As these mental conditions persist, a person’s overall health suffers, too. Illnesses such as high blood pressure and heart disease worsen, and a feeling of hopelessness leads to poor choices such as pulling inward even further from those few people an elder can interact with. Persistent depression alters the brain’s neuro-chemical pathways, and thoughts that had once seemed uncharacteristic of a person make sense in their new state of thinking.

Combatting Isolation

As the lockdown continues, experts recognize that more needs to be done to address the mental health issues of isolation. Elder care professionals are working together across states to share ideas for how to safely support seniors. 

A few of the more innovative solutions presented by ADvancing States to assist aging and disability agencies are listed below. 

  • Robotic Interactive Companion Pets: Several states began purchasing robotic pets and dispersing them to seniors to help improve overall mood for individuals. As of August 2020, in Alabama, for example, 130 pets were dispersed to communities across the state and due to favorable response, they plan to purchase and disperse more. 
  • Neighbor-to-Neighbor campaigns: States are using existing platforms to encourage connection between neighbors. 2020-Q4-Clients-2-Isolation During the Pandemic, A Silent Killer-4Older residents can ask for and receive specific support from volunteers in California, for example, via the Nextdoor app.
  • Tailored technology: Programs throughout the country are utilizing technology and virtual connectivity. Project VITAL (Virtual Inclusive Technology for ALL) in Florida works to connect seniors through specially designed tablets that can access resources like music, books, games and provide the ability to video chat and email with family. 

For seniors who live alone, there are additional resources you can ask for in your community. If you need help finding outlets, look to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services for ideas provided at the state level. There are also Aging Life Care certified professionals such as those at Home Health Companions whom you can hire to assist in help you access the services most beneficial for your particular needs. 

Most important is to understand that isolation leads some to believe they are truly alone. However, the truth is that more health professionals recognize today than ever that we must address the underlying mental health illnesses aggravated by the pandemic. The quarantine may be the momentary solution until there is a vaccine, but it needn’t be the conduit of mental health problems for our seniors if we respond appropriately.

Bibliography:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/hidden-covid-19-health-crisis-elderly-people-are-dying-isolation-n1244853

https://www.challenge.gov/assets/netlify-uploads/social-isolation-resource_08042020.pdf

https://blog.designsforhealth.com/node/736

https://www.hhs.gov/aging/state-resources/index.html

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3 Essentials to Make Your Home a Fall-Free Zone

Charlie Chaplin perfected the art of falling on his rear in his classic silent films. His slip-on-the-banana-peel bit first appeared in 1915 in the movie “By the Sea.” Since then, it has become a classic shtick emulated by other actors throughout the years. It’s a funny piece of slapstick, and we laugh together as The Tramp tosses down the peel and promptly slips across it with his feet swooshing out from under him. Flat on his back, we know he’ll be back up and on the move again in less than a second.

Chaplin had several advantages when he made his famous fall: he was young, and he was prepared. Unfortunately, most falls in life are not planned and can lead to injury, and are increasingly serious as we age. In fact, falls are one of the more common reasons that elders land in the hospital. 

Per the National council on Aging, “One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.”

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The irony of life is that just as our bones and muscles become less able to heal from injury, our senses begin to run amuck in helping us remain upright. Our center of gravity doesn’t adjust as quickly as it used to, and our vision and hearing aren’t as keen was they once were. So, falling is definitely something we need help avoiding as we get older!

The very good news is that there are actions and precautions you can take to make your home more fall-proof. By assessing and recognizing your mobility issues and addressing the following three essentials, you have several things to do that are within your control:

1. Clear the clutter. Whether your style is tidy or more packrat, now is the time to join the minimalist bandwagon and reduce anything in your path that you don’t need. Clutter is the #1 hazard that often leads to falls.

  • Remove anything that blocks your hallways, stairs, and along the entryways from one room to another. Don’t leave books, paper, clothes or shoes in any of your walking areas. 
  • Remove throw rugs and small rugs. If you want rugs at the foot of your kitchen or bathroom sink, make sure they are non-skid mats. 
  • Secure larger area rugs with adhesive to prevent rolled corners. 
  • Organize, wrap up, and pin back electrical cords so they are out of the way. 
  • Make sure furnishings are cleared from paths. 
  • Get in the declutter groove. You think your life is set and there are no new chapters? Think again! Take on the project of reducing your stuff, and enjoy the renewal and a new look at the world in the process.

You can start by assessing the photos, books, and other objects in your home and considering what you need and what could serve someone else. You might find it’s much easier to let things go if you know they are going to good homes where they’ll be of use. 

Tell the stories in the family photos and heirlooms by giving them to others in the family. Find local services that can use the books and furnishings you no longer need in your space. Check out resources to assist seniors where you live, or work with an advocate who can help you find the right support, or hire a pro to guide you in the project through internet searches such as Find My Organizer.

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2. Apply good lighting. You know soft lighting sets the ambiance for a romantic moment, but when it comes to lighting your way in your home, brighter is better.

  • Make sure the stairs and entryways to rooms are lit well so you can see where you’re going. 
  • Install light switches at both the top and the bottom of your stairs. 
  • Use nightlights in your bedroom and keep a flashlight handy by your bed. 
  • Make certain the entrances to your home are free of structural damage, and be sure to have motion-sensing lighting installed.

3. Keep spaces designed age-appropriate. Look at everything you’re using in your home and ask, “How can this hurt or help me?” Is the comfy chair one I can get into and out of easily? Are the things I use most within easy reach? As you work to remain mobile and independent, it is vital to look critically at your space and all the things you use in order to be certain they are ergonomically useful and practically placed.

  • Assess furniture and fixtures such as toilets and counter tops to be sure they are the right height. 
  • Mount grab bars near your toilets, and both inside and outside your shower. Make sure the railings for your stairs are sturdy and useful. Consider installing double railings where possible.
  • When the tasks are more involved than your skillsets, utilize an accredited aging in place handyman to install flooring, upgrade electrical and plumbing fixtures, and make sure railings and other built-ins are securely anchored. Get an assessment done by a pro to help you see what you’re missing.

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Most people find that, as they age, remaining at home is both a comfort and a cost-effective lifestyle choice. But in order for it to work well and for the long-term, you have to take control of the things within your control such as how your house is set up. By being proactive about your aging-in-place plan, your house can remain your home sweet home forever.

Bibliography:

https://youtu.be/RMDgmHB4znc

https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/#:~:text=One%20in%20four%20Americans%20aged,hospital%20admissions%20among%20older%20adults.

https://www.findmyorganizer.com/organize.b.507.html?page=1

https://www.signaturehomeservices.com/10-tips-to-prevent-accidents-in-the-home/

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Put Your Best Foot Forward with These 7 Tips for Good Foot Health

Your feet are amazing. You’ve counted on them to keep the rest of you upright and moving for a long time! When you were born, your parents looked to their pudgy cuteness, those pads of fat on your soles where arches would later form, gleefully counting the digits on each foot. 

As time marches on, your feet continued to serve as they kept you mobile. Per the American Podiatric Medical Association, by the time you’re 50, you will have averaged 75,000 miles. And though we take them for granted much of the time, our feet are a complex and sensitive part of our anatomy with more than 250,000 sweat glands per set—and more nerve endings per square centimeter than any other part of your body. You can find an entire list of fun facts about feet over at North West OrthoSports. 

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Although your feet might not be the window to your soul, they are a potential soothsayer of your overall wellbeing and health. The condition of your feet can indicate medical concerns like poor circulation, diabetes, heart disease and thyroid issues. For a full list of possible markers of health check out the article over at The Healthy, “10 Subtle Signs of Disease Your Feet Can Reveal.”

Now that you’ve stopped to think about the vital role your feet play in live, we hope you feel a little more empowered to take care of them like the friends they are! Just follow these 7 tips for foot care to keep you on your toes:

1. Examine the bottom of your feet often. Look for cuts, splinters, cracks in the skin and pressure sores. If any wounds here persist without evidence of healing for more than 24 hours, contact your physician.

2. Look for evidence of ingrown toenails. This is a problem for anyone, but especially for those with circulation issues who might not feel the presence of inflammation and infection. If left untreated, the wounds of an infection can become a more serious problem that leads to amputation.

And for those of you unfamiliar with ingrown toenails, they occur when nails of the main toe are cut to curve with the shape of the toe (rather than straight across.) The sides may grow into the skin, causing infection. Be sure to cut your nails straight across and gently file the sides down.

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3. Get pedicure care as needed. Your toenails grow slowly. In fact, it takes six months for a toenail to replace itself! At the same time, toenails that grow can be sharp as a razer and cut into your skin. Assure that your toenails are regularly trimmed, and if they are particularly thick or if you can’t bend over to manage them yourself, all the better reason to treat yourself to at least two professional pedicures a year. You can also get the help of an in-home health care provider like Home Health Companions for periodic foot care.

4. Soak and stretch your feet. As if you really needed a reason to soak your feet in some warm, fragrant water on a regular basis! Besides feeling good, soaking your feet in warm water does wonders to relax tense muscles. As we age, we lose muscle flexibility and strength, so any stress to muscles will be felt. Soothe those tired “dogs” with an occasional soak.

After each soak, take a few minutes to do some stretches for your plantar fascia ligaments (which stretches from your heel to your toe). The inflammation of this ligament can lead to pain when walking. Stretching is good for every part of you, and your feet are especially appreciative. Medical News Today offers 6 exercises you can do while your muscles are already relaxed after basking in warm water.

5. Wear socks that fit—and wick! When it comes to socks, you want ones that are loose enough in the cuff and toe that your blood flow is not inhibited. Also, avoid socks with seams, as the pressure of those edges can cause damage to your skin. But most importantly, you want your socks to keep your feet both warm and dry! You might be surprised to learn that, when it comes to fabric, cotton is not the best option for socks because it retains moisture and does not allow for airflow. That means sweaty feet will sort of “stew,” which is a yuck! Fabrics including Merino wool (which is anti-bacterial, breathable, and warm) or polyester (which dries quickly) are better choices. Or, if you still prefer cotton, get socks with a polyester blend.

6. Wear the right size shoe. Did you know your feet continue to transform as you age? Over at the University of Foot and Ankle Institute, they explain that, as we age, our foot morphology 

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changes, resulting in an increased width and length. And we also lose muscle mass and fatty tissue, causing more shape shifting in our feet. The result is that older people frequently wear ill-fitting shoes on one or both their feet because they’re buying the size they always did before.

That same article goes on to cite a recent study of 100 adults over 65 where it was discovered that 83% of the participants were wearing shoes of the wrong size. As we age keeping our feet protected from injury is more important than ever especially if we don’t sense pain due to peripheral neuropathy or other health issues. By wearing socks and shoes that fit at all times, we help protect our feet from hazards of wounds.

7. Moisturize. It might seem counter to keeping your feet comfortably dry, but you want to protect your skin from becoming dry and cracked. In addition to the soaking mentioned in a previous tip, be sure to apply moisturizing lotion to the top and bottom of your feet while avoiding any contact with the skin between the toes.

Take action with these seven foot care tips to keep your feet and toes twinkling! And if you or a loved one needs help with foot care, consider working with an in-home care professional such as those available at Home Health Companions Services. Your feet are truly your friends, so make sure to give them their due and they’ll make strides to keep serving you!

Bibliography:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/foot-health-pictures/funky-feet-facts.aspx

https://www.manchesterfootandankleclinic.com/foot-facts.html

https://www.thehealthy.com/foot-care/foot-symptoms/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324353

https://www.footankleinstitute.com/blog/are-your-shoes-the-right-size/

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Navigating the Language and Culture Barrier in Healthcare

Today more than ever, medicine knows no borders. In the United States, our citizenry continues to diversify representing the world—a reality that applies to both healthcare providers and their patients. The challenge is how to communicate in a way so that illness can be treated effectively, no matter the barriers.

For patients, there is fear plus whatever pain they’re dealing with and the struggle to understand complex science. For healthcare professionals, there are more patients and treatments every day, not to mention the need to remain objective. If differing language and culture are factored in, this puts additional strain on the system and the goal to cure. 

In 1964, in an effort to address the problem of language barriers, the Civil Rights Act established that it was a legal right for all individuals to have language assistance services when receiving health care. And in the ensuing 43 years, the industry has struggled to meet the need for the constantly-changing populace they serve. Per the November 2007, Journal of General Internal Medicine article, “linguistic diversity of the USA has burgeoned with more than 200 different languages now spoken across the country.” 

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To build a better bridge of communication, experts must continue to step back and assess how they align their resources to serve a wide variety of patients. Something as basic as how candidates are selected, for example, could be key. 

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In a community such as Washington, D.C, one outlet discovered that testing for new employees was done primarily in English, even when their patient population spoke several other languages. The reality of the disparity in what we do versus what we know plays out in communities throughout the country. Per a 2017 article in the Home Health Care News, “Despite the fact that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the U.S., only 13.1% of RN visits with Spanish speaking patients were language concordant, compared to 31.3% for Koreans, Russian 22.4% and Chinese speakers with 18.7%.” Part of the problem may be in how the industry brings on staff to help serve their patients.

Where there is confusion, there will be error in the delivery of services, and the patient will have a negative experience in care. The March 2020 Oman Medical Journal article cited data revealing that “many patients with limited local language proficiency experienced adverse health events that resulted in detectable physical harm (49.1% of patients)…or experienced some failure in communication with medical providers (52.4%).”

Language Challenge for Elders

Differing languages and cultures become uniquely problematic for elders faced with conditions of aging, particularly the loss of hearing. An older patient’s ability to understand a person speaking with an accent, even if it is in the patient’s native language, can become a significant impediment to care.

One of the frequent top-10 complaints of older patients is that they can’t understand the healthcare staff who work with them. The patient is forced to spend a great deal more effort listening, which creates stress.

Professional home health providers such as Home Health Companions understand that this is an issue for clients. We work with our staff in training to address the need to speak slowly, clearly, and face-to-face to assist in comprehension for both the patient and care provider.

Strategies to Break the Barrier

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Although language and culture differences continue to challenge the healthcare system, there are concepts, services and new technologies that can help, such as:

  • Acknowledge diversity. Our knee-jerk response as humans is to identify commonalities and quickly overlook how we are different, but this can also lead to inaccurate assumptions. 
  • Employ a culturally and linguistically diverse staff. Patients feel better when they experience a space with people they perceive to be similar to them. 
  • Provide new staff orientation and ongoing training regarding the subject of diversity to help cultivate a culture of acceptance of values, principles and practices that are different. 
  • Provide educational materials and signage in a variety of languages that is tested to be culturally and linguistically appropriate. 
  • Whenever possible, use on-site interpreters. Staff interpreters are especially important, even when the person brings in a family member (particularly a child). Candid information sharing between the patient and medical professional could be limited by the dynamic of any family member as the go-between. In addition, medical language requires the precision of an expert interpreter who can translate technical terms for the patient and physician in the situation. 
  • Use off-site phone interpreter services when staff interpreters are not available.  
  • Interpreter services indirectly increase the cost of health services and also tend to increase the length of treatment visits. Online translation tools have stepped in to try and mitigate these issues offering Google Translate and MediBabble as possible solutions. 

The disconnect that comes from the wall of misunderstanding due to language and culture will continue to be an issue for healthcare providers and their patients. Following these best practices to celebrate diversity and even use it to your advantage will create doors and windows in the wall to improve the healthcare system for everyone.

Bibliography:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2150609/#:~:text=In%20the%20federal%20arena%2C%20the,right%20to%20language%20assistance%20services.

Language Barriers in Home Health Put Patient Outcomes at Risk

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7201401/

10 Tips to Become a Better CNA

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Is it Loneliness? Recognize the Possible Signs of Silent Suffering

John Prine’s beautiful song “Hello in There” details the story of a man who has lived many years. As the song unfolds, we learn that his wife has died, the kids have moved away, and he has even outlived one son who died in the Korean War. 

The chorus speaks to the reality of what it is to be human and to age. Trees grow stronger, rivers wilder, but sometimes old people just grow lonesome. And with each passing day, as time moves ever so slowly, a person left alone simply waits for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.” 

2020-Q3-Nurses 3-Is It Loneliness 1Although Prine wrote the song when he was 22, his insights into one of the more insidious issues of aging rings true. In the United States, the reality of living alone and becoming isolated go hand-in-hand for many seniors. Per Merck Manuels, “Nearly 29% of the 46 million community-dwelling older adults live alone. About half of the community-dwelling oldest old (>85 years) live alone, and about 70% of older people living alone are women, and 46% of all women age >75 years live alone.” 

But being alone and isolated does not always equate with the state of feeling lonely. In this post, we’ll make the distinction, then highlight the underlying health impacts and call out some of the signals you can look for as a health care provider.

A Silent Threat

Being able to articulate a sense of loneliness is a two-part problem. Someone can be feeling it, but be unable to explain the “what” and “why” of the experience. And honestly, even uttering that we feel lonely comes with negative connotations that we’re some sort of social failure. 

In the fascinating article “Is There a Medical Cure for Loneliness?” over at AARP, author Lynn Darling explains how loneliness is primal. We were built to respond negatively to being on our own. At a cellular level, alarms go off. 

Darling details how scientist Steve Cole looked at the white blood cells of people who had expressed dealing with long bouts of loneliness, and discovered that their cells “appeared to be in a state of high alert, responding the way they would to a bacterial infection. It was as though the subject’s body were under mortal assault by disease—the disease of loneliness.” 2020-Q3-Nurses 3-Is It Loneliness 2

This biological response to loneliness makes all the sense in the world given that we are social beings. We need to feel connected and have purpose that is assigned, shared and recognized by others. Loneliness is indeed a disease all its own with a reported impact of nearly one-third of all adults over the age of 45 reporting feeling lonely. 

And for older adults over the age of 65, and more reasons people live alone such as the loss of a spouse, plus the onset of health issues like diminished hearing and eyesight, loneliness is at its worst. Loneliness comes more often when people have diminished social contact and are more isolated from daily activities and interactions. This happens more often with older adults. 

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Is it any wonder that such a notable biological response would impact a person’s physical health, especially over time? Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), loneliness can impact or cause series health problems, including a 50% increased risk of dementia, a 29% increased risk of heart disease, and a 32% increased risk of stroke.

Look for Signs

Once our white blood cells are ramped up due to that pervasive sense of loneliness, it trickles to our brain and to our thinking, signaling us to be on alert and causing us to draw away further away from others due to lack of trust. Loneliness becomes a loop in our thinking process. 

As humans, the disease of loneliness is an issue for everyone, but in a roll as a caregiver for patients there’s an opportunity to be that first-line of defense and help. Look for any of the following changes with someone in your care:

  • Expressed sadness or feelings of despair
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, socializing or daily activities
  • Sleep disturbances or memory issues
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Neglect of personal hygiene and other routines

Resources

As a care provider, you might be the person who most often sees these changes first in a client, and can bring your concerns to the attention of the family members you report to. You can explain that this is something many deal with and there are ways to provide support. 

Be prepared to offer a list of resources available to families and seniors. The CDC provides a great list of resources, including Eldercare Locator which is a free national service that helps families and elders find local resources such as financial support, caregiving services, and transportation. 

If you work with a professional organization such as Home Health Companions, you’ll also have access to a dedicated team of knowledgeable staff who can help you. Together we can work to destigmatize the disease of loneliness, and by helping others we also help ourselves. When it comes to loneliness, none of us is spared from its impact.

Bibliography:

https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/geriatrics/social-issues-in-older-adults/older-adults-living-alone#:~:text=In%20the%20US%2C%20nearly%2029,%E2%89%A5%2075%20years%20live%20alone.

https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2019/medical-cure-for-loneliness.html

https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html

https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx

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6 Tips to Make the Transition from Hospital to Home More Successful

You’ve been in the hospital for either a planned or unplanned visit, and now it’s time to make the transition home. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by what you’ll need to do, and simultaneously you’re probably learning all the new things you’ll have to do for ongoing care.

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In this post, we highlight six tips to help you make that move back to home go as smoothly as possible.

More often these days, hospitals are helping patients—especially seniors—successfully head home from the hospital for in-home care. There are several benefits to this strategy for both the patient and the healthcare system. It turns out that home is not just where the heart is, but where patients heal better, and the added benefit of bringing down healthcare costs is significant.

In the article “Hospital Discharge and Readmission,” over at Up To Date, a study of older patients found that a successful Care Transition Intervention Program reduced 30- and 90-day readmission rates with a cost savings of $500 per case. The goal of a planned transfer of care is ideal, as the patient is less likely to need to return to the hospital, which frees up hospital beds for the critically ill. 

Before You Exit the Hospital, Do These Things:

Before you’re discharged, you’ll speak with the hospital’s staff about what to expect in the coming days of your recovery. You often end up waiting and waiting for final orders from all the medical professionals involved, and then it feels like you’re bombarded with information. Don’t succumb to panic. By knowing what to ask and expect before discharge, you’ll go home with the assurance that you have your bases covered. 

1. Be your own advocate and have a support person, too.

Of course, you want to be your advocate and have control as much as you can, but understand you might not be in your best frame of mind. Bring in a trusted friend or family member as your set of ears and have them help draw up your home plan. Discuss who will be helping you with your additional care needs at home, and whether your home is ready for your change in mobility.

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2. Add to your personal health resume

Much like your work resume, you want to keep a personal document of your health history. It should include the names of all the physicians you’ve seen and all major medical treatments. It should also include your list of medications. To that list, you now want to add the reason for your current hospitalization.

All this information will be essential if you need to return to the emergency room due to complications. 

3. Understand your care needs upon discharge along with who will be meeting them.

Included on your list might be:

  • Vitals checked each day or more often
  • Assistance with medications
  • Assistance with medical devices or implants such as catheters
  • Help with injections
  • Assistance with physical therapy
  • Assistance with general household items including grocery, errand running, and general care

Depending on the level of care required, you might have a trusted family member who will be with you for some time. Or, you might find it easier to hire a health aide service like those with Home Health Companions. You can also ask if the hospital offers outpatient services specific to any of your needs. 

4. Know what to look for—and who to contact. 

Be sure you understand the list of symptoms you need to watch for (should they arise). Depending on your situation, this might include anything from changes in the wound to shortness of breath, o changes in temperature, weight gain, or blood pressure. 

Just as important as monitoring is knowing who to contact and how if you need assistance. Is it the surgeon or the cardiologist? What’s the direct number for the pharmacy, and who do you call in the case of an emergency? Many healthcare venues provide email contact so you can easily ask questions that don’t need immediate response. This kind of ongoing access can be hugely helpful for mitigating concerns.  

5. Understand your medication list.

Know your medication list and what each drug is meant to do. Understand how and when each is to be taken. Track refills, and consider early refills when you might run out on weekends or holidays. Learn from your insurance provider and pharmacist if you can order two months at the same. Often, there is time and money saved with this strategy.

6. Know next steps

Understand and plan for your follow-up visits with physicians and specialists related to your care. Be sure to make an appointment with your primary doctor, too, so they can factor in your latest medical situation in their general care for you.  

Ask for any additional resources, including support groups that can help you with ongoing life changes and your recovery needs. Sometimes, there are even programs offered to help with changes in diet and exercise. 

If “bringing it all together” for hospital discharge seems overwhelming, consider bringing in a professional such as an Aging Life Care certified professional to gather expertly gather the information and resources you’ll need to make a successful transition. 

2020-Q3-Clients 3-six tips to make transition from hospital to home smooth 3Nothing counters the terrible instability of illness more than knowledge. Your goal in healing is to deal with what’s in front of you in the immediate of your hospitalization. Your role at this point is to take it one step at a time. Making a plan and understanding your options will be the first step to give yourself confidence and space to heal. 

Bibliography:

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/hospital-discharge-and-readmissionhttp://www.homehealthcompanions.com/caregivers-companionshttp://www.homehealthcompanions.com/aging-life-care 

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Health Care Services

How to Make the Most of Your Doctor Appointment

Whether you go to the doctor annually or a few times a year, you know it’s an investment of your time and energy. If you’ve ever felt frustrated by the process at the office, confused by the answers or options you received, or just frustrated by the questions you forgot to ask, then you’ve experienced a doctor appointment that was not optimal in what it was designed to do.

Physicians see lots of people each day, and they and their staff work in an environment they’re as intimately familiar with as they are their own homes. It’s easy for the rest of us to feel intimated and rushed when we witness it. However, with the right preparation and understanding of your role in the communication, you can go to a doctor appointment both calm and ready to benefit from the experience.

Here, we’ll walk through how to make a plan for an appointment, which includes preparing relevant health history, listing all your medications, and organizing your thoughts and questions ahead of time to make the most of your visit to the doctor’s office.

Know Your Health History

If you’ve walked the earth for some time, chances are you’ve got a medical past. And so, before you go to your appointment, be sure to document the biggest events and most relevant data from your health history on paper. The list should include surgeries, medical conditions, and the physicians you’ve seen in the past, along with their addresses and phone numbers.

If this is your first time seeing a particular doctor, call ahead and ask if they need access to your medical records from another network or physician. Remind the office of the general purpose of your visit and ask if there is anything specific you need to bring, such as lab work related directly to the scheduled appointment.

 

Know Your Medications

List the doses and names of all the medicines you take if you don’t already have one. And if you do, keep that list current as a part of your health history. Even when you think you’ve detailed your medications before for a doctor, you’ll often be asked to repeat it with each visit. This is their way of checking whether the doses and medicines you take have remained the same.

Be sure your medication list includes any supplements you use as well, as some can result in harmful interactions with your medications such as blood thinners. Over at AARP in the article, “Most Patients Don’t Tell Their Doctors They Take Supplements,” they report that 69 out of 100 seniors take supplements, but only about a third are questioned about supplements by their physicians. Note that if you’re speaking to the doctor who prescribed you medications, an appointment is a great opportunity to discuss doses and alternatives if you have adverse effects from your medicines, too.

 

Prepare Your List of Questions

Identify the purpose of your appointment, such as a change in symptoms or something new that is concerning you, and prioritize your questions on paper. Your focus will depend on whether you’re seeing a general practitioner or a specialist regarding a specific issue.

Understanding the type of appointment that you have with the doctor will also help you focus as to what you need report. If you’re seeing a heart doctor, for example, they will be interested in specific symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue. On the other hand, your gastrointestinal doctor will be more interested in your frequency of bowel movements and issues related to digestion. Remember, the doctor can’t do their job of diagnosing and treating you without your accurate information, so try to be specific.

If the visit is a general check-up or preventative type, prepare broader questions regarding annual maintenance, such as a scheduling a colonoscopy, vaccines, or other annual exams. If you need ideas for the kinds of questions you could ask, review a basic list such as the one over at Women’s Day to use as a springboard.

 

 

Bring a Friend and Take Notes

If you’re concerned you’ll miss information at your appointment, or just want moral support, consider bringing a friend or family member. Sometimes the answers doctors provide might be technical enough that having a second set of ears to talk to after the appointment will help you digest what you learned.

If you have a more complicated health history, it might be a good time to bring in an expert who can advocate for you with medical professionals and help you make sense of medical information. At Home Health Companions we offer Aging Life Care certified professionals who provide this support as well as advocating for their patients in other ways, too.

Aging Life Care certified professionals can be a bridge to help you navigate your health concerns through available resources and multiple medical professionals, and then help you set a manageable plan with realistic expectations.

A wonderful service available today that many providers and offices now provide is the ability to ask questions via email, too, especially for specialties. So much of the time, once you get home from an appointment you realize that you forgot to ask a certain question, or you have some point you need to clarify. These days, digital communication permits you to communicate with your doctor’s office and then move on to other things in life until they get back to you.

Be Your Advocate

In the “olden” days, people often looked to physicians to be all-knowing authorities in white coats who could not be questioned and certainly weren’t relatable. Today, however, it benefits both the doctor and patient to see themselves in a partnership instead.

The doctor can’t do his or her best work and use all that expertise without the accurate information that only patients can provide. And no matter the illness or issues, a huge part of feeling well is feeling informed and able to make the decisions that are right for you.

 

Bibliography

https://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-11-

2010/most_patients_dont_tell_their_doctors_they_take_supplements.html

https://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/womens-health/advice/a56711/questions-to-ask-your-doctor-at-every-age/

http://www.homehealthcompanions.com/aging-life-care

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Identify the Triggers and Health Risks of Social Isolation

In a powerful moment from the movie “Cast Away,” Chuck Noland, played by Tom Hanks, is spread listless across his man-made raft on the open ocean. After years on a deserted island, he finally makes his escape in the hopes of reaching civilization. And then, following days on the water, with provisions gone and his vessel floating away piece-by-piece, he is nearly alone without hope.

He isn’t quite alone yet, however. One of the few remaining fragments of the raft includes his sole friend Wilson (a volley ball he transformed into a companion for his years on the island). But in a storm, Wilson separates from his perch and floats away, too. As Wilson bobs off on the waves into the distance, Chuck calls out in anguish, “Wilson! Wilson!” The despair of his isolation is palpable.

The dramatic scene serves as metaphor for a reality that plays out for some elders. Life is always in flux, but the transitions that come with aging—although predictable—still become overwhelming to experience.

The medical field appreciates the impact of life choices in their many physical manifestations, including smoking or bad eating habits, and their impact on future health. However, that same medical community appears less comfortable dealing with the harm of social isolation, which is harder to measure and explain.

Here, we identify transition triggers that can lead to someone becoming socially isolated, and identify some proactive steps to help during those challenging times.

 

Alone Versus Lonely

The irony isn’t lost that when it comes to social isolation, everyone is an island in terms of personal experience and preference. But, generally, we are social beings by design, and require some semblance of connection to be whole.

Debates as to whether it is the literal action of being with others versus the quality of connection have been regularly studied. But each of us intuitively understands that we need some type of connection to others. The data also reveals that when our social connections and activity are diminished, it takes a toll. Per Journal of Aging Life Care, they cite a 2015 study which found 29% increase from mortality over time due to social isolation, a 26% increase in mortality due to loneliness, and a 32% increased risk just by living alone.

Health Risks of Isolation

Healthy minds make better choices, so when we deal with long bouts of depression and loneliness, we are likely to withdraw and do less self-care. Over time, in a low mental state of mind, the results will manifest in medical conditions and even aggravate existing ones. Per the CDC, social isolation is associated with about a 50% increase in dementia, and loneliness among heart failure patients was attributed to nearly 4 times an increased risk of death.

In fact, medical conditions across the board can turn south when the social situation for a person is reduced. To counter the impact, it requires heeding and honoring the feelings of the moment, even when they’re sad. At a time in a person’s life when solutions often come in the form of procedures and pharmaceuticals, stepping back and looking at the whole person may be just the panacea that makes all the difference.

 

Transition Triggers

Stages of transition in early life are joyous, but as we age, many of the expected milestones are painful. Some people will pull back from their usual social habits by choice or circumstance. Depending on personal health and resilience before the event, the shifts of aging will test and may weaken a person’s resolve to forge ahead and adapt.

By acknowledging the triggers and the challenges that someone may face is to be proactive and set reasonable expectations. A list of the most common transitions to watch for that typically come with aging include:

  • Change in health: Existing conditions and those that have recently been identified will impact how a person is able to go about daily life and interact.
  • Change in mobility: When you can’t navigate the world as you once did, it can bar you from going places and meeting with people. Losses in hearing and vision work much the same way. A person incumbered by physical changes may feel vulnerable and out of step.
  • Death of close friends: Our friendships add to our quality of life. When our friendship circles shrink, it’s easy to lose our sense of connection.
  • Death of family: The death of parents is difficult, but the loss of siblings can be particularly stressful. Any death in the family changes the dynamics and brings into focus the mortality of those still alive.
  • Death of spouse: The loss of a spouse is an incessant grief that lasts a lifetime. Recognizing this is an important first step.
  • Moves: Moving from the neighborhood that is familiar and the spaces we know can leave someone feeling less at home and connected.
  • Retirement: A loss of purpose or sense of relevance in society can leave some people feeling that they are no longer of value. This change can be both happy and stressful as one chapter of life closes.
  • Change in income: Once individuals are on a fixed budget, they are cordoned off from opportunities to travel and go out socially as they once did.

 

Make a Plan

Aging and the inevitable changes associated with it can’t be avoided or ignored away. However, by acknowledging them, it is possible to heal and grow through the experience.

Over at Aging, they offer up a solid list of actions individuals can take to help them practice social (think habit) even when doing so seems the most difficult. Everything from visiting a museum to joining groups and starting new hobbies are offered up as ideas which anyone.

One suggestion is to make it a point to do one social activity every day. If getting out is a challenge, consider bringing in support such as the service of Companionship and Conversation offered over at Home Health Companions. Visiting regularly for a time with one of our trained providers could be just the thing to help you feel more connected and get out more on your own.

None of these actions is meant to be trite or make light of the genuine feelings of isolation elders feel. Rather, by taking steps to be social with others, the goal is to help improve your feelings and health. By addressing isolation, you could just the right medicine to feel better in a big way.

 

Bibliography

https://www.aginglifecarejournal.org/health-effects-of-social-isolation-and-loneliness/

https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html#:~:text=Health%20Risks%20of%20Loneliness&text=Social%20isolation%20significantly%20increased%20a,percent%20increased%20risk%20of%20dementia.

https://aging.com/how-to-cope-with-the-aging-process/

http://www.homehealthcompanions.com/tag/companionship-and-conversation

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Make It Fun to Stay Connected with Elders in Your Family

 

As distressing as the feeling of uncertainty during this pandemic is, the most heartbreaking ordeal is the inability to get together with loved ones. Everyone is feeling the void of not being able to gather in person, but it can be even harder on seniors who have to be extra careful about distance.

Not only can’t older people spend time with their families, but other social activities have been curtailed or cancelled as well. Although the situation is challenging, there are many ways to connect with family and help soften the blow of separation. Here, we provide a list of tools to use along with some ideas to help you think about making your connection time more fun than ever in order to carry us all through the dry spells.

Tech tips and options

Once limited to the phone and snail mail, these days we can communicate instantly through our computers, phones and tablets. If you or your elder family are concerned about managing the setup of the technology, consider hiring someone to help or ask your tech-knowing family members to assist.

For seniors in retirement communities, there might be staff available and ready to assist with setting up devices to ensure they are simple to access. This could mean making sure the font is larger on the screen and the volume is louder, too.

For those with an in-home care service such as Home Health Companions, arranging your tech for video conferencing can be managed with your companion professional.

Your connection tools

Here is a short list of video conferencing tools to consider:

  • Zoom Meeting – This platform has been particularly popular these days, and it is also user-friendly. Decide who will organize the meetings, and then set regular dates to chat. Zoom has a 40-minute limit in the free version, but you are able to have more than one person on a Zoom call.
  • WhatsApp – This is a great application for visiting via video or voice, and it’s simple to open and use.
  • Facebook Messenger – This product can be simple, but a lot will depend if you and others are on Facebook.

If it’s the device that’s the issue, consider one designed with seniors in mind. One example is the GrandPad. This tablet is streamlined to provide access to applications in a straightforward format that makes it super easy for the user.

Email: It’s hard to believe that email is considered old-fashioned these days, but it is fairly easy and a direct way to communicate digitally. Although you don’t have the immediacy of video, regular emails can be a wonderful way of keeping in touch with your elder.

Snail Mail: We’ve lost our way when it comes to the joy of sending and receiving real letters. These days, sending cards and handwritten notes can be a marvelous way of connecting with someone, particularly anyone who has voiced feeling lonely. Think about asking questions and inviting a letter in return. Encourage your children to become pen pals for seniors in the community. Everyone can send artwork, too!

Get into online learning and activity

Over at Everyday Health in the article “Socializing in Place: Tips for Older People to Stay Connected and Safe,” author Quinn Phillips offers up several suggestions of online learning resources available including Coursera and even Harvard. To Phillips list, I’d add YouTube Learning, which offers videos on any subject you can imagine.

Another way to enjoy interaction with others is to explore online book clubs such as those listed on AARP. Also, check in with the groups you attended before the pandemic, and see if they are currently meeting virtually. You might be surprised at the local activities that offer connection via video chat.

 

Mix in creativity for added fun

The tools are available, and the interest is there, but creating a steady routine with purpose can heighten the excitement about visiting with a loved one. Making a plan of your calls and messages gives everyone something to look forward to, and that is a heady salve to feeling lonely.

Here are some ideas harvested from a number of sources, pulled together here to give you inspiration to make your connection extra meaningful:

  • Storytelling time photos: Make each visit a time to reminisce and share stories. You might pull out the old pictures and albums and ask questions, for instance. Who are in the pictures? What is the story behind each photo? Hold up the images during a video chat and see what stories the pictures inspire.
  • Intergenerational tutorials: Over at Franciscan Health in the article “5 Ways to Connect with Elderly Loved Ones From a Distance,” they suggest making regular visiting time an opportunity to learn something from each other. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to knit or crochet. Or maybe, it’s time to talk about the recipes and the secrets that make family favorites so good. Perhaps this will become a series of tutorials? Consider recording the videos (you can do this via Zoom) and sharing them with more friends and family later.
  • Virtual craft time: On the heels of the tutorials, you might want to spend time crafting from a distance. If your elder works on a project while you work on a project, make it a time you chat while you craft together virtually. People who are in knitting circles or coloring groups know that there is a relaxing quality to gathering to do creative things together (and letting the conversation go where it will).
  • Connect with ongoing newsletters: Honor someone you love by asking them questions about their past and family stories they’ve heard, and then record their answers. Share the answers with family and friends. Make each response a newsletter blast to selected recipients and then invite them to send more questions and comments to the storyteller.

Play games online together

Certainly, there are many games that can be played online individually, but for this post, we’re focusing on those that can be interactive.

  • KimKomando suggests Backgammon, among others, for which there is a free PC or Mac version.
  • Guide for Seniors provides a robust list games, and those you can play with others include chess, Multipopword, and Mahjong.

These are indeed challenging times, and we are all growing weary, some of us even getting a little stir-crazy from not gathering like we used to do. But we have the technology tools to make connection possible, and with some creativity we can stay in touch and make memories just the same.

 

Bibliography

https://www.grandpad.net/

https://www.everydayhealth.com/coronavirus/socializing-in-place-tips-for-older-people-to-stay-connected-and-safe/

https://www.youtube.com/learning

https://www.aarp.org/entertainment/books/info-2020/online-book-clubs-to-join.html

https://www.komando.com/tech-tips/best-games-for-people-over-55/565893/

https://guideforseniors.com/blog/senior-online-games/

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How to Maximize Errand and Transportation Services

Hiring others to run errands and help with transportation might have been seen as a luxury for busy business professionals in the past, but these days, it’s a quality of life issue and necessity for those aging at home. During the pandemic, more people have realized the benefits of outsourcing their daily errands and hiring others to drive as a way to not only stay safe but to save money, too.

If you’ve struggled with the transition from doing everything for yourself to commissioning others to do for you, read on to learn how more seniors have made the switch and how to maximize the benefits of these tasks.

The power of elders

The aging population is growing in the United States. Per the Administration on Aging, as of 2016, those over 65 numbered more than 49 million with a projection to grow to 98 million by 2060. And of those in this age group, most are able to remain in the comfort of their homes today given the in-home care and companionship available.

With more elders aging in place, companies have stepped up to address the preferences and needs of this growing community. That is great news for our community, and means more options for services than ever before.

At Home Health Companions, we are experts in catering to the specific needs of elders and those with medical concerns. Because of our focus, our errand, shopping and transportation services are suited to work within our client’s individual expectations and budget.

Arranging for help with daily tasks and transport can be overwhelming. In this guide, we offer a quick overview of the kinds of errands most people need help to accomplish along with how to gain the most value out of these services.

Know what you need to accomplish

The reality that so many more seniors are staying at home as they age is good both economically and emotionally. But it means attention needs to be paid to the issues of mobility outside the home, especially as circumstances change.

The first step is to consider all the errands that most individuals require in order to care for themselves, and then to determine the level of risk and hassle with each. Right now, for instance, staying out of public areas for those over 65 and those with pre-existing conditions is a national health safety concern. So, hiring out for errands in public places is of particular importance.

That said, as the pandemic has revealed, many errands require energy and resources that on the balance might be better done by someone else as a rule for the sake of both safety and efficiency. That errand list can include projects around the house and even those quick dashes to stores nearby.

You might be surprised by the general tasks, and how much time and money it takes to accomplish these each week. A typical personal home list might list the following for his or her regular “to-dos:”

  • Pick up medications: average hours—1
  • Grocery shopping: average hours—1.5
  • General shopping, items for house, gifts, etc.: average hours—1.5
  • Paying bills: average hours—1
  • Mail handling: average hours—1
  • General deliveries: average hours—0.5
  • Arranging appointments: average hours—0.5
  • Taking out the trash
  • Pet care    average hours—1
  • Laundry services

When you factor in your time, plus waiting in lines and contending with crowds, the risk of injury while dealing with your errands means that hiring someone to do many of these chores regularly—and in a planned manner—can be both reassuring and an important consideration for your quality of life.

As you tend to your list, consider the amount of time and automobile resources involved, too. A professional errand service will efficiently address as much as they can in the span of an hourly rate to help you get the most done possible.

Affordable and safe transportation

Car ownership is not seen as the rite of passage it once was. More people have opted for the use of public transit or taken advantage of the myriad of shared transportation options available today.

For those who do own a car, you know how expensive the annual bill is to maintain it. Per Investopedia, which cites Consumer Expenditures in the U.S. Department of Labor’s U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average vehicle costs $9,576 per year to own and operate. Even if a car is paid in full, the repairs, insurance, and regular maintenance add up to just the same.

Home Health Companions offers packages that make getting around an easy, hassle-free, and affordable alternative. Even if you’ve reduced your list of errands, you still need to go to doctor appointments and other activities, so access to a trustworthy transportation service is essential.

The advantages of a trusted service

Working with a trusted professional service will lighten your burden in hiring the right you need, also. Home Health Companions takes care of all the pieces of the puzzle that make finding the right person easy. We take care of all the employee management, including security screening and taxes. All you have to do is arrange your errand needs with us, and we take care of the rest.

Home Health Companions is a professional and accredited organization with expert staff, prepared to accommodate you for all your transportation and errand needs.

A comfortable goal

Hiring for help with errands and transportation might seem like a luxury at first, but once you realize how it help can improve your days and allow you to stay in your home, it’s a worthwhile investment. The goal for everyone is to stay as healthy and independent as possible—and for as long as possible. Reducing the risks of public settings with lots of people and congested parking lots and streets can help you achieve that.

As you age and circumstances change, it doesn’t mean you’re cut off from life. By creating a plan and accessing help for errands and transportation, you can reduce the risk and spend more time doing the things you love to do.

 

Bibliography

https://acl.gov/sites/default/files/Aging%20and%20Disability%20in%20America/2017OlderAmericansProfile.pdf

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/cost-car-ownership.asp

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Too Much PPE, Too Many Safety Measures? Or Never Enough?

As a professional in the in-home care or medical field, you know there is a massive amount of misinformation circulating about how to stay safe during the pandemic. Unfortunately, this has led to many people making poor decisions based on faulty information.

A big part of your effort might be to help dispel fact from fiction for your patients, as well as educate them on what is best to do to stay safe. We’ve talked about best practices when in-home care staff provide services. However, in this post, we’ll provide the basic information about who is most at risk, and the essential tips we must all take to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Who is most at risk?

There is still debate about who is most at risk from contracting COVID-19, but what the data has shown so far is that immunocompromised individuals are likely suffering greater setbacks and risk of serious complications and death.

And it makes sense. An immune system that can’t thwart off invaders increases the likelihood of compounding with additional infections on top of the first one any time these people get sick. This is why we hear about people ill from COVID-19 also fighting underlying conditions such as pneumonia.

And who are the immunocompromised? Those with pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and simply being of an advanced age places the people involved. To be clear, COVID-19 is a new virus, so most of the population of the world has not been exposed yet, making everyone susceptible. But the reality that many of us walk around with underlying medical conditions as well (such as obesity, high blood pressure, or a smoking history) compound the threat.

It’s not a small portion of the population with these medical conditions, either. Per the Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare survey, 33% of adults aged 65 and older reported pre-existing conditions, and well over two thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.

The effort to mitigate the virus hinges on decrease its spread. The more of us who become sick with COVID-19 spread more of the virus into the spaces where we live and work. The analogy of compounding interest applies. The sicker people in our community, the more people are exposed, creating more infected people.

Over-active inflammation

Interestingly, as the article “What Does It Mean to Be Immunocompromised? And Why Does This Increase Your Risk of Coronavirus?” over at Medical Xpress explains, the more problematic issue beyond the infection rate of COVID-19 is a less understood variation of response for those who become ill.

A portion of those infected become extremely sick, including difficulty breathing and a myriad of other symptoms. Science isn’t clear as to why the response is more dramatic for some. But the key factors seem to relate to an overactive immune system, one in hyper drive that causes extreme inflammation. As individuals weigh the threat of COVID-19 personally, they cannot be certain how they may react to the virus if they become sick. And the gamble could be deadly.

Mitigate the spread with simple actions

Since the danger of infection is serious, it is important to review and educate your clients and colleagues as to the urgency of observing the basics of staying clear of illness. Here is the short list, each with a brief justification you can use to explain to others:

  • Keep your distance – Since we went into quarantine in March 2020, the experts have determined that the most significant source of spread is person-to-person. When we breathe, speak, shout or sing, we spread germs. Keeping a distance of six feet or more from others is an essential tool to stop the spread of the disease.
  • Air circulation – Closed-in spaces with minimal ventilation permit the particles of virus to linger in the air longer. Stay outside with others when you can, and if inside, open some cross windows to let the fresh air in.
  • Handwashing – Nothing cursory will do when it comes to washing your hands. A 20-second scrub including all fingers and in-between, plus the front and back of hands and even wrists, is most effective. Wash your hands diligently and often to avoid passing germs on to you and others.
  • Masks – So much has been made of wearing masks, but the bottom line is that covering the mouth and nose when you’re out shields a significant release of germs from you to others. The mask also acts as a block for you from others as well. Wear a mask in grocery stores, shops, medical offices and anywhere you are with a large number of people, particularly when inside.

Form your habits for the future

There is no telling how long this pandemic and the associated risks will last, but the good news is that you can take simple steps immediately to reduce your risk and go on about your business—albeit with modifications. You needn’t be seen as over-nervous if you adopt good hygiene. In fact, you are being prudent and wise.

And, in time, when the pandemic risk is under control, you can maintain some of these new behaviors since they are good for you in the long run. Actions such as washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose in public settings and maintaining good ventilation whenever possible will be seen as the new normal, because we all want to do our best to stay healthy.

 

Bibliography

http://www.homehealthcompanions.com/?s=COVID-19+safety

https://news.gallup.com/poll/269003/households-report-preexisting-conditions.aspx

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-04-immunocompromised-coronavirus.html

 

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Have a Heart Condition? Turn Concern into a Plan

The build-up to the diagnosis of a heart condition is often sudden and unexpected. And when you or a loved one is dealing with the after-effects of a heart-related emergency, it can be understandably emotional.

Whatever the underlying cause for the emergency, if the diagnosis is heart failure or some other heart-related condition, you are faced with an avalanche of new information to understand, behavioral changes to make, and medications to incorporate. The good news is that most people will have many treatment options and can even take personal action to improve their situation.

 

How life changes after a heart condition diagnosis

Don’t be surprised if you’re overwhelmed initially with the ordeal of an event and all the new details to consider. You and your physician will talk through the changes that will impact your daily life. You will probably need to keep to a series of appointments initially until your recovery is further along.

At first, these steps might feel drastic, but expect it to take a while—forming new habits always does.

Depending on your diagnosis, for example, you might be instructed to do some combination of the following:

  • Track your vitals and physical changes. A new part of your routine may mean tracking your blood pressure, weight, temperature and heart rate. You might also be advised to be on the lookout for other signs of a problem such as shortness of breath, racing heart, and retention of fluid in your ankles. As per the article “Managing Heart Failure Symptoms” over at The American Heart Association, tracking alerts you to changes, and helps provide motivation to keep at your new lifestyle habits.
  • Improve your diet. The extent of your dietary changes will depend on your food choices before the diagnosis, but in most cases you’ll be advised to lower your salt intake, eat more unprocessed foods, cut back on alcohol, and stop smoking. These might very well feel like restrictions at first, but in many cases when it comes to your menu you can replace some foods with others and not notice much difference.
  • New medications. There may be new medications required to maintain and improve your situation, too. If you’re already taking medicines. it might not be an issue to add new ones—but a lot will depend on your diagnosis. Heart failure, for example, may require a number of additional prescriptions that are time-sensitive, so you’ll need to pay attention, particularly in the first few months of your new routine.
  • Increase activity. No matter what the underlying issues are of your heart condition, increased activity will be an important component in improving your health. This may be a difficult change. Over at Healthline in the article “7 Lifestyle Changes to Make After a Heart Attack,” they suggest having a friend or family member help hold you accountable to your commitment might help.

Here is how you can feel empowered in your plan

It can be tough to make the drastic shifts in lifestyle required rafter a heart condition is diagnosed—but there are treatments and options. And, if it seems too much to handle on your own, there is help on the in-home care front.

Once you have the medical instructions and a list of actions to take from your physician, it’s time to plan and prep your way to recovery. This is where services from a home service care provider can come into play for the short or long-term depending on your needs.

Over at Home Health Companions, we offer private duty nursing staff specifically prepared to assist with heart condition tracking and ongoing care. Often, this service means a shorter stay in the hospital, which saves expense. In-home nursing is often only needed for a short period of time until a transition to maintenance in your “new normal.”

Once you’ve recovered from the initial heart event, it will be time to transition to ongoing care as your personal situation requires. Our certified nursing assistants over at Health Home Companions provide medical care for tracking of vitals, medication monitoring and companionship, and even light household support.

How to find your “new normal”

No doubt, you might have feel like you were thrown a curve ball with the new heart diagnosis, but take heart (ahem) because there are many medical treatments available to ease you into a new normal and improved quality of life going forward. Be gentle with yourself, because recovery and lifestyle changes will take time.

And recognize you’re not alone, too. This could be a great time to advocate with family and friends around the reality that Americans are particularly impacted by heart disease. Over at Science Daily in the article “Nearly Half of All Adult Americans Have Cardiovascular Disease,” the stats are daunting, and the causes are no surprise. Factor such as diet, smoking, and inactivity have escalated the issues of heart disease most notable in high blood pressure for many.

Your plan of action is your lifeline to feeling in control of the situation, and making informed decisions will help set you at ease. Lean on friends and family as you need, and recognize that in-home care might be the perfect option—short or long-term—to get on with your daily life with the assurance you’re doing all you can to live your best.

 

Bibliography:

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/warning-signs-of-heart-failure/managing-heart-failure-symptoms

https://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease/lifestyle-changes-after-heart-attack#4

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190131084238.htm

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10 Tips to Become a Better CNA

The role of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is essential to teams that care for the wellbeing of clients, especially those teams delivering home-based care. As the frontline provider of these care services, a CNA is often the first professional to note both the physical and mental changes in clients.

The work of a CNA is rewarding, demanding, fast-paced and varied. If you are a CNA or aspire to be one, then you know there’s never a dull moment. Time passes quickly on any given day.

Honing your professional abilities will ensure you bring your best for the care of your clients. Continuing to learn and grow professionally will also position you for advancement in your career. Here, we offer ten professional tips to excel as a CNA.

  1. Be prepared with a plan for each day. At the top of any list for an effective CNA is the importance of being organized and prepared for your day. Be sure to have the equipment and supplies you’ll need so you won’t be delayed in performing your work at a client’s home. Write tasks and lists of steps out (or store them on your favorite note-taking app), and make your notes specific for each client.Over at Harris School of Business, they offer “6 Tips for Being a Good Patient Care Technician,” which breaks down this point and suggests that you carry a fanny pack to keep those most-essential supplies on you, including a pad and pen handy for making notes.

    “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”
    – Peter Drucker
  2. Share your compassion. In your work as an in-home CNA, your work usually involves assisting clients with highly personal tasks such as toileting and bathing. By remaining compassionate with your clients, you establish a climate of mutual respect.And since you bring care services to your clients in the sanctuary of their homes, the importance of establishing a high level of trust is even more essential. By demonstrating your compassion as a skilled nursing assistant, you set the groundwork for a positive experience, which sets your client at ease when they feel most vulnerable.
  3. Be a patient listener. Hand-in-hand with compassion comes the ability to be a good listener. We honor each other when we fully listen to others and demonstrate that they have been heard. At no time is this more important than when a person needs care.Take a pause, breathe and pay close attention to what your client is saying about their needs and concerns. You are not required to produce answers but to acknowledge what has been said. Perhaps a resolution is within your control or abilities, but when it is not, you may be the conduit to pass their information on to family and your team at the office. When you truly listen, you provide powerful medicine.“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey
  4. Pay attention to details. As the expert who brings care to your client’s door most frequently, often you are the one who establishes the most significant relationship. You will have ongoing communication with the client, and your work will often entail keeping a thorough and accurate record of the care you provide as well as essential health data you obtain from the client. Your log of those details is what ensures uniformity of service, as well as changes which may need to be made in the future. Be sure you are following the protocols to log and report information.
  5. Understand basic medical terminology. Over at Indeed in the article “8 Skills for Your CNA Resume,” they suggest you leverage your knowledge of medical terminology. As you read this, you might either be CNA or working toward becoming a certified nursing assistant, so you will have learned a fair amount of terminology you can employ.Expect to increase your knowledge of medical terminology and pharmaceutical names rapidly as your career grows. The more you understand of the language used in medicine, the more you’ll understand your client’s specific needs and the care you provide in your role.“They certainly give very strange names to diseases.” – Plato
  6. Use your strongest communication skills. The ability to clearly provide information is critical when talking with your clients. Be precise and informative about everything you know and can report. As you observe and receive information, make sure to pass it along accurately when required by family and staff at the home office.
  7. Ability to follow protocols and work independently. You’ll work and communicate with a team at the office and as you serve your clients. But in many visits, you’ll be expected to provide care by working independently. Be sure you know the standards for all the services you conduct, as this protects both you and your clients.

    “Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.”
    – Robert Heinlein
  8. Continue your education! Make it a point to learn more about the work you do, from the latest safety tips to any ongoing education offered through your employer or community college. Continued learning will keep you fresh and engaged in your career and prepare you for opportunities of advancement as well.
  9. Take good care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet and make sure to get good sleep at night. The right nutrition and rest helps protect you from getting sick, or (just as dangerous) burnt out. Physical conditioning in this job is important, as work as a CNA requires lifting and bending, especially in in-home care. Make sure you treat your body right with regular exercise and stretching.
    “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Maya Angelou
  10. Do something positive for you. Find time to enjoy activities that give your mind and body either rest or excitement (or a little bit of both). The care you provide for others doesn’t always end when you complete your day of work as a certified nursing assistant, because you should take care of yourself, too. Making time for yourself gives you the energy and mental resources to go at it for another day. Read more self-care tips here.The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that jobs for certified nursing assistants will grow by 9% through 2028, which is higher than the average for all other occupations. Work as a CNA is a promising career in demand for the foreseeable future, and being a good CNA will benefit you in your future career goals as well.

 

Bibliography:

https://www.thinkcnaonline.com/blog/advice-for-certified-nursing-assistants/

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/skills-for-your-cna-resume

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm

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FAQ—Urinary Incontinence

The term urinary incontinence refers to unintentional urinary leakage caused by a variety of underlying factors. And because this is such a basic body function, any changes can create discomfort and embarrassment. Even talking about it is uncomfortable, and so the immediate response is often to ignore it.

However, urinary incontinence is a common issue for many, particularly due to specific medical conditions and aging. According to the Urology Care Foundation, “…about 1 out of 2 women and 1 out of 4 men, suffer from urinary incontinence symptoms.”

No one needs to endure this on their own, however, because there are many treatments available today. And when people are provided straightforward information, they are able to make the decisions that help improve their quality of their life and resolve or manage the situation without any more embarrassment or discomfort.

We believe that’s what everyone deserves. For that reason, we’ve compiled this FAQ article for urinary incontinence.

 

What is urinary incontinence and when should I see a doctor?

Urinary incontinence occurs when a person leaks urine unintentionally. You’ve seen the ads for panty liners and special underwear to protect against this leakage, if you don’t use those products already. These are mostly aimed toward women who deal with stress urinary incontinence caused by a cough or sneeze, which places immediate pressure on the bladder.

The National Institute of Aging distinguishes incontinence into three more categories, including:

  • Urge (a sudden need to go that you can’t control)
  • Overflow (leakage caused by a constantly full bladder)
  • Functional (leakage when you can’t get to the toilet because of another condition)

Sometimes, incontinence is temporary and resolves quickly (if the reason is due to an infection such as a UTI). However, if the symptoms persist, seeing a physician is essential to help resolve the situation.

 

What are the common causes of urinary incontinence?

For women over 50, the most common source of incontinence is weak rectal and bladder muscles due to menopause and childbirth. For men, an enlarged prostate might be the cause. But you won’t know for sure what is causing your symptoms until you see a physician.

 

How will the doctor determine the cause of my urinary incontinence?

The first step will be an interview. Your doctor will inquire about your medications, lifestyle habits, diet and other medical conditions. Tests such as a cough stress test and bladder ultrasound may be deployed to gauge the type of incontinence you’re dealing with as well.

 

Will surgery be the only option?

Surgery will not be the first or only option. Most likely you’ll have behavioral changes to try before you’d consider a surgical procedure. For example, your doctor may recommend losing some weight, monitoring your liquid intake or reducing or stopping alcohol or caffeine consumption.

You may be asked to keep a diary of your urinary frequency for a time, too, or perhaps work to train your bladder with timed restroom intervals. For many incontinence issues, there are actions that could resolve the matter so that surgery can be delayed or dismissed.

 

Will I have to take more medicines?

There are some medications that can tighten the bladder muscle or improve bladder void. You will want to consider these medications with your physician once you’ve exhausted other possible treatments and behavioral changes.

 

What are products I can purchase to guard against embarrassment due to incontinence?

In addition to the absorbent products (including liners and disposable underwear), there are indwelling and intermittent catheters available. More solutions come onto the market each year to provide choices so that people can continue to lead active lives. Be sure to discuss these solutions with your physician to determine the products best for your needs.

Who should I see beyond my doctor?

If your incontinence is caused by more complex issues, you’ll want to ask your doctor about seeing a specialist.

For men, you can ask about visiting with a urologist who specializes in diseases of the urinary tract and male reproductive system.

Women might ask for a referral to a pelvic floor therapist who works on rehabilitation of pelvic muscles. With the help of a therapist, you’ll work through understanding the current condition of your pelvic floor and learn the exercises—including Kegels—to do to help strengthen and improve muscle elasticity. Women may also discuss their incontinence concerns with their gynecologist for suggestions and referrals as well.

 

What is the most common surgical procedure for incontinence?

Once you’ve exhausted other actions, you might decide you’re ready to address your incontinence with surgery. The procedure will depend on the cause, but most common is a sling surgery where either your own tissue or synthetic material is used to support a prolapsed bladder or urethra.

Urinary incontinence is common, but it is understandable that people emotionally delay in seeking treatment. However, once you address the issue, you’ll begin to feel you’re on the path to better days without the nuisance or embarrassment. Talk to your physician and obtain the information you need to take action and do what is right for you.

 

Bibliography:

https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/urinary-incontinence

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/urinary-incontinence-older-adults

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Keep a Pulse on Your Mental Health While You Care for Others

We’ve all been rattled by the COVID-19 pandemic and stressed by the uncertainty of what comes next. And for those on the frontline, you and all others in healthcare, that load is especially heavy right now. You signed up to care for others, to apply your education and skills to help clients get well. But what do you do when the place where you go to work also puts you at risk?

When it comes to addressing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (the theory in psychology using a five-tier model of human needs), healthcare workers are at special risk right now in the most fundamental areas of safety and rest. You’re running on heightened emotions and most likely aren’t taking time to check in with your thoughts and find healthy outlets.

“I don’t have time,” you might think. It probably does feel that way. It’s exhausting to try and even map out self-care. So that’s why we’ve started it for you.

 

Simple ways to keep tabs on your own emotional needs

To be effective for anyone else, you must care for yourself first. It’s tough to find the time and give yourself permission, so here are some tips, resources and inspiration.

  • Eat well first. Medical staff have been speaking to the generosity of family and friends as baked goods and ready-made meals come pouring into hospitals nationwide. It’s great to be recognized and appreciated, and there is no harm in grabbing a moment’s comfort in a cookie, but you need good nutrition to feed your brain and your body—especially for long shifts and periods of stress.

These days, numerous restaurants are giving you well-deserved deals, but be sure to take advantage of those that offer fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins first. By eating something healthy before a treat, you fill up and sometimes don’t need the treat at all. And when you do find a local, healthy promotion in take-out options, bring extras in to your colleagues or team.

  • Stay active and make it fun. You’re on your feet all day at work, but you can get moving on your own terms to make it fun again. Don’t worry about how much or what kind of movement, just get active for short spurts with the activities you’ve always loved. This is the best way to ratchet up your adrenaline and endorphins for short bursts of improved mood. 

There are many fitness outlets offering deals to healthcare workers right now, but if you just want to escape with something accessible right now, check out the YouTube channel for 305 Fitness and see if you don’t feel the urge to groove. 

  • Get trusted information only. Protect yourself from divisive and useless information. Spend your downtime talking and laughing with friends virtually through Zoom or other online platforms. Watch shows that are for pure enjoyment and entertainment without getting too deep. And when you must check in with the news, make sure the sources are the best for unbiased information. Forbes offers their list of best outlets here.
  • Rest your mind and body. Even a few peaceful minutes to focus your attention on breathing and solitude can help improve your sense of wellbeing. The app Headspace is now offering free access to healthcare workers at least through the end of the year. Headspace offers their complete library of guided meditations, along with sleep sounds and bedtime exercises.

  • Make a plan to do something enjoyable. The anticipation of an activity you can look forward to is a welcome salve for stress. Start by organizing a virtual dinner or two with friends and family. Perhaps you garden or have another hobby you’ve not worked on for some time. Plan and prepare for a project. Maybe you want to think a year or more out and dream and scheme for a trip. This pandemic will pass, and we will travel again. Pour through Airbnb for destinations and scout out and price what is possible.
  • Check in with a mental health professional. Over at MedPage Today in the article “Project Parachute Provides Free Mental Health to Frontline Workers,” they quote Jessica Gold M.D., a psychiatrist at Washington University, who notes that healthcare professionals are at risk for issues of depression and burnout under regular circumstances, and now exponentially more so. No matter your state of mind, it’s perfectly acceptable (and to your benefit) that you touch base with a psych professional to get a sense of what you’re thinking and feeling. Project Parachute is offering pro bono teletherapy for Covid-19 front-liners in 37 states already. Check in to see if this or another service is right for you. 

All the uncertainty compounds the stress of what you do. By acknowledging and doing something about the mental toll now, you can get ahead of the emotional duress. Be informed, check in with co-workers and mental health professionals, and care for your body, mind and spirit. Your goal isn’t to be superhuman but to be human and take care of yourself so you can help others, too. 

 

Bibliography:

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/85938

https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

https://www.eleos.health/parachute

https://www.forbes.com/sites/berlinschoolofcreativeleadership/2017/02/01/10-journalism-brands-where-you-will-find-real-facts-rather-than-alternative-facts/#1c8bf718e9b5

https://www.headspace.com/science

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Master Your Medication Regimen

If you have an existing medical condition or have had a recent change in your health, then you know you have a lot to remember and to incorporate into your life. Adding to an already-complex experience navigating your health plan and regimen, many plans get most confusing when factoring in all the pharmaceuticals. It can be a lot to take in all at once and can easily lead to information overload. And yet, you want to get the most out of those medications and your care.

It can feel like an avalanche of details, all those strange medication names and the list of them you have to take. You’ll want to understand the specific reason for each prescription, consider possible reactions, note any interactions between medications, and keep track of dosages and a schedule, too.

As overwhelmed as you might feel, you can gain greater control of your health by taking a handle on your medication regimen. Here, we’ve organized some tips and details to help you create a system that works for you. And remember, when it comes time to implement your plan or look for specialized advice, you can always count on Home Health Companions for your medication management, too.

 

Keep your list medication list handy at all times.

It’s pretty much a guarantee that when you go to see any medical professional, they’ll ask you about the medications you take as well as dosages. Don’t be surprised when the physician who prescribed most of the medicines asks for your list. Doctors do this to check and see if any other medicines have been added, and to match your list against their records.

It’s a good thing to review your medications frequently with your team of medical professionals. Over at Johns Hopkins in the article “Help for Managing Multiple Medications,” they suggest an annual review of all your medicines with your doctor. It’s essential to keep tabs on your prescriptions with your primary physician as well as with your specialists to be sure the doses are still in-line with your need.

 

Align your medication routine with the reasons you take them.

Over at Everyday Health in the article “How to Manage Your Prescription Medications,” they suggest establishing a routine for taking your medications. Every prescription you have provides instructions, such as the time of day it should be taken and whether it is to be on a full or empty stomach. A review of these specifics will help you determine when you’ll schedule the medicines that you need to take each day. And once it’s all on a schedule, the labels and instructions never have to be stressful again.

In addition, understanding the “why” of each medicine will help you set and maintain that schedule. Is the medicine helping to lower your blood pressure or reduce the impact of high cholesterol? Associating the reason for the medicine (along with the often-strange names) will further help you in tracking when you take them.

For added help, you can take advantage of several apps that offer “chirp reminders,” or you can even set your watch or clock to alarm as needed. The good news is that, with practice and just a little forethought thought, you can set a routine that will help you keep on schedule.

 

Use the same pharmacist, and check in with questions.

As much as possible, be sure to have all your prescriptions filled by the same pharmacy—and at the same location. Everything is computerized these days, so by going to the same location each time, you’ll talk with the pharmacist or pharmacy tech who can pull up your records to answer your questions. While the same company but a different location will have your records, too, you can quickly develop trust with the same pharmacist you see on a more regular basis.

Do you want to understand a specific interaction between medications, or add a supplement to your daily take? Your pharmacist is a great resource and can look over your records to help give you thorough information.

If you take several different medications at different times of day, then using a pill organizer is going to help you a great deal. The features of the organizer you choose will depend on the number of medicines and times of day you take them. Find a safe and easy place to store your medicines and your organizers and even your medication list so you can refill your organizers efficiently each week.

As you do fill your organizers each week, be sure to take note of those prescriptions that are due to be refilled, and then do so before you are completely out of any medicines. Check to see if you can order refills two months at a time to give yourself a wider margin before you run out of a medication. Check to see if your insurance plan, too, to see if it will permit you to order two months in advance, as this may save you money on the co-pay for refills, too.

Get medication support.

Almost as bad as not taking the medicines you need is taking them incorrectly. However, that overwhelming feeling that leads you to make mistakes in your dosages in the first place can be avoided. Home Health Companions offers medication management services for just that; our certified team can help you plan properly and stay on track with all your medications.

The medications you’re prescribed are meant to help you stay well. If you have difficulties setting a routine, ask for help from your in-home care provider. They can assist you in taking control of your medication management so you can move forward with confidence that you’re getting the most from your prescriptions.

Read more about medication management in our Library.

 

 

Bibliography:

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/help-for-managing-multiple-medications

https://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health/managing-your-prescription-medication.aspx

 

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Health Care Services

How to Age at Home with Confidence

Whether it’s you or someone you love, growing older means dealing with changes in health that can render daily living more complex. And if aging in place at home is one of your primary goals, it could still be difficult and scary to discuss what to do to reach that goal.

Health and aging mean dealing with new information, new specialists, more appointments and medications. These pile onto existing worries, including home maintenance, personal mobility, care of or by a spouse, and paying your bills. You want to stay in your home, but you’re not sure how you can make it work and still be safe.

You’re not alone in dealing with the struggle, and there are resources available to you. The first step is to plan and to form a strategy based on the services you need now—and as your circumstances change. This is exactly what we deliver in our Aging Life Care Services.

Advocacy for seniors, and those who have special medical needs, has become increasingly important in our society with so many aging loved ones. As per Population Reference Bureau: “Today, 40 million people in the United States are ages 65 and older, but this number is projected to more than double to 89 million by 2050.” More of us are older and more of us want to stay in our home, so gaining help to navigate the needs and services available has become critical.

If it seems daunting to create your age-in-place plan, there is help. A Home Health Companions Aging Life CareTM professional (also called a geriatric care manager) works with you and your family to make sense of all the moving parts of both the medical and personal care you need.

Here, we’ll explore why aging at home is beneficial, and how support from an Aging Life Care professional will make it possible.

Benefits of aging in place

Your desire to age in your home is understandable. You prefer to remain where you’ve lived in other chapters of life, and with the things and amenities that are familiar. You’d like to maintain your independence and keep as active a life as you can, too.

Over at Retirement Living, they’ve highlighted the top reasons aging is place is optimal in the article “5 Benefits of Aging in Place.” The list includes personal comfort, maintaining your cognitive health, and keeping your social networks. And to this list we can add the reality that retirement communities can be problematic for the spread of diseases, because people who are already susceptible to infection live there in greater numbers.

The primary reason most people want to stay at home, however, is that it is often the most affordable option. Long-term care facilities charge sometimes astronomical monthly fees, and even assisted living runs in the thousands of dollars per month.

In contrast, by staying in your home, you could keep living costs manageable, especially if your home is paid in full. Even the monthly mortgage would be a fraction of the cost of a retirement community.

 

The value of an Aging Life CareTM professional

The benefits of aging in your home are many, but coordinating all the pieces of medical and personal needs as you age can be a struggle. Whether it’s you or someone you love who needs to prepare to age at home, working with an Aging Life Care professional will assure everyone involved is confident of the plan put in place.

What can an Aging Life Care Professional do for you? Over at the Aging Life Care Association, they provide a detailed description of the myriad of areas where these experts offer an objective assessment.

Here, we highlight a few:

  • Medical concerns. This means they can act as a liaison with your physicians and specialists to determine the kinds of care you’ll require and how those needs can be managed at home.
  • Financial concerns. This can mean help with arranging bill payments, consultations with a Power of Attorney, or connecting families to local and governmental resources.
  • Family concerns. This can be a particularly challenging area, especially for families who live some distance apart. Conversations can be difficult when everyone is not heard or understood. Aging Care Professionals are skilled in working with families to help keep the focus on shared expectations and goals.

Aging Life Care Professionals walk hand-in-hand with their clients while taking a bird’s eye view of the circumstances and objectively working to tailor a specific proposal that will provide confidence for you going forward.

Oftentimes, it may take a consultation or two to chart out the communications of medical providers and other services. However, once you feel assured and understand your plan, that Aging Life Professional can step aside and come in again only as needed or when circumstances change.

At Home Health Companions, our Aging Life Care Professionals offer a seamless transition from plan to implementation. Once you’re set, other staff can step in to provide private duty nursing, personal and companion care as you need.

Aging Life Professionals help people stay at home longer, safer, and with greater quality of life. As we all continue to age, the services of these experts will be in even greater demand.

May was National Aging Life Care Month! The Aging Life Care Association and partners gathering touching stories from families who have benefited from working with Aging Life Care Professionals. You can find those stories on their Facebook page.

 

Bibliography:

https://www.prb.org/americas-aging-population/

https://www.retirementliving.com/5-benefits-of-aging-in-place

https://www.aginglifecare.org/ALCA/

https://www.facebook.com/AgingLifeCareAssociation

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6 Signs You’re Going “Isolation Batty” and What to Do About It

You already know that each new stage of life comes with new adventures.

In the times of COVID-19, however, we’re not so much in a new “stage of life” as we are all enduring a shared period of isolation. If you’re feeling a bit batty these days, we can just about guarantee it has little to do with you and a lot more to do with being human and alive in the times of lockdown and a pandemic.

That part about being alive is where we start in our discussion today. But just being alive is no longer enough. To make sure you live as well as you can, let’s dive into the six signs that you might be suffering pangs of “feeling batty” due to extended time in self-quarantine. 

These signs are a little anecdotal, but you can easily tweak the details to see if they’re symptoms you can relate to. You’ll get the idea. Fill in the blanks for your personal situation to see if what’s “got you” is really cabin fever.

  1. Your pet is suddenly a great conversationalist.
  2. You and your dog are in sync, both fascinated by what passes by your window. (You find yourself by his or her side on the couch, sitting the wrong way, craning your neck to get a better look past the curtain.)
  3. You’re napping more than your cat.
  4. You have no pets, never wanted any, but all the sudden a pet seems like a good idea.
  5. You’ve cleaned everything in your home and are now on your second time through. This time you’ll organize everything by color.
  6. You’re dreaming you live in quarantine.

So, what can you do about it?

For starters, you can contact us at Home Health Companions. We can provide not only the care but the companionship you need to feel more grounded in this unprecedented time.

Leading up to and between your appointments, even when you’re feeling over-the-edge, it’s important to remind yourself that this is temporary. Your goal is to stay safe and healthy.

Still, a boost to help you muddle through—and yes, even improve your mood—is possible, so here are our favorite ideas of actions you can take starting now. 

Learn something new.

This idea is shared along with an extensive list of other, equally valuable notions at Sixty and Me in the article “Stuck at Home? 20 Fun Ideas for Women to Do at Home.” And gentleman, the list of suggestions easily applies to you as well, so don’t let the title fool you.

We can all attest to how learning ratchets up your brain activity while helping time fly by. This is especially true when you stretch into areas outside your wheelhouse. Plus, learning something new helps you discover more things about you, too, which is a good thing if you’re spending most of your time with yours, truly.

Any number of learning opportunities await you with free online courses, too, via portals like Udemy and Coursera. You can explore these websites and scout out which is best for you in the article “14 Free Online Courses for Senior Citizens.” The tips are truly informative for a universal audience, whatever the title says!

Learn the tech you’ve always said you couldn’t learn.

And as long as we’re on the subject of learning new things, you could make learning something tech-related your goal. You might have said (and even believe) that you can’t learn to use your computer, phone, or tablet beyond what you know now, but you truly can if you have the right resources and take your time.

Sometimes what holds you back from becoming more skilled with technology is simply the wrong instructor. You know which ones we’re talking about—the impatient trainers who talk too fast and don’t offer steps to the process. 

Over at Aging in Place, the article “How to Become a Tech-Savvy Senior in 10 Days” offers you the basics of why learning your tech can help you enjoy access to the world of information. The article also provides resources that will help you learn in the way that works best for you.

Virtual dinner parties and happy hours.

This is an enormously popular option that can open a world of possibilities to keep in touch with people near or far. You can get together with friends and family using so many simple tools that don’t even require tech savvy. Facebook has something available in their Messenger application for video chats, for instance. The free application called WhatsApp is super easy. Zoom Meeting also works well and has a free version, too.

The point isn’t so much what you do during these virtual visits. You can get creative and will find that time flies when you meet. Just as important is that you plan the virtual visits and fill up your calendar. Scheduling fun in your future is a HUGE boost to your spirit and helps you keep feeling grounded in this bizarre time we’re living. 

If you are trying to avoid eating too much food during quarantine, make your virtual gathering hinge on something else instead. Book club? Karaoke? Dance party? That’s right—play tunes you and your group love and just shake it out!

Teach it, record it, and share it online.

If you’ve got a skill or talent, it’s time to share how you go about doing that thing. Seriously, you could be the next YouTube phenomenon—although that’s not really the point. It’s easy to get started creating videos and then uploading them to your own YouTube channel. 

Do you know how to knit, draw, or play an instrument? Maybe you love to read aloud or recite poetry. Record it and share it. Really, it’s not about finding the big audience but reaching out to your own audience of friends and family. They need something other than the news to watch, and if you have something to share—from family stories to how to change the oil in your car—offer step-by-step instructions in a video and hang it on your proverbial wall.

Join a group.

This might seem strange given many of us are currently in quarantine, but check out Meetup.com where groups form to share their interests. For example, you’ll find book clubs, knitting groups, writers and a wide variety of other groups looking for people to join them. Given the pandemic, many have migrated to creating virtual events that you can join in a click.

Make someone’s day with snail mail.

Remember you are not alone. You have friends and family in the same isolation boat with you. And, especially if you’ve been around for a while, you know how to write a letter. Some would say it’s a lost art. Drop a note in the mail and surprise someone. Write some thoughts down. Tell a story. Do something kind for someone else, and that will help you even more.

Your goal today and every day is to focus on what is right in front of you. We are living in historic times, but there are many advantages available to us as well. Finding outlets in learning, digital tools and connecting with others will help you find the bright spots and avoid that “batty” feeling. Hang in there!

 

Bibliography:

https://sixtyandme.com/stuck-at-home-20-things-to-do-if-youre-trying-to-avoid-the-coronavirus-covid-19-over-age-60/

https://www.aginginplace.org/how-to-become-tech-savvy-for-seniors-in-10-days/

https://www.zdnet.com/article/why-dont-more-people-over-60-have-youtube-channels/

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Should you bring your loved one home?

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins asks families to consider bringing loved ones home from assisted living and skilled nursing facilities and caring for them at home. The Dallas Morning News reports that this suggestion is in response to confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents of a North Dallas senior-living facility.

Every situation is unique. Home Health Companions is here to help concerned families evaluate options and make informed decisions.

If you are thinking about moving a loved one home and providing in-home care – even temporarily – here are questions to address:

  • Can a nurse or caregiver help my loved-one at home daily?
  • What, if any, equipment would be needed, i.e. a hospital bed?
  • Do I have the resources available to help my loved one?

Please call us to discuss your concerns at 214-295-8213. Our phone is answered 24/7.

An Aging Life Professional® can help

If you are considering moving your parent home from a facility due to COVID-19, one of our certified Aging Life Care Professionals will work with you to create a plan of action, including logistics such as scheduling care and provision of any needed equipment.

An Aging Life Care™ certified professional, also known as a geriatric care manager, helps families with needs-assessment, plans of care, and arranging for services to meet their needs. They are experienced in several areas related to aging care, including counseling, gerontology, mental health, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc.

To schedule an assessment, please contact us today at 214-295-8213.

Why Home Health Companions?

Home Health Companions has earned the Best of Home Care Employer of Choice Award two years in a row from Home Care Pulse, who collects unbiased feedback direct from employees. Our client satisfaction for March 2020 is an impressive 93.7%.

But don’t take our word for it.

“Home Health Companions prevent crises from occurring. They anticipate the needs of the client and meet those needs. They are always available and are quick to get on any issues,” Home Health Companions client.

 

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