All Posts Tagged: In-Home care

Happy Home Care & Hospice Month

It’s November, which means it’s time to celebrate Home Care & Hospice Month.

It’s a great time to thank all the gifted people who work in home health care and acknowledge the many ways they improve our lives.

We can’t think of a better time to celebrate the hard work of home health caregivers, nurses, and our entire Home Health Companions community.

What is Home Care & Hospice Month?

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) created the month-long celebration to honor the millions of caregivers who provide home care services to patients and their families.

At Home Health Companions, we believe that caregivers are the backbone of our industry, and we’re proud to be a part of this celebration.

Thank You, Home Health Companions Team

We want to thank our caregivers and nurses for their dedication, hard work, and compassion. From the front desk staff to the clinical team and everyone in between, we couldn’t do what we do without you.

Our clients agree that our caregivers and nurses are the best in the industry. Here is what one of our clients says:

“Jimmy compliments the caregivers in EVERY text. They are incredibly good. So patient and loving with every resident. Joyce is up every day around 10-10:30, dressed and at the table. She goes around with them at night to put everyone to bed. She loves it. She is still verbal at times. They said she sings a lot! There are times she still knows who we are and can still tell us she loves us.”

We take pride in providing a healthy environment for our caregivers and nurses, who are vital to our mission.

Why You Should Join Home Health Care

Home health care is an expanding field, and as more and more baby boomers age, we need skilled professionals to help them stay healthy and independent in their homes.

Home health care is the place to be if you’re looking for a way to make a difference in people’s lives. At Home Health Companions, we’re looking for compassionate, dedicated individuals who want to be part of our team. If you are looking for a rewarding career in home health care, please contact us today.

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Home Health Companions Alzheimer's Tips for Caregivers

National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month: Home Safety Checklist Tips for Caregivers

Alzheimer’s statistics are currently at an all-time high. More than 6 million Americans now have Alzheimer’s disease, and this number might rise to almost 13 million by 2050.

November was officially declared National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. In this year’s proclamation, President Biden stated that:

“The Department of Health and Human Services is investing in research and technology that can keep Alzheimer’s patients living longer in their own homes; training caregivers to support them; and educating Americans about early warning signs of Alzheimer’s, dementia risks, and brain health generally.”

Caregivers play a critical role in helping patients with Alzheimer’s disease maintain their quality of life and independence. Unfortunately, many caregivers lack the support they need to provide quality care.

At Home Health Companions, we are committed to helping caregivers get the support they need. And today, we’ll share home safety checklist tips for caregivers.

Home Safety Checklist Tips for Caregivers

Alzheimer’s disease causes impairment in memory, reasoning, and the ability to perform daily tasks. As a result, it can be difficult for people with Alzheimer’s disease to make sound decisions about what is safe or dangerous. To help, here is a home safety checklist tips for caregivers for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month:

General Home

  • Keep harmful items out of reach, including medications, cleaning supplies, and tools.
  • Ensure all rugs, appliances, and furniture are secured to the floor.
  • Walkways and pathways should be well-lit and free of clutter.

Kitchen

  • Store prescription drugs, vitamins, and seasonings in a locked cabinet.
  • Ensure food is marked and dated, and check expiration dates regularly.
  • Stove knobs should be turned to the “off” position when they’re not in use.

Laundry

  • All cleaning products should be stored in a locked cabinet or on a high shelf.
  • Use safety clips to secure your washing machine’s lid, and ensure all electrical cords are out of reach.

Bathroom

  • Prevent falls by installing grab bars in the shower and around toilets. Install non-slip mats in tubs and showers.
  • Replace any broken or missing tiles, and clean up any spilled water.

Bedroom

  • Closet shelves and other storage should be accessible.
  • Place a seat near the bed for easy access.

Basement and Garage

  • Prevent access to cars and other heavy machinery. 
  • Lock and keep away any tools or chemicals that could be dangerous.

Home Health Companions is looking for nurses, caregivers, and other health professionals who want to make a difference in the lives of others. Join us in fighting Alzheimer’s disease and creating safe, supportive spaces at home. Check our careers page for more information on our competitive benefits and programs!

 

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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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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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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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Health Care Services

6 Reasons to Be A Home Healthcare Provider

Why do you work? You might think this is a trick question, but dive below your first answer and give this a moment of thought. The average fulltime employee spends 40 hours a week at their job. Over a lifetime, a fully-employed person works an average of 90,000 hours or nearly one third of their life. 

2020-Q4-Nurses-2-Six Reasons To Be A Home Health Care Provider-1In her book “The Writing Life,” author Annie Dillard notes, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. If you start to sum up your days and realize how much of it is spent working, then all the sudden your work needs to be much more than a paycheck. Your time working comprises a lot of the limited time that is your life.”

In this post, we’ll point to the top 6 reasons that working to bring healthcare to people where they live (aka, home health care) is a truly incredible use of your time that will bring you much more than a paycheck.

  1. 2020-Q4-Nurses-2-Six Reasons To Be A Home Health Care Provider-3You’re in demand. Nobody likes feeling like “a dime a dozen,” and in the healthcare industry, particularly for in-home care, you are a jewel. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for home health aides will increase to as high as 34 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the baby-boom generation ages and the elderly population grows, the need for the services of home health aides andpersonal care aides will continue to increase.
  2. In-home care is optimal care. For those who truly want their work to have an impact in the lives of others, health care services provided to people in their homes is more effective than in retirement facilities or long-term hospital stays. Per the Institute on Aging, remaining at home is the most desired option among older adults, and aging in place comes with multiple benefits. Research shows that seniors are far happier living at home and that the service received happens to be much more affordable than in the institutional setting. When you bring care to the places people live, they respond better and can stave off facility care longer or indefinitely. 
  3. You build important relationships. Once you’ve onboarded with a service such as Home Health Companions, you’ll build a roster of clients who will come to count on you for care and you’ll establish a relation of trust. These clients won’t be just patients, but people with whom you’ll feel connected knowing that you see them regularly. 
  4. Flexibility in your work. Home health care providers enjoy caring for others and the positive impact of their support. With time, once you’ve established your relationships, you can work autonomously to determine who needs more care and at what time of day. This self-management allows you to work independently and ensures you meet client needs efficiently. You’ll also find that you’re more resourceful in matching care needs and your skills as they evolve, thus build your own self-reliance. 
  5. You will be on the cutting edge of technology advances. After the care of your patients, the most important work of in-home care providers is to document your work and your client’s health data and information. As in-home care continues to increase, technology is ever-changing to help providers bring in the treatments and efficiently document important information in real time. It’s likely you’ll be using the latest and greatest of tech for all parts of care as this market continues to expand.
  6. You can specialize. With more people using in-home care services, the range of conditions continues to increase as well. Several key areas of medical need begin to arise that require specialized care. If you find you prefer to work with patients who are dealing with specific health concerns, the opportunity to specialize your care for a subset of clients may be an opportunity as you move forward.

2020-Q4-Nurses-2-Six Reasons To Be A Home Health Care Provider-4

Your desire to be of service and make the time you invest in work count is noble as well as invaluable to your personal wellbeing. If you work for the paycheck alone and derive little satisfaction from what you do, on the other hand, you are not meant to be a home healthcare provider. 

If you want a career that will be in demand and where you can make a difference, you’ll continue to see your fortunes improve in this space. Home health care providers along with several states and federal programs continue to crunch the numbers to find the right balance for salaries and what the market can afford.

The data points to the many benefits of helping people stay at home while receiving medical care. In-home care outpaces long-term care and extended hospitalizations for cost in relation to its benefits. This means you will see an increase in your income with time as you build your career. 

Bibliography:

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

https://blog.ioaging.org/home-care/how-cost-effective-is-home-care-compared-to-a-nursing-home/

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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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How to Love Your Work as a CNA

What drives you to work your hardest? Of course, you need income to pay your bills, but given it’s an investment of at least 40 hours of your life each week, shouldn’t work do more than that?

Determining what you want to feel about your work and your role makes all the difference in your success, and this goes double for the profession of a certified nursing assistant (CNA) where you work in caring for others.

It’s vital for you—yes, you—to see your value in your job and realize how your individual gifts are put to use in what you do. The best way to know if the work of a CNA is a good fit is to have a clear understanding of your “why,” as well as who you are and how you work best.

Being a CNA isn’t for everyone, but if you have the personality, passion and proper tools, the work will be rewarding and set you on a path to making a difference. Plus, your days will fly by. Here, we’ll help you assess a few of the qualities that make for a good fit as a CNA, and even highlight a few examples of how to maximize personality traits for your best work experience!

What Drives You?

First, briefly study the list of statements below and check all those that apply to you.

  • I like to help others
  • I like my work to make a difference
  • I like to collaborate
  • I like to keep busy
  • I like to learn
  • I’m organized
  • I like to work on a team
  • I pay attention to details
  • I like to learn
  • I take pride in my efforts

If you selected at least six of the statements above, it’s quite possible that work as a CNA could be for you. The CNA is an essential member of the care team in many home care and medical settings. These are professionals who provide a great deal of hands-on, intimate care and attention to patients, including assisting bedridden individuals, taking patient vital signs, answering patient calls, and documenting patient health issues and working closely with nurses to address them.

Here are our tips to maximize the qualities that lend themselves best to satisfied and productive CNAs:

Be curious: Working as a CNA assures you’ll have an opportunity to discover something you didn’t know about medicine, physiology, and people almost every day. Look forward to this, and take advantage of the opportunities to learn.

For some, work as a CNA is their primary career goal, but often once people get a taste of the medical profession they find themselves taking courses toward another goal. You will have access to courses online through a community college and even from your employer. Take advantage of courses no matter your professional goals, and this will keep you invigorated about the work you do.

One way to help you stay engaged in your vital role as a CNA is to join a national organization. You can learn about the benefits of the National Association of Health Care Assistants here. Talking and networking with others will afford you information sure to assist you in remaining energized.

Be fit: Of course, it’s often easier said than done, but taking care of yourself both physically and mentally will keep you working better, too. The responsibilities of a CNA are varied and physically-demanding, and caring for others in general can tap into your emotional energy.

You are on your feet and on the move each day, often lifting and bending as you go. It’s essential you practice good lifting practices, too, and take the time to stretch before and after a shift. If your employer offers access to exercise services, take advantage of them.

You can also take the initiative to organize a group stretch with some of your co-workers before or after a shift. Over at Daily Nurse, they offer 4 stretches that will get you started. The first is a neck stretch that is so simple you can do it several times throughout your day. Go ahead and try tilting your head to one side until you feel the gentle pull. You can feel the release the tension in your shoulders!

Be patient: Give yourself and others the gift of patience. Sometimes progress is slow, and we don’t always know what motivates others, so it’s important to step back and look at each difficult moment objectively. Try and see a situation through the eyes of a patient or co-worker, but don’t slay yourself when you need a break to regroup.

Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Make time for you to do things you enjoy and gift yourself the occasional massage or pedicure. Take deep breathing breaks and silent meditative time just to rest for ten minutes each day. Your body is your temple, so treat it with care. Over at Inc., they offer up breathing and other tips for practicing patience. The benefits include you feeling happier in return.

Love What You Do

Caring for others as a CNA is important and critical work, but it is especially necessary for caregivers to care for themselves as well. At Home Health Companions, we know that success as a CNA involves knowledge and best practices to assure success in the profession. Keep your eye on your purpose, stay fit and practice patience, and you’ll be rewarded with the satisfaction of making a difference and doing your best work.

Maybe you can even do that on our team—we’re hiring!

 

Bibliography

https://www.nahcacna.org/

https://dailynurse.com/4-best-stretches-nurses/

https://www.inc.com/rhett-power/4-tips-to-help-you-be-a-more-patient-person-science-says-you-will-be-happier.html

http://www.homehealthcompanions.com/10-tips-to-become-a-better-cna

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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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11-Point Checklist for clients Needing In-Home Care During COVID-19

You know how vulnerable clients feel these days, especially those with pre-existing conditions who are also over the age of 60. Many of those pre-existing conditions require regular care, and this same population is struggling to balance the requirements of staying at home with getting the care they need.

The best cure for fear is solid and actionable information. And while it’s important to establish good hygiene practices and social distancing, essential maintenance for existing medical issues can’t be overlooked. 

In the article “In-Home Care During Covid-19 Crisis” over at AARP, the organization drives the point home that it is vital to continue home care services that will help keep clients healthy, safer, and out of the ER. In fact, many clients who otherwise might have received care in-clinic or at the hospital can have those services delivered in their homes instead, at least on a temporary basis.

To support clients’ overall sense of wellbeing and health, you can place control in their hands with this 11-point checklist designed to minimize their risk while receiving at-home care. Share it with clients, and encourage its use as a step-by-step guide to ease minds and keep more clients safe.

 

Before your in-home care providers arrives: 

  • Call your home care service provider and ask what regular steps they take to ensure you and their staff are all protected. Be sure to ask:
    • Do they touch base with staff daily to check exposure to others with COVID-19?
    • Do they run daily screenings with staff for temperature and symptoms? 
    • Do they call ahead to ensure the clients they serve are symptom-free? 
  • Ask: what is the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protocol? 
    • Do they change uniform coverings, gloves, masks and any other protective gear between visits with clients? 
  • Ask: is your in-home care provider getting extra help from staff splitting time between in-home and hospitals? In the article “Are Vital Home Health Workers Now a Safety Threat?” over at Kaiser Health News, recent studies have shown that there is an uptick in demand for at-home care services, and many nurses and nursing assistants are working extra hours in multiple health care settings.

Temporary providers who come from clinics or hospital facilities can be more aware of the CDC protocol than those working solely for the in-home services. Wherever your provider comes from, ask if the training at your in-home care service is consistent for all staff, both permanent and temporary.

  • Assess the essential services you need delivered in your home and what can be handled with telemedicine. You can work with your in-home care service and physician to find the balance between obtaining what is required while tracking the rest with telemedicine services between essential visits. By striking the right mix, the doctor and client can be assured that the care is being met.

Home Health Companions offers a virtual service assessment for clients in determining the best mix on a case-by-case basis, and also continues to evaluate options and best-practices as the situation and client needs evolve.

While your at-home care provider is in your home: 

  • Ensure your caregiver covers their shoes upon entering your home, then washes their hands initially and then frequently throughout the visit.
  • Ensure you and all others at home wear masks during the visit to protect everyone.
  • Maintain the 6-feet social distancing protocol between the care provider and others in the home who are not receiving care.
  • The care provider should abstain from any unnecessary actions such as hugging or handshakes to reduce physical contact.
  • Only the materials for care should be brought inside the home. 

 

In between home health care visits:

  • After your provider leaves, wash your hands as well as any surface in your home where the home care provider had contact.
  • Monitor your health metrics between home care visits to keep a record.

For hospitals, clinics and retirement communities, it’s important to have a candid conversation with each client that addresses anxiety about the pandemic in relation to specific health issues, as well as the relief in-home care can bring.

Factor in the heightened sense of isolation your clients may feel at this time, too, to assess if home care and telemedicine are needed to support this issue as well. At-home care is uniquely positioned at this time to help clients who are physically isolated feel less emotionally isolated as a product. Companionship, after all, is a vital requirement for whole health.

You can make the difference in countering the weight of helplessness with an actionable and attainable plan. Get ahead of fear or expectations with each client. And remember, most of what we’re living now will likely be part of a new normal for the foreseeable future, and many clients haven’t yet come to take that fully in. The steps taken today, however, will likely be the habits we all observe going forward for the safety of clients and staff alike.

 

Bibliography

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/home-care/info-2020/in-home-care-during-coronavirus.html

https://khn.org/news/are-vital-home-health-workers-now-a-safety-threat/

 

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Heart Disease Risk Factors You Can’t Control

There are some risk factors for heart disease that you can’t change. You may inherit your family history and predisposition for cardiovascular disease. As you age, your risk for heart disease grows. For men, the risk for heart disease increases at about age 45. For women, risk grows a bit later, typically with menopause.

Fortunately, there are risk factors that you can impact by living a healthy lifestyle and by working with your healthcare team to develop a plan that includes, for example, monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

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Beat It: Post-Stroke Speech Recovery through Music

When it comes to stroke recovery, the healing power of music may have its roots in rhythm and long-term memory, according to recent research.

For people who have lost their powers of speech due to a stroke, regaining the ability to talk can be a daunting task. Occupational therapists use a variety of different methods to help stroke sufferers speak again.

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A Helping Hand in Stroke Recovery

A stroke can happen to anyone and at any age, but, according to the American Stroke Association, 75 percent of all strokes in the U.S. occur in people over the age of 65. Stroke recovery can be especially daunting for family caregivers and can cause high levels of emotional, mental, and physical stress for both the stroke survivor and their caregiver, says the National Stroke Association.

To help a loved one get back on track quickly with less stress, you may want to look into temporary or longer-term assistance from a local licensed homecare agency, a skilled nursing provider, rehabilitation facility, and/or therapists. For example, when someone experiences a stroke, recovery often involves a family member, spouse or friend helping their loved one to communicate after a loss of speech or re-learn balance, movement and mobility skills with weakness or paralysis on one side of the body.

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Rehab Makes Life Easier for Stroke Survivors

Due to advances in modern medicine, a stroke may not always be a life-threatening episode. The large majority of people who suffer from a stroke continue to live for 10 or more years.

However, stroke does often result in significant mental and physical limitations that produce a loss of function and significant reduction in the person’s quality of life. These changes may also adversely affect the quality of life for caregivers and other family members.

In many cases, the results of a stroke are chronic conditions that may change over time. Rehabilitation providers, including physical, occupational and speech therapists, can teach the patient how to improve flexibility, strength, balance and endurance. These therapists can also improve patients’ ability to walk, communicate and manage day-to-day life as their needs change over time. Rehabilitation is not only beneficial for the acute phase of recovery immediately following the stroke, but also helps as the patient and family adjust to any long-term effects a stroke may have.

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