An often-selfless job, caregiving plays a vital role in ensuring the care and safety of our loved ones as they age. That’s why November is the perfect time to pay homage to the many caregivers in the U.S. — both family and professional — as it’s considered both Home Care and Hospice Month as well as National Family Caregivers Month.

About Home Care and Hospice Month

Started by the National Home Care and Hospice Association (NAHC), November was chosen to honor the ethics, empathy and effective work in giving quality in home care of the many professional registered nurses, home health aides and personal care aides all across the U.S. As a large portion of the population ages, Home Care and Hospice Month aims to raise awareness for the increasing need for healthcare professionals, currently one of the fastest growing industries in the country. Many Americans suffer from multiple, chronic conditions, and, according to NAHC, “By keeping them out of hospitals and in their homes, home care saves money.”

2012’s themes (via NAHC):

Home Care:

Celebrating Freedom: Quality Care at Home

Hospice:

Taking Care and Compassion to the Next Level

Private Duty:

The Right Care at the Right Place at the Right Time

Home Care Aide Week:

Celebrating Love in Action, November 11-17, 2012

About National Family Caregivers Month

Started in 1994 by the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) to celebrate family caregivers during the week of Thanksgiving, this annual event has grown into a month long appreciation of family caregivers, as proclaimed by every president since President Clinton in 1997.

“Day in and day out, more than 65 million family caregivers in this country fulfill a vital role on the care team,” says the NFCA website. “No one else is in a better position to ensure continuity of care.” National Family Caregivers Month is a time to thank, support, educate and empower family caregivers.

Physicians Choice Private Duty currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

To say that taking care of a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s is difficult is an understatement. Even so, traveling a long distance with such a person is daunting, but not impossible. An article from U.S. News even highlights a woman who took frequent trips, even on a cruise ship, with her husband who suffered from Alzheimer’s, but it’s not for everyone. senior care

People suffering from dementia become anxious easily. There are a lot of unknowns when going on a trip that may concern them. It’s probably best to travel when the roads and airways are less busy. If traveling for the holidays, this may mean leaving several days before the holiday to avoid the rush. This is a great idea, too, because traveling with your loved one will take longer than expected.

Even if you’re traveling alone with your loved one, you’re not always alone in caring for them. You can ask flight attendants or hotel staff for assistance.

A very comprehensive collection of advice on traveling with an Alzheimer’s patient can be found at the Alzheimer’s Compendium. The article makes it clear that traveling with a person with dementia is very possible, but there are some warning signs to look for in your loved one that will suggest if it’s better to risk travel or not. These include (via Alzheimer’s Compendium):

 

    • Consistent disorientation, confusion, or agitation even in familiar settings

 

    • Wanting to go home when away from home on short visits

 

    • Delusional, paranoid, or uninhibited behavior

 

    • Problems managing continence

 

    • Teary, anxious, or withdrawn behavior in crowded, noisy settings

 

    • Agitated or wandering behavior

 

    • Physical or verbal aggression

 

    • Yelling, screaming, or crying spontaneously

 

    • High risk of falling

 

    • Unstable medical conditions

 

If it is possible to travel with your loved one, here are some things to consider:

    • Test the waters with a shorter trip close to home before going on longer trips.

 

    • Never let dementia patients travel unsupervised.

 

    • The Alzheimer’s Compendium suggests bringing a bag of essentials available at all times. Pack it with medications, travel itinerary, change of cloths, water, snacks, activities and a list of emergency contacts.

 

    • Be flexible. Have a contingency plan that will allow you to leave early if your loved one becomes ill, agitated or wants to go home. It’s very important to get the trip delay/interruption insurance if traveling by plane.

 

    • Talking about the trip too far in advance may cause anxiety and agitation for your loved one.

 

When traveling by airplane

    • Have a recent picture of your loved one with you. Take one on the day of the trip so you can show people what he was wearing if he gets lost.

 

    • Talk with his doctor about medications that can be prescribed to keep your loved one calm. Also check if he might need something for travel sickness.

 

    • Speak with the airline and airport security along the way and well in advance of your trip. Discuss special arrangements and precautions you should consider. You can also arrange for an attendant to escort you through security and on and off the plane. Possibly arrange for a wheelchair if your loved one will ride in it. Keep in mind that most airlines ask for 48 hour advance notice when requesting assistance.

 

When traveling by car

    • If your loved one becomes agitated in the car, stop as soon as possible. It can be dangerous to try to calm him while driving.

 

    • Have regular rest stops and check that basic needs are met during those times. Stay with your loved one at rest stations, gas stations or restaurants as places that cause confusion may trigger wandering.

 

    • If possible have your loved one ride in the back seat with someone who can comfort them if needed.

 

At the destination

    • Be ready to prevent wandering and be ready to find him if he does so. Enroll your loved one in Safe Return, a program that is in place to help find Alzheimer’s patients when they become lost, or think about getting a GPS locator for him to wear.

 

    • Take a cell phone picture of your loved one every day so if he becomes lost, you can show people what he looks like and what he was wearing.

 

    • Take along a travel door alarm and consider using a childproof doorknob cover.

 

Traveling during holidays with someone who has dementia can be difficult, but with proper planning and preparedness many of the obstacles to traveling with a loved one who has dementia can be overcome.

Physicians Choice Private Duty currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Author/blogger Jane Heller is no stranger to playing the role of caregiver. In an article she wrote for Huffington Post, Heller tells the story of taking care of her husband, Michael, who suffers from Crohn’s Disease. From visits to the emergency room to attempting to corner ever-evasive doctors in the hospital, Heller offers humorous lessons from her time spent in the place she calls “Caregiverville.” And throughout it all, some things remain the same: It’s a stressful, trying experience that can often leave us exhausted and crying, but in the end it teaches us that we can overcome just about anything.

Some of Heller’s lessons:

    • “Nagging Wives Save Lives.” This one is for all the men “incapable of asking for directions,” as Heller puts it. Not only this, but they’ll never admit when they’re sick, let alone volunteer to go to the hospital when they clearly need to go to the hospital. ER doctor Illene Brenner, whom Heller interviewed, recommends never letting men come to the ER unless they’re unaccompanied by a sister, girlfriend, wife or mother.

 

    • “Box the Doc.” Have you ever sat at your loved one’s bedside in the hospital for hours waiting for the doctor to arrive so you can get some real answers to your questions? And if by a miracle the doctor actually shows up, he or she suddenly disappears before your questions are answered to your satisfaction. To alleviate this, Heller developed the “Box the Doc” technique, where she literally boxes a doctor in the room. “The minute they enter the room, you rise up out of that visitor’s chair, move stealthily behind them, plant your feet in the threshold and block the door,” she writes. “They’d have to barrel you over in order to escape and they won’t. So box them in and then fire away.”

 

    • “Be a Crybaby.” As a caregiver, sometimes a good cry is in order because “nothing else will do,” Heller writes. The trick is to cry when your caregivee won’t notice. Find a place where you’re alone — the shower, your car, etc. and let it all out. The poor-me thoughts are inevitably followed by the realization that feeling sad is OK and won’t hurt anyone. Heller writes about how she feels after a good cry: “I’m capable of dealing with the challenges ahead. I don’t love the puffy, red eyes that come with crying or the blotchy complexion, but when my little jag is over I feel empowered, truly I do.”

 

Do you have any lessons from Caregiverville you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Physicians Choice Private Duty currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

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Photo: Flickr

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Todays post features real-life stories of how Physicians Choice Private Duty helped an elderly person and their loved ones through a tough decision-making process that ensured each persons individual care needs were met. Names have been changed to respect privacy.

Josh and Lana

bedroom in-home careSometimes caregivers need relief, and that’s exactly what Encompass provided for Josh and wife Lana. Josh was a younger gentleman suffering from a brain injury and cancer. Lana, his wife was his primary caregiver but was getting burned out from the 24-7 car Josh required. She contacted Encompass for help. We provided limited respite care at their house so Lana could leave and not have to worry about Josh’s well-being.

Juan and Lydia

Juan was a former business owner with MS whose physical limitations did not allow him to perform necessary everyday tasks such as bathing himself. With the help of Encompass, in-home care provided Juan with a bath a few times a week. He was able to remain at home with his wife acting as his primary caregiver.

Mary

As a 60-year-old poorly controlled schizophrenic living independently, Mary was having problems properly taking care of herself. After seeking the help of Encompass, we recommended a medication reminder system, assisted with keeping her apartment clean and provided medical oversight for her other health concerns as well as transportation to doctor’s appointments. She was able to regain control, remaining at home independent and safe.

Eileen and Brent

Eileen was an elderly woman suffering from significant heart disease living with her husband Brent in an apartment. Encompass completed an assessment and set up a plan to manage Eileen’s medication and provide basic in-home services to limit her physical exertion during the day, helping her conserve her energy. She was able to remain at home with her husband, independent and safe.

Read more Real Stories from Encompass here.

Physicians Choice Private Duty currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

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Photo: Flickr

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

A new web-based online system for setting up automated reminder and check-in calls called the SageMinder System is making it easier for family caregivers to help their elderly loved ones stay at home.

There are many important tasks that go into the care of an elderly parent or loved one in a day. Some of these — such as taking medication at the right times — is critical. The SageMinder System makes it easier to automate reminders for your loved one. A sticky note might be effective, if it is noticed, but SageMinder makes a more immediate call to the attention.

The system works with the telephone and places a call to your loved one at predetermined times. The call is even interactive and will ask if everything is all right and if they’ve taken their medications. Your elderly parent responds to the questions by pressing a button on a home or cell phone. Then the caregiver receives a notification by text message or email that the phone was answered and if everything is okay.

SageMinder and similar systems help with one of the largest preventable causes of poor health management: failure to take prescribed medications. These solutions can take some of the worry away from children whose elderly parents are living independently.

Another way to automate systems to help seniors living at home is with automatic pill dispensers. These dispensers hold medications and only allow a predetermined amount of medication to be released at a predetermined time. Often they come with alarms to remind patients when to take their medication. Medication dispensers also make it less likely that someone will forget that they took medications and take a double dose. They also often lock to prevent taking medications at any other time than the one predetermined.

Physicians Choice Private Duty currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Elder Care Chat is a bi-monthly Twitter chat hosted by Seniors For Living and Denise M. Brown. Physicians Choice Private Duty, providing elder care solutions for the greater Omaha area, once again joined in on the conversation, which focused on how to manage holiday stress as a caregiver.

Chats like this one are a great place for professional caregivers from across the world to gather and discuss the issues currently facing our industry, and with Thanksgiving in two weeks, now is the perfect time to start planning for the care of loved ones during the holiday season. As usual, with so many people sharing their insights and personal experience, yesterday’s chat was a great resource to draw from, helping us all to make the services we provide better and better.

Below is a recap of yesterday’s #eldercarechat, which we put together via Storify.

http://storify.com/EncompassSenior/elder-care-chat-november-7-2012

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

A recent study found that acupuncture is 50 percent more effective than traditional treatments for chronic pain. The results are beneficial for anyone who suffers from chronic pain of any type including arthritis and back pain — common problems in the elderly.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing therapy in which tiny needles are inserted into specific points in the skin.acupuncture senior care

Andrew Vickers, a researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, who led the multinational study told AARP Magazine: “What this study provides is fairly strong evidence that acupuncture is an effective treatment for chronic pain.”

About three million Americans use acupuncture each year. According to AARP Magazine, during the course of the study, which involved nearly 18,000 patients, some patients were given actual acupuncture while others were given treatments where needles were randomly placed in the skin or where the needles retracted into the handle.

There’s still no clear scientific explanation for why acupuncture works. However, there are several theories. One is that acupuncture triggers endorphins to be released and another is that the treatment affects the chemical messengers that cause brain cells to interpret pain.

Acupuncture has been used to treat a variety of ailments from pain to nausea. According to studies, acupuncture has been found to be relatively safe with the only side effects being occasional bruising or minor bleeding. Acupuncture needles are thin and not inserted very far into the skin, so most patients do not experience these minor problems.

For those looking for an acupuncturist, the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine website provides a location-based search of practices.

Physicians Choice Private Duty currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

According to Everyday Health, two clinical trials showed that renal denervation to treat hypertension is a safe, significant way to achieve sustained blood pressure reduction.

In renal denervation a radio frequency catheter is used to create lesions in the renal arteries in order to disrupt the nerve pathways that lead into and out of the kidneys. The procedure only takes about 40 minutes and has been shown to reduce blood pressure in those with drug resistant hypertension.

Paul A. Sobotka, MD, Ohio State University said initially, not everyone responded favorably to renal denervation. But the study showed that the percentage of those who responded favorably to the treatment increased over time. After one month, 69 percent of 143 patients responded; at 12 months 79 percent of 130 patients; at two years, 90 percent of 59 patients; and at three years, 100 percent of 24 patients who were followed for 36 months responded to the treatment.

To qualify for the trial patients had to be on three or more drugs to manage blood pressure. Researchers reported that there were no significant safety issues associated with renal denervation such as decline in kidney function or late vascular complications.

There were no significant safety issues associated with renal denervation, including no decline in kidney function or late vascular complications, Esler reported. Sobotka said patients responded to the treatment the same if they were older than 65 or younger, and there were no mortalities due to the treatment.

The SIMPLICITY HTN-1 renal denervation system used in the trial is not currently approved by the FDA for use in the U.S., but another trial of the system is underway and it may be approved in the future.

Physicians Choice Private Duty currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Todays post features real-life stories of how Physicians Choice Private Duty helped an elderly person and their loved ones through a tough decision-making process that ensured each persons individual care needs were met. Names have been changed to respect privacy.

Bob and Terri

Bob was suffering from dementia, and like so many others he wanted to remain at home for as long as possible. His wife, Terri, was his primary caregiver, but was getting overwhelmed — their home was no longer a safe place for Bob to live with his increasing care demands. With help from Encompass, Bob and Terri’s home was modified into a livable space that was easy for Bob to safely maneuver through. And since Terri wasn’t able to give Bob comprehensive 24-7 care as his condition worsened, Encompass began to provide professional in-home care, allowing Bob to remain in his home until he eventually passed.

Chris and Linda

With stage four brain cancer, Chris’ ability to care for himself was very limited. Still, he very much preferred staying at home versus the alternative of moving into a skilled care facility. His wife Linda, Chris’ primary caregiver, tried her best but couldn’t provide the comprehensive care he required. After contacting Encompass, a safety assessment of Chris’ situation was conducted, resulting in the modification of his home to make it safe. Additional caregivers were also sent in as needed. Relieved, Chris was able at safely remain home for his remaining days.

Harry and Janice

Harry received Medicare certified skilled care in the home. His wife, Janice, wan’t satisfied with Harry’s overall progress so she asked Encompass if there was more therapy that could be provided after the skilled care was completed. There was. Encompass staff continued his physical therapy. Within two months Harry was able to walk a short distance with his walker. His previous Medicare certified home care simply discharged him when he was able to use wheelchair.

Read more Real Stories from Encompass here.

Physicians Choice Private Duty currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

According to nearly a dozen studies, a high dose of vitamin D can reduce the risk of hip fractures by 30 percent and other bone breaks by 14 percent. These results were achieved by taking a dose of 800 (IU), but a lower dose had no affect.

The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and also suggested that it was possible that more than 1,000 milligrams a day of calcium could reduce the benefits of high dose vitamin D.

One of the researchers, Dr. Heike Bischoff-Ferrari of the University Hospital Zurich, told Reuters, “These hip fractures cost a lot and are a really serious event. They are usually the end of independent life for a senior person; 50 percent do not regain their mobility. Reducing the risk by 30 percent with just a vitamin supplement would be an enormous public health opportunity.”

Dr. Robert Heaney of Creighton University Medical Center said that the problem with prior conflicting studies concerning vitamin D might have been because the study participants’ vitamin D levels before the studies weren’t taken into account. Giving a vitamin D supplement to someone who already has enough or not administering enough to those with very low levels would show no benefit, Heaney suggested.

“In this regard, as in several other respects, nutrients are unlike drugs. Once an adequate concentration has been achieved, additional intake has no effect,” Heaney said.

The new analysis regarding vitamin D is based on 11 trials testing various regimens of oral vitamin D in people 65 and older against a placebo. Most of the study participants were women and some of the trials included calcium.

The results were 4,881 hip and other fractures among a sampling of more than 31,000 people. Vitamin D was not shown to cut hip fracture significantly across the board, but when the results for those taking the highest doses of vitamin D the benefits were seen.

Researchers said that the highest benefits were seen in nursing home settings where study participants were reminded by nurses to take their supplement daily.

Physicians Choice Private Duty currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”