2013-2014 Flu Season: What You Need to KnowAutumn may bring temperate weather and falling leaves, but it also marks the beginning of the 2013-2014 flu season.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people at highest risk include those 65 and older and those with health conditions that affect the heart, lung, kidneys, or weaken the immune system.

Experts suggest getting vaccinated early, especially if your loved one is living in a nursing home or a long-term care facility. The same goes for caregivers who are providing care for an aging parent or other elderly loved one.

While the peak of any given flu season is generally in January and February, it can sometimes start as early as October in some years, and end as late as May in others. As such, the timing, severity, length, and other factors can be unpredictable. And since each new season can bring new strains of influenza, yearly vaccinations are necessary.

So what’s in store for the 2013-2013 flu season? The CDC recently published its yearly influenza guide. A few key points we should all know are below.

  • Manufacturers project that there will be nearly 140 million doses of influenza vaccine produced for the 2013-2014 season in the U.S.
  • Most of these vaccines will be trivalent (three component), but some will be formulated to protect against four flu viruses (quadrivalent). The type of vaccine produced depends on the manufacturer, but all nasal spray vaccines are expected to be quadrivalent.
  • As in years past, the 2013-2014 formula is designed to protect against influenza viruses that experts predict to be the most prevalent during the season. These include influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses. For this season, the vaccine will protect against an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus, an A(H3N2) virus, and a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.
  • Keep in mind that it’s not possible to predict which flu viruses will be most widespread during any given season, as flu viruses are constantly changing. Part of this process involves experts doing their best to predict which ones will be most prevalent for the upcoming season, in order for vaccines to be produced and delivered on time.

While the influenza virus changes over time, one thing is certain: getting vaccinated every year is you and your loved one’s best bet for avoiding coming down with the flu.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


7 Warning Signs of Senior Health Problems

Your aging parents’ health naturally starts to decline when they reach their elderly years.

Still, for many seniors, feeling good and staying independent depends on personally adhering to healthy lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise and a balanced diet.

But as a long-distance caregiver, how can you make sure your parents are properly taking care of themselves? To help, the Mayo Clinic has a guide on what to ask and look for the next time you visit your parents, adapted below.

  • How well are your parents taking care of themselves? Note your parents’ physical appearance. Do they have clean clothes? Are they able to keep up with daily routines like bathing and basic grooming? Take note of their house as well. Is the yard mowed and housework taken care of properly, as usual? If the answer is no, it could indicate dementia, depression, or a physical impairment.
  • Do you notice any signs of memory loss? Sure, everyone forgets simple things from time to time, especially as we age. But if you notice any concerning memory loss, such as forgetting common words or getting lost in a familiar neighborhood, it might be time to have your parent evaluated by a doctor.
  • Are your elderly parents safe living at home? Make note of any spots in your parents’ home which are potentially dangerous, such as cluttered hallways and narrow stairways. A few home improvement projects may be in store, especially if either of your parents have fallen recently.
  • Are your aging parents able to drive safely? As motor skills slow down and vision and hearing diminish, driving can become challenging for many seniors. If your aging parents become confused while driving, or if you simply doubt their ability to drive safely, it’s a good idea to talk with them about stopping driving and considering other transportation options to maintain their independence.
  • Have either of your parents lost weight? When a person loses weight without trying, it’s typically a sign that something is wrong. Common factors of senior weight loss include difficulty cooking, loss of taste or smell, and more concerning underlying conditions like malnutrition, dementia, or cancer.
  • Do you parents seem happy? If your usually cheerful parents have a more bleak outlook on things, it could be a sign of depression or other health concerns. Talk to your parents about their activities. Are they socially isolated? Are they still pursuing their favorite hobbies and other activities they enjoy? Depression can be treated at any age, so schedule an appointment with the doctor if you’re concerned.
  • How mobile are your parents? How well are your parents walking? Are they unable to walk usual distances, including around the house? Could either parent benefit from using a cane or a walker? Muscle and joint pain–as well as side effects from medication–can make your parent feel unstable when they walk, putting them at risk of falling.

If you are concerned with your aging parents’ health and well-being, there are many steps that you can take to make sure they are properly taking care of themselves.

For one, start up a conversation to openly and honestly share your concerns with your parents. From there, encourage regular medical checkups and address any home safety issues.

If your parents can live longer independently as they are, you may still consider seeking outside help from a local home care agency. Agencies, such as Encompass Senior Solutions, can address you and your parents’ situation and put together a comprehensive plan to ensure their continued well-being, even if they require long-term care.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


The Best (and Worst) States to be a CNA

As we’ve mentioned before, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are one of most in-demand and thus fastest-growing professions in the U.S.

But some states offer markedly better hourly wages than others for CNAs, raising the question: Where should you seek work after graduating? With this in mind, NursingLink offers up the 10 best and worst places in America to be a working CNA based on starting hourly salary and number of job openings.

If you’re interested in working as a caregiver, you should check out the results below, which were based off of research from 2008:

Top 10 Best Paying States for CNAs

1. Alaska ($14.36)

2. New York ($13.63)

3. Connecticut ($13.54)

4. Massachusetts ($12.77)

5. Hawaii ($12.53)

6. District of Columbia ($12.47)

7. Maryland ($12.47)

8. Delaware ($12.32)

9. New Hampshire ($12.24)

10. Nevada ($12.23)

Top 10 Worst Paying States for CNAs

1. Missouri ($9.40)

2. Idaho ($9.23)

3. South Carolina ($9.22)

4. Georgia ($9.08)

5. West Virginia ($8.78)

6. Alabama ($8.76)

7. Arkansas ($8.74)

8. Oklahoma ($8.62)

9. Mississippi ($8.16)

10. Louisiana ($7.57)

How did Iowa and Nebraska rank?

Both Nebraska and Iowa ranked somewhere in the middle of the pack. According to NursingGroups.com, CNAs in Nebraska averaged hourly earnings of $11.07 in 2008, with some CNAs makings as much as $14.36 an hour. CNAs in Iowa averaged slightly more, with hourly earnings of $11.25, with some CNAs making as much as $14.48 an hour.

Of course, the cost of living in Nebraska, Iowa, and elsewhere is significantly lower than the highest paying states like California, Florida, and New York, which the report didn’t take into consideration. Still, it’s interesting food for thought for those looking for work in one of the country’s highest in-demand industries.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living–currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa–provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


Caregiving: What Are You Not Willing to Do for Your Aging Parent?

 

Most of us don’t think about what we’re willing–and not willing–to do when our parents need assistance. That is, most of us don’t think about it until we’re overwhelmed and in the middle of a crisis.

Are you okay with your parents moving in with you if they can no longer live independently? Will you help them out financially if need be? A new national online study by MORE magazine addressed these questions and more.

In the study, 751 men and women aged 18 and over with one or more living parent or guardian were surveyed. Below are some of the most eye-opening results, as reported by AARP.

  • 45% of those surveyed said that their parents have no plans for when they lose the ability to live independently
  • 26% said that they have no clue what their parents’ personal plans are for elderly and end-of-life care
  • 75% of all ages said that they would make financial sacrifices to help with an aging loved one’s care
  • Women in the survey were more willing to sacrifice their daily lives to take on caregiving duties
  • Men were more likely to offer financial assistance by dipping into their savings or other assets
  • 21% of men and women surveyed said that they were unwilling to give up their time and money, including vacations, cars, and other luxury goods.
  • 63% of those surveyed thought that an elderly parent should move in with them if there’s enough room.
  • Women said that they want less emotional, physical, and financial help from their kids then men.

If your aging parents and loved ones are living independently and still in good health, now is a perfect time to talk to them about their future care preferences and needs. While the conversation is never that easy to have, being prepared will go a long way towards ensuring that everyone will be as comfortable and happy as possible when help is needed.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”

 

No matter your age, eating a healthy diet is always one element you can control to boast your overall health.

Even so, there are certain nutritionally healthy foods that should generally be avoided by elderly people. The main concern that experts express is that certain foods commonly served raw or undercooked–such as vegetable sprouts, fish, and eggs–are more prone to contain germs that cause food-borne illness, something that elderly people are more susceptible to than their younger counterparts.

With all of that in mind, here’s a list of (for the most part) healthy foods that elderly people should avoid.

  • Raw or undercooked eggs
  • Raw fish, oysters, clams, mussels, and other seafood (including sushi and ceviche)
  • Soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert and varieties of blue cheese
  • Unpasteurized milk and juice
  • Raw sprouts and spinach
  • Raw or rare servings of hamburger, beef, and steak
  • Dishes with undercooked eggs like Monte Cristo sandwiches, French toast, Hollandaise sauce, cake batter, etc.

The common denominator of all the above foods is that they are more likely to contain strains of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. While people of all ages can get sick from food, elderly people should be especially careful.

Can you think of any other foods that elderly people should avoid as part of a healthy diet? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


Many Family Caregivers Give Nursing Care

The responsibilities of a family caregiver come in many forms: cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing and other help with their aging loved one’s Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).

Plus, there’s emotional support, corresponding with the doctors and pharmacists, bookkeeping, and even financial aid.

On top of all this, an AARP study recently revealed that the majority of family caregivers are also taking on care responsibilities that are usually relegated to registered nurses or other certified home care professionals–responsibilities like administering medication, preparing meals for a special diet, using incontinence equipment, etc.

What’s especially concerning is the fact that most of the family caregivers in the study admitted that they had little or no care training for performing these tasks.

AARP goes on to suggest that health care professionals need to offer or arrange proper training and support for family caregivers–and we agree. If you’re the caregiver, you have all the right in the world to demand more from your loved one’s doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others. Here’s a list of a few things to especially be aware of (via AARP).

  • Sign the pharmacy form that says you have been counseled on the prescription ONLY if you understand what the medication is for, how to give it, and what the potential side effects are.
  • Likewise, only tell the hospital that your loved one is ready for hospital discharge when you feel safe to perform the tasks instructed by hospital staff.
  • If you feel that you need more instructions, talk to the nurse or social workers. It’s their job to help.
  • Ask about future home care options and for follow-up training.
  • If you’re worried, tell the doctor you need more support.

The study shows that family caregivers are doing more than ever. And it’s safe to assume that many of them need help with this important work.

At Encompass, we have helped provide caregivers with training in medication administration, catheter care, eye drops, etc. Most family members can be trained to provide the majority of the care needed by a family member.

Of course, an important thing to consider is the possible guilt that a caregiver might feel when their aging loved one’s conditions worsens while they’re providing medical care. In the end, proper training and professional oversight are both very important, as well as the individual’s comfort level.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


What to Expect After Surviving a Heart Attack

Despite being the number 1 killer of men and women in the U.S., many people are fortunate enough to survive a heart attack.

Perhaps the hardest part of this is adopting a new lifestyle when returning home–like switching out old bad habits for new, healthier ones.

In this post, we’ll look at what you can expect in the ensuing weeks and months after your loved one returns home from a heart attack, compiled from a list from the Cleveland Clinic. Hint: There’s a lot of medication and doctors visits involved. Note that it takes about two months for the heart to heal.

Activity

It’s typical for a person to feel tired or weak during the first week of recovery at home. This is due to the damage your heart muscle has suffered, paired with the bed rest at the hospital.

  • Take it easy. Make sure your loved one isn’t over-exerting himself. A change in routine might be in store to pace strenuous activities throughout the day.
  • Walk every day to regain strength and energy. The doctor will prescribe the right amount of exercise your loved one will need.
  • Once your loved one feels stronger, they may return to light household chores (folding laundry, cooking, dusting, etc.). However, they should avoid lifting, pushing, or pulling heavy objects unless given the go ahead from the doctor.
  • The doctor will also tell you when more vigorous activities are OK, such as driving or returning to work.

Diet

One of the most important elements of a healthy recovery is diet. Not only does it promote heart health, it also prevents future complications of heart disease.

  • Eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Be choosy when it comes to calories from fat.
  • Eat just the right amount of protein from various sources.
  • Keep an eye on cholesterol.
  • Reduce intake of simple carbohydrates and use complex carbs for energy.
  • Reduce sodium intake and increase intake of potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Medication

People with heart disease should expect to take some form of heart medication for the rest of their lives. Medication is prescribed after a heart attack for various reasons:

  • Prevent future blood clots
  • Lessen the work of the heart to improve the hearts performance and recovery
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Control angina
  • Treat irregular heartbeats and heart failure

Make sure you review your loved ones medications with a doctor or nurse. Also, keep a list of the medications (including what they’re for) to bring along to future visits to the doctor.

Lifestyle changes

Sadly, there is no cure for coronary artery disease (brought on by a heart attack). To prevent the spread of this disease, a number of lifestyle changes must be made. Ask your doctor for more information.

  • Stop smoking
  • Lower high blood cholesterol
  • Control high blood pressure
  • Maintain tight diabetes control
  • Follow a regular exercise plan
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Control stress and anger

A person’s life is forever changed once they have a heart attack. Still, even with a difficult road to recovery, it’s possible to eventually lead a normal life again. As long as your loved one is willing to follow doctor’s orders to make the necessary changes to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, they should be right on track for a full recovery.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


How Many Years of Life Do Smokers Lose?

While we all know by now that smoking is hazardous to our health, more than 40 million Americans still smoke.

In fact, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., according to the CDC–and the same is true in Europe. There’s no doubt about it: prolonged periods of smoking take years off your life, especially for those older in age.

Still, many aging adults and seniors have been smoking for decades, some living well into their 70s, 80s, and even 90s. To better determine just how smoking affects a person’s longevity, a new British study looked at men aged 66-97, and found that, on average, a smoker who makes it to 70 loses four years of his life.

In the study, researchers examined information from 7,000 senior men from 1997-2012. Over that period of time, 5,000 of the men died, with deaths of smokers being about 50 percent more likely than those who didn’t smoke due to factors like vascular disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases.

For the men in the study who had survived to age 70, the average life expectancy was 18 years for those who had never smoked regularly. It was 16 years for those who had quit smoking before 70, and 14 years in men who still smoked at age 70.

This just goes to show that quitting smoking is always beneficial to a person’s health, no matter his (or her) age. The proof is in the research–you’ll feel better and live longer if you don’t smoke. If you or your elderly loved one still has that nasty habit of smoking, perhaps now is a good time to once again try to quit for good.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


What to Ask When Your Elderly Parent is Discharged From the Hospital

When your aging parent ends up it the hospital, it’s no doubt a stressful period for the entire family.

What many people don’t realize is that most hospitals aren’t set up to provide long-term care to patients. As such, the moment your loved one arrives in the hospital, the discharge planning process has already begun.

You and your loved one will likely meet with a discharge planner–usually a registered nurse or a social worker–within the first day or two of your parent’s stay to coordinate the move from the hospital to an appropriate setting, e.g. back home, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home.

As difficult as it seems to corner the doctor to get the answers you need, when the time comes, you should be prepared to ask the right questions.

Below is a list of questions, adapted from HealthWorks Collective, that you should ask the discharge planner (or if you’re lucky enough to be able to talk to one for more than a few seconds, the doctor).

On your aging parent’s condition:

  • Can you explain the diagnosis at discharge?
  • What type of health care services have been prescribed and how long will they be needed?
  • During recovery, what milestones and setbacks can we expect?
  • What about follow-up appointments? Who is in charge of scheduling them?
  • Who is paying for this health care?

On the home environment:

  • What equipment will we need at home (hospital bed, wheelchair, etc.)?
  • Will someone teach us how to use the equipment we’re unfamiliar with?
  • Who pays for the equipment?
  • What about reordering supplies?

On providing care:

  • What type of personal care does my loved one require?
  • Is there anyone who can teach me techniques for skills I need to administer care (needle injections, changing dressings, etc.)?
  • Are there any dietary restriction we need to be aware of?

On medications:

  • Are there any new medications that have been prescribed?
  • Are there any side effects associated with these new medications?
  • How should these medications be taken (with or without food, etc.)?

As you can see, there are many questions to be asked when your elderly parent is being discharged from the hospital.

By taking the time to be prepared, you can make sure you’re not left scrambling to accommodate Mom when she returns home with a list of care needs that are crucial to her health.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


What to Expect When Moving in With Family

Oftentimes, family members are forced to move when an aging loved one requires daily care.

Whether it’s an adult child moving into her mother’s home to take care of her, or moving Mom into your extra bedroom, a number of challenges tend to arise, especially for those families that aren’t properly prepared for long-term care.

Below are some things to consider before moving in with family (or having family move in with you) via caregiver.org:

  • Accessibility–Is the home able to accommodate an elderly person with limited mobility? Do stairs have railings, and are showers equipped with grab bars? Are hallways clear of clutter? Any needed home modifications should be completed before the move.
  • Care–What type of care does your loved one need? If you can’t provide it, who will? Make sure that all of your bases are covered, from preparing meals, to medication management, to daytime supervision. Who is responsible for caregiving duties? Will you need to hire a home care professional to help out?
  • Emotions–Are there any long-standing disputes in your family? If so, expect them to surface in some form or another when moving in with an aging family member. The loss of independence is frustrating and can bring out strange behaviors, especially when reacting to a new living environment. Remember, good communication is key to handling conflicts successfully.
  • Finances–When a new family member moves in, household expenses will generally go up. Who’s responsible for the additional finances? If you need financial support, where will you get it?
  • Responsibilities–When Mom moves in, what responsibilities will she have?

At Encompass, we often encounter situations where family members move in with one another. While each family is different, in the end it’s best to avoid the feeling that the situation is permanent, as not everyone can successfully live together.

Instead, consider starting things out as a trial period before committing to anything long-term. Having open and honest communication with your loved one will also help ensure that any problems are addressed properly. And remember–help is always available from a senior care agency such as Encompass.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”