Tag Archives: health

Building A Responsible Doctor-Patient Relationship

A Comprehensive Partnership With Your Physician: A Patient's Responsibility

By Marjorie Marcus, MSW

In the past, doctors took the lead and patients typically followed without question. These days, a good doctor-patient relationship is a partnership. So here is what you can do to make your physician visits as productive and effective as possible.

Create a list before your appointment. This will make it easier to fully cover what it is that brought you to your doctor, and ensure that you do not forger any problems or issues you want to discuss. The list should include the following information:

A list of symptoms

This list should include, but not limited to, aches and pains, trouble sleeping, anxiety, moods. Are you sad all the time? Are you more confused lately? This list ensures that you give your doctor an accurate account of what is occurring in your life, mentally and physically. Include when these issues started, how often and how long they last, what makes them better or worse. Be sure to explain how these issues affect your daily activities.

A list of your medications

ALL medications should be listed; non-prescription, herbal remedies, vitamins, even eye drops should be included on this list. Better yet, bring your medications to your appointment. Include dosage, how often and times of day you take these medications. Make sure to note any side effects.

An outline of your daily activities

Be honest when discussing these activities. What do you enjoy doing? How often do you exercise? Do you smoke and/or drink? Describe your sex life. How do you sleep? What and how often do you eat?

Describe any life changes

Examples of these are divorce, death of a loved one (including pets), or a change in living arrangements. These life changes can cause stress, and stress affects our health.

This comprehensive approach of sharing complete information is key to developing a solid doctor-patient relationship. By being open, honest and detailed about your medical and personal condition, you and your doctor will be working together to formulate the comprehensive care plan you desire.

Written by Marjorie Marcus, MSW, a Client Care Liaison for American In-Home Care. Originally published in The Villager's Voices Publication, Palm Coast, FL. Sept. 2015


Contact American In-Home Care today at 1-844-505-0004 for your free, no-obligation consultation. We will work with you to match the best care provider and determine the right care options for you and your family.

Recognizing The Physical Signs Of Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. With statistics like this, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms so that you can get the proper help and treatment for a loved one that is suffering. Because of the unfortunate commonness of the disease, most people recognize the usual cognitive symptoms - memory loss, inability to remember names or places, difficulty speaking, and mood swings - however, the physical signs are not as well known, but recognizing them is equally, if not more important to catching Alzheimer's in its early stages.

The physical signs of Alzheimer's Disease are important to recognize because often the cognitive symptoms are much more discreet and hard to determine, especially if your loved one is naturally forgetful, or if you aren't able to spend time with them regularly. By becoming familiar with the physical signs, it is easier to recognize Alzheimer's, even in its early stages, allowing you to get your loved one the help they need as soon as possible.

1. Repeating Actions

Keep an eye out to see if your loved one is repeating unusual actions. You might be able to carry on a coherent conversation with them, but repeating actions such as opening and closing the refrigerator repeatedly, aimlessly walking back and forth between rooms, or continually looking for an item that they have already found might alert you that they are suffering from Alzheimer's.

2. Wearing The Same Outfit

If you notice that your loved one has been wearing the same outfit the past several times that you have seen them, this could be symptomatic of Alzheimer's. Another sign associated with the disease is lack of personal hygiene - including doing laundry - either from forgetfulness or apathy. So if you notice that they haven't changed their clothes or dressed for the occasion, especially when that is uncharacteristic, this is an alerting factor.

3. Unexplained Bruising

This is an especially important physical sign to be aware of, especially if you aren't with your loved one every day. If when you see them and they have fresh bruises and cuts, and can't remember where or how they got them, this could be symptomatic of Alzheimer's. Common cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's are sundowning and wandering, both of which are very dangerous. These habits could be where the bruises and cuts are coming from, and it is important to get under control so that your loved one doesn't get hurt or taken advantage of.

4. Loss Of Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are what is required to hold on to small objects and make precise movements, and are affected by adverse brain activity, such as a stroke.  This is particularly noticeable at dinnertime when your loved one is trying to grip the utensils. If they are having a very difficult time grasping or holding on to these, that could be a sign that something isn't right.

5. Stressed or Pained Physical or Facial Expressions

Take a moment to notice your loved one's expressions when you are with them. Facial expressions such as frowning, looking frightened, grimacing, keepeing eyes tightly closed, or rapidly blinking could all be signs of Alzheimer's and physical and emotional pain that are associated with it. Physical expressions such as rigid body posture, fidegting, rocking, or changes in walking patterns are also signs of this.

Because Alzheimer's disease is easiest to manage when it is detected early, it is important to recognize these symptoms and to be able to get your loved one help as soon as you might expect something isn't right. Do not hesitate to call your doctor, as they will be able to help you get all the resources that you need.

If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia, hiring a respite, hourly, or live-in care provider to help your loved one be comfortable and safe in their home is a great idea, as taking on sole caregiving duties can be taxing on personal lives and relationships. American In-Home Care refers qualified nurses, Home Health Aides, Certified Nursing Assistants, and companions that can help you and your loved one by specializing in Alzheimer's care and other services. Contact us today at 1-844-505-0004 for a no-obligation consultation to determine what care options are best for your family.

Recognizing Signs Of Depression In The Elderly

One in five Americans aged 65 and older are affected by depression. That means over 20 percent of the aging population is affected, making recognizing signs of depression in the elderly increasingly important.

Although the rate of depression in the elderly population is relatively high, that does not mean that it is a normal part of aging. Depression can affect anyone, at any age, but there are several risk factors that put older adults at higher risk.

Risk Factors For Depression In Older Adults

  1. Difficult life events and changes in personal circumstances
  2. Losing loved ones and friends
  3. Loneliness and isolation
  4. Lack of social support
  5. Pain and physical illness
  6. Being a victim of crime or abuse
  7. Financial crisis
  8. Family history or past episodes of depression
  9. Moving accommodations
  10. Alcohol abuse
  11. Over medicating

Recognizing the risk factors for older adults allows you to realize when a loved one might be at risk for depression, and to be able to prevent possible negative repercussions. As the risk factors vary with different age groups, it is important to be familiar with the factors for older adults specifically. Elderly people also display symptoms of depression differently than younger adults, so it is also important to recognize age-specific symptoms of depression.

Symptoms Of Depression In Older Adults

  1. Psychotic Symptoms
    1. Delusions
    2. Auditory hallucinations
    3. Catatonic features
  2. Cognitive Symptoms
    1. Disorientation
    2. Memory loss
    3. Poor concentration
    4. Easily distracted
    5. Apathy
  3. Behavioral Symptoms
    1. Feeling melancholy
    2. Anorexia or excessive eating
    3. Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns
    4. Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
    5. Thoughts of suicide
    6. Anergia
    7. Inappropriate feelings of guilt
    8. Pyschomotor retardation
    9. Note: sometimes medications can cause some of these same symptoms

Depression is a serious illness, and whether it affects people young or old, the condition's many symptoms make it very difficult for the individual to overcome it, or find a way out on their own. While depression affects around 6 million Americans aged 65 and over, only about 10 percent actually receive treatment. Perhaps this is because risk factors and symptoms are different in older adults and make recognizing the disease more difficult. Another factor could be the fact that seniors were raised in a generation when the disease was a stigma, and are afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.

Given the fact that depression can increase the risk for other serious diseases in older adults, it is important to make every effort to recognize and help get treatment for a loved one suffering. If you are caring for a depressed elderly person, you can make a difference by supporting them emotionally and making a point to be involved in their lives. Although you might not have the answer to fix their situations, sometimes just listening and giving support, companionship and love is enough to make a difference.

However, if you feel any concern, don't hesitate to contact a medical doctor for help and support. Also, if you are concerned about your loved one feeling isolated or lonely, and you don't have the chance to be around as much as you would like, you could consider a professional care provider. American In-Home Care, providers of senior home care Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and throughout Florida, refers care providers that can perform many useful duties, and provide companionship and excitement for your loved one, so you don't have to worry. Call toll-free at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule a free consultation to discuss all of your options and find a care provider that is right for you and your loved one.


Caregiver Depression: The Intangible Cost Of Dementia Care:

Does your mother have enough food? Does she have clean laundry? Is she eating nutritious meals? Has she been wandering? Is she safe? Does she have her medications? Are her finances in order? Who will set up her doctors appointments? Who will drive her?

Up to 50 percent of caregivers providing Alzheimer's and dementia care suffer from some sort of caregiver depression - developing major depressive illnesses and stress related to added duties and worry, according to a doctor with the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco. The caregiver becomes so overburdened with responsibilities, duties and worries that they aren't sure what to do next. This feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do, especially when it concerns a loved one, can lead to anxiety and eventually clinical depression.

With 80 million baby boomers getting older and needing more medical care, and estimates stating that there will be 7 million Americans with Alzheimer's disease by 2025, the concern becomes about the costs of care - financial costs, as well as the intangible mental and emotional costs on the caregiver.

Signs of Caregiver Depression

Providing dementia care and Alzheimer's care for a loved one can lead to feelings of stress, guilt, anger, sadness and isolation. Depression can affect caregivers in different ways and at different times, so it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms. It is common for depression to set in immediately after the loved one has been diagnosed with the disease, and also as the disease progresses and you start to see your loved one fade. Signs of depression include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not cease with treatment
  • Thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts

If you are concerned that you might be depressed, see your doctor as soon as possible. If depression is left untreated, not only can it lead to emotional and physical problems, it can also affect the quality of care you're able to provide the person with Alzheimer's or dementia.

What is the solution?

Even though providing Alzheimer's and dementia care can be difficult, caring for loved ones can truly be very rewarding if managed correctly. It is important while providing care that the caregiver takes time to his or herself  to participate in enjoyable activities  and hobbies. Another way to help cope with the added responsibilities and stress is to try keeping a journal to express both positive and negative emotions. It is also important to talk to your friends and family and let them know when you might need some assistance.

There is also major research being conducted that aims to reduce both the tangible and intangible costs of dementia care. The University of California, San Francisco, along with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is beginning a $10 million study funded by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. Researchers plan to develop a dementia "ecosystem," which aims to reduce the cost of caring for the growing number of dementia patients and to ease the strain on caregivers.

A handful of tech start-ups have also been working to create technological solutions to ease the burden on caregivers. In San Francisco, Lively markets a system of networked sensors and a watch that can pick up on activity around the house and let family members or caregivers know if there is a worrisome change.

With increasing technology targeted to help ease the burden of Alzheimer's and dementia care, caregiver responsibilities and worries will be lessened, and depression will likely decrease as a result. However, in the meantime it is important to find outlets for emotions related to providing care, and to seek professional help when necessary. Respite care is an affordable, reliable option that can provide the additional support to keep you from feeling isolated and overwhelmed. American In-Home Care offers respite care along with other live-in elderly care solutions. Contact us today to set up a free consultation and discuss what care options are right for you.

Heart Health Tips: Lower Your Risk For Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of adults in the United States, claiming the lives of over one million men and women every year, according to The Heart Foundation. That means every 60 seconds, someone dies from a heart-disease related event.

This is a scary statistic, but the silver lining for heart disease is that the potential for preventing it is huge. We have probably all heard that eating right, exercising, and controlling risk factors - like smoking and high blood pressure - will help protect our hearts, but how can we truly lower your risk for heart disease?

1. Smokers are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smokers

Smoking is a nuclear time bomb for heart disease. Not only are smokers more likely to suffer from a heart attack, they are more likely to die as a result. And of the 46 million Americans that smoke, women who smoke and take the contraceptive pill are at a particularly high risk for heart attack.

Smoking is such a high risk factor because the nicotine and carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke damages the heart and cardiovascular system. So, quitting smoking is the number one way to prevent heart disease.

2. Walking every day lowers your risk by 10 percent

In a Leicester study conducted in 2014, adults age 50 and over who were at high risk of heart disease and diabetes were studied to determine the effects of increasing exercise. People who walked an additional 2,000 steps a day (about 20 minutes of lively walking) reduced their risk of having a heart attack or stroke by 10 percent over the next six years.

Other than quitting smoking, regular exercise is the next best prevention method.  By doing moderate aerobic exercise five times a week for at least 30 minutes, and/or strength training three times a week for at least 20 minutes, the risk of heart disease lowers significantly.

Try starting out the month by going for 15-minute walks, three times a week. As the month progresses, amp up your walks up to 30 minutes per walk, 4 times a week. Take a friend or a dog with you for extra fun and support!

3. Consuming an extra 7 grams of fiber daily lowers your risk by 9 percent

In a recent study, British researchers found that people who ate seven more grams of dietary fiber daily had a nine percent lower risk of heart disease. Not only is eating more fiber a marker of a healthier diet, it is also good for your blood glucose, cholesterol and the gastrointestinal tract.

Vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts and whole grains are all good sources of fiber. For reference, one apple has about five grams of dietary fiber, and a half a cup of lentils has eight.

4. A daily glass of wine lowers your risk by 25 percent 

Research shows that drinking in moderation is heart healthy. Moderation is considered one daily drink for women, and two for men. Alcohol relaxes the blood vessels and thus reduces the blood's ability to clot, making it a useful preventative method for heart disease.

All alcohol has benefits, but wine has slightly more due to the fact that it contains antioxidants and can help boost good cholesterol while lowering LDL, or bad cholesterol.

5. Getting the flu shot reduces risk of heart attack by 36 percent for people with heart disease

People with heart disease and those who have had a stroke are at high risk for developing serious complications from the flu. For these people, getting the flu can be very serious because it puts a lot of stress on the body, which increases the chance of getting another heart attack by 36 percent.

Vaccination is the most important step in protecting against the flu. Even if you don’t see a regular doctor, you can get a flu vaccine from doctor's offices, clinics and pharmacies. Flu shots are approved for people with heart disease and other health conditions, however, don't get the nasal spray flu vaccine if you have heart disease, because its safety has not been established in people with heart disease and other serious conditions.

6. Following a Mediterranean diet lowers your risk by 30 percent

major Spanish study found that adults age 55 to 80 who ate a Mediterranean diet were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, or die from heart disease over the next five years.

A Mediterranean diet consists of many productive elements, such as healthy fats (olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds), moderate consumption of wine, low consumption of red meats, and lots of high fiber foods such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes and fish. The major benefit of the Mediterranean diet is that it is not just one healthy element, but rather it is a healthy nutritional choice.

Making simple changes in your diet, like reducing the amount of salt and simple carbohydrates you eat, can make a big impact on your heart health. Instead of opting for a side of rice, pasta, or potatoes, go for a salad or a side of steamed veggies instead. Also try replacing the salt in your meal with fresh herbs or spices, and challenge yourself to cook at home at least 3 times a week to explore healthy cooking!

7. Make regular appointments with your doctor

Even if you aren't "sick," making regular check-ups and physicals with your doctor is important. They will be able to track your overall health, as well as your heart health specifically, and they can help you set goals based on this. Be sure to ask them lots of questions, and be up-front and honest with them about things you are experiencing. Trust your doctor's advice, and stick to your health plan that you develop with them as much as possible.

It is also important to  take all your medications as prescribed, especially cholesterol and blood pressure medications. If you notice any side effects, or are having a hard time regularly taking your medications, be sure to talk to your doctor as soon as you can.

Tools to support heart health

It is important to make a pact to yourself to make choices for a healthier lifestyle that will lower your risk for heart disease. However, it isn't always easy to make these choices on your own. Below are a few useful tools for taking control of your heart health:

We always refer credentialed, screened, care providers that specialize in a variety of services, including meal preparation, diet monitoring, or starting/executing an exercise regimen, so that you can find the perfect care provider and care options for you. Contact us today at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free consultation to determine your in-home care needs.


Memory Loss With Age: Helpful Tips For Coping

Forgetfulness and memory lapses are common among older adults, and can be frustrating and embarrassing. As we grow older, we experience changes that can cause glitches in the brain functions that we have always taken for granted. Because it takes longer to learn and recall information as we age, we’re not as quick as we used to be, which can lead to feelings of frustration when we forget everyday things.

Memory loss with age happens because the region of the brain responsible for memories starts to deteriorate, and hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells decline. Older adults are also less efficient at absorbing brain-enhancing nutrients, which makes some memory loss a natural part of aging.

For this reason, most people experience occasional lapses in memory that are a normal part of the aging process and not necessarily a warning sign of serious mental deterioration or the onset of dementia. However, when memory loss with age becomes so severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, then it is time to see a doctor and get evaluated.

When a loved one has been evaluated and is diagnosed with severe memory loss such as Alzheimer's disease, it can be challenging for the person diagnosed as well as their caregivers. Even though there are no medical treatments for curing severe memory impairments, changing the way things are done at home can help.

1. Use Lots of Hints and Reminders

Talk frequently about things that are coming up and important events that need to be remembered. Incorporate these reminders naturally into conversation so that it doesn't make the person feel foolish, or point out the fact that they can't remember on their own. Also use hints like "let's make sandwiches for lunchtime," which can help remind them what time of day it is and what meal is coming next. Words with context such as "lunch," "dinner," or "bath time," can be more useful than using numeric values such as "3 o'clock."

2. Use Calendars and Clocks

Make sure there are clocks placed throughout the house, and keep blinds and curtains open during the day so that it is easier to keep track of the time of day. Before getting in bed,  visibly cross off the day on the calendar so that the new day is apparent in the morning.

3. Keep Old Photographs and Mementos Around

While these will not necessarily jog any present memories, they are important to have around because they can be comforting and provide reminders of family and friends. People with severe memory loss are often better able to recall events in the distant past, so having heirlooms and pictures around the house can help to provide a means to recall these comforting memories.

4. Keep Choices Limited

Remove the need for extra choices to be made which can confuse and upset the individual. For example, only leave a few shirts and two pairs of shoes in the closet, keeping the other items in a separate, locked closet. And when asking for the individual's preference, limit choices and distractions by asking "do you want" questions, such as "do you want to wear the black shoes?"

5. Use Night Lights Around the House

People with severe memory loss can easily become disoriented at night, so keeping night lights around helps them know where they are if they wake up in the middle of the night and need to use the bathroom. Also, keeping the house illuminated helps prevent injury due to falls or bumping in to objects.

6. Provide for Other Sensory Changes

Changes in other sensory organs comes along with severe memory loss, meaning taste, hearing and sight might also be compromised which can be confusing and even lead to depression. Be aware of this as a caregiver and be sure the individual gets the proper glasses or hearing aids if necessary, and try cooking with more spicy or flavorful foods to compensate for deteriorating taste buds.

7. Show Not Tell

Because of the way the brain works, someone with a progressive memory disorder such as Alzheimer's would have a poor declarative memory (related to recalling facts), but still have a strong, healthy procedural memory (related to recalling how to do things). Thus, someone with Alzheimer's may be able to learn new skills or remember how to do tasks by practicing in small steps how something is done. It may take several weeks of patient practicing, but the sense of accomplishment and independence after learning the task is worth the effort.

8. Keep a Set Routine

People with severe memory loss do not function as well when there are changes and surprises in their day, so activities should be done at the same time and in the same way every day as much as possible. For example dressing before breakfast, watering the plants before lunch, and eating meals and exercising at the same time every day. If there needs to be a change, such as a vacation or a visit to the doctor, tell the person all the information beforehand in a positive, friendly way.

If you are worried that you or your loved one's memory loss might be getting serious, you can start by taking a quiz to test the severity of memory loss, but you should always see a doctor to confirm the results and start seeking treatment. People who are diagnosed with severe memory loss such as Alzheimer's or dementia often require constant and daily care to help provide for their needs, so do not feel overwhelmed or guilty if you cannot handle the care on your own - professional in-home care services can help your loved one remain safe, happy and under control in the comfort of their own home.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer compassionate, qualified, care providers that specialize in a variety of services, including Alzheimer's and Dementia Care. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.

Preventing Diabetes: Tips For Fighting The Statistics

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. Of this overall percent, seniors age 65 and older that are diagnosed with diabetes is alarmingly high at 25.9 percent.

Even more alarming is the fact that half of all seniors age 65 and older suffer from prediabetes, which means that blood-glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with prediabetes are at an increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes and for heart disease and stroke.

Diabetes and prediabetes are very serious conditions that require attention to ensure early diagnosis and treatment methods. If left untreated, diabetics can suffer from kidney damage, blindness, hearing impairment, amputation, stroke, heart disease and eventually death.

However, there is a silver lining. Because so many Americans suffer from diabetes, or are at risk for it, research and government programs such as the CDC are working and conducting research to find cures, prevention methods, solutions and support.

In the 1990's, the National Institute of Health (NIH) conducted a large national clinical trial among 1,000 overweight adults at risk for Type 2 diabetes. After three years of the program, which was aimed at changing lifestyle habits and promoting weight loss, participants lowered their risk of diabetes by 58 percent. Even more significant, those aged 60 and older had a 71 percent reduced risk.

These results are particularly heartening because they show that taking a proactive approach with diet, exercise, and weight loss can significantly lower if not eliminate the risk for diabetes. This knowledge, coupled with early detection practices is a huge step towards preventing diabetes and lowering the statistics for diagnosed cases and deaths.

Warning Signs of Diabetes

It is fairly common for people to not display any symptoms of diabetes, especially in the early phases of the disease. However, diabetes symptoms generally include one or more of the following, and people should be aware if they start to develop these symptoms, especially if they know they are at an increased risk.

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry - even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss - even though you are eating more (Type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (Type 2)

It is important to recognize these symptoms as early as possible because early detection and treatment of diabetes can reduce the risk of developing complications associated with the disease. There are several tests that doctors can perform to diagnose diabetes, and you can even take risk tests to find out if you are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Change your Diet

Because the leading risk factor for diabetes is obesity, the best thing you can do to prevent diabetes is to lose weight. Taking steps to lose weight can include eating smaller meal portions and choosing healthier foods, including fruits and vegetables, while at the same time consuming fewer high-fat foods. The National Education Diabetes Program recommends eating whole grain foods, avoiding consumption of fried foods, and eating lean meats without the skins.

Another important step for losing weight is portion control. Try reducing portion sizes by only filling half of your plate or only eating until you are 80 percent full. Also always plan to take home half of your meal when you eat out, as restaurants are notorious for dishing out huge portions. Scaling back on dessert is also a factor to consider. Eating dessert is alright, but consume it less frequently and in smaller amounts. Yogurt is also a great substitute for dessert, as it is shown that regularly consuming dairy reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Get More Exercise

Activity can reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes because it helps make your cells more receptive. The National Education Diabetes Program recommends adding more activity each day until you reach at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Brisk walking, swimming and tennis or golf are great physical activities to get started, and you should also incorporate gentle strength and aerobic training into your physical activity regimen.

Stress and poor sleep also contribute to obesity and thus to diabetes. Exercising regularly can help reduce stress and get your body on a schedule, which helps regulate sleep habits. Other activities that can help with these include meditation, listening to soothing music, or sitting outside and enjoying relaxing activities such as reading or knitting.

Overall, being aware of your own personal risk for diabetes and keeping an eye on any developing symptoms is very important. But being proactive with your health and weight is something that every person can do, regardless if they already have diabetes or not, and these steps are enough to help lower your risk as well as reduce complications that might arise if/when the disease develops. With these subtle but dramatically important lifestyle changes, you can help beat the statistics of diabetes.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer qualified, screened, care providers that can assist with a variety of needs including meal preparation, diet monitoring, and exercise. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.


Caregiver Burnout: How to Avoid It As The Sole Caregiver

When an aging parent starts to show signs of needing permanent care and assistance, many families are unsure of what to do, so often a family member single-handedly takes on the role of caregiver. However, being the sole caregiver for an aging parent can be a big task, especially when an already busy family member takes on the role. This can easily lead to the caregiver beginning to neglect his or her own needs, and if ignored, caregiver burnout is inevitable.

While providing care for a parent can bring satisfaction, trying to keep up with the growing emotional and physical needs of the parent can easily overwhelm the family member who takes on such a large, personal task. When the safety of the parent starts to come in to question, the caregiver can start to feel guilt for not providing enough care, which leads to added stress and caregiver burnout.

How to Recognize Caregiver Burnout

  • Feeling down, depressed and unhappy
  • Not wanting to or not having enough energy to participate in hobbies and activities
  • Developing abnormal eating patterns, and losing or gaining a lot of weight
  • Turning to alcohol or abusing drugs to cope
  • Developing unhealthy sleeping habits such as insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Withdrawing from friends and family, or becoming impatient or irritable with people around you
  • Getting sick more often or not being able to get rid of an illness
  • Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself or a loved one

Preventing Caregiver Burnout

  • Keep a daily routine for both yourself and your parent, and stick to it
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and be sure to drink lots of fluids and take supplements if necessary
  • Get sufficient rest. When your parent(s) is resting, you can rest too
  • Take a little time for yourself each day. Even 15 minutes of “me” time is important
  • Know your limits and do not try to do more than you are capable of handling
  • Don’t be afraid to ask family members or friends for help. They can give you days off or just help with certain tasks
  • Find a friend, support group or doctor that you can confide in and ask for advice and support when needed
  • Enjoy moments of happiness and laughter and try to focus on the satisfaction that you get from providing for your loved one

Caregivers are taking on a large, personal responsibility and so it is important to be able to recognize signs of burnout, and to be equipped to combat it. However, if you do find yourself suffering from burnout, reach out for help. Contact your doctor immediately if you become ill or start having suicidal thoughts, and join a support group who can provide support and ideas for making the experience easier.

Also consider in-home care services or Respite Care, as they can provide your parent with all of the expert, personal care and attention that he or she needs while allowing you to focus on your own health and well-being again. Remember it is important to take care of yourself first so that you can continue to be able to care for the ones you love for many years to come.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer qualified, screened, care providers that can assist you with your Respite Care needs. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.

Private Duty Nursing

Elderly Prescription Drug Use: How to Keep Pain and Pills in Check

Elderly Prescription Drug Use Picture your medicine cabinet, stacked top to bottom with different pill bottles, each one targeting a different ailment, each one taken in a different dosage at a different time of day.

On their own, these medications can be extremely beneficial, perhaps even life saving; each one is necessary for maintaining quality of life. However, taking many prescription medications coupled with all of the supplements and over-the-counter drugs is a condition known as polypharmacy, and can increase the risk of dangerous drug interactions. In fact, the American Geriatrics Society finds that every year, one in three people aged 65 and over has one or more harmful reactions to a medication.

One of the reasons for this high statistic is that the aging process causes changes to the body which can affect the way medication absorbs and reacts. Decreased kidney and liver function are a product of aging, and could affect how fast medications are processed in the body, and a slower GI tract can affect how much of the medication actually enters the bloodstream.

Another reason is the sheer difficultly of keeping track of medications and taking them directly as prescribed. With 44% of men and 57% of women older than age 65 taking five or more medications per week, it is no wonder that mistakes with medications occur frequently. Elderly prescription drug use also becomes problematic when patients are prescribed too many medications by multiple healthcare providers working independently, and no one doctor knows the patient's full history.

So what can you do to lower the risk of potential problems related to multiple drug use? There are several strategies to help get a handle on your medication habits to make sure that you are getting the proper amount that was intended for you.

1. Always ask the doctor questions

When you are diagnosed with an illness and have to be put on to a new medication, be sure to ask the doctor everything that is relevant to you so that you are prepared and know exactly how and when you should be taking the medication. Also be sure he or she knows what other medications you are taking so they could notice any possible interactions.

2. Educate yourself

While doctors and pharmacists will be able to advise you about prescription interactions and dosing, they will likely not be aware of all of the over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements and vitamins that you take also. And just because these medications are not prescription strength does not mean that they do not have the potential to interact with other medications. In fact it is quite the opposite - OTC products, such as vitamins, minerals, antacids, sleep aids and laxatives can all interfere with the effectiveness of other medications, so be sure to read up on possible interactions and let your doctor or pharmacist know if you have any questions.

Also, be sure that you are aware of the side effects of prescription medications so that you know what to expect and don't get caught in a dangerous situation. Many medications have side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness which can interfere with driving and increase the chances of accidents or falling if the warnings are not heeded.

3. Listen to your Doctor

Medications are meant to be taken exactly as prescribed, so do everything you can to take the medication as you had discussed with your doctor. This means taking it at the proper time of day, with or without food and taking the correct dosages. If any unexpected side effects occur, immediately call your doctor to discuss the best course of action, but never suddenly quit taking a medication without first discussing it with your healthcare provider.

4. Keep a Comprehensive List of Medications

You should create a comprehensive list that serves as the reference any time you go to the doctor or pharmacy. Be sure to add any over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements as well as prescriptions. The list should include the prescribed dose, how many times a day you take the medication, who prescribed it and what it was prescribed for. Keeping a list is a good way to make sure you never forget any medications when you meet with new doctors or go back for new appointments. Be sure to keep the list updated and on you at all times because being able to determine your medications could save your life in an emergency situation.

5. Get Help to Remember

With all the different medications, times and doses, it is hard to remember and easy to make mistakes. The best way to avoid this is to get help in some way. Try syncing your pill schedule with meals so you remember, or get a pill box and/or pill calendar to help keep track. There are even high tech options now with programmable prescription caps that sound an alarm, and a device called the CompuMed Dispenser that dispenses the proper amount of medication at the right time and gives you the instructions as you take it.

But if it gets to the point where this is not enough, care providers can be wonderful helpers when it comes to medication, because they can help administer the exact right medication and dosages throughout the day, and are there if there is ever any problem with negative drug interactions or reactions.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer qualified, screened, care providers that can assist you with your in-home care needs, including medication management and reminders. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.

Elderly Prescription Drug Use

Senior Driver Safety: Talking To Your Loved One

There are more than 30 million people over the age of 65 who are licensed to drive in the United States. Those 30 million senior drivers made up 14 percent of the total number of all car related fatalities in 2006. 14 percent. That is an alarming number, and it makes the need to address senior drivers even more urgent.

Talking to a loved one about senior driver safety can be a very difficult topic to broach, and so it often gets put off, procrastinated. But think how would you feel if the delay led to a serious car accident.

Realizing the possible consequences should help overcome some hesitation, but it still doesn't mean it will be an easy conversation; telling someone that they can't perform a basic task that they have done all their life, that they will be losing some of their independence, is never easy.

But it is a difficult conversation that must be had once there is concern about the safety of an older driver, especially because you don't want to wait until it is too late. Armed with the understanding that there is a tough process ahead, there are a few steps you can take to make it go as smoothly as possible.

1. Plan Ahead

This is the most important step you can take to ensure that the conversation doesn't spin off in to a heated debate, or end with feelings hurt. Know the points you want to make and be empathetic - try to imagine how it must feel to be in their shoes.

Set realistic expectations for how the conversation will go, and realize that you might have to revisit the subject later on. It might also be helpful to give up your own car for a few days or weeks to show that you are committed to helping and understanding what they are going through.

2. Bringing it up Initially

Once you have planned out what you want to say, it is best to broach the subject gently. Even though you might feel like it is an obvious decision and therefore want to be blunt about it, you must remember that the driver is likely going through some emotional internal struggles, and it is best to take a sensitive approach.

If their driving has become erratic or scary enough for you to take notice, they likely notice themselves and will be willing to listen. Try prefacing the conversation with a question about how they are feeling about driving or if they are finding it hard to manage. However, if they become angry and defensive, it is best to drop the conversation for now and try bringing it up again later rather than battling and likely not making any progress.

3. Practice Reflective Listening

You must be ready for some inevitable objections. It is natural to wonder how you will go about your daily life without a means of transportation - How will I get to my appointments? How will I get to the store for groceries?  However, instead of answering questions like this with a quick dismissal that they will all work out just fine, or jumping to a conclusion that a friend will be glad to help, try reflective listening instead.

Reflective listening is a technique to turn the question back on itself, which results in an engaged conversation and promotes discussion and reflection, an important step to working through major transitions.

4. Don't Rush the Conversation

This conversation is likely to bring up many emotions and could easily turn in to a trip down memory lane. But this is perfectly fine and you actually encourage it, as reminiscing could help come to terms with life transitions. However, some point in the conversation you should pose the question about what he or she thinks is best to do about driving. This should help them reflect on possible consequences and consider the best option for themselves.

Don't be afraid to suggest a break. Once you have had an initial discussion and gotten your points out there, give some time to let them marinate and suggest you all get back together in a few days.

5. Address any Issues that could be Affecting the Driver

If the person you are talking to admits that they are having trouble driving, it is worth checking to see if an underlying medical issue could be the cause. Make appointments with their physicians, and eye and ear specialists. Be sure to ask about medications they are taking and potential side effects, as it is possible that lowering a dose or changing a medication could fix the problem.

Once you speak to the doctors, you will have a better idea about when and if it is safe for them to be driving. If they get the clear from their doctors, it is a good idea to brush up on traffic laws and safe driving tips with them, possibly even take them on a few practice drives to make sure they feel comfortable. If it really is time to give up driving all together, help them find other reliable transportation options, and even ride the bus or train with them to make sure they are comfortable.

6. Be Proactive

Once you have had the discussion and you all have come to an agreement that it is time to hang up the keys, there are ways that you can be proactive to help ease the transition.

Make sure that you keep them connected. Start making it a habit to drop by their house and check in, even if it is just for a quick chat to keep them in the loop. Be sure to include them in family activities and outings. Also be sure that you offer to drive them to activities they enjoy, and urge them to connect with any friends who can drive. Suggest that they reciprocate in some way by cooking these friends dinner or inviting them over for tea.

You can also suggest other means of getting around. Ride public transportation with them and print out a schedule and map to make it accessible. Also try introducing them to new hobbies and activities that don't require them to leave the house, such as gardening, bird watching or walking the neighborhood.

Ultimately remember that you are a very important part of their lives, and your opinion and support matters. So keep trying if you don't succeed at first, and once they finally hang up the keys remember to be supportive and caring. Your presence and dedication can ease the transition and help ensure that your loved ones do not become just another statistic for car related fatalities.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer qualified, screened, care providers that can assist you with your in-home care needs, including transfers into and out of vehicles, and transportation. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.


Senior Driver Safety, 24 Hour In Home Care