Category Archives: Homewatch Caregivers

Vision Loss and Eye Care

eye chart

A diagnosis of vision loss causes shock, grief, anger and depression.  These feelings may be temporary or last for years.  Loss of vision means losing the ability to drive, which is the loss independence.

Over time, most people with vision loss become more confident about living with reduced sight.  This confidence will increase if they participate in rehabilitation training.  They will begin to trust their new skills and feel better about the future.

Causes of Vision Loss

Some decline in vision is common in most people as they age.  The first signs are typically that it becomes more difficult to read small print or to get around in dim lighting.  Some people find they can’t tell the difference between dark blue and black.  These changes are a normal part of aging.  However, other vision changes can be much more serious.

A stroke, traumatic brain injury or a brain tumor may cause vision loss or impairment at any age.  his type of loss may be temporary or permanent.

Common Eye Conditions in People Over 50

Macular Degeneration–The most common cause of vision loss, this disease is characterized by vision loss in the center of the eye; blurred vision; straight lines looking wavy; needing more light to see.  It can affect either one or both eyes.

Glaucoma–It is characterized by gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision; difficulty driving at night; loss of contrast.  It is important to get treatment for early symptoms to prevent total blindness.

Cataracts–Causes clouding of the normally clears lens of the eye.  Its symptoms are hazy vision difficulty driving at night; double vision; trouble distinguishing colors; sensitivity to glare.  It typically develops gradually.  Through surgery, cataracts can be removed and the lens of the eye replaced by a plastic lens.

Diabetic Retinopathy–Typically occurs in people with advanced diabetes and high blood sugar levels.  It is caused by leaking blood vessels.  Its symptoms are blurred or changing vision; difficulty reading; floaters that affect either central or peripheral vision.  Estimates are that 25% of people with diabetes have some diabetic retinopathy, but few people develop severe vision problems.  There are often no symptoms in the early stages, so people with advanced diabetes should have regular vision exams.  The best prevention is maintaining stable blood sugar levels.  A doctor should be seen immediately if a person has any acute or prolonged episodes like blurred vision, flashes of light, blind spots or any other symptom that affects vision.

For Eye Health-Check-Ups

The Academy now recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40–the time when early signs of disease and changes in the vision may start to occur.  Based on the results of the initial screening, an ophthalmologist (specialist in eye diseases) will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams.

For individuals at any age with symptoms or risk of eye disease, such as those with a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, the Academy recommends that individuals see their ophthalmologist to determine how frequently their eyes should be examined.

Source:  The Foundation of The American Academy of Ophthalmology

 

Compliments of Homewatch Caregivers

(609) 971-9945

www.homewatchcaregivers.com

Nutrition Basics

There are many delicious choices for preparing food when maintaining a healthy diet.

What to Eat:

* Vegetables

* Fresh fruits between meals & low glycemic

* Balanced nutrients at each meal

* Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats

* Healthy fats (e.g. Olive Oil)

* Organic whenever possible

* Gluten-free food

* Dairy – per client’s preference

Role of Carbohydrates

* Fuel for the brain

* Quick source of energy for muscles

* Helps regulate protein & fat breakdown

* Source of fiber, supporting regular bowel movements

* In combination with proteins & fats:

-Help fight infections, promotes growth of body tissues (e.g. bones, skin), and loosen joints.

Role of Proteins

Proteins are the body’s building blocks, promotes natural processes, fight infections, fight infections, carry oxygen and regulate other body functions.

Role of Fats

* Source of energy

* Necessary for healthy liver

*Required for absorption of certain vitamins

* Protective lining of organs

* Important for managing inflammatory process

*Food tastes good ☺

Compliments of Homewatch Caregivers

(609) 971-9945

www.homewatchcaregivers.com

 

Vitamins and Supplements for the Elderly

Last week chocolate was good for you and red wine was not so good.  This week red wine is good for you and chocolate is only good in moderation.  There is a lot of conflicting information out there about what foods, vitamins, and dietary supplements are good for us.

More and more, it is up to consumers of every age to self-educate on these matters, which is no easy task.

“It’s best to get nutrients from diet first before determining if you need dietary supplements,” said Carol Haggans, Scientific and Health Communications Consultant in the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health (www.nih.gov).

That said, Ms. Haggans cautions that there are a few nutrients that our bodies need but that don’t get absorbed–especially as we age–and therefore we may need to take supplements:  vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D and calcium.

The Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health provides an online alphabetical list of dietary supplements fact sheet at http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/.

Duff MacKay, N.D., Vice President of Scientific & Regulatory Affairs at The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association for dietary supplements (www.crnusa.org), recommends that elderly people concerned about taking vitamins and dietary supplements consult their doctors as well as primary caregivers.  “The elderly tend to be on more medications and have more potential for interactions,” he said.  “It’s important they talk and are open with their clinician and pharmacist about what they are taking.”

There are a lot of dietary supplements marketed to senior citizens, Ms. Haggens conceded, and it is up to them to be wary and make informed decisions about what they should take.

“There are a lot of products marketed to elderly people that falsely claim to reduce disease risk, like cancer, heart disease,” she said.  “These are red flags because dietary supplements are not cures or treatments.  Seniors sometimes fall prey to that more so than others when they have concern over chronic disease.”

In short, she said, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

The bottom line is that vitamins and dietary supplements are not meant to be substitutes for medications.  “With a doctor’s advice, people should take supplements to fill a nutrient gap,” said Ms. Haggans.

 

Compliments of Homewatch Caregivers

(609) 971-9945

www.homewatchcaregivers.com

National Organ Donor Day

Every 10 minutes someone in the United States is added to the waiting list for an organ transplant.  The fact is, organ donations save lives every day thanks often to the kindness of strangers who have signed up to be organ donors or family members of loved ones who make that choice.

Yet there is still a significant need for organ donors and National Organ Donor Day on February 14 is a reminder to people to consider making this lifesaving choice.

“You don’t have to die to save somebody’s life,” said Anastasia Darwish, Executive Director of the American Transplant Foundation, the only non-profit in the United States that provides financial assistance to some transplant patients and living donors.  “I think for years the conversation when we talked about organ donation was always around registration.  People checked that box and said, ‘My job is done, what more can I do?’  Out of millions of deaths, only about ten to twelve thousand organs are good enough to be transplanted.  Now kidney transplantation (from a living donor) is a safe procedure.”

The Gift of Life

For those who make the choice to be living donors, there are many plans to make in advance–including a need for in home care after surgery.  Robyn Leone donated a kidney to her husband in 2013 and was both glad she had asked in advance from her family and still found herself in need of help from neighbors.

Ms. Leone works from home and her husband took a leave of absence from his job so they could recover.  “One of the most important things is having a really good expectation what you can and can’t do from a work perspective,” she said of the recovery after donating or receiving a kidney.  “I had a face to face meeting with my company and they were enamored that I was doing this.”

 

Compliments of Homewatch Caregivers

(609) 971-9945

www.homewatchcaregivers.com

 

Is Your Loved-One Safe At Home?

 

Every year home related injuries result in nearly 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits.  Businesses bear a significant burden for these injuries as they can cost employers $38 billion in a single year.  Very young children and people over the age of 65 are at an increased risk for injuries in and around the home.  Awareness and knowledge of safety techniques prevent injuries resulting from accidents.

The five leading causes of home injury are:

  • Falls
  • Poisons
  • Fires and burns
  • Choking/suffocation
  • Drowning

This year the Home Safety Council is focused on ways to make your own home safer.  Homewatch CareGivers offers this brief overview of the Home Safety Council’s recommendations on ways to prevent the most common home injuries.

Fall Prevention

Remove clutter. Throw things away if necessary, but make sure you discuss the changes with those in the home.  There should be room to turn around, bend over, and walk through a door way.  Loose throw rugs, cords, and low-lying decorations could be a tripping threat and should be removed.

Poison Control

Many household cleaners have the potential to permanently injure or kill people and pets.  Make sure those people using them know how and are able to use them properly.  Keep all potentially hazardous materials locked with limited access.  If possible, switch from chemical-based products to all-natural, which usually have water or vinegar as the main ingredient.

Fire and Burn Prevention

There are several different sources for injuries from fire.  For fires caused by cooking and heaters, it is recommended to keep all flammables at least 10 feet away from the flame, heater, or stove.  Do not leave any fire or cooking area unattended.  Of course, keep all matches and lighters above floor-level, in a locked area, and have an updated escape plan for emergency.

Choking and Suffocation Prevention

The Home Safety Council research shows that suffocation/inhalation is the second leading cause of accidental home related deaths for children under the age of 14.  The elderly can also have air passage obstruction when eating or if on oxygen.  It is best not to leave either age group alone while eating and make sure that all food is in bite-sized pieces if they have trouble chewing.  It is recommended to do a complete home safety check to remove all small items that could be a choking hazard.  You can also use a “small parts” tester, which will help determine what, could be seen as a choking hazard for children.  A good tester is if it can fit in a toilet paper roll the item is too small.

Drowning Prevention

Always maintain supervision when children or those cannot swim are in or around water.  If you have a pool in your backyard, install four-sided fencing that blocks direct access to the pool.  Four-sided pool fencing with self-latching gates are proven to be effective drowning prevention interventions.

Homewatch CareGivers is dedicated to the health and safety of our clients and caregivers.  Our services include:

*Free in-home safety assessment with each initial evaluation and with each quality assurance visit.

*Fall Risk assessment with initial client evaluation and undated regularly during quality assurance visits.

*Mandatory on-going safety training.

*Emergency and disaster preparedness programs.

Homewatch CareGivers

206A North Main Street, Forked River, NJ 08731

(609) 971-9945

www.homewatchcaregivers.com

 

Dementia Tip: Warning Signs of Stress

Caregivers are extremely susceptible to stress as they spend the bulk of their time and energy on their loved ones. People who care for others with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are at significant risk for stress as they try to handle the changing needs abilities of the person with dementia.

Stress alone can lead to a compromised immune system and lead to serious health problems if it is not addressed. As the stress increases, the body will send out warning signs that it can no longer handle it and the caregiver can become burned out and unable to assist their loved one. Warning signs might be expressed physically (sleep problems, tension headaches, weight gain or loss), emotionally (anger, mood swings), and behaviorally (using alcohol or drugs, withdrawing from relationships).

The Alzheimer’s Association offers and online stress checklist (www.alz.org/stresscheck), which when completed takes you to a list of resources. The questions on the test are:

  1. Feel like you have to do it all yourself, and that you should be doing more.
  2. Withdraw from family, friends and activities that you used to enjoy.
  3. Worry that the person you care for is safe.
  4. Feel anxious about money and healthcare decisions.
  5. Deny the impact of the disease and its effects on your family.
  6. Feel grief or sadness that your relationship with the person isn’t what it used to be.
  7. Get frustrated and angry when the person with dementia continually repeats things and doesn’t seem to listen.
  8. Have health problems that are taking a toll on you mentally and physically.

The AARP (www.aarp.org) has a list of 10 ways to deal with caregiver stress. These tips are not complicated and are as easy as asking for help, eating better and getting exercise.

Homewatch CareGivers

206A North Main Street

Forked River, NJ08731

(609) 971-9945

www.homewatchcaregivers.com

Alzheimer’s and Wandering When Just Taking a Walk Is a Risk

One of the most troubling aspects of Alzheimer’s is the person’s tendency to wander away for home.  There is no way to predict who will wander or when it might happen.  However, some of the reasons can be pain or restlessness, side effects of medication, a noisy or stressful environment, an attempt to meet basic needs (find a toilet) or trying to meet former obligations to job or family.

 

Wandering may also be a natural release for boredom or agitation.  If this is the reason, wandering within a safe confined space may be encouraged.  When faced with episodes of wandering, try to find their cause.

 

How to Reduce the Chance of Wandering

You cannot always prevent wandering, but you can do many things to reduce the chances it will happen.

  • Provide opportunities for exercise.  Exercise might include singing, rhythmic movements, walking at an indoor mall, or dancing.  Develop areas indoors and outdoors where the person can explore and wander independently.
  • Reduce noise and confusion, particularly at mealtimes.
  • Clearly label bathrooms, living rooms, and bedrooms with large letters or pictures.  Try attaching a yellow strip of plastic, symbolizing caution, across doors to prevent wanderers from entering or leaving the room.  Place a large NO on doors.
  • Camouflage doors by painting exit doors the same color as the walls or cover doors and curtains.  Place a full-length mirror on doors to the outside.  Some people will turn around when they see the image, not recognizing themselves.
  • Install electronic alarms or chimes on windows and doors.
  • Monitor medication for changes, especially anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs.
  • Determine whether wandering is related to previous lifestyles. Find out how the person coped with change and stress and learn about patterns of physical exercise and lifetime habits, both at home and at work.  (Did the person always react to an argument by going out and walking for an hour?  Did he always jog in the afternoon?)

Have a plan of action if wandering occurs.

Safe Return Program

If you are the authorized caregiver or a family member, you can register the person in your care with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.  Call 888-572-8566 or visit www.alz.org/safereturn for registration form.  Complete the form a return it with amount of fee to cover the cost of the ID products.  Call the Return

Hotline at 800-572-1122 as soon as possible when the registrant moves or goes on vacation so Safe Return always has up-to-date information.

Homewatch CareGivers

206A North Main Street

Forked River, NJ08731

(609) 971-9945

www.homewatchcaregivers.com

10 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Home Care Provider

When selecting a home care agency, it is important to know what questions to ask.  Here are some examples of important questions that consumers should ask of a prospective service provider.

  1. How long has the agency been providing private duty home care?
  2. Is a written, customized care plan developed in consultation with the client and family members, and is the plan updated as changes occur?
  3. How are emergencies handled after normal business hours?
  4. Do they closely supervise the quality of care, including maintenance of daily journal in the client’s home and non-scheduled supervisory visits?
  5. Does the agency employ a nurse, social worker, or other qualified professional to make regular visits to the client’s home?
  6. Do they provide a written document that states the rights and responsibilities of the client, and explains the company’s privacy policy and code of ethics?
  7. Do they Triple-screen their caregiver employees carefully, including use of reference checks, driving records and criminal background investigations?
  8. Does the Agency mandate ongoing training of its employees to continually update their skills?
  9. Does the agency manage all payroll and employee-related matters and adhere to state and federal guidelines in its employment practices, such as withholding appropriate taxes and providing Workers’ Compensation and other benefits?
  10. Do they also use independent contractors?  If so, who employs the person and pays the mandated taxes and withholdings in this case?

For more information regarding quality home care contact:

Homewatch CareGivers

206A North Main Street

Forked River, NJ08731

(609) 971-9945

www.homewatchcaregivers.com

Dementia Tip: Warning Signs of Stress

Caregivers are extremely susceptible to stress as they spend the bulk of their time and energy on their loved ones. People who care for others with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are at significant risk for stress as they try to handle the changing needs abilities of the person with dementia.

Stress alone can lead to a compromised immune system and lead to serious health problems if it is not addressed. As the stress increases, the body will send out warning signs that it can no longer handle it and the caregiver can become burned out and unable to assist their loved one. Warning signs might be expressed physically (sleep problems, tension headaches, weight gain or loss), emotionally (anger, mood swings), and behaviorally (using alcohol or drugs, withdrawing from relationships).

The Alzheimer’s Association offers and online stress checklist (www.alz.org/stresscheck), which when completed takes you to a list of resources. The questions on the test are:

  1. Feel like you have to do it all yourself, and that you should be doing more.
  2. Withdraw from family, friends and activities that you used to enjoy.
  3. Worry that the person you care for is safe.
  4. Feel anxious about money and healthcare decisions.
  5. Deny the impact of the disease and its effects on your family.
  6. Feel grief or sadness that your relationship with the person isn’t what it used to be.
  7. Get frustrated and angry when the person with dementia continually repeats things and doesn’t seem to listen.
  8. Have health problems that are taking a toll on you mentally and physically.

The AARP (www.aarp.org) has a list of 10 ways to deal with caregiver stress. These tips are not complicated and are as easy as asking for help, eating better and getting exercise.

Compliments of Homewatch CareGivers

(609) 971-9945

www.homewatchcaregivers.com

Safety At Home: Preventing Falls

Why Do People Fall?

Some of the reasons people fall are:

♦ Tripping or slipping due to loss of footing or traction

♦ Slow reflexes, which make it hard to balance or move out of the way of a hazard

♦ Balance problems

♦ Reduced muscle strength

♦ Poor vision

♦ Illness

The more medications a person is taking, the higher the chances of falling.  Certain medicines increase the risk:

  • Blood pressure pills
  • Heart medicines
  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Sleeping pills

Drinking alcohol also increases risk because it can:

  • Slow reflexes
  • Cause dizziness or sleepiness
  • Alter balance
  • Cause a person to take risks that can lead to falls

Preventing Falls

Here are some ideas for reducing the risk of falls:

Outdoors:

♦ Use a cane or walker

♦ Wear rubber-soled shoes that don’t slip

♦ Walk on grass when sidewalks are slick

♦ Put salt or kitty litter on icy sidewalks

Indoors:

♦ Keep rooms free of clutter, especially on floors and in hallways

♦ Use plastic or carpet runners

♦ Wear low-healed shoes

♦ Do not walk in socks, stockings, or slippers

♦ Be sure stairs are well lit and have rails on both sides

♦ Put grab bars on bathroom walls near tub, shower, and toilet

♦ Use a nonskid bath mat in the shower or tub

♦ Keep a flashlight next to the bed

♦ Add more lights in rooms

♦ Buy a cordless phone so that no has to rush to answer the phone and so they can call for help if they fall

Compliments of

Homewatch CareGivers

(609) 971-9945