encompass omahaThe team at Physicians Choice Private Duty hosts our second Twitter chat today at 3 p.m. EST. We’ve named it Senior Care Chat using the hashtag #srcarechat. Whether you’re a caregiving family member or professional, we invite you to join in on todays conversation, which will focus on the 2012-2013 flu season that is starting to peak and is currently a hot topic for various media channels.

We’ve found that Twitter chats are a great place for caregivers and healthcare professionals from across the world to gather and discuss the issues currently facing the world of elderly care. With so many people sharing their insights and personal experiences, Twitter chats can be a great resource to draw from, helping us all to make the services we provide better and better. We hope you can join us!

Here are todays questions:

1. Why is it important to get vaccinated every year?

2. Besides a vaccination, what else can you to do prevent contracting the flu?

3. As a caregiver, what are the best ways to prevent getting the flu?

4. When should someone go to the hospital if they’re suffering from the flu?

5. Should you get vaccinated even if you’ve already gotten sick?

6. Is it possible to get the flu even if you get vaccinated?

7. Why is it especially important for elderly people to get vaccinated every year?

8. What questions about the flu should you ask if your loved one is in a health care facility?

Feedback is always welcome, please let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter.

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

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

family caregiver

We’ve already touched on the importance of getting vaccinated for the 2012-2013 flu season, which is already widespread in 47 states. Still, family caregivers especially need to take extra precautions to avoid coming down with the flu, as those receiving the care — likely persons 65 and over and/or with weakened immune systems — are the most at risk to be hospitalized or even die from influenza.

The AARP and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shared the following seven tips for fighting the flu:

1. Of course, both caregiver and their loved one should get a flu shot. Beyond that, use soap or hand sanitizer to wash your hands and your care recipient’s hands often, especially after sneezing, handling a tissue, etc.

2. Remember, flu shots don’t guarantee you won’t get sick. This year’s vaccine is about 60 percent effective — which is a good first line of defense.

3. If you or your loved one are a cougher or sneezer, use a tissue and toss it into the trash immediately.

4. Until the flu season is over (typically at the end of winter) avoid shaking hands and sharing food and drinks. The AARP notes that the flu outbreak is “so worrisome that the Catholic Archdiocese has asked priests not to share communion wine or touch congregants hands or tongues and for worshippers not to shake hands.”

5. While not very glamorous, if you’ve come down with the flu or a bad cold it’s suggested you wear a drug store doctor’s mask in addition to staying at home for at least 24 hours after your fever has gone. Same thing goes if you’re caring for someone who is sick.

6. Hand wipes can be your best friend. Use them on door handles, banisters, kitchen counters, etc. — anywhere germs tend to congregate.

7. If your loved one is staying in a health care facility, ask the staff what they’re doing to contain the virus and take any necessary precautions.

Are there any other tips you take to avoid the flu? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

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

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

senior care omahaAs a person ages, their immune system weakens, in turn making them more susceptible to illnesses like pneumonia and the flu, according to Flu.gov. With 47 states currently reporting widespread flu, the 2012-2013 flu season is likely nearing its peak. And seniors are at the greatest risk: 90 percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-realted hospitalizations occur in people 65 and older.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends gettings a flu shot every year and offers the following information on the 2012-2013 flu season.

Get vaccinated

According to the government, this season’s vaccine is a good match for the circulating strains of the flu, being 62 percent effective. The CDC notes that getting a vaccine every year is the first and most important step in protecting against influenza. For the current season, more than 128 million doses of vaccine have been produced as of January 4, 2013. So it’s safe to say local pharmacies and health clinics won’t be running out any time soon.

Defense

Besides getting a flu shot, the CDC recommends regularly washing hands with soap and to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Also, practice proper cough etiquette and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Treatment

Most people who come down with the flu experience mild symptoms that require them to stay home for a day or two and rest. Those with severe symptoms, common with the elderly, should see a doctor to receive antiviral drugs, medications or other treatments to relieve symptoms.

Other notes from the latest CDC report

    • The CDC recommends people get vaccinated even if they’ve already gotten sick with the flu. The main reason for this is that many people who get sick think they have the flu but do not — there are other flu-like illnesses going around this season as well, mainly respiratory viruses. Also, the seasonal flu vaccine generally protects against three types of flu viruses that research suggests will be most common, meaning it will protect you from other strains you haven’t been exposed to yet.

 

    • It’s possible to still get the flu even though you’ve gotten vaccinated.

 

    • Suffering from the flu can lead to other complications, such as pneumonia. That’s why it’s especially important for elderly persons and those with weakened immune systems to get vaccinated every year.

 

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

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

Lungs have two primary functions: bringing oxygen into the body to provide energy (breathing in) and removing carbon dioxide — the waste produced by the body and expelled by breathing out. As a person ages, the lungs, like other parts of the body, become more frail and in turn are more susceptible to potentially deadly conditions like pneumonia. That’s why being aware of signs and symptoms of common lung conditions is important for elderly persons as well as their caregivers. You never know — catching conditions early could save someone’s life.

Pneumonia

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that more people die from pneumonia each year from than from car accidents. Many people over 65 are especially vulnerable because they tend to have weakened immune systems and sometimes have problems clearing secretions from their lungs, making them prone to infection.

Signs (via the Mayo Clinic)

    • Cough (often producing green mucus)

 

    • Fever

 

    • Chills

 

    • Fast, shallow breathing

 

    • Chest pain

 

    • Increased heart rate

 

    • Feeling weak and/or tired

 

    • Nausea

 

    • Vomiting

 

    • Diarrhea

 

    • Treatment

 

Treatment

A doctor can diagnose pneumonia with a blood test and chest X-rays. Depending on whether the pneumonia is bacterial or viral, antibiotics or anti-viral medicine will be prescribed.

Lung cancer

Smoking causes the majority of lung cancer cases, followed by secondhand smoke. It is also the deadliest cancer among men and women in the U.S. Naturally the easiest way to prevent lung cancer is to not smoke and stay away from smoky environments.

Signs (via the Mayo Clinic)

    • Persistent cough

 

    • Developing chronic cough or “smoker’s cough”

 

    • Coughing up blood

 

    • Chest pain

 

    • Wheezing and shortness of breath

 

    • Unusual weight loss

 

    • Bone pain

 

    • Headache

 

Treatment

Surgery, radiation, RF ablation, chemotherapy or a combination of multiple treatments can help battle lung cancer. Surgery is also common. The average person diagnosed with lung cancer is lucky to live more than five years, so early detection is vital.

COPD

Millions of elderly people suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is characterized by persistent, limited airflow, apt to inflammatory reactions to noxious particles and gases present in the airways and lungs. Sadly, COPD is a progressive disease with no cure, one that can only be slowed down by treatments and changes in lifestyle.

Signs (via the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute)

    • Constant coughing/smoker’s cough

 

    • Excess sputum (mucus from coughing) production

 

    • Feeling unable to breathe

 

    • Unable to take a deep breath

 

    • Wheezing

 

Treatment

Lifestyle changes go hand-in-hand with treating COPD, including the following:

    • Quitting smoking

 

    • Avoiding secondhand smoke

 

    • Keeping home as dust free as possible

 

    • Avoiding the use of products with strong chemical odors

 

    • Avoiding the use of fragrant sprays and lotions

 

    • Using a humidifier (especially if living in a dry climate)

 

    • Keeping necessities nearby, especially those with less mobility due to COPD

 

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

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

While someone who takes on the duty of becoming a primary caregiver may be able to do nearly everything that’s required to see that their loved one is properly cared for, certain tasks demand more specialized skills — those learned by health care professionals, such as nurses.

Even though many agencies and organizations provide family caregivers with basic training for tasks like bathing, dressing, eating and using the bathroom, there is little opportunity to learn advanced skills like giving injections and administering I.V.s. A recent article on The New York Times’ New Old Age blog makes clear that such tasks should usually fall on the shoulders of health care professionals. Still, in many instances, doctors and nurses only give brief explanations of complex tasks that will later wind up being the responsibility of the caregiver.

If this sounds like a situation you’re in, the article offers a few tips to help you out.

    • Be assertive. If someone is ready to return home from a stay at a hospital or skilled nursing facility, ask the nurse or care professional to show you what they are doing so you can learn how to do it when you get home.

 

    • Ask for feedback. Whenever you get a chance, show a health care professional what you’ve learned and ask for their feedback.

 

    • Don’t sign the form. When someone is discharged, hospitals are legally obligated to ensure that the discharge is safe. Likewise, pharmacists are required to make sure you’re adequately informed about any medications you’re purchasing. If there’s a sliver of doubt, ask questions until you’re satisfied with the answers.

 

    • Seek out help. If there are tasks you simply can’t handle yourself and/or need help with, there are many caregiving agencies that can send a certified health care professional to your home.

 

 

Are there any other options for a family caregivers that we missed? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

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

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“Physicians Choice Private Duty 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 us today..”

The older a person gets, the aches and pains of aging tend to occur more frequently. But how do you know if certain symptoms are more serious than others? As a caregiver, it can be difficult to tell whether your elderly loved one has a headache brought on by muscle tension or something much more severe, such as a TIA.

The AARP put together a list of symptoms you should never ignore, adapted below. The article notes that symptoms which develop unexpectedly or gives a person a bad gut feeling are cause for alarm.

    • A sudden, intense headache could signal a ruptured aneurysm, cardiac cephalgia, meningitis or temporal arteritis.

 

 

    • Unexplained weight loss is common in 36 percent of cancers in older people, according to the article. Other conditions associated with weight loss include diabetes, IBS, celiac disease and endoctrine disorders.

 

    • Unusual bleeding are often associated with ulcers, colon cancer, hemorrhoids and bladder infections.

 

    • High or persistent fever may indicate a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, endocarditis or a viral infection.

 

    • Shortness of breath is the primary symptom of pulmonary embolisms. It’s also often associated with asthma, bronchitis or pneumonia.

 

    • Sudden confusion is often tied to interactions between medicine and drugs/alcohol. More severely, it can indicate a brain tumor or onset of a stroke.

 

    • Swelling in the legs is tied to many conditions, but heart failure is the one that concerns doctors the most.

 

    • Sudden or severe abdominal pain can signal an aortic aneurysm, perforated viscus, intestinal ischemia and many other conditions.

 

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

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“Physicians Choice Private Duty 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 us today..”

home care omahaWhile the number of people turning to hospice care may be growing in the United States, people suffering from terminal illness still face many barriers when trying to access end-of-life palliative care. And it’s not just because patients and/or their families are afraid of coming to terms with death. Medical journal Health Affairs conducted a nation-wide survey of nearly 600 hospices, which revealed there are other factors at play as well. The results showed that 78 percent of hospices had “at least one enrollment policy that may restrict access to care for patients with potentially high-cost medical care needs” like chemotherapy and tube feeding, according to Health Affairs.

Dr. Melissa Aldridge Carlson, lead author of the study and a geriatrics and palliative care researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told The New York Times that the results show there’s a barrier for people who may want hospice care but can’t receive it due to current Medicare requirements. And while this made sense a couple decades ago when Medicare first developed regulations that require patients to stop curative treatments upon entering hospice, advances in medicine have outpaced such regulations and currently blur the line between palliative and curative treatments, according to Aldridge Carlson.

The survey also showed hospices that are small, for-profit and in certain regions of the country consistently reported more limited enrollment policies than non-profit hospices. This is likely due to Medicare regulations, making it too expensive for many operations to care for a terminally ill patient’s high-cost care needs.

In the end, the study suggests Medicare’s hospice requirements be revised to better meet the needs of patients receiving modern medical treatments.

2011 U.S. hospice stats (via nhpco.org)

    • Nearly 1.7 million patients received hospice services.

 

    • The median length of hospice service was 19.1 days.

 

    • 66.4% of patients received hospice care at home.

 

    • Only 21.9% of patients received care in a hospice inpatient facility.

 

    • Currently there are more than 5,300 hospices in operation in the United States, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

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

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

Image provided by Drugwatch.com via ShutterStock

Today’s blog comes from Drugwatch.com, a group dedicated to informing seniors and other age groups about dangerous prescription drugs and medical devices. 

Seniors make up a large portion of the more than 2 million Americans who take blood thinners as a defense against strokes. Around 800,000 strokes occur every year, with the potential of causing brain damage and debilitating side effects.  Blood thinners reduce the risk of stroke by preventing clots from forming in the veins or arteries. While taking blood thinners, it is important to follow medical guidelines and know possible complications.

Guidelines for Taking Blood Thinners

To prevent health complications, follow these safety tips when taking blood thinners:

    • Keep an updated list of medications, including the name of the blood thinner your doctor prescribes.

 

    • Make sure doctors other than your primary care physician are aware of your blood thinner prescription to avoid bleeding situations that may occur from dental work or surgeries.

 

    • Many doctors recommend limiting alcohol consumption while taking blood thinners.

 

    • Get blood tests, as directed.

 

    • Take extra care not to cut or injure yourself from scissor accidents or falls, as blood thinners cause increased bleeding.

 

Bleeding Risks

Because these medications prevent the body from its natural ability to heal from cuts by clotting, injuries that cause bleeding are especially dangerous and may require the assistance of medical professionals. Some blood thinners, unfortunately, do not yet have antidotes to treat bleeding accidents.

The effects of warfarin (Coumadin), a blood thinner that has been popular for many years, can be reversed by treatment with vitamin K. Because of warfarin’s unique chemical makeup, users of the medication must also monitor their diet to manage foods that have vitamin K and may inhibit the medication from working initially.

Pradaxa (dabigitran) was approved in 2010, but at this point no antidote exists. Since Pradaxa’s release, there have been records of more than 500 disabling or deadly bleeding incidents that occurred while people were using the drug. These events combined with other adverse events from the drug led to 542 deaths in 2011, according to QuarterWatch, a nonprofit group focused on medical safety.

Pradaxa Bleeding and Heart Attacks

QuarterWatch gathered information from physicians, the FDA’s adverse event reporting database, manufacturers and other sources, finding documentation of 3,791 serious adverse events from Pradaxa in 2011. In addition to uncontrollable bleeding cases, other risks from Pradaxa include heart problems.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology published a study in March 2012 that found that patients taking Pradaxa were five times more like to have heart attacks that those taking warfarin. A study done by the Cleveland Clinic also found a link between Pradaxa and heart problems. According to this study, published in the Archives of National Medicine, in comparison to Warfarin, Pradaxa caused a 33 percent increased risk of heart attack or severe symptoms of heart disease.

A new blood thinner called Eliquis (apixaban) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2012. There are plans to complete trials on a drug that may work as a bleeding antidote for Eliquis.

Knowledge of the risk involved with certain blood thinner medications may help you to properly manage your health and prevent both strokes and bleeding accidents.

Alanna Ritchie writes about dangerous prescription drugs and medical devices for Drugwatch.com.

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

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

Video: Alzheimer's patients giving thanks

Video: Alzheimer’s patients giving thanks

Video: Alzheimer's patients giving thanksOftentimes, family caregivers get overwhelmed with their duties. Those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s may have an especially difficult time watching their beloved spouse, parent or friend deal with the effect of onset dementia and early Alzheimer’s. What starts as initial frustration and lack of patience eventually gives way to understanding and, most importantly, love for your typical caregiver. Even so, it’s worth knowing that those receiving care do indeed appreciate all the help, as upset as they may be in dealing with a chronic condition that deteriorates their cognitive faculties over time.

A heartfelt video from the Alzheimer’s Association features many real life sufferers of Alzheimer’s and dementia giving thanks to those who make their lives more manageable by helping with daily tasks, such as taking meds on time, making sure they don’t wander off and get lost, offering rides, preparing meals and simply providing companionship.

Watch the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzWte4rf174

Alzheimer’s stats (via alz.org)

  • In 2012, it’s estimated that 5.4 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • It’s the only cause of death in the U.S. that cannot be cured or slowed.
  • An estimated 1 in 7 people with Alzheimer’s live alone.
  • There are more than 15 million caregivers in the U.S. who provided more than 17 billion hours of care in 2011.
  • Since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 66% while deaths from most other major diseases have dropped.
  • Alzheimer’s costs the nation $200 billion annually.
  • These numbers are only projected to rise.

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

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

How to stay healthy as a caregiver

How to stay healthy as a caregiver

How to stay healthy as a caregiverBeing the the primary caregiver for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is, without a doubt, a demanding job. There’re the time constraints brought on by balancing work, family and caregiving — not to mention the physical and emotional strains that come in tow. That’s why it’s important to take care of yourself. If you do, you and the loved one you’re caring for will both be happier.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers some tips on staying healthy as a caregiver:

See a doctor

Check in regularly with your doctor. A physician can help you with any problems you might be having related to exhaustion, stress, sleeping problems and other changes in behaviors. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to declines in physical and mental health.

Alz.org recommends getting a seasonal flu shot if you’re caring for someone in late-stage Alzheimer’s, as the vaccination protects both you and your loved one.

Stay physically active

Make sure you find the time to exercise regularly. It will help relieve stress, prevent disease and, in general, make you feel good.

  • Find friends and family to offer caregiving help so you can get out and move. Even short amounts of time — 30 minutes of physical activity a day, five days a week — helps immensely.
  • Don’t be afraid to exercise at home. Get a stationary bike or yoga mat and do your exercises while your loved one is napping.

Develop healthy eating habits

Change your diet so you eat regular, heart-healthy meals rich in healthy fats, whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Alz.org recommends trying a Mediterranean diet.

Manage your stress

Stress affects your body and emotions negatively in several ways. Make sure to actively manage your stress and find ways to relax when necessary. Many caregivers tend to feel guilty for their loved one’s condition, but Alz.org notes that you should give yourself credit where it’s due, grieve the losses and focus on the positives.

Don’t ever hesitate to ask for help. Whether it’s a friend or family member, support group and professional care provider focused on elderly care, there’s always someone to talk to.

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

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