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Piedmont HomeHealth News

Helping Those with Alzheimer’s and Helping Find a Cure

home careNovember is National Alzheimer’s Disease awareness month, a designation made official by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. Since that time, the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has grown from under 2 million to over 5 million, and the number is growing every day. By talking about the disease, educating people on the symptoms and supporting caregivers, in this month and every month, we can help improve the quality to live for those with Alzheimer’s and their families.

More than three decades after Reagan acknowledged the importance of raising awareness of the disease, we have come a long way in understanding it better. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, much progress has been made in researching the disease and finding new treatments to help lessen the symptoms, thanks in part to a growing awareness.

 In the 1990s new drugs became available, such as Aricept, to help treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Thanks to research begun as early as 1983, these drugs help prevent the breakdown of a chemical in the brain that is important for memory and thinking. New treatments are constantly being trialed to find even better drugs for treating Alzheimer’s.

 New diagnostic tools are being used for earlier diagnosis, including genetic risk profiling and brain imaging techniques.

 New types of therapy, such as the storytelling program at Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, help patients and families learn better ways to cope with the disease.

 Just this summer, researchers discovered “tau tangles” in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, which could ultimately lead to a new era of drug design for the disease.

All of this news and the continued research into Alzheimer’s brings a lot of hope to everyone who is dealing with Alzheimer’s in their family. But we realize that the possibility of a cure that is probably still years down the road is of little comfort for those facing the challenge now. That’s why it’s important to reach out. In addition to celebrating how far we’ve come, it’s just as important this month to show your support for the caregivers. Reach out, offer your time, and be there for the caregivers to talk to and share their struggles.

If you are currently caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, know that you are not alone. Here at Piedmont HomeHealth, Inc. we see the effects of Alzheimer’s face to face every day. We have many clients who are struggling with the challenges of Alzheimer’s, and we’re here to help. Everyone at Piedmont HomeHealth is fully trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and we do our best to continually stay educated on the latest treatments and caregiving strategies.

Contact us, or call Piedmont HomeHealth today at (336) 724-1197 to see how we can help ease your burden, and provide the support needed to keep everyone safe and happy.

Caregiving Made Easier Through Apps

piedmont homehealthIf you’re a caregiver for an aging parent, you know there is a lot to keep track of. From healthcare directives to doctor’s office visits, medication lists and vital signs, making sure your parent is following the doctor’s orders is important, but remembering everything and keeping track of all the papers and files can turn into a full time job. It gets even more complicated when you’re sharing the responsibilities with other family members or care providers. Everyone needs to be on the same page as far as the type of care given, but how do you keep the lines of communication open?

Of course, traditional means of communication are still important. For the case workers here at Piedmont HomeHealth, it is an important part of our daily care that we talk with a client’s family and communicate any issues or concerns we may have. There are also those tried-and- true avenues of communication such as phone calls or leaving notes. But with today’s advances in technology, there are new ways to communicate and track health care instructions and physical changes and symptoms, many of which can be shared with caregivers and family members so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to what is being done and what needs to be done.

Here are a few of our favorite apps to help everyone keep track of important papers and instructions, as well as tracking vital signs and providing reminders for appointments and medications.

Stay Organized
My Medical (iOS)
Use this app to keep track of your personal medical information, track and chart test results and vital signs, and set reminders for appointments. A couple of good features with this app are the ability to sync with your mobile calendar for tracking doctor’s appointments, and the ability to have certain information accessible without a password for emergency medical professionals.

CareZone (iOS and Android)
Another comprehensive record-keeping app, this allows you to organize medications lists, contacts, and other important information. With a built-in journal, you can track symptoms, notes from doctor visits, and changes in medicines. Share updates easily and privately with family members and caregivers.

My Directives (iOS)
Keep your DNR and other health care directives available on your smartphone or tablet. This way they’re easy to access wherever you might be.

Track Your Vitals

Keep track of blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and glucose measurements with these apps. Data entry is relatively easy, you can share the information with family and caregivers, and seeing your vitals over time provides a good look at how your medications and other preventative measures are working. Blood Pressure Monitor – Family Lite and Glucose Buddy Diabetes Tracker are just two of the many apps available for this type of tracking.

Manage Prescriptions

Medisafe Meds and Pill Reminder (iOS and Android)
Enter all your medications into one app that will keep track of when you need to take them and provide alerts. The app has the ability to add a friend, so caregivers and family members can help with staying on track.

Questions? Contact us, or call (336) 724-1197 to learn more about the services we provide.

A Focus on Healthy Aging

piedmont home healthSeptember is Healthy Aging Month, and we here at Piedmont HomeHealth wanted to take a moment to support this observance. The official observance was started about 20 years ago by Carol Worthington, directory of Healthy Aging, as a way to promote the positive aspects
of aging and encourage older adults to improve their physical, mental, social and financial well-being.

Maintaining good health as we age is important for many reasons. Healthy people have stronger immune systems, making it easier to fend off viruses and other illnesses. And we all want to be strong and healthy enough to play with our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to enjoy hobbies and even travel in our retirements.

We talk a lot in our blog about ways to maintain physical health as you get older, from staying up to date on vaccines to eating a diet full of the important vitamins and minerals to maintain health and immune systems. But something else Healthy Aging Month strongly promotes is positive thinking as you age. Everyone gets older, it’s a fact of life. But the way you approach the aging process has a lot to do with your own mental health and attitude.

Here are a few ways to help maintain a positive attitude and good mental health:

Try Yoga. Any exercise is good for the mind and body, whether it’s walking or playing tennis with your friends. But to really focus on the mental part of exercise, think about giving yoga a try. The meditative aspects help center you, and can help with grief, depression and anxiety. Find some short videos to try at Yoga for Seniors.

Stay Connected. We all love the bonds we make with family, but we also have to remember that our children and grandchildren have busy lives of their own. Friendships, important at any age, are just as important for seniors. If you find yourself alone more often than not, it might be time
to reach out. Join a bridge group, start going to activities at a senior center or look for a book club at your local library to join. Our area has great resources for social activities for seniors, through Senior Resources of Guilford and Senior Services in Winston-Salem.

Talk with your Pastor or Counselor. Grief, loneliness and depression are all things we deal with some time or another in our lives, and as we age it may seem these feelings come up more often. Don’t ignore your feelings. Find someone you trust to talk things out, to help get through the tough times.

Be Positive in Your Conversations. It’s been over 50 years since Norman Vincent Peale wrote The Power of Positive Thinking, but his message rings true still today. The more we complain, the worse we feel. If you catch yourself having negative thoughts or complaining about how things are, pause, take a break, and find a way to look at things in a new light.

In addition to these suggestions, working with Piedmont HomeHealth can go a long way in helping maintain healthy aging practices. By having someone stay with you a few hours a day, you not only have someone there to keep you company, but their assistance can help you continue living the lifestyle you prefer, at home and independent.

If you or a loved one is ready for qualified help during the day, feel free to give us a call at 336-724- 1197.

Vaccines: Make Sure You’re Covered

vccinesWhen you talk about vaccine schedules, it’s easy to think those are something you only worry about for infants and young children preparing to go to school. As adults we’re long past the age of regular shots at our check ups. But keeping up with vaccines is important for people of all ages, and there are some specifically targeted toward older adults that can go a long way toward keeping you healthy and improving your quality of life.

In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month celebrated each August, we at Piedmont HomeHealth wanted to highlight some of the important vaccines for older adults. Vaccines are an important tool in not only helping people contract a disease, but also in helping prevent the spread of disease. Take, for example, the flu vaccine. If you choose not to get vaccinated and happen to get the flu this winter, you could also then share your germs with others who might also get the virus. That’s why vaccines are not only good for the individual, but for society as a whole.

Here are the vaccines older adults should be up to date with:

Flu: Every fall you hear the encouragement to get your flu vaccine. This one needs to be updated every year, and the CDC recommends getting your shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available, usually by the end of October. Of course, you always hear of people who get the vaccine but get the flu anyway. This occurs because the vaccine is designed to protect against the viruses that research shows will be the most common in the upcoming flu season, but unfortunately they can’t protect against every strand. The important thing is to be as protected as possible.ly they can’t protect against every strand. The important thing is to be as protected as possible.

Pneumonia. Unlike the flu shot, the vaccine for pneumonia is a one-time deal recommended for people over the age of 65. However, your doctor might recommend a booster after 10 years. This vaccine doesn’t prevent a person from getting pneumonia, but it does lower your chances, and older adults are at the greatest risk of serious infections or even death after contracting pneumonia.

Shingles: Anyone who’s ever suffered the pain and discomfort of shingles is thrilled to learn about the option of a vaccine. Shingles is a sometimes painful rash caused by the same virus as chicken pox. Anyone who has had chicken pox could have the virus lying dormant, and therefore run the risk of having it break out as an adult through shingles. This vaccine is approved for anyone over the age of 50, but the CDC recommends getting the vaccine after the age of 60 as it protects a person for about five years. And even if you’ve had shingles, you can still get the vaccine to help prevent future outbreaks.

Tetanus. While you’re at the doctor getting up on your vaccines, you should look into a tetanus booster as well. It’s recommended to update this vaccine every 10 years. The vaccine protects you from contracting the tetanus, a bacterial infection that is common in dirt and manure, and
can infect a person through cuts or deep wounds.

Honor National Immunization Awareness Month and call your doctor to make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines.

Questions? Contact us, or call (336) 724-1197 to learn more about the services we provide. It might be just what you’re looking for in terms of caring for your loved ones.

Enjoy Farmer’s Market Season for Good Eating!

home health care winston-salemIf it seems like as you get older you’re just not as hungry as you used to be, it’s probably true. As our bodies age there’s a decrease in metabolic rate, combined with less physical activities. Yet at the same time, it’s important to get the necessary nutrients to remain strong and healthy. Older adults need more calcium and Vitamin D than in their younger years, as well as at least 21 grams of fiber per day for women and 30 grams for men.

A great way to keep getting those important vitamins and minerals in your diet is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. But maintaining this healthy diet can be challenging for a number of reasons. First, it is sometimes inconvenient to cook homemade meals for just one person, or even two. Especially if you just don’t eat as much food as you used to. And second, it can be frustrating to buy fresh fruits and vegetables only to have them spoil before you get to use them all up. Grocery stores often package food in family-size amounts, such as a head of lettuce, a pound of carrots, or a pint of strawberries.

That’s where farmer’s markets come into play! Thanks to the personalized service at many markets, you can ask to purchase half a head of lettuce, or find someone willing to cut a cantaloupe in half or a watermelon into quarters.

Leafy, green vegetables are a great source of calcium, but who wants to buy a whole pound of kale? Farmers bringing their goods to market will often have kale, spinach, and other greens available to purchase as much or as little as you need.

Plus, you get the added benefit of a little exercise while walking around. And the conversations to be had at the farmer’s market are well worth the time!

Here in the Triad we’re lucky to live in an area where fresh produce is grown practically year round, and farmer’s markets abound. Here are a few to try out, check for one that’s in a neighborhood near you.

Piedmont Triad Farmers Market. Located right off Interstate 40 in Colfax, plan to do some walking when you go to this farmers market. A large covered area hosts farmers from across the region, many offering samples. Open year-round, Monday-Sunday, 6 a.m.-7 p.m.

Greensboro Farmers Curb Market. Located off Yanceyville Road, this market is known for its local food offerings, as well as home-baked goodies, crafts and more. Open year-round on Saturdays from 7 a.m.-12 p.m., And from April 19-Dec. 20 on Wednesdays from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Fairgrounds Farmers Market. Locate on the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds complex, this is Forsyth County’s longest running source for locally raised fruits and vegetables. There are also vendors selling things such as flowers, handmade baskets and other crafts, jams, jellies, honey, and more. Open year-round, Saturdays, 6 a.m.-1 p.m.

Questions? Contact us, or call (336) 724-1197 to learn more about the services we provide. It might be just what you’re looking for in terms of caring for your loved ones.

Planning for Financial Stability – Financial Planning isn’t only for the Young

home health care winston-salemThroughout your 30s and 40s, financial planning is a big topic. From human resources meetings at work to information at the bank, everywhere you’re bombarded with information about savings accounts, 401Ks, Roth retirement accounts, etc. That’s the stage in life where you want to make sure you’re putting enough money away in your retirement account so that when you finally get to the age you can retire from work, you’re able to live the lifestyle you’d been dreaming of. For some people that means travel. For others it means starting a new hobby. For still others, it might mean having security and long-term health insurance to remain independent.

Whatever your retirement goals, you want to be sure you have the money set aside to afford them, and to live comfortably in the style you prefer. Here are a few things to think about when it comes to financial planning after retirement:

  • Remember to adjust for inflation. You may think you have enough saved up, but the cost of living is always on the rise. Don’t neglect that when deciding how much money to use each year.
  • Go over your will and estate plan every year. Things change, especially in families. You’ll want to make sure your will reflects any changes such as divorce or death.
  • Think about long-term care insurance. It’s not a topic most of us want to plan for, but it’s important to be prepared. Did you know that long-term care insurance will cover at-home care as well as nursing homes and assisted living facilities?
  • Protect yourself and your money by being aware of scams. Phishing and telemarketing scams, as well as Medicaid/health insurance scams target seniors. Being aware of what these are can help protect your assets.

Financial advisors are a great resource to help with financial planning in your pre-retirement years. But the need for their help doesn’t go away just because you’ve saved the money and retired. Sure, the money’s now there to do what you’ve dreamed of. But you want to make sure it will last. And you want to make sure you have what you need to live comfortably and independently for many years to come. That’s why it’s important to continue to work with a financial planner.

At Piedmont Home Health, we often see clients who rely on family members or friends for financial advice. This can be great in some instances, but with many issues you might want professional advice to make sure your financial future is secure.

If you’re looking for a financial advisor for yourself or your loved ones, here are a few things to keep in mind:

– Look for someone who is experienced with advising retirees and planning for long-term care needs.
– Talk with them or conduct a short interview to make sure you can communicate well and have good rapport. Financial decisions can be emotional, so it’s important to trust your advisor.
– Ask potential advisors what services they provide and what their approach generally is, to make sure their values line up with yours.
– Ask about fees and whether they have a minimum net worth or income requirements.

For help finding a financial planner, check out these sites:

National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. This site has a locater tool, plus tips for financial planning. Veterans Beneficiary Financial Planning.

Choosing the Right Walker: Making the Choice for Increased Mobility

piedmont homehealth

For many seniors, the key to staying home is continued mobility. Being able to get up to go to the bathroom is important, but so is getting out to the grocery store or just making it from one room of the house to another without worrying about a fall. When mobility starts to become an issue, many people will look toward investing in a walker for a little extra support. But how do you know which type of walker to buy, and what should you look for?

Types of Walkers

Standard: These walkers have four legs, each with a non-stick, rubber tip on the end. Standard walkers provide the most support, but can be tiring if used for long distances because they have to be picked up.

Wheeled: You will see standard walkers with wheels on the front two legs, but you can also find two- or four-wheel walkers in a more modern style, with a padded seat built in. Walkers with wheels are less stable than a standard walker, but they are better for uneven surfaces and will help the user get around at a quicker pace.

It is helpful to talk with your doctor or physical therapist about which walker is best for you.

Purchasing a Walker

Once you have decided what type of walker you need, there are some things to look for when making that purchase.

– Grip: You can choose a traditional plastic grip, or foam or soft-grip covers. The softer grips are helpful if your hands get sweaty to keep from slipping. Choosing the right type and size of grip is important because it can put more stress on joints if you’ve got one that is uncomfortable.

– Height: Each walker’s height is adjustable. A walker should come to your wrist when you’re standing up straight, and your elbows should bend at a 15-degree angle when you lean into it.

– Weight: This is an important factor if you’re expecting to use your walker a lot outside of the house. Look for one that you can easily lift into the trunk of a car. There are even foldable walkers that make it easier to transport from place to place.

Choosing the right walker for you is just the first step. Learning how to use it properly is the next important priority. If you are already working with some of our talented staff at Piedmont Home Health, they can help you get adjusted to life with a walker. You’ll be surprised how liberating it can be.

Questions? Contact us, or call (336) 724-1197 to learn more about the services we provide. It might be just what you’re looking for in terms of caring for your loved ones.

Healthy Habits are Important at Every Age

home health care winston-salemWe spend most of our lives making an effort to take care of ourselves so that we’ll live longer, healthier lives. So by the time we’re 80, if we want to have a bowl of ice cream for supper, why not go for it? At Piedmont Home Health, we understand the need for some rewards in life. But we also understand the importance of maintaining healthy habits throughout your entire life. Keeping up with things like regular doctor visits, good nutrition, and daily exercise can help you feel better, mentally and physically, so that you enjoy your time with your friends and family.

Here are a few things to keep on your schedule and in your daily routine. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Vaccines. These shots aren’t just for babies. The CDC recommends everyone get the flu vaccine every year. In addition, if you’re over 60, you should also get the shingles and pneumonia vaccine. Check out the CDC’s recommended schedule for more details.

Regular Screenings and Doctor Visits. Preventative medicine is there for a reason. If you catch something early, it’s much easier to treat. Make sure to keep your regular doctor visits, where they can keep an eye on your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. And don’t forget those trips to the dentist! Poor oral care can lead to life-threatening illness including heart disease and stroke.

Well-balanced diets. Sure, ice cream for supper once in a while is okay. But it’s just as important in your senior years as it was earlier to have a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You might not need as many calories as you did when you were younger, but make sure the calories you are eating are full of good nutrients that will help you fight off illnesses, manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, and keep you feeling energetic for your daily activities.

Stay active. Regular exercise can help prevent or delay many diseases, and is often used as treatment for things such as arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes. Exercise can also help improve balance and help people who have difficulty walking. An added benefit is that if you sign up for a class, like water aerobics or Tai Chi, you also get a chance to socialize with other people, another boost for your mental health. Check with the Senior Resources of Guilford or Senior Services of Forsyth County for classes available in your area. Or just get outside and take a walk!

There’s no better time to take advantage of our area’s walking trails than in the spring. Here are a few of our favorites:

Tanger Family Bicentennial Gardens
Greensboro Arboretum
Latham Park Greenway
Bethabara Greenway Trail
Silas Creek Greenway

Questions? Contact us, or call (336) 724-1197 to learn more about the services we provide. It might be just what you’re looking for in terms of caring for your loved ones.

End of Life Planning: Get the Conversation Started

home health care winston-salemDo you know what you want the doctors to do if you were in a coma? Or how your treatment should proceed if you have a terminal illness and can no longer make decisions for yourself? And if you know, do your loved ones? The truth of the matter is, most of us avoid making plans for those end of life situations. After all, no one wants to think of getting sick and dying. But in our experience here at Piedmont Home Health, everyone benefits when a person’s wishes are made known. It not only helps bring peace of mind to the person making the plans, but can also help ease the stress and burden placed on loved ones when those situations occur.

It’s never too early to have the conversation and draw up a health care power of attorney, a health care agency document and a living will. If you’re ever in a serious accident, have surgery or get a serious illness, you will need these documents. And if you’re helping care for an aging parent or loved one, be sure they have these documents on file with their primary care physician.

Here are a few ideas to get the conversation started:

1. Talk about your favorite hymns. Hymns and prayers are often a part of memorial services. Start out with asking your loved one their favorite hymn, and why they like it. Then offer your favorites, and mention you would like them at your funeral. It is relatively easy to work the conversation from making wishes known about a funeral service to talking about other things like life support and power of attorney.

2. Let Hollywood help. Watching a move together might help introduce the topic. The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, is a good one to try. Labeled both a drama and a comedy, the plot follows two men who escape from a cancer ward for a last hurrah-type road trip.

3. Use real-life examples. You might say, “Remember how hard it was for Aunt Susie’s kids to decide whether to agree to a feeding tube or not?” Remind your parents about the stress of that situation, and use it to show how planning ahead and having the conversation early can help keep a bad situation from becoming worse.

Once you’ve had the conversation and have some clear plans laid out, it’s time to create the documents and get them on file. We’re lucky to have a great resource in our area, Got Plans. This organization not only has a wealth of information on their website, but they also conduct workshops around the Triad to help people get started with making end of life plans. You can also talk with your caregiver from Piedmont Home Health, who will be glad to get you the information you need to get all your affairs in order.

Questions? Contact us, or call (336) 724-1197 to learn more about the services we provide. It might be just what you’re looking for in terms of caring for your loved ones.

Is Dementia the New Heart Disease?

home health care winston-salemAfter years of building awareness and educational outreach on the effects of heart disease, the nation has seen a great reduction in heart disease since the 1960s.

That is great news. But it led to another interesting finding. As people live longer, and maybe healthier lives without the risk of dying from a heart attack, there are other things that will begin to become a greater problem. One of these is dementia.

Memory loss can be hastened by failing hearing or degenerating neurons, things that naturally occur as people get older. It can also be caused by clogged or hardened arteries.

There are different types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy Body dementia. The symptoms vary, but over-arching symptoms of dementia include:

– Memory loss
– Trouble recalling events or recognizing people and places
– Trouble finding the right words
– Problems planning and carrying out every-day tasks
– Trouble controlling moods or behaviors.
– Not keeping up personal care such as grooming or bathing.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. There are many medications that can help with reducing symptoms associated with dementia. It can also be challenging as a caregiver for a person with dementia.

Here at Piedmont HomeHealth, we understand what you’re going through. You might need help or support to continue to give your loved ones the best possible care. Our staff is fully trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and we take great pride in our compassion and patience with each and every client.

Questions? Contact us, or call (336) 724-1197 to learn more about the services we provide. It might be just what you’re looking for in terms of caring for your loved ones.