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Piedmont HomeHealth News

Know the Signs of Hearing Loss

Experience CaregiversDid you know that 2 out of 3 people over the age of 75 have some amount of hearing loss? Hearing loss often occurs gradually, so you don’t realize it’s a problem. You might start turning up the TV a little more each time you watch, or find yourself asking people to repeat themselves. Too often, the  signs of hearing loss are shrugged off or ignored. You might think maybe your mother’s just having trouble understanding what the kids are saying  because they’re teenagers prone to mumbling. Or you tell yourself your dad has the TV up so loud because there are so many distractions when the  kids are around. But these are signs of hearing loss and should be taken seriously.

It is important to be aware of the signs of hearing loss. The common signs are:

  • Trouble understanding a person when they’re speaking, especially young children or when in a crowd.
  • Difficulty hearing people on the phone.
  • Having to ask people to repeat themselves often.
  • Listening to the radio or TV at a high volume.
  • Ringing in the ears.

Hearing loss in older adults can in turn lead to other problems. If someone is having trouble hearing, they might not enjoy being out in social  situations. This means they stay home more, which leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which in turn can lead to depression.

If you’ve noticed any of these in a loved one, it is something you should discuss with the doctor. Make an appointment for a hearing screening and  evaluation. There are many things that can be done to help people with hearing loss. Hearing aids have improved immensely over the years, and they are smaller and more comfortable than many people remember. There are other options as well, depending on the cause of the hearing loss.

Here at Piedmont Home Health, we’re here to help you and your loved ones live the best life possible. Our caregivers are attuned to the issues facing their clients on a daily basis, and are always there to answer your questions and help find solutions. They can be a valued help when facing hearing loss in your loved one.

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 your loved one safe and happy.

Combatting Loneliness: Seniors that Stay Connected have Better Health

piedmont home healthGetting older has many benefits. With more years on this planet we gain wisdom, and of course the ability to retire opens up much more time to do the things we enjoy. But sometimes the senior years can also be a time of great loneliness. A survey conducted by the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project found that as many as 19 percent of older adults, ages 62-91, report feeling frequent loneliness. With the loss of a life partner, the house can seem empty and too quiet. Not having someone to do things with might even keep some from going out and socializing. For others, poor health might be what’s keeping them at home, as physical limitations make it more painful to walk more than a short distance or fear of falling takes over. No matter what the cause, isolation in older adults is a significant health risk, as loneliness can lead to feelings of depression and poor physical health. Feelings of loneliness have been found to be a major risk factor for depression as well as showing a correlation to high blood pressure and dementia. And of course, when someone is depressed or not feeling well they are less likely to get out and socialize, which creates a vicious cycle feeding into more feelings of loneliness.

Fighting the Battle: Ways to Combat Loneliness
While it is easy to feel isolated and alone, there are plenty of ways to help senior adults fight those feelings of loneliness and live more active, social lives.

Employee a caregiver. For the truly homebound seniors, those who have decreased mobility and just can’t get out of the house for long periods of time, a caregiver can provide company and personal interaction to combat feelings of loneliness. Our care givers at Piedmont HomeHealth are well trained to provide excellent care when it comes to medication management and personal care, but our time with our clients is much more than that. Conversations over a meal, help with transportation to activities or even companionship during the day can bring joy to the lives of someone who was feeling lost and alone.

Pet therapy. Owning a dog or a cat might be too much of a responsibility for an elderly person who might not have the ability to properly care for the pet. That’s where therapy dogs can help. Using a therapy dog service will allow the opportunity to enjoy the love of a dog without having to provide full-time care. Pet therapy has been shown to improve mood, decrease feelings of loneliness and even lower blood pressure. For help finding a therapy dog in the Winston-Salem area, contact Elite Canine.

Volunteer. Getting out of the house is the first step in fighting loneliness, but it helps to have a purpose. Volunteering is a great way to bring a sense of purpose to your life. There are many different organizations in the Winston-Salem and Greensboro area that are looking for volunteers. Consider looking into programs at the local library, the hospital, or your neighborhood school. Volunteering can be as easy as reading with an elementary school kid for half an hour a week or eating lunch through the Lunch Buddy program.

Take a Class. Just like volunteering, signing up for a class gives you a reason to get out of the house. It’s also a great way to meet people and make new friends, which leads to more opportunities for socialization. Whether you’re interested in finding a new hobby or want to improve on a skill, classes are a good way to learn new things, bringing added benefits of keeping your mind sharp while combatting loneliness. For help finding a class that interests you in your area, call the people at the Senior Resources of Guilford or Senior Services in Winston-Salem.

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 your loved one safe and happy.

Stay Sharp by Managing Your Blood Pressure

blood pressureThere are many reasons to follow doctor’s orders in managing your blood pressure, the most common of which being to help prevent heart attack and  stroke. But researchers have found a new reason for avoiding high blood pressure. Using MRI scans of the brain, doctors have been able to detect  early signs of brain damage caused by high blood pressure. This damage is the type that has been linked to strokes that contribute to Alzheimer’s  disease and other forms of dementia.

This is just one more way “the silent killer,” as high blood pressure is often labeled, can affect a person before outward signs of disease are detected. A person may have high blood pressure for years before showing signs of dementia. Therefore, it’s important to control your blood pressure to lessen the impact on your body, helping stave off dementia before it fully develops.

Tips for Controlling Blood Pressure

The suggestions for controlling blood pressure sound simple and are guidelines most people are familiar with. But when it comes to the day to day  practice, it can sometimes be hard. Below we’ve listed the common tips for controlling your blood pressure, along with some ideas to help make these a regular part of your lifestyle.

  • Follow the doctor’s instructions when it comes to taking your blood pressure medicine. If you don’t take it regularly your blood pressure can get out of control. Keep medicine in a place where you will see it to remember to take it at the same time every day. Also, set up a prescription refill service with your pharmacy so you never run out.
  • Exercise regularly. Keeping your weight under control is one of the best ways to control blood pressure. Find some people to walk with or go to exercise classes with you to help make exercise more fun.
  • Eat a diet low in sodium. For people with high blood pressure, the recommended daily sodium intake should be 1,500 mg a day or less. Stay  away from processed food as much as possible. And be aware of foods that contain high amounts of sodium but don’t even taste salty, like bread, condiments, deli meat and pizza.
  • Limit alcohol intake. Drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol can not only raise blood pressure, but it can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medicine.

If you or someone you love is suffering from signs of dementia, call Piedmont HomeHealth. Our professionals are able to provide respite care and help  with the daily responsibilities to help maintain good health.

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 your loved one safe and happy.

Book In-Home Care Services for Alzheimer’s & Dementia Patients

Alzheimer’s Disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder, and the most common form of dementia. According to experts, over 60% of dementia patients are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And because the symptoms of this condition worsen over time, patients with the disease need around-the-clock care.

If your aging parent or family member is diagnosed with this condition, you must make sure they receive the kind of care they deserve.

However, before we discuss how to offer that much-needed care to Alzheimer’s patients, let’s explore the condition a bit further. It’s a degenerative disease that’s common at age 65 and older. However, this doesn’t mean that Alzheimer’s doesn’t occur in younger age groups. In the early stages of the disease, it can be difficult to recognize the signs and symptoms without a professional. If you’ve noticed a drastic change in the behavior of your aging family member in the last couple of months, you should take them to a reliable doctor to determine the cause.

Here Are Some Common Signs And Symptoms of Alzheimer’s:

  • Short-term memory loss that affects routine life
  • Relying on family members to remember dates and events
  • Difficulty completing daily activities like doing dishes, bathing, toileting, meal preparation
  • Trouble in planning and problem solving
  • Difficulty finding correct words to communicate thoughts
  • Challenges in understanding visual images
  • Frequent mood changes
  • Social withdrawal
  • Misplacing things frequently at home, or other places

Since short-term memory loss is one of the most common symptoms of this condition, it’s important that you have someone at your home who can look after your aging parent. And since they can’t perform their daily activities independently, hiring in-home care services from a reliable agency is the best option to give them the care they need.

Benefits of In-Home Care For Alzheimer’s Patients

Consistent Care From Senior Care Experts

When you book in-home care services from an established and licensed agency, your aging parent or relative will receive constant, quality care in their own home. A well-trained caregiver with experience in working with Alzheimer’s Patients will set both you and your loved one at ease.

In-home caregivers understand how important consistent care is for improving the lives of those with this condition, and in-home caregivers keep that in mind each time they arrive to assist your family.

The Caregiver Builds A Strong Relationship With Your Loved One

There is little doubt that in-home caregivers are very compassionate. They understand the challenges your loved one faces, and tailor the support they give to their specific needs. In fact, caregivers often form beautiful relationships with the family members they assist, making sure to provide for their emotional needs as well. Your family member will have someone who they can confide in and rely on, even when you can’t be there.

Your Loved One Lives a Dignified Life

In-home care gives an opportunity to your loved one to live a dignified and independent life. With the help of a caregiver, they can easily perform their routine activities, giving them the satisfaction of living the kind of life they used to enjoy.

In-home Care Promotes Happiness

Adults they tend to become more attached to their homes as they grow older. That attachment makes the idea of having to move out to seek care highly undesirable. But with in-home care, they get the support they need and the independence and happiness they built for themselves, all right in their living room.

Individualized Care

Every patient that suffers from Alzheimer’s has unique needs, Relying on an in-home care agency that tailors their services to the individual needs of your family member

Each patient suffering from Alzheimer’s has unique needs, and improving their quality of life means meeting every aspect of their care. So, consider relying on an in-home care agency that tailors their services to meet the individual requirements of your loved one.

Nothing is more precious than parents and family in this world, so you must give them the finest care when they need it the most. Just as your parents used to do for you.

Get a Workout without Leaving Your Seat

yogaYou know how they say you’re never too old to learn new things? The same holds true for exercise. You’re never too old to get benefits from regular  physical activity. In fact, being active has many positives for older adults, including:

– Maintaining a healthy weight
– Improving stability and flexibility
– Reduce the impact of illness or chronic disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
– Improves sleep
– Improves mood

With all those benefits, it seems only natural that older adults would want to exercise. But there are actually a few roadblocks in the way keeping the  elderly from enjoying regular exercise. One of those is the fact that as we age, our bodies tend to slow down. We just don’t have as much energy as we did in our 40s, or even our 60s. In addition, the very health problems that could benefit from regular activity might actually be keeping you from  exercising. The aches and pains of arthritis makes it hard to get moving, congestive heart failure might make it hard to breathe, and swollen feet and legs from diabetes are a challenge. Also, many older adults who have never been part of a regular exercise routine might not know where to start.

In order to encourage you or your loved one to get more active, we’ve come up with a few ideas to help get you started.

Look into classes designed specifically for seniors. The Healthwise program for Forsyth County offers free exercise classes throughout the county. The Greensboro Parks and Recreation department has classes designed for seniors, including a balance class and chair yoga. There are also many options available and private gyms throughout the Triad. Signing up for a class helps provide a little motivation to get you up and going.

Check out exercise videos on YouTube. Make good use of that tablet your grandchildren gave you for Christmas and do some workouts from the  Internet. There are plenty of places to find chair exercises and chair yoga, such as Do You Yoga, which offers six poses to get you started, and the 15-Minute Senior Workout by HASfit. Exercising from a chair can help reduce risks of falling and help you feel more stable. Surprisingly, you still receive good health benefits, including improved strength, balance and flexibility.

Start an accountability partnership with a friend. Whether you know a group of people who would like to be more active, or you just have one friend you can count on to help you stay on task, reporting in to someone can help you maintain your exercise program. You’re less likely to skip your workout to watch the Price is Right if someone is there to make sure you keep going.

As with any new activity, it is important to check with your doctor before starting a new program. Make sure you are healthy enough to do the exercises you would like to do. Once you have clearance, find a class or set up a schedule, and get going. You’ll feel better and improve
your quality of life, all with just a little extra activity.

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 your loved one safe and happy.

Working on an End of Life Plan for Loved Ones with Dementia

dementiaEnd of life plans are an important for everyone to discuss, and documents including a healthcare proxy and living will are as important as your financial will. Talking about your wishes with a loved one has many benefits, including ensuring that your wishes are respected as well as
helping relieve the guilt and anxieties a loved one might feel when they have to make those decisions.

It’s a tough conversation for everyone, but for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia and their family members, the issues are even more complicated. Dementia is unique from the standpoint of advance directives in that it progresses slowing, leaving people in different states over different periods of time.

After experiencing end of life situations with many of his own patients and witnessing how ill-prepared family members often were, Barak Gaster, MD, of the University of Washington School of Medicine, wrote a form to help people suffering from dementia with end of life planning. It takes into account the three different stages of dementia — mild, moderate and severe, helping guide the person in making decisions for each stage based on their own personal values and desires. The Dementia Directive Form has four options for each stage of dementia care:

1. Exclude the use of breathing machines and resuscitation.
2. Prolong life as long as possible.
3. Receive care only at home.
4. Receive palliative care only.

It is important to have this discussion as soon as a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. As hard as it is to talk about, the sooner the better, while they are capable of discussing the issues. The personal desire for type of care might vary from one stage to another. For example, someone with mild dementia might ask to receive care that prolongs life as long as possible, whereas once a person has progressed to the severe stage of dementia where quality of life is not what it used to be, they may wish to exclude the use of breathing machines and resuscitation.

There are many resources available to help facilitate the conversation needed to fill out the dementia directive form. The Conversation Starter Project is dedicated to encouraging people to start having end of life conversations at the kitchen table, rather than in the ICU. The organization’s website is full of useful tools, including a starter kit designed for loved ones of someone recently diagnosed with dementia.

Locally, you can get help from GotPlans123.org. This organization is a partnership between Hospice & Palliative Care Center, Novant Health, Rowan Hospice & Palliative care ad Wake Forest Baptist Health. The purpose is to educate and provide support for families throughout the Triad region as they deal with end of life planning. In addition to a thorough website, the group holds workshops throughout the region where you can go to learn more about end of life planning and how to get started and go about it.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s never too soon to start having the end of life discussion. And as care options come up for discussion, remember that our exceptional staff of caregivers at Piedmont HomeHealth can help you navigate through the stages of dementia. We can help you stay at home if that’s what you wish, without overburdening your family and loved ones.

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 your loved one safe and happy.

Occupational Therapy’s Benefits for Seniors

therapyApril is Occupational Therapy Month, and here at Piedmont HomeHealth we wanted to take time to celebrate this very beneficial service. Many of our clients have benefited from sessions with trained occupational therapists, whether it be just one or two sessions or ongoing treatment.
By sharing some of the benefits, we hope more people will become aware of the advantages of occupational therapy, and how it can help enhance the quality of life as we age.

Occupational therapy is a profession that focuses on helping people of all ages do things they want and need through daily activities. Occupational therapists work to promote health and prevent, or help people live better with, injury, illness or disability. For older adults, occupational therapists can bring benefits such as:

Recommending Home Modifications. Something as simple as replacing a toilet with one that’s taller or adding grab bars to the shower can help reduce pain and help avoid falls. An occupational therapist is able to assess your living situation and make recommendations that will help you live easier and safer.

Assistance for Everyday Tasks. For people suffering from arthritis or mobility issues, something as simple as taking a bath or getting dressed can be painful and time consuming. Occupational therapists can provide tips to make these tasks more manageable, as well as exercises to improve range of motion and lessen pain.

Support for Memory Loss. There is no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s, but with therapy many patients show improvement in symptoms. Occupational therapists can help patients and their caregivers adapt to memory loss and provide tools such as simple crossword puzzles to
engage the brain, signs around the house for people who are disoriented, and techniques for caregivers working with clients who might suffer personality changes.

Occupational therapists take a holistic approach to health and lifestyle. That’s why you’ll see recommendations for things on the practical side, like figuring out the proper height for grab bars in the shower or increasing the lighting in your home to prevent falls. But they also provide exercises to help strengthen the body for you to continue performing daily tasks, and look at safety issues concerning low vision or driving habits. The goal is to help you live your life to the fullest, and often occupational therapists are instrumental in helping elderly people remain at home rather than having to move to an assisted living facility.

Our nurses and caregivers at Piedmont Home Health are always excited to work with occupational therapists to help our clients improve their quality of life. To learn more about the profession, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association site, where you’ll find resources and tip sheets.

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 your loved one safe and happy.

Take Up a New Hobby, It’s Good for You

gardeningWe’ve all heard the old cliché “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The saying is popular because many times the older we get, the more set in our ways we become. But the truth is, learning something new has many benefits.

Help ward off dementia. Learning something new is good for the brain. Of course it helps add to the amount of things that you know, but exercising your brain is also a way to help ward off dementia. Whether you’re learning a new language or picking up Sudoku, you’re keeping your brain active.

Increase social opportunities. Many times, having a hobby can lead you to groups of people who share your interests, which gets you out of the house and gives you the chance to make new friends. Things like Master Gardener groups, quilting or knitting groups and book clubs are fun and good for the brain.

Keep you Occupied. Often, people who are working into their 60s will say they’re worried about retirement. The idea of days filled with empty hours can be daunting. But just think about how many times in your younger life you longed for time to pursue your interests. Now is the time to take those up, and having something to do that you look forward to is a great way to improve your mental health.

The opportunities are endless when it comes to choosing a new hobby as a senior. For people interested in the arts, look into creative hobbies such as quilting, knitting, performing in the community theater, playing an instrument, or taking up painting. There are academic pursuits that can expand your horizons, from book clubs to learning a new language. You might even be able to audit a college course at a local campus. There are many colleges and universities in Greensboro and Winston-Salem that offer this type of opportunity.

There are even hobbies you can pursue at your own home, such as cooking or gardening. Maybe you’ve cooked for years in a practical way to feed your family and that doesn’t seem interesting. Find new ways to make it exciting, like learning more about making pastries or studying up on a
different culture’s cuisine. For help in finding local resources and groups of people with similar interests, check out some of these organizations.

Piedmont Quilters Guild
Master Gardeners: Guilford County, Forsyth County
Community Theatre of Greensboro

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

Heart Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors

heart healthyFebruary is American Heart Month, a time set aside to focus on heart health and encourage healthy lifestyles, a designation that is important as heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. In the United States alone, there are more than 610,000 deaths a year, and that number is only expected to grow.

In the effort of doing our part to bring awareness to heart disease, here at Piedmont HomeHealth we wanted to talk about one of the things everyone has control over that can help reduce the risks of heart disease — diet. Having a poor diet and being overweight are two factors that contribute to heart disease complications and death.

For seniors, paying attention to the foods we eat is important, in part because as we age, our bodies have a need for fewer calories. That means it’s even more important that what we do eat be good for our health. Here are a few things to incorporate into your overall diet in order to eat in a more heart-healthy way.

Reduce sodium intake. We all know this is easier said than done. Almost everything we eat that is processed or packaged contains sodium. It’s important to read nutrition labels to know just how much sodium you’re taking in each day. The recommended amount is 2,400 mg per day, but
reducing it down to 1,500 mg is even better for controlling high blood pressure. Reducing the amount of processed foods you eat is one way to lower sodium intake. You can also try cooking with less salt by substituting herbs and spices to season your favorite foods.

Cut back on added sugars. Sodas are one of the most popular culprits of added sugar into our diet, but did you know even things with a reputation for being “good for you” can be loaded with added sugars? Take a look at the nutrition label on a container of your favorite yogurt one day, and you might be surprised. Simple steps such as cutting back the amount of sugar you put in your coffee or looking for canned fruits in natural juices rather than syrup can help improve your diet.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. This is important for so many reasons, in addition to being good for your heart. Fruits and vegetables contain the vitamins and nutrients important for seniors, who need more calcium and Vitamin D than younger adults. They’re also a good source of fiber. Check out our list of local farmer’s markets to find some good places to stock up on local fruits and vegetables. Buying in season makes them even better!

For more ideas to incorporate healthy eating habits into your diet, check out EatRight.org, which has great resources for seniors.

At Piedmont HomeHealth, we are committed to helping everyone in the Winston-Salem area and Piedmont Triad region live a healthy, independent lifestyle. If you or a loved one is in need of help with meeting these goals, whether it’s making healthy meals or getting to the doctor, give us a call today. We’ll be glad to talk with you about our options to help east your worries.

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

Cold Weather Safety for Older Adults

in home care ncThe first days of 2018 brought record-breaking cold temperatures for North Carolina, with a few consecutive days when temperatures didn’t go above freezing. While that was somewhat unusual, it’s not unusual to have some cold days in the winter. Here in the Piedmont Triad, we’re used to roller-coaster- like changes in the weather, especially during the winter months. One day you might have bright blue skies and frigid cold temperatures thanks to an arctic blast from the north, while the next day will bring highs in the 50s and lots of drizzle as moisture creeps up from the Gulf. But through it all, winter is pretty chilly, whether the temperatures are below freezing or not.

For the elderly cold temperatures aren’t just something to talk about, they can actually be harmful to your health. The reason is that as we age, our bodies become less adept at maintaining body heat. Decreasing muscle mass, a thinning layer of body fat, and slower metabolism all factor into a decreased ability to stay warm. In addition, some diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease, can also make it harder for a body to stay warm.

Most of us know to protect ourselves when venturing outside in cold weather. All those times when we were kids and our mothers reminded us to put on our hat and gloves make an imprint on us. But for the elderly, it’s important to stay warm inside the house as well as outside. The dangers of hypothermia are real, and you can get too cold even when indoors.

If you’ve ever been to visit your elderly parent and felt like you were going to break a sweat because the heat was up so high, that’s probably a good thing. It’s important to keep the house or apartment warm, not only because older people’s bodies don’t retain heat as well but also because they’re not very active, and sitting around is when you feel colder. Inside temperatures should be at least 68 degrees or higher. If you’re worried about high utility costs, you can close off the rooms you’re not in during the day, and put a rolled up blanket at the door sill to keep the cold air out.

Other things to consider are dressing in loose layers. The space in between the layers of clothing will help insulate you and keep you warm. Also be sure to wear socks and shoes to keep your feet warm, and use those decorative throws to keep your legs warm when watching TV or reading in your favorite chair.

Eating good meals three times a day is another way to help your body keep warm. Body fat is important, and warm foods like soups and stews can increase your warmth and provide comfort at the same time.

Most importantly, be aware of the signs of hypothermia, so if you or your loved one is starting to become too cold you can seek medical attention. These include:
– Slowed speech
– Shivering
– Cold feet and hands
– Drowsiness
– Pale Skin

Here at Piedmont HomeHealth, we are concerned about the safety of our clients and all older citizens at all times, but especially during the extreme cold and extreme heat of the winter and summer months, when the weather can adversely affect health. If you have an elderly loved one, be sure to check on them this time of year to make sure they are keeping warm and safe.

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