by Teresa Steinfatt on November 25th, 2015

All caregivers know it to be true, especially family caregivers: a person's care needs do not start at 8am and stop at 5pm. Caregiving is a 24/7 job, with surprises at all hours of the day. Now, add "The Holidays" to the regular stressors of a caregiver's daily life and things go topsy-turvy, quickly. 

At Home Instead Senior Care, we get it. That's why you can always reach a member of our staff to set up services for your loved one - no matter what day of the year, or time of the day. We always have a staffing coordinator and customer service representative on-call for emergencies.

The holidays are probably one of the best times of the year to set up care for your loved one. Stressors in your life, and theirs, can lead to exhaustion, poor sleeping habits and mood swings, even depression, which can lead to illness, heart attack, stroke, or falls.

Besides the fact that no one likes to be tired, injured or ill, you know that, as a caregiver, you can't take a sick day because your loved one's care needs never take time off. And not being able to provide the best care possible to your loved one can put them at risk, as well.

By calling Home Instead today, we can help you set up a schedule that fits your - and your loved one's - specific needs to help keep you on your caregiving "A" game and keep your loved one safe. Call us in Richmond at 804.527.1100 or in Tappahannock at 804.443.4885 - we're here to keep your holiday season happy, healthy and safe!

by Teresa Steinfatt on November 4th, 2015

This is a guest blog post, written by Kristie Dooley, 2016 PharmD Candidate and current employee of Bremo Pharmacy. November is American Diabetes Month, so it's a great time to look at all the different ways to manage our health.

There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed. Balancing the food you eat with exercise and medicine (if prescribed) will help you control your weight and can keep your blood glucose in the healthy range. This can help prevent or delay complications. Many people with diabetes live long and healthful lives.

Here are some tips on living with diabetes.
 
Immunizations: Having the flu and pneumonia can be dangerous for anyone. But it is extra risky for people with diabetes or other chronic health problems.

Every person with diabetes needs a flu shot each year. Flu shots do not give 100% protection, but they do make it much harder for you to catch the flu. Also, a pneumonia shot is recommended for anyone with diabetes aged 2 or older. You can get a pneumonia shot anytime during the year. A pneumonia shot can protect you from other infections caused by the same bacteria!

Eye Care: There are steps you can take to avoid eye problems.
  • Take care of your diabetes. Work with your health care team to keep your blood glucose in your target range.
  • Bring high blood pressure under control. High blood pressure can make eye problems worse.
  • Quit smoking. There are many options, including over-the-counter and prescriptions medications to help you quit and stay ‘smoke free’. Talk to your pharmacist to discuss smoking cessation options right for you.
  • See your eye care professional at least once a year for a dilated eye exam. Having your regular doctor look at your eyes is not enough, nor is having your eyeglass prescription tested by an optician. Only optometrists and ophthalmologists can detect the signs of retinopathy. Only ophthalmologists can treat retinopathy. 

Foot Care: There are many things you can do to keep your feet healthy.
  • Take care of your diabetes. Work with your health care team to keep your blood glucose in your target range.
  • Check your feet every day. Look at your bare feet for red spots, cuts, swelling, and blisters. If you cannot see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.
  • Be more active. Plan your physical activity program with your health care team.
  • Ask your doctor and pharmacist about Medicare coverage for special shoes.
  • Wash your feet every day. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes.Keep your skin soft and smooth. Rub a thin coat of skin lotion over the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes.
  • If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them when needed. Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges with an emery board or nail file.
  • Wear shoes and socks at all times. Never walk barefoot. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Check inside your shoes before wearing them. Make sure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
  • Protect your feet from hot and cold. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Don't put your feet into hot water. Test water before putting your feet in it just as you would before bathing a baby. Never use hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets. You can burn your feet without realizing it.
  • Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for 5 minutes, two or three times a day. Don't cross your legs for long periods of time. Don't smoke.
  • Get started now. Begin taking good care of your feet today.  Set a time every day to check your feet.

by Teresa Steinfatt on October 1st, 2015

A new study has found that sleeping more than eight hours a day could increase your risk for stroke.

Read the whole study findings by clicking here.

 
Researchers studied 9,692 people, ages 42 to 81, who had never had a stroke. The study tracked how many hours a night the people slept at the beginning of the study and how much nightly sleep they were getting four years later. Over the 10-year study, 346 of the study subjects suffered strokes.

After accounting for other health and behavioral variables, researchers discovered that people who slept more than eight hours a day were 46% more likely to have had a stroke than those who slept six to eight hours.

The study also found that the risk of stroke increased among people who reported that their need for sleep had increased over the study period.

The study points out that older adults may naturally sleep longer due to reduced work and social demands. However, their self-reports of sleep time are typically less than they actually sleep. Therefore, it is worth noting excessive sleep as an early sign of increased stroke risk, particularly among older people.

If you are already at risk for a stroke, it's important to discuss your sleep habits with your doctor. If you notice your sleep patterns change, be sure to alert your doctor.​

by Teresa Steinfatt on September 24th, 2015

​While "fall cleaning" doesn't have the same ring as it does in the spring, this time of year is one of the best to clean house before we're all relegated indoors all winter long.

For those caring for an older loved one, though, the thought of cleaning their home may be a bit overwhelming. Decades of memories and their physical reminders may have left Mom's home cluttered. But what if she can't or won't give up all the stuff?
First, it helps to understand why they are holding on to the items. There may be a sentimental attachment to the item, or they feel obligated to keep things that were given as gifts. You may not be able to convince her to give these items away, but perhaps she would consider regifting an item to a grandchild or dear friend.

For many older adults, there may be a fear that they may need the item someday. For those who lived through the Great Depression, conserving items and reusing them became a staple. Reassure your loved one, that someone else may need this right now, and that you'd be happy to let them borrow yours when they need it.

Believe it or not, loneliness and fatigue can be reasons seniors hold on to items. Unneeded objects can become a companion for lonely seniors. Loneliness may also lead to depression, which makes it difficult for seniors to get organized. Consider the services of a professional caregiver. And if there is just too much stuff for your loved one to go through, or their health makes it difficult, consider hiring a professional organizer, helping them establish online bill paying, and getting them off the junk mail lists.

So how do you go about getting all the clutter in its place? Make a game plan.

Understand this likely won't be a one-day event. Take a quick inventory of the house and list what needs to be done. Are the areas your loved one can do on their own like a linen closet or a cedar chest? They can try to organize these areas on days you may not have time to work on a bigger project with them.

Go through your list of areas that need to be organized, and tackle them one by one. Be sure to have three containers: keep, donate, and trash. Also consider bringing some paper grocery bags. These come in handy if Mom wants to give something as a gift – simply put the item in the bag, write the recipient's name on it and get it delivered.

Keep an eye on your aging loved one through the process. Beyond the physical toll of the work, the emotional toll may be difficult. Take breaks when you need to, but try to push on the best you can. It's also important to remember that your aging loved one needs to make the decision on each item. You can keep the project going, but ultimately, they need to have the control of deciding where items go.

After you've gone through everything, put the keep bin items away, toss the trash, and take the donate bin to a local charity.

And do remember that many of the things you'll be going through have a special memory for your loved one. Don't get too caught up in the organizing that you forget to take a little stroll down memory lane. You might be surprised at the stories you'll hear.

Find more resources for senior clutter issues, including how to get of those junk mail lists here. 

by Teresa Steinfatt on July 16th, 2015

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), adults age 65 and older are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fire. And where do the majority of these fires occur? In the home. More specifically? In the kitchen.

Seniors are at a higher risk from fire hazards for a variety of reasons: they are slower and less agile, so they are unable to escape as quickly; they take medications that can further cloud their judgement and mobility; they suffer from loss of hearing, sight and/or smell, which are key senses to alerting them of a fire; and their demented memory distracts them from attending to immediate fire hazards such as open flames (candles, cigarettes, fireplaces, heaters, ovens and stoves).

A task as simple as hiring a contractor to inspect and repair water heaters and HVAC units once per year can turn a happy home into a fiery death trap. 

The NFPA recommends these fire safety tips to reduce the risk of injury from fire:
  • Stay low - Consider sleeping in a room on the ground floor in order to make emergency escape easier. 
  • Check the alarms - The majority of fire-related fatalities occur when residents are sleeping and, unfortunately, smoke inhalation from a fire can put you into a deeper sleep. Make sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors are working, with fresh batteries!
  • Practice! - Conduct regular fire drills to make sure you know what to do in the event of a home fire. 
  • Create openings - All doors and windows should be easy and quick to open.
  • ICE - Ensure that everyone has access to a telephone and In Case of Emergency (ICE) contacts.
​Click here to take the interactive home safety tour and learn how you can better prepare your aging loved ones to live independently - and safely - in their homes. Then, visit FireSafety.HomeInsteadRichmond.com for more tips and safety resources.

by Teresa Steinfatt on July 13th, 2015

Living alone presents a variety of home safety hazards - financial and personal information security threats, fall risks, fire hazards and much more. Especially for our aging loved ones suffering from hearing loss, poor eyesight, lacking sense of smell, Alzheimer’s or dementia, medications that cause drowsiness, deep sleep patterns, and/or anxiety or depression, normal routines of daily life can turn into serious health risks. 

So, how can you tell if your aging loved one is at risk from fire hazards? Start by asking yourself if you trust your senior loved one to successfully and, most importantly, safely complete the following tasks...
  • ​Prepare a meal without interruption
  • Empty the lint collection in the dryer after each load of laundry
  • Manage the heating system, including scheduling annual check-ups on equipment
  • Fully extinguish candles or cigarettes
  • Keep outlets clear of debrisKeep electrical systems up to date
  • Properly store flammable liquids away from heat or flames
  • Call for the appropriate help in an emergency
If you're beginning to doubt your loved one's abilities to manage these seemingly-simple tasks, then your loved one is already at risk. 

Many adult children we meet say, "well Mom's only a little forgetful." We ask them to imagine that she forgets she's got the kettle boiling on the stove. What if she leaves the house? What if she falls asleep? And, perhaps more importantly, when a fire breaks out, would she recognize the danger? Would she know her proper escape route? In the face of that emergency, would she be able to call for the appropriate help?

"A little forgetful" means "AT RISK" and there is no sliding scale of "somewhat at risk" to "very at risk." When you are at risk for a fire hazard, your life is in jeopardy. 

Home Instead offers seniors and their families assistance and peace of mind by acting as a safety net. We can be there to ensure your loved one is as safe as possible when carrying out activities of daily living that put him/her at risk.

If your aging loved one is at risk from fire hazards, call us today to schedule a free in-home care consultation.
Tappahannock: 804.443.4885  |  Richmond: 804.527.1100


by Teresa Steinfatt on June 15th, 2015

Caregiving can be a full-time job, seven days a week...on top of the full-time jobs that we juggle Monday-Friday. We all know it's true.

What some of us don't realize though - even ourselves - is the amount of work we truly do while caring for our loved ones. We look back at the day and think "well I did this and that, but why I am so tired?" It's because caregiving is emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically stressful.

Just think about the mental and physical strength needed to complete each of the tasks on a regular basis for someone else (plus yourself):
  • ​Getting in and out of beds and chairs
  • Getting dressed
  • Getting to and from the toilet
  • Bathing or showering
  • Feeding
  • Dealing with incontinence or diapers
  • Transportation
  • Grocery or other shopping
  • Housework
  • Preparing meals
  • Managing finances
  • Giving medications, pills, or injections
  • Arranging outside services
  • Monitoring health of loved one
  • Communicating with health care professionals
  • Advocating with providers, services, agencies
Now add in other family members such as a spouse, children and even pets!

...Feeling exhausted yet? If so, you're not alone. According to the Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 research report, conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 40% of those surveyed reported caregiving for an adult to be a high burden. Take a look at Figure 11 from the report below:
What's the take-away here? Remember that you're not alone! For caregiving stress tips and advice, check out www.CaregiverStress.com

To read the entire research report, click here: Caregiving in the U.S. 2015.

If caregiving for an adult loved one has become a high burden for you, you could be at risk for health (mental, spiritual, emotional or physical) issues. Call us at 804.527.1100 (Richmond) or 804.443.4885 (Tappahannock) to see how we can help. 

Home Instead, Inc. is a proud sponsor of the Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 research report project.

by Teresa Steinfatt on June 11th, 2015

You're a caregiver. It's normal to push aside your own needs to provide the care your loved one needs. However, it's not healthy to continue doing so. You could be at-risk for stress, illness or worse...and even though you know the warning signs, are you looking out for them?

Take this short quiz* to see if you've lost sight of your own well-being. Just answer "yes" or "no" and then tally up all the "yes"es at the end.

During the past week or so, I have...
  1. Had trouble keeping my mind on what I was doing.
  2. Felt that I couldn't leave my loved one alone.
  3. Had difficulty making decisions.
  4. Felt completely overwhelmed.
  5. Felt useless and not needed.
  6. Felt lonely.
  7. Been upset that my loved one has changed so much from his/her former self.
  8. Felt a loss of privacy and/or personal time.
  9. Been edgy or irritable.
  10. Had sleep disturbed because of caring for my loved one.
  11. Had a crying spell.
  12. Felt strained between work and family responsibilities.
  13. Had back pain.
  14. Felt ill (headaches, stomach problems, or common cold).
  15. Been unsatisfied with the support my family has given me.
  16. Found my love one's living situation to be inconvenient or a barrier to care.
Did you answer "yes" to any of those questions? If so, you could be at-risk for health (mental, emotional, spiritual or physical) issues. 

If so, give us a call. We can find a way to help balance or offset your caregiving responsibilities to give you a little "me time" and restore your well-being.

Call us in Richmond: 804.527.1100
Call us in Tappahannock: 804.443.4885

*Caregiving stress test adapted from an existing test developed by the American Medical Association (AMA).

by Teresa Steinfatt on June 8th, 2015















Would it surprise you to learn that there are more caregivers of adults than there are of children? 

Think about it: children, who live with family "caregivers" go to daycare day-in and day-out, but what about all the aging seniors who live at home with family? Most parents don't consider themselves caregivers, for this reason...while adult children of aging parents, do. 

Based on a recent research study ("Caregiving in the U.S. 2015") conducted by ​the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, ​"the estimated prevalence of caring for an adult is 16.6%, or 39.8 million Americans." Of those 39.8 million caregivers, nearly 14% (or ​33.3 million) provide care ONLY to an adult and ​2.7% (or 6.5 million) provide care to BOTH a child and an adult. 

As the Boomer Generation continues to age, we can only expect these numbers to increase. Especially as the Gen Y adults are choosing to have children later in their lives, the number of Americans who will care for both children and adults is expected to grow exponentially over the next few decades. 

Stay tuned to more facts from the ​Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 research study, or read the entire report by clicking here.

by Teresa Steinfatt on June 4th, 2015

With the pools finally open and all the hot weather we've had lately, a few of us (myself included) have suffered the wrath of the sun. So, while I lather on the aloe vera and curse myself for not being more diligent about wearing sunscreen, I think about our senior clients who can suffer much more harm than a simple sunburn.

The summer presents a variety of health hazards for aging adults. The sun, its UV rays and its overwhelming heat can all easily lead to skin trauma, dehydration, failure of body temperature regulation, stroke and heart attack. 

Protecting yourself, or an aging loved one, from the summertime dangers while still enjoying the warm outdoors, however, can be just as easy! Check out these 12 tips from Caring.com for Summer Safety for the Elderly:
  1. Stay Hydrated! Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration than younger people because they lose their ability to conserve water as they age. 
  2. Talk to Your Doctor. Check with your medical team to make sure any medications you are on won't be affected by higher temperatures -- especially if you don't have air conditioning in your home.
  3. Keep Your Cool. Even small increases in temperature can shorten the life expectancy for seniors who are coping with chronic medical conditions. Shopping malls, movie theaters and libraries provide welcome, cool spaces if a senior’s own home isn’t air conditioned. 
  4. Stay in Touch. High temperatures can be life-threatening, so you should let friends and family know if you'll be spending an extended period of time outdoors, even if you're only gardening.
  5. Meet Your Neighbors. If you are elderly, see if a younger neighbor -- perhaps even one of their kids -- can come by and check on you occasionally to make sure everything is all right. The extra company and friendship that can result is a bonus!
  6. Know Who to Call. Prepare a list of emergency phone numbers and place them in an easy to access area. 
  7. Wear the Right Stuff. Stock your summer wardrobe with light-colored and loose-fitting clothes to help feel cooler and more comfortable.
  8. Protect Your Eyes! Vision loss can be common among the elderly, and too much exposure to the sun can irritate eyes and cause further damage.
  9. Know the Risks of Hyperthermia. Make sure to know the warning signs and get medical attention immediately if you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms: 
    • Body temperature greater than 104 degrees
    • Change in behaviour, such as acting confused, agitated or grouchy
    • Dry, flushed skin
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Headache
    • Heavy breathing or a rapid pulse
    • Not sweating, even if it's hot out
    • Fainting
  10. Rub on Sunscreen and Wear Hats. Everyone, young and old, should wear sunscreen when outdoors. The elderly especially need the extra sun protection to help keep them healthy.
  11. Apply Bug Spray. The elderly population is particularly prone to West Nile Virus and encephalitis.
  12. Exercise Smart! If you enjoy outdoor activities such as walking or gardening, make sure to wear the proper clothing and protective gear. Do not stay out for long periods and make sure to drink even more water than usual when exercising.





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