CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 4. Issue 8
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Letter From the Editor:
In celebration of the holiday season, Home Care Assistance dedicates 12 days every December to education, appreciation and volunteerism. The 12 Days of Caring
program gives thanks to the thousands of Home Care Assistance caregivers who dedicate their lives to the well-being of seniors; the program also engages our communities through charitable giving and compassion.
In this month’s newsletter I will discuss recent scientific findings on building muscle mass in active seniors and how it rivals that of their 40-year-old counterparts as well as how exercise coupled with a proper diet can offset osteoporosis and diabetes. These diseases are concerning and continue to affect more and more older adults each year. The good news is that we can take preventive measures, such as basic lifestyle and dietary changes, to help combat these diseases and live a happier, healthier life.
Lastly, I would like to congratulate Lula Green from Home Care Assistance of Greater South Houston for being selected for this month’s Caregiver Spotlight. We would like to recognize Lula for the extraordinary job that she does and to share the story of how she came to be a caregiver for Home Care Assistance!
What Does Travel Mean for Caregivers?
Everybody travels. Whether for work or pleasure, many of us will find ourselves in situations where we need to be away from the home for various points throughout the year. In recent years, advances such as online flight booking and mobile boarding passes have made many aspects of travel relatively simple. However, as Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian describe in their article entitled “When It's Time to Hit the Road,” planning a trip can become a serious logistical challenge for caregivers.
A plethora of questions arise in such a circumstance. Should I take my elderly parent with me? Should I enlist friends and family to watch after them at home? How will they adapt to being away from familiar surroundings? To answer these questions and others, Susan Lutz, project manager at AARP, was consulted to share her valuable insights.
The best option, as stated by Ms. Lutz, is to ask a friend or family member who is already helping to care for your parent to stand in for you while you are away. This allows three things to happen: you, as a caregiver, can go on your trip, your elderly parent remains in a place they with which they are familiar and most important, you have left your loved one with somebody they are can trust and with whom they can feel safe. However, if this option is not available, it is essential to keep the concept of familiarity in mind if you do choose to have your loved one accompany you on your trip.
After consulting with a doctor to ensure that that your loved one is able to travel, it is integral to plan ahead for anything that could occur throughout the duration of your trip. Ms. Lutz and several other authorities on caregiving compiled a list of suggestions on how to make traveling with an older adult less complicated for both you and your loved one.
Medication planning is of the utmost importance when planning any trip away from home. Finding oneself out of medications in unfamiliar surroundings is an extremely undesirable scenario that can be avoided with the use of medication checklist to ensure that you will have and adequate supply of all necessary medications.
As for travel, plan to make twice as many stops as usual and locate hospitals and care centers on your route and in your final destination ahead of time. Make sure to stay on a regular meal schedule so as not to throw off family members with cognitive impairment. Bring a deck of cards or some other activity that your loved one enjoys to promote mental stimulation and enjoyment.
A structured trip for which you have planned and prepared ahead of time will ensure your traveling experience is safe, well-coordinated and carefree!
World Osteoporosis Day 2011
October 20th was World Osteoporosis Day; osteoporosis is a debilitating disease which affects the bones and is most prominent in the elderly. Over 45 million individuals throughout the United States and Canada are either currently living with osteoporosis, or are at a high risk for it.
A recent article I read discussed the threat of osteoporosis on an international scale as the disease is also becoming a major concern in India. Over the next several years, India is projected to have 36 million cases of osteoporosis—notably, this is still is dramatically lower than the current number of cases in the United States and Canada, further underscoring the severity of the problem.
This spurred me to ask: what is driving up the percentage of individuals living with osteoporosis and how can we stop this number from progressing?
To answer this question, we need to look no further than our diet. Raju Vaishya, the President of the Arthritis Care Foundation says that, “Dietary habits are changing very fast. More and more people are relying on junk or processed food instead of a regular balanced diet which has calcium, Vitamin D and other minerals.” He goes on to explain that “extreme alcohol consumption, cigarette smoke, a diet low in calcium and a family history of osteoporosis” are four major contributing factors of the disease.
Given this information, we need to all be cognizant of these four causes and do what we can to alter our diet and lifestyle to reduce our osteoporosis risk. By placing an emphasis on consuming foods and beverages high in Calcium as well as taking a Calcium supplement, you will have a better chance of avoiding this disease and doing your part to ensure healthy longevity.
Consistent Exercise Prevents Muscle Loss as We Age
As we age, frailty kicks in as the body begins to lose muscle tissue. Some studies have even shown that as individuals age, not only is muscle progressively lost, but the remaining tissue is often lower in quality and strength as a result of being infiltrated with fat.
A recent study found that consistent exercise is a vital lifestyle behavior to prevent muscle loss. A study was recently conducted among people ranging in age from 40-70 years old, who exercised 4-5 times a week; the results were encouraging in underscoring the importance of regular exercise.
“There was little evidence of deterioration in the older athletes’ musculature. The athletes in their 70s and 80s had almost as much thigh muscle mass as the athletes in their 40s with minor, if any, fat infiltration. The athletes also remained strong.”
“What we can say with certainty is that any activity is better than none,” Dr. Wright said, “and more is probably better than less. But the bigger message is that it looks as if how we age can be under our control. Through exercise, you can preserve muscle mass and strength and avoid the decline from vitality to frailty.”
Make a commitment to yourself and your health today to increase your physical activity in the spirit of healthy muscles and bones. Research continues to demonstrate that any activity is better than none, so whether it is as simple as walking to the grocery store instead of driving or planning weekly hikes with a friend, think of creative ways to boost your physical activity.
Caregiver of the Month Spotlight: Lula Green
This month’s Caregiver Spotlight features Lula Green of Home Care Assistance of Greater South Houston. We would like to recognize Lula for the extraordinary job that she does and to share the story of how she came to be a caregiver for Home Care Assistance.
It was in fact Lula’s daughter, Michelle, who first approached Home Care Assistance, walking into the Greater South Houston office to inquire whether the office was hiring. Michelle emphatically told the South Houston team, “My mother is the greatest caregiver of them all. You won’t be disappointed!” And indeed, Lula has proven to be an invaluable resource and a true gift to every client with whom she interacts.
Lula completed a CNA (Certified Nurse Aide) course in 1970 and has spent the past 40 years actively involved in various hospital and nursing home settings. One of Lula’s patients once told her she had “healing hands”, which is further evidenced by the glowing reviews her current clients provide. One of Lula’s greatest attributes is her ability to establish trust and build a meaningful rapport with clients, allowing them to openly and honestly share their needs and concerns. She performs her duties with a sense of pride and compassion that enables her to be a truly exceptional caregiver. Lula is always positive, self-motivated, gentle and kind to those around her.
Lula says she is blessed by Home Care Assistance. Lula, we are equally blessed to have you on our staff!