CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 7. Issue 4 | Home Care Assistance CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 7. Issue 4 | Home Care Assistance

CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 7. Issue 4

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Letter From the Editor:

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are right around the corner with December just two short weeks away. This is our favorite time of year, full of festive gatherings with loved ones and delicious meals centered around many of our seasonal favorites such as sweet potatoes, turkey and pumpkin pie. While winter is marked by holiday celebrations, it is also the most common season for the flu. As we age, our immune systems become less adept at fighting infections and viruses, with individuals ages 65 and older accounting for nearly sixty percent of flu-related hospitalizations. As a result, doctors generally recommend that all seniors get an annual flu shot. Flu vaccines are available at many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments and pharmacies, even if you do not have a regular primary physician.

In this issue of our CareNotes Newsletter, we share information about our partnership with Wish of a Lifetime, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering respect and appreciation for seniors by granting life-enriching wishes. With shared missions to change the way that society views aging and improve the quality of life of seniors across North America, we are sponsoring one wish for a very deserving senior. The deadline to nominate yourself or a loved one to have a wish granted is next Tuesday, November 25th. You can apply by visiting In this newsletter, we also share new, cutting-edge research on Memory Banking (MB), which was featured in this quarter’s publication of the Journal of Aging and Health. MB, a non-pharmacological, behavior-based intervention to improve quality of life, is described as a “life story development intervention” in which participants map out their “future dreams, aspirations, plans, and decisions.” On the topic of improving quality of life, we also share six hidden health benefits of pumpkins—from promoting skin elasticity and eye health to reducing levels of “bad” cholesterol, pumpkin is a great addition to your daily diet, especially during this time of year when they are in season. Last, but not least, I would like to congratulate our Caregiver of the Month, Yhanna Brea, from Home Care Assistance of Naples, Florida! Yhanna’s compassion, positive attitude and genuine love for the caregiving profession set her apart and make her a favorite among her clients, their families and her peers. We are lucky to have her as a member of the Home Care Assistance team!

Home Care Assistance to Grant One Lifelong Wish for a Special Senior


Home Care Assistance to Grant One Lifelong Wish for a Special Senior

Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of in-home care for seniors, has partnered with Wish of a Lifetime, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering respect and appreciation for seniors by granting life-enriching wishes. Both companies are committed to changing the way that society views aging and improving the quality of life of seniors across North America. To this end, Home Care Assistance is proud to sponsor one wish for a very deserving senior. Wish of a Lifetime has already fulfilled life changing wishes for over 950 seniors across the country. One such wish recipient was Tom, a man who had always been fascinated by cultures around the world, but was unable to travel because of his end-stage COPD. His wish was to visually “visit” various countries through postcards; he received nearly 3,000 postcards from all 50 states and more than 90 countries, which gave him the “courage to go on”. A year and a half later, he is off of hospice and doing well. If you or a loved one is eligible to apply based on the criteria below, you can submit your “Wish of a Lifetime” to Home Care Assistance by visiting wish submissions must be received no later than Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern.

Because “our companies’ missions are so closely aligned, partnering with Wish of a Lifetime made perfect sense,” said Lily Sarafan, President of Home Care Assistance. “We are very excited about this opportunity to live out our mission to change the way the world ages and give back to seniors.”

In order to be considered, wish nominees must fulfill the following criteria. They must:

  • Be a minimum age of 65
  • Be a legal resident or citizen of the United States of America 
  • Be unable to fulfill the wish independently 
  • Be capable of experiencing the wish
  • Not be convicted of a felony
  • Be able to obtain approval from a doctor, if necessary

“Through partnerships with organizations and socially responsible businesses like Home Care Assistance, we are able to touch the lives of many deserving seniors,” said Jillaina Wachendorf, CEO of Wish of a Lifetime. “We are grateful to have their help in changing the way our society views and values our oldest citizens.”

For more information about Home Care Assistance’s Wish Possible campaign, or to nominate yourself or a loved one, visit or pick up a copy of the Wish application from your local Home Care Assistance office.

Memory Banking: An Innovative Approach to Improving Mental Health in Older Adults


Memory Banking: An Innovative Approach to Improving Mental Health in Older Adults

Many of the most interesting and innovative research studies to emerge in gerontology are focused on non-pharmacological, behavior-based interventions to improve quality of life. Changing the Way the World Ages, Home Care Assistance’s trusted news source for men and women of any age who share a healthy obsession with longevity and wellness, often highlights this research because it is in line with our mission to embrace the journey of aging, and find meaning and a sense of purpose at each of stage of life.

In this quarter’s peer-reviewed Journal of Aging and Healtha group of researchers, headed by the University of Maryland’s Faika Zanjani, explored a novel intervention to promote improved mental health in aging adults: Memory Banking (MB). MB is described as a “life story development intervention” in which participants map out their “future dreams, aspirations, plans, and decisions.”

The MB project stemmed from a realization that despite a consistently increasing lifespan, “…as a society, we have a hard time identifying with our aging selves…” The authors attribute this disconnect partially to ageism, which paints a less than ideal picture of aging, contributing to anxiety rather than excitement about growling older. The authors also feel that there is a lack of promotion of reflection and planning for the future in terms of managing the types of roles and activities that can come with increasing age, such as being grandparents, retirees, caregivers and/or care recipients.

MB is built on research that has found that individuals who take the time to engage in “narrative life history interviews,” essentially talking about and sharing stories about their lives, are more personally satisfied and exhibit better mental health outcomes than their counterparts who do not participate in the same social reminiscence. The mental health benefit is in part attributed to the socialization factor – emotional support from others reduces stress, depression and loneliness. The MB program as utilized in this study involved asking participants to share stories related to the following eight life domains:

  • Family/friends
  • Work/volunteering
  • Spirituality
  • Place/home
  • Education/learning
  • Leisure/hobbies
  • Health
  • Historical contexts

Individuals not only shared their life stories to date, but also future dreams, aspirations, plans, and decisions related to these specific life domains. It’s not hard to imagine why the innovative program contributed to improved mental health outcomes in individuals who participated; avoidance of important topics such as health and family as they relate to aging can lead to increased anxiety and distress as well as a feeling of being ill-prepared when changes do occur. Being reflective about ones’ past and mindful about one’s future can promote mastery and confidence.

What do you think of the Memory Banking (MB) approach to mental health? What are some of your future goals and plans?

6 Health Benefits of Pumpkins


6 Health Benefits of Pumpkins

It’s that time of year again where visits to the pumpkin patch are commonplace and a slice of pumpkin pie has your name written all over it. From spiced lattes to raviolis to desserts, this seasonal squash is often the centerpiece of the fall season. Versatile and delicious, pumpkins also have many hidden health benefits. Below are 6 health perks of pumpkins to celebrate this season:

  • Skin-protecting: One cup of pumpkin has 245% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which promotes skin elasticity and stability, and supports eye health and aids vision, especially in dim lighting.
  • Fiber-rich: In addition to being low in calories, this super food is loaded with fiber to keep you fuller for longer; now it will be easier to resist eating too many holiday sweets.
  • Heart-healthy: Pumpkin seeds are high in dietary fiber and mono-saturated fatty acids, which are proven to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol and manage blood pressure.
  • Immunity-Boosting: Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, which is important for immunity, healthy sleep and mood.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: Pumpkin seed oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can even help relieve some symptoms associated with autoimmune conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Cancer-Fighting: This power comes from the same source as the pumpkin’s bright orange color – the antioxidant beta-carotene. Studies show that a diet rich in beta-carotene is associated with a decreased risk of developing some cancers.

Below are some easy ways to get your daily dose of this super food:

  • Blend it! Throw some canned pumpkin in a blender with almond milk, spices and ice cubes and voilà- your very own pumpkin pie shake that is low-cal and delicious! If you’re in the mood for a savory snack, blend the pumpkin puree with onion, garlic and broth, and heat for a delicious fall soup.
  • Warm it up! Stir canned pumpkin and maple syrup into your oatmeal for a delicious way to start your day.
  • Roast it! Pumpkin chili is sure to hit the spot at dinnertime. Roasting a pumpkin and then cooking it with tomatoes, veggies, garlic, spices and black beans makes for a hearty meal that won’t weigh you down.

What are some of your favorite pumpkin recipes? Share them with us by replying to this email or on Facebook!

Caregiver of the Month Spotlight: Yhanna Brea


Caregiver of the Month Spotlight: Yhanna Brea

November’s Caregiver of the Month is Yhanna Brea from Home Care Assistance of Naples, Florida!

Yhanna joined the Home Care Assistance team this past August but has been a caregiver for over ten years. She is truly passionate about what she does –a trait that has made her a favorite among her clients and their families. Her clients benefit from her loving companionship, positive attitude and genuine love of people while their families are provided peace of mind knowing their loved ones are in excellent hands. Yhanna’s compassion is apparent in the photos and videos she shares with the clients’ families, capturing special moments and memories. Families love nothing more than seeing their loved ones actively participating in and fully enjoying their favorite activities.

Yhanna is currently staffed on a very physically and emotionally difficult case, and she has risen to the occasion with such grace. Her dedication to providing the best care to her clients does not waver.

As an employee, Yhanna is truly a team player. Whether it’s assisting other caregivers, helping out in the office or filling in when emergencies arise, Yhanna is always willing to lend a hand. Home Care Assistance of Naples is proud to have Yhanna on their team!