Watch Home Care Assistance’s New Animated Video

For those of you who have seen Pixar’s movie Up, it will be of little surprise to you that this heartfelt movie inspired us to create our own animated film for Home Care Assistance to help educate our communities about home care and the resources available to help you and your loved ones age in the comfort and familiarity of home.

Our population is aging rapidly, and with an aging population comes an increased need for different care options. Many people still believe that moving into a facility is the only care option available. In reality, 9 out of 10 older adults have expressed a strong preference to “age in place” or stay in their own homes. This is the preferred alternative for the vast majority of seniors and one which can easily be achieved by enlisting help from a family caregiver or by hiring a professional caregiver from a reputable agency to provide in-home care on an hourly or live-in basis.

In an effort to further our mission to change the way the world ages and educate people about home care as a viable option, we have created a short, animated film describing the basics of in-home care and how caregivers can help older adults maintain independence at home.

This video is now available on our YouTube Channel. Please share it with your friends, family members or anyone who would benefit from its message. You can share this video easily online or via email with the social media buttons in the upper right hand corner. We hope you enjoy our story!

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Five Tips To Retire Succesfully

 

Retirement is the ultimate goal of many hard-working people worldwide. However, in reality, this next life stage offers its own unique challenges, and many of us are not quite prepared for them.

Once someone has retired, he or she still seeks to lead a meaningful life. Retirees will also have to account for their personal finances so that they can support themselves for what could be a period of many years.

Given that retirement is supposed to be a culmination of all the hard work you have put in throughout your life, here are five tips on how to enjoy it:

  1. Find what you are passionate about. This does not have to be something formal. It can be anything from traveling and gardening to reading and yoga. Your passion can be something completely unrelated to your former career. Will Wiebe, a certified life and career coach, suggests that retirees reconnect with a dream they once had that was interrupted. You can even try out another career that always interested you.
  2. Ease into it. If you are worried about how such a drastic change will affect you, ask your employer if you can start by reducing your hours. Retiring more slowly can make you feel like you are in better control of the situation.
  3. Get healthy. Make a doctor’s appointment so that you can retire feeling as healthy as possible and continue to be active. Rita Cheng, an ambassador of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, recommends that retirees focus on activities they can do, not on what they think they should do.
  4. Connect with people. Our careers can often limit our social lives. Look into connecting with people in your community who are doing things that interest you. This is a great time to search for organizations that need your particular set of skills and could use the help.
  5. Talk to you loved ones beforehand. Before making any decisions, discuss your plans with your spouse and your family. Author Jean Chatzky cautions that if a husband and wife have different ideas of how each wants to experience retirement, it can be a source of tension. Since retirement is a transition for all of your loved ones as well, be sure to let them know what to expect so that everyone can enjoy your next life stage.

When planning for your retirement, remember to consider your future state of mind as much as anything else. This will allow you to best benefit from a time in your life that should be both relaxing and meaningful.

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What You Need to Know About Vitamin D

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Over the past ten years, few supplements have been marketed as effectively as vitamin D. Between 2002 and 2011, over-the-counter sales increased more than ten-fold, much to the delight of many physicians. But this year, the CDC released a study that suggests fewer than eight percent of Americans are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, while it would require a large dosage, there is a risk of over-taxing your body, which can lead to kidney damage. In light of this information, here is a summary of vitamin D benefits, the recommended dosage and who should think about taking supplements.
Recent studies have confirmed conventional wisdom about vitamin D: it helps build stronger bones. It has also been shown to prevent certain types of cancer, dementia, diabetes and other diseases. The main source of vitamin D comes from the sun. Certain foods such as milk, cheese and orange juice are often fortified with the vitamin. The nutrient is vital to many aspects of your health, so these main sources are important to keep in mind when considering adding supplemental vitamin D to your diet.
There is no general consensus about how much vitamin D is necessary. National trends show that people are spending less time in the sun and are drinking less vitamin D-fortified milk. Data also demonstrates that our population is aging and becoming more overweight, which hinders vitamin D efficiency because older people do not synthesize it as well and fatty tissue sequesters it at high levels. How much you should take depends on who you ask. Recommended supplemental dosages range from 600 IUs (international units) to 5,000 IUs per day. A 2016 study by the National Institutes of Health on vitamin D will likely shed more light on how much is appropriate for daily consumption, but until then, disagreements over usage will continue to make decisions difficult for all of us.
So who really needs to supplement? Multiple studies have confirmed that skin color plays a prominent role. Most African-Americans should at least consider taking a supplement, as a CDC report demonstrates that the majority of African-Americans have insufficient blood levels of vitamin D. This is in contrast to the twelve percent of Mexican Americans and three percent of whites whose blood levels are low. Dark skin, acting as a natural sun block, shields the underlying metabolic processes from UV exposure, decreasing the amount of vitamin D synthesis that occurs. Older people should also consider supplementing, as they are at a greater risk of falling, and having stronger bones will lessen the impact of such accidents. People who live in the northern parts of the country or who spend much of their time indoors should also think about taking extra amounts of the vitamin. Finally, winter time everywhere is generally a good time to supplement, as sunlight is at a premium in many places.
Currently, there are few risks associated with taking too much vitamin D. However, knowing what is the ideal amount for you can help you be as healthy as possible, regardless of your ethnicity, age, or place of residence. Vitamin D is studied extensively across the country, so keep current with the latest news and information available.

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Study: Brain Changes Appear Twenty-Five Years Before Alzheimer’s Does

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Current Alzheimer’s drugs treat only the late symptoms of the disease. But a new study, led by Dr. Randall Bateman of Washington University in St. Louis, provides evidence that the disease can be detected up to twenty-five years before the dementia-related problems appear.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, outlines a series of alterations to brain and spinal tissue that precede the appearance of Alzheimer’s in those who are genetically predisposed to develop it.
Researchers collected data from 129 patients, monitoring their progress and using their family histories to estimate when they would begin to show signs. Dr. Bateman says this is the first report that we have of these changes in living people. Brain size fluctuations as well as the build-up of plaques in certain areas can occur as early as age forty-five; two decades before the earliest detection of symptoms.
The first of these changes, a decrease in the level of amyloid protein in the brain, occurred up to twenty-five years before the age researchers estimated the acute signs of the disease would appear for each patient. Clumps of cerebral beta amyloid, implicated in the plaque formation that accompanies Alzheimer’s, can be detected up to fifteen years before, and poor glucose utilization by the brain followed by memory slippage can occur ten years prior to symptoms.
Dr. Bateman is not yet certain if these same biological markers can be applied to those who develop the more common late-onset form of the affliction. But others are ready to use them as a means to test the effectiveness of a new set of drugs. According to Dr. Bateman, a new study is already underway that is testing the ability of three potential treatments on Alzheimer’s patients. The results of two of the drugs being used, bapineuzumab from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson and solanezumab from Eli Lilly, should be made available this fall.
These drugs represent the latest hope in the quest to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. If the results are promising, it could lead to the development of treatments that would save the country billions in healthcare costs as well as improve the lives of more than five million Americans living with the illness.

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7 Emotions Caregivers Commonly Experience

It’s no secret that being a caregiver is an emotionally taxing job. Caregivers frequently feel overwhelmed, alone and frustrated with their current situation.

Here are the 7 emotions along with tips to keep them at bay.

1. Guilt

The most important thing for caregivers to keep in mind in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed with guilt is that there is no “right” way. Caregivers frequently beat themselves up over how they handled a situation, overanalyzing whether or not they acted correctly.   Understand you are only human and try and follow your instinct about the best way to assist your loved one. If you are still feeling overwhelmed, contact a home care agency to hire a professional caregiver part-time. Shadow the caregiver for a day and see how they handle some of the more difficult situations and then incorporate their solutions into your daily routine.

2. Resentment

Resentment is one of the most common emotions experienced by caregivers. As the primary focus of their lives becomes caring for another person, caregivers often start feeling resentful toward that person.  If these feelings of resentment remain unchecked, they can quickly evolve into more serious feelings of depression and anger. The simple act of venting to a friend or writing in a journal can help relieve some of the tension caregivers feel.

3. Anger

Almost everyone gets angry at one point or another. As anger builds up it can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, digestive tract disorders and headaches. If it’s not dealt with in a healthy manner it can also lead to depression or anxiety. Try deep breathing exercises as a way to control your temper. Laughter is also an effective way to lighten the mood, so catch a funny flick with a friend or go see a comedy show.

4. Worry

Let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible not to worry about something. The endless obstacles that come with being the primary caregiver for a loved one make worrying inevitable.  Worrying in excess can disrupt sleep, create headaches and lead to excessive eating. The best way to regulate this emotion is by breaking the cycle. Staying active and busy will help distract you from worrying too much about the little things. Another option to ease the anxiety that come with caring for another is to attend a caregiver support group or meet with a therapist on a monthly basis.

5. Loneliness

Taking care of a loved one is time consuming. As your loved one requires more care, caregivers can become increasingly isolated from their former social life. A recent study revealed that individuals with active social lives have different brain structures than those who are isolated. Loneliness has been shown to curb willpower and lead to smoking and alcohol abuse. Simply initiating a get together with friends is an effective way to decrease loneliness. Support groups also help with feelings of loneliness and isolation, helping one realize that they are not alone.

6. Grief

While grief is typically an emotion triggered by tragedy, anticipatory grief is equally prevalent. Anticipatory grief is generally evoked when there are clear degenerative signs as seen with dementia. Suppressing these feelings can lead to sadness and guilt. Allowing yourself to feel sadness and discuss it with your loved one is one of the best ways to cope with grief.

7. Defensiveness

While it’s true that no one knows your parent or other loved one like you do, it’s important to keep in mind that there are other, and potentially better, ways of doing things. It’s easy to become close-minded when you’re doing so much on your own. Suggestions can seem more like threats, especially in situations of uncertainty and stress. Instead of immediately disregarding advice, analyze it and ask yourself whether it actually is the better option. More often than not you’ll find that the advice of others can be very helpful.

 

As the primary caregiver, knowing which emotions are normal to feel is half of the battle. The other half is coping with these emotions so that you can protect your mental health in order to provide the best care possible for your loved one.

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12 Things You Need To Know About Stroke

Did you know that stroke accounts for almost 10% of the 50 million deaths worldwide every year?  Despite being a leading cause of death and adult disability, fewer than one in five people across North America can recognize a symptom of stroke.  In observance of Stroke Month, we want to share key warning signs and risk factors of stroke so you can be better prepared in an emergency.

Stroke Warning Signs

Did you know that treatments within the first three hours of stroke make a dramatic difference in the long-term disability and could mean the difference between life and death? The National Stroke Association  recommends the think FAST approach to recognizing stroke symptoms. Use FAST to remember warning signs:

  • Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face  droop?
  • Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
  • If you observe any of these signs, then it’s time to call 9-1-1.

Click here to download the FAST Wallet Card to keep a reminder of stroke warning signs with you wherever you go.

Reducing Risk of Stroke

What many people don’t realize is that managing their blood pressure is the single most important thing they can do to help reduce the risk of stroke.  Below are the some of the factors that contribute to high blood pressure

  • Lack of Physical      Activity – Numerous      studies have found that a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to elevated      blood pressure.
  • Poor Diet – A diet that’s      high in salt leads to fluid retention which means that the heart has to      work harder to pump blood.
  • Weight – Being overweight causes      excess strain on the heart, raises blood cholesterol and lowers good      cholesterol levels.
  • Drinking too much      alcohol – Heavy      and regular use of alcohol can increase blood pressure dramatically. It      can also cause heart failure and cause an irregular heartbeat.

Be knowledgeable about the risk factors of stroke and have an active dialogue with your physician to discuss lifestyle modifications to reduce your risk. Home Care Assistance is one of North America’s leading providers of post-stroke assistance in the home. Our unique Balanced Care approach emphasizes physical and mental exercise and activity helps stroke victims recover as effectively as possible.

Join us in raising awareness around stroke and share these warning signs and risk factors with someone you love. Together, we can make a difference in the fight against stroke.

 

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Only 54% of Physicians Say They Would Go Into Medicine Again

Remember being a kid and thinking when you grow up you would like to have a high paying job like a doctor or lawyer?  According to Medscape, this mentality has changed among practicing doctors with 49 percent of all physicians and 54 percent of primary care physicians reporting they are not satisfied with their income. For some, this may be difficult to comprehend when a doctor’s annual salary, on average, ranges anywhere from $160,000 to $315,000 and patients are reviewing medical bills, which without insurance coverage, are astronomical.

However, physicians feeling the way they are is not unreasonable.  Between the debt that is incurred from medical school and loans, individuals are averaging around $141,000 over the course of their schooling.  The government and insurance companies also can cap doctor’s incomes.

My income is 60 percent of what it was ten years ago and I’m doing more work,” said Anthony Youn, a plastic surgeon in Detroit. “I love being a physician, but I hate what is happening to medicine. Too many people are coming between me and the care I provide to my patients. Dissatisfaction among physicians is also on the rise according to the same Medscape study, with only 54% (out of 24,000 surveyed) of physicians saying they would choose a career in medicine again.

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