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home health physical therapyIf a loved one will be discharged from a hospital or other care facility and require home health services, there are some things to look into in advance.  Home health services typically include skilled nursing services and rehabilitation services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy. Generally, the person who needs the services will be referred to a specific home health provider by their doctor who determines what type of services they will require.

In terms of necessary preparations, doctors, social workers, discharge planners and other health care professionals are a tremendous resource for determining how to prepare.  There are many things to consider and once the person requiring care is at home, it may be more difficult to find the time to take care of these details.  Therefore, consulting with these experts in home health care in advance can be helpful and can help ensure that care is well coordinated with the home healthcare providers.

Some things to find out and address in advance are:

  • Are any special types of equipment or supplies needed?  Who orders them and when should they be delivered?
  • Should a medical alert system be ordered?
  • Is 24 hour care necessary?  Who can help provide coverage?  Is it necessary to find a separate home care agency to fill in any gaps in coverage?
  • Should a handicapped parking sticker be obtained?
  • Does the furniture need to be rearranged?  Will the person be able to use stairs and do accommodations need to be made if bedrooms and bathrooms are not on the main floor?
  • Do any home modifications need to be made such as allowing for wheelchair accessibility, ramps, handrails, or alarm systems to address potential wandering issues, etc.?
  • Are there any special dietary considerations that need to be addressed or supplies needed such as a food processer, blender, grinder or liquid thickener?
  • Are there any local programs that can assist with respite care or transportation, or should the senior be registered with any programs for seniors who may have issues with wandering due to dementia or other conditions?

By asking the right questions and preparing in advance, seniors can improve their recovery and be on their way to better health and quality of life.

home healthcare agency nurseFor seniors who have a medical condition or recently suffered an injury, a home healthcare agency can mean the difference between staying in their own home for many years or having to turn to long term nursing home care.

The services offered by a home healthcare agency will vary depending on the specific home health provider.  Services offered may include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and skilled nursing.  These services are provided on-site in the comfort of the senior’s own home.

Home health care is different from home care. Home health care is medical health care, whereas home care typically includes housekeeping, companionship and personal care assistance services to seniors. Many seniors who require home care assistance with cooking, cleaning or getting dressed do not require the specialized services of a home health care provider. In contrast to a home care agency that will provide services to seniors as they age or are simply in need of additional assistance, a home healthcare agency usually helps seniors recover from an illness or injury. Home healthcare agencies will generally have licensed practical nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists or home health aides on staff.

Depending on the variety of services offered, a particular home healthcare agency may also offer services that are generally considered home care services, including assistance with bathing, dressing, eating and other activities of daily living.  Other home care type services that a home healthcare agency may offer include cooking, cleaning, housekeeping and medication monitoring.

If both home health and home care services are needed, it is important to determine if the agencies you are considering offer both services, or if two agencies will need to provide the different types of services.  Obtaining the right kind of assistance for a senior can help keep a senior in their home for many additional months, or even years, which usually leads to greater happiness and better health.

diabetes home health providerFor people struggling to manage and control their diabetes, dealing with all the sweet temptations of the holidays can be very stressful.  However, by taking several simple steps to prepare, holiday meals and parties can be enjoyable and not derail diabetes control.  .

Home health provider and health care experts recommend the following:

Know your needs and risks

Before the holidays, establish guidelines of what foods you need, and what foods to avoid entirely or limit.  Diabetics need to keep track of the amount of carbohydrates they consume.  Carbohydrates include sweets, rice, pasta, bread and starchy vegetables. When counting carbohydrates, make sure to know what a portion is, reading the label if necessary. Combining a protein with any carbohydrates can help to keep blood sugar levels in check.  Proteins include eggs, cheese, milk, beans, nuts, fish and meat.  Check with a doctor or home health provider if you have questions as to proper diet for your condition.

Plan your menu

Try to determine what is on the menu at a restaurant or holiday party before you go so you can plan your day’s eating, medication and activity schedule accordingly. Before you go, make sure you fill up on low carb and nutritious food and know your blood sugar level.  If you are not sure there will be healthy alternatives, bring your own low carb foods to snack on so you are not tempted by unhealthy choices. During the party or event, drink plenty of calorie free and carbohydrate free drinks.  If you are going to consume alcohol, make sure to have no more than 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men and avoid high calorie mixers like margarita mix, soda, tonic or juice.  For dessert, limit your portion to a small cookie or small piece of cake instead of a full piece.  

Stay active

Although it is easy to have exercise routines go by the wayside during the holidays, physical activity helps your body use insulin, which is important to controlling blood sugar.  Even if you have to cut back your activity during the holidays, make sure to keep as much activity as possible throughout the holiday season.

After the holidays

Make sure to get back into your routine after the holidays. Once the holiday festivities have come to an end, make sure to get back to your regular levels physical activity.  If you went a bit overboard with sweets or other treats, make the New Year a time to return to healthy practices.  If you got entirely off track or have serious concerns, you should check with a doctor or home health provider about how to best improve your health.

By taking care of your health during the holidays, you can have a more enjoyable holiday and celebrate your health in the New Year.

Home Health Aide AssistanceAlthough there are many things to get done before having hip or knee surgery, an important aspect of getting ready is preparing the house where recovery will occur. Far in advance of going to the hospital for surgery, it is crucial to prepare the home to make recovery and life easier afterwards.

Consulting with a doctor, nurse, physical therapist or home health aide that knows the specifics of the individual’s situation and can make recommendations about home preparations in advance is critical.  Generally, there are a number of important preparations to consider:

Accessibility:

If possible, plan to have everything needed for recovery on the same floor.  While it is preferable not to use stairs at all initially, their use will need to be limited to once a day if they cannot be avoided entirely. In addition:

  • The bed used during recovery should have a firm mattress and be low enough that one’s feet touch the floor while sitting on the edge of the bed. Ideally, the bed will be on the first floor of the house.
  • A bathroom or a portable commode should be located on the same floor where most of the day will be spent.
  • Food and other supplies should be in a cupboard between waist and shoulder level.
  • Phone and charger should be easily accessible.
  • Frequently used items should be placed on the kitchen counter or another location that is between waist and shoulder level.
  • Chairs with a firm back should be located in each frequently used room, including kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, to enable sitting while doing daily tasks.

Supplies

There should be sufficient supplies at home to last several weeks, or as long as the doctor recommends.  In addition to regular supplies, there may be other items to consider purchasing with can be particularly helpful during recovery.  Items to consider include:

  • Canned or frozen food
  • Shampoo, toilet paper and other personal items
  • Medications
  • Crutches, a cane or a walker
  • A shower sponge with a long handle
  • A long-handled shoehorn
  • A sock aid to help put on socks
  • A reacher to help pick up things from the floor and assist with putting on pants and taking off socks

Bathroom Preparation

The bathroom presents many hazards so it is important to consider the following preparations:

  • Raised Toilet Seat: There are several ways to raise the toilet seat to help prevent excessive flexing of the knee.  Options include adding a seat cover or an elevated toilet seat, utilizing a toilet safety frame or using a commode chair instead of a toilet.
  • Safety Mats: Non-slip suction mats or rubber silicone decals should be put on the floor of the tub to help prevent falls.  A non-skid bath mat should also be placed outside the tub.
  • Bath or Shower Chair: A bath or shower chair with rubber tips on the bottom should be used for bathing. A seat without arms should be used in a bathtub.
  • Safety Bars: The doctor may recommend installing safety grab bars in the bathroom.  It is important to remember that towel racks cannot substitute as grab bars as they are not designed to withstand the weight of a person.
  • Placement of Essential Items: Items like soap and shampoo should be easily accessible and should not require twisting, standing up or straining to reach.  Towels and wash cloths should also be within easy reach.

Home Safety Preparation

To minimize the risk of tripping the following precautions should be taken:

  • Remove loose wires or cords in walking areas.
  • Remove loose throw rugs.
  • Fix any uneven flooring, especially in doorways.
  • Make sure there is good lighting in place.
  • Place night lights in hallways, bathrooms and other dark rooms.
  • Arrange for fast-moving or small pets that can cause falls to stay elsewhere during the first few weeks.

Other preparation

Other preparations to consider are:

  • Prepare or purchase single serving meals that can be frozen and reheated later.
  • If a health care professional recommends using a walker, attach a small basket or strong bag to it to hold important items such as a cell phone, notepad, pen, eyeglasses etc. Alternatively, a fanny pack may be used.  Nothing should be carried in one’s hands when walking after surgery as they may be needed to provide balance.
  • Practice using a cane, walker, crutches, or a wheelchair to correctly sit down to use the toilet and stand up afterwards, get in and out of the shower, use the shower chair and go up and down stairs.

Arrange for Home Care Assistance during Recovery

Unless someone lives at home and can help for the first 1 or 2 weeks after surgery, it is important to arrange to have someone come in who can assist with bathing, using the toilet, cooking, running errands, shopping, doctor visits, and exercising as needed. If a family member or friend cannot help, a health care professional may recommend having a trained caregiver or home health aide come to the home to help.  A home health aide or trained caregiver can also check the safety of the home and help with daily activities.

Some studies have shown that senior adults who are overweight or obese are more likely to require nursing home care.  This may happen because:

  • Being overweight can cause or exacerbate symptoms of medical conditions like type-two diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease in seniors.
  • Obese seniors may develop respiratory problems as obesity causes the lungs to decrease in size.
  • Seniors who struggle with obesity, especially seniors aged 60-75, have higher rates of depression.
  • As adults age, they lose about 20% of the dermal thickness of their skin, which can make it much easier for seniors who are overweight or obese to develop pressure sores.

These and other factors may help explain why the risk of death from a weight-related disease increases as people get older. With as many as 70 percent of adults over age 60 obese or overweight, it is important to consider ways to maintain or reduce weight to avoid developing or worsening medical conditions and improve overall quality of life.

Are the reasons for weight gain the same for seniors as they are for everyone else?

Seniors tend to gain weight for different reasons and in different ways, although the basic concepts for managing weight remain the same.As seniors age, fat mass increases as muscle mass decreases. High fat mass has been shown to result in decreased physical function, higher risk of disability and limitations on mobility. In spite of decreased mobility and being less active, seniors tend to continue the eating patterns of their youth.  If adjustments are not made to diet to take into account decreased physical activity, seniors will tend to gain weight.

Changes in hormones and metabolism occur as people get older which can result in increased fat mass. It is believed thyroid hormone responsiveness decreases with age. Since the thyroid is primarily responsible for regulating metabolism, a decrease in responsiveness can very directly impact weight. Another change in hormones which occurs as people age involves a protein hormone called leptin, which regulates energy levels. Additionally, as people get older, their digestive system becomes less efficient which means that less food calories are burned off as energy, and more are stored as fat.

Genetics and environment also play a role in senior obesity and thus individual seniors will be impacted differently by each of these factors.  In genetics, certain genotypes are believed to produce a different sensitivity to changes in body fat after overeating. In terms of environment, not all seniors have access to fitness centers that offer specialized exercise and weight programs designed for seniors.  Similarly, not all seniors will have safe places to walk or bike that are readily accessible.

One factor seniors do have control over is how much they eat out. A societal lifestyle change has occurred and people are eating out more and more.  This trend has affected seniors as well. Studies have shown that when eating out, people consume more food and more foods that are higher in fat. Cooking at home tends to lead to making healthier food choices and consuming less.

How can seniors maintain a healthy weight?

The good news is that there are many factors seniors do have control over in maintaining or returning to a healthy weight.

Develop a community: Finding others who want to have a healthy lifestyle and developing a community of mutual support can help seniors maintain a healthy weight.

Keep moving: Stretching, aerobics and strengthening excises adapted to ability and done routinely can preserve muscle and bone mass in seniors, which can help in the struggle against weight gain.  Even those who are very old or frail can avoid obesity and related illnesses by engaging in appropriate physical activities. If one long 30-minute session is too strenuous, seniors can benefit just as much from three 10-minute sessions spread throughout the day.

Sleep: Not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain because hormone changes make the sleep-deprived individual crave more food and feel less full. Particularly, a lack of sufficient sleep makes the body crave high-energy foods full of sugar and salt.  Getting enough sleep can therefore help the senior make healthier food choices.

Evaluate medications: Talking to health care providers about the effects of prescription drugs on weight gain may help identify ways to address or reduce their impact.

Eat protein: Protein is necessary for healthy muscle development.  If eating meat is difficult, other sources of protein like yogurt or eggs also make good choices.

Eat at home: Eating at home helps avoid the large portions and high-fat foods that are found in restaurants.

Determine a senior-appropriate weight management plan: Weight management strategies that worked for a senior in his or her youth may be unhelpful or even dangerous in older adulthood. A dietician or doctor can recommend a Senior Home Health Care partner who can also help with a weight management plan that will be safe and effective.

Home Health Care – Getting help form a home health care agency can make big difference in the health and well-being of a senior.

Reliant Home Health serves the following cities of Texas with home health care:

Addison, Aledo, Allen, Anna, Argyle, Arlington, Aubrey, Azle, Bailey, Balch Springs, Bedford, Bells, Blue Ridge, Bonham, Burleson, Caddo Mills, Campbell, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Celeste, Celina, Colleyville, Collinsville, Commerce, Copeville, Coppell, Crowley, Dallas, Decatur, Denison, Denton, Desoto, Dodd City, Duncanville, Ector, Era, Euless, Farmersville, Ferris, Flower Mound, Forestburg, Fort Worth, Frisco, Gainesville, Garland, Gober, Gordonville, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Greenville, Gunter, Haltom City, Haslet, Honey Grove, Howe, Hurst, Hutchins, Irving, Ivanhoe, Josephine, Justin, Keller, Kennedale, Klondike, Krum, Ladonia, Lake Dallas, Lancaster, Lavon, Leonard, Lewisville, Lindsay, Little Elm, Lone Oak, Mansfield, Mckinney, Melissa, Merit, Mesquite, Muenster, Myra, Naval Air Station, Nevada, Newark, North Richland Hills, Pecan Gap, Pilot Point, Plano, Ponder, Pottsboro, Princeton, Prosper, Quinlan, Randolph, Ravenna, Red Oak, Rhome, Richardson, Roanoke, Rosston, Rowlett, Royse City, Sachse, Sadler, Saint Jo, Sanger, Savoy, Seagoville, Sherman, Southlake, Southmayd, Sunnyvale, Telephone, Terrell, The Colony, Tioga, Tom Bean, Trenton, Valley View, Van Alstyne, Westminster, Weston, Whitesboro, Whitewright, Wills Point, Wilmer, Windom, Wolfe City, & Wylie, Texas