Keeping Seniors Safe Online

As caregivers, we work around the clock to ensure our senior loved ones are safe throughout the long Minnesota winter months, when interacting within the community, and also in their own home. But what about keeping seniors safe when they are surfing the World Wide Web? Are we as vigilant with their online safety? Today’s technology is a wonderful thing for so many reasons, but it also makes users vulnerable to cyber scams, spam, hackers and identity theft.

Staying in touch with long distant friends or family members is much easier through a variety of social networks. Photo albums from a family vacation are able to be created and viewed online by relatives who live far away. Videos of a new born grandchild can be shared and with such high definition that it feels like you can reach out and touch the new baby. Older adults are even using digital dating services in hopes to meet someone new to offer companionship or travel with. With all this sharing of information online, such as social media sites, it puts our senior loved ones at an increased risk and vulnerability of cyber scams that may do harm.

Studies show that many seniors in North America are interacting online in various capacities, such as online banking, social media, or emailing. Each time an account is created, detailed personal information is required and sharing any personal information can put the user at risk. Being mindful of what information is being posted on social media is also important. The risk of oversharing includes:

  • Photos posted on one social media account can show up on a different social media platform. For example, if you post a photo on Instagram or Twitter, it may also end up on Facebook if the accounts are connected. Review the privacy settings of all social media platforms to ensure protection and you are aware of exactly who can view your posts and profile.
  • When creating a profile on your social media accounts, try to minimize the amount of detailed personal information you provide. Specifics such as birthdates, a child’s name, or street address could end up being used against you by a computer hacker.
  • What seem harmless online quizzes and games also require personal information. All bits of information provided could end up in the wrong hands and put you at risk.

AARP has an online safety website with tips and interactive videos or webinars. This site teaches how to stay safe online with tips to avoid scams, learning how to create safe passwords, and even email and online searching safety tips and much more. Older adults tend to be more vulnerable to cyber-attacks for the following reasons:

  • By nature, seniors tend to be more trusting and this can open the risk to online scam.
  • Creating weak passwords. Generic passwords, such as Password123, are not strong enough.
  • The general complexity of today’s computers and mobile devices tend to frustrate older adults, but also leave them at high risk.

Practicing smart online habits will greatly decrease your chances of being targeted in a cyber scam. A daily digital experience may include shopping online, connecting with friends through social media, completing an online crossword puzzle, meeting new people in your community, managing your banking, including money transfers, catching up on the latest news or even watching a movie. Learn how to get the most out of your digital experience, safely and securely.

Through direct services and through its ethnic initiatives, HealthStar Home Health provides services in various Midwestern and Southwestern communities. HeathStar Home Health serves individuals of all ages and abilities with caring and cultural sensitivity. With services such as life and health management, mental health, home health and home help, at HealthStar we are committed to making our communities strong by enabling individuals of all ages to live more independent and fulfilling lives. Contact us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.

Coping With An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

It can be hard to deal with someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a debilitating disease that robs the victims of their normal brain abilities. They lose words, pictures, memories, and people from their slowly deteriorating mind. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the patient feels helpless and frustrated from the knowledge that they are undergoing this change. Later on, however, it’s the care-giver who deals with the brunt of the frustration of caring for someone with extreme helplessness. As a caregiver, there are better ways to understand and care for a relative with Alzheimer’s, no matter what the stage of the illness. Here are a few of the recommended techniques as frequently talked about by those who’ve undergone the process before.

Using Humor to Soften the Impact

A famous phrase in the world of improve comedy is to use “Yes, and?” This is the principle that many caregivers are using with their relatives. Alzheimer’s patients can be disoriented and confused. They can see or say some bizarre things, and it can be frustrating for both the caregiver and the patient if there is no communication. By playing along and agreeing with the patient, the caregiver can inject humor into the situation and both parties can have some fun despite the circumstances of the disease.

Dealing with the Disease, Not the Person

Alzheimer’s disease patients often have behavioral changes that can affect their relationships and daily routines. Caregivers must understand that these are not the result of the patient, but rather the disease that causes these changes. It causes a loss of words, increased rummaging, outbursts of anger, aggressive hitting, or wandering away from home. It’s important to remember that this is the result of a loss of brain cells, not a willful change in the person.

Maintaining Simple Routines for Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease

As the brain begins to shrink and deteriorate, simple routines and patterns aid with the new transition. The caregiver can begin to offer fewer choices and begin to make more decisions on behalf of the patient. They can ask yes or no questions rather than asking opinions. Maintaining a daily routine helps patients feel some semblance of stability in their life. Restlessness is a big symptom of Alzheimer’s, so it helps to have a constant routine.

Understanding the Limits

As the disease progresses, there are limits to what the caregiver can do and the patient as well. It could be soon time to consider places for advanced care. Knowing these limits ahead of time and preparing for them helps the caregiver with their own loss of loved ones. By understanding their limitations in providing a nurturing home, they can avoid any fallout between family members or friends.

Although it’s never easy, it’s reassuring to know that even though someone is going through Alzheimer’s disease, there are people all across the world who have dealt with it before. Understanding their successes is the first step to getting through this difficult time with kindness and understanding.

For more information on how HealthStar Home Health can help you and your loved one cope with Alzheimer’s disease, please call 612-871-3700.

Delaying the Progression of Alzheimer’s

In spite of the development of so many new types of drugs and products that drive change and innovation in the healthcare industry, researchers are yet to find an effective method to reverse the cognitive alterations and memory loss linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

4 Key Factors That Help Patients Slow down the Progress of Alzheimer’s

Even in this context, the good news is that there are several ways in which one could delay the progress of this health concern in the short term by following a series of basic steps. Here are the most important aspects that the best providers of home healthcare services focus on when it comes to improving the quality of life of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Sustained Mental Activity
A recent study published by the Rush Memory and Aging Project reveals that there is a solid connection between a sustained cognitive activity during one’s lifetime, and a delayed cognitive decline. In other words, those who go the extra mile to stimulate their brain on a regular basis will be more able to delay the evolution of Alzheimer’s, especially during the earliest stages of this type of dementia.

To encourage a constituent mental stimulation, home healthcare providers encourage patients to make the most of pleasurable activities designed to engage one’s mind, such as reading, playing cards or chess, writing or learning a new language.

Daily Lifestyle Changes
A healthcare provider can offer the tools that a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s required to maintain his or her independence for a longer while, in his or her own environment, preventing stress, frustration and further decline. For instance, by ensuring electronic bill paying, taking care of basic household chores, and minimizing or taking over any task that the patient could worry about, a reputable provider of homecare will help delay the evolution of Alzheimer’s without making any dramatic changes that could throw the elderly out of their comfort zone and cause more confusion and chaos.

A Beneficial Routine
While minor changes can contribute to an improved level of comfort and security, those who are affected by Alzheimer’s will inevitably cling to old habits that keep them connected to their memories. Professionals offering in-home care for Alzheimer’s patients keep this fact in mind and act accordingly, by establishing and maintaining a beneficial routine involving a regular rhythm with outings, sleep, bathing and meals, without disrupting the patient’s balance.

Medication and Diet
Researchers indicate that there is a solid link between a healthy diet based on certain key elements, and a successful attempt to delay the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, seniors suffering from dementia should consume a great variety of fresh, nutritious foods that are rich in antioxidants.

A diet rich in vitamin E can delay mental impairment by protecting brain cells against irreparable damages. Those who benefit from the best in-home healthcare services tailored to their needs and current health condition can experience the advantages of a personalized diet rich in vitamins B, E and C extracted from fresh vegetables and fruits.

Medication is another key factor that could slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s. Patients diagnosed with this disease may have to take cholinesterase inhibitors to prevent changes that may affect muscle control and mental capabilities.

Patients and their families should talk to a doctor and get a prescription before following a treatment plan. In some cases, medical supervision ensured by a provider of in-home healthcare services may be required, especially when the people affected by Alzheimer’s disease in Minnesota are unable to take their meds on their own, following their doctor’s recommendations. Such services can help Alzheimer’s patients live a more comfortable, safe and secure life and preserve their independence in their own environment.

At HealthStar Home Health, our home health professionals provide unparalleled public health care services through stewardship, honor-driven values, and a genuine desire to serve. Our Minnesota clients benefit from the range of healthcare services we provide, from Alzheimer’s and dementia care, to behavioral nursing, home health care nursing, respite care and more. HealthStar Home Health has a team of nurses dedicated to Alzheimer’s and Dementia care.

At HealthStar Home Health, we help make strong communities and families in the Twin Cities metro area by enabling individuals of all ages to live more independent and fulfilling lives. Contact us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a consultation at no charge.

Understanding Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s contributes up to 80% of dementia cases nationwide, and is a terrifying diagnosis. When faced with the possibility of total memory loss and death, it’s understandable to be worried about this degenerative illness. After receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, recognizing the first signs and symptoms, as well as understanding all available treatment options, can help the care process moving forward quicker and easier.

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, and is not just a part of getting old. Some memory loss can be contributed to the eventual aging-process, but Alzheimer’s is a much bigger problem. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, meaning that individuals who are affected will have worsening symptoms with no chance of recovery. Because there is currently no cure, the best option available is to slow the symptoms and continue to improve quality of life for those affected. Most families look to qualified, compassionate, and trained caregivers to assist in the day-to-day tasks of an Alzheimer’s patient. Having an understanding and efficient home aid, or transferring a patient in to an assisted living facility can greatly increase their quality of life by allowing them autonomy over their daily living with increased assistance. Getting the help needed for Alzheimer’s disease in Minnesota is easy—and finding the right assistance can be a life-saver.

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

  1. Forgetting important dates, asking for information again and again, or not remembering family members’ names.
  2. Sudden inability to solve problems, like balancing a checkbook, or cooking a family recipe. They may also take much longer to complete tasks that were previously easy.
  3. Cannot complete or remember how to do daily tasks that they frequently did previously, like working the television remote, or the rules of a game.
  4. Can no longer understand times and dates, as well as seasons. They may forget a planned outing altogether, or not comprehend when it is happening. They may also suddenly realize they can’t remember how or when they arrived somewhere.
  5. Difficulty reading or understanding visual information. This includes lack of depth perception, or loss of contrast in vision.
  6. Loss of words or their meaning. An affected individual may call things by the wrong name, or make up a word. They often lose their place in conversations, and repeat themselves several times.
  7. Often, they will misplace things and be unable to remember where they put them, or even when they had the item last. This may lead to accusations of stealing and frustration.
  8. Poor judgment is another warning sign—if the person makes poor choices when handling money, and struggles to remember to bathe regularly.
  9. Suddenly become withdrawn from work or social activities, or no longer enjoy hobbies, projects, or sports that they once loved.
  10. Changes in mood and personality are warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. If the patient appears depressed, anxious, or more easily frustrated than usual, it may be time to talk to a doctor who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease in Duluth.

If you have a loved one showing any of the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s, know that HealthStar can help! We offer free in-home consultations to help find the right care for your loved one. For more information, please call 612-871-3700.

Be the Best Caregiver You Can Be – Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

If you are a caregiver to a family member and feeling emotionally burned out, you are not alone. According to the Minnesota Board on Aging, an estimated 679,000 Minnesotans are caring for an older or disabled adult. Caregiver burnout is defined by WebMD as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude, from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.

A family caregiver who is feeling stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression can be experiencing caregiver burnout and needs to be realistic of their own personal situation. Although similar to the symptoms of stress and depression, symptoms of caregiver burnout can also include:

  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Feeling of irritability, hopelessness and helplessness
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Withdrawal from friends and family

It is just as important to take care of yourself as it is to care for your aging loved one to ensure you are being an effective caregiver. Follow these tips to help prevent burnout and keep your sanity and your own health in check:

  • Build a support team of people you trust and can count on to help you in a variety of ways.
  • Take advantage of professional home based and community services available that will help you take care of a diverse set of daily needs.
  • Educate yourself. You will provide more effective care if you know more about the illness the loved one you care for suffers from.
  • Develop coping mechanisms to help you deal with everyday stresses. Using humor and highlighting the positives will go a long way. Laughter truly is the best medicine – it lightens the mood and releases endorphins which will bring positive changes to your mindset.
  • Stay healthy by eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly.

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming it is to care for loved ones at home. We offer a variety of home healthcare services in the Duluth and Minneapolis, Minnesota communities to help support your senior loved one to live a more fulfilling life at home. From skilled nursing services to assist seniors with recovering from illness or injury to our homemaking or companion care programs to our comprehensive Alzheimer’s Whisperer program which provides care and treatment needed by those affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia, we have many options to help you care for your loved one.

With access to HealthStar Home Health’s Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS), you and your loved one will learn a variety of skills to help manage independent living and social situations. These skills, along with the services and program options, is a way to prevent caregiver burnout. Take advantage of what we offer to lift some pressure of your shoulders as caregiver. This will allow you the opportunity to take some much needed time for yourself and promote your own healthy habits.

Caring for a family member can be exhausting and overwhelming, there can also be a feeling of loneliness and isolation which will affect your own health and well-being. But, being a family caregiver can also be the most rewarding thing you will do. Learn to let it go by accepting the help of others so you can focus on what is most important and be healthy.

Learn more about the services and programs HealthStar Home Health offers by calling 651-633-7300 or visit our website today:  http://www.healthstarhomehealth.net

Communicating with Elderly Relatives

As people grow older, sometimes having conversations with those in a different generation can be difficult. Not everyone knows what to say or how to act when speaking with an elderly relative. Especially if that elderly relative is receiving care for dementia. However, taking the time to enjoy a conversation with an elderly relative will offer plenty of opportunity to learn about their lives, the family’s history and other stories from back in the day.

Speak clearly
Close to 30 percent of those over the age of 65 start to experience some sort of hearing loss. Make sure to speak loud, clear and slow. To avoid sounding condescending, make sure to maintain a calm and gentle voice while keeping the conversation filled with short and simple sentences.

Listen
Take the time to listen to what the other person has to say. Do not interrupt them by trying to fill in the silence while they think of what to say next. Be patient, sit back and listen to the stories they have to tell.

Pay attention to background noise
When having conversations with elderly relatives, try to do it face-to-face. If possible eliminate any background noise, such as television and radio. This will help both parties focus on the conversation and not what is happening in the background.

Have fun
Use humor when speaking with elderly relatives. They say that laughter is the best medicine, so why not have some fun and use humor during the conversation. This includes cracking jokes and talking about funny situations. Using humor will also help ease the tension when in uncomfortable situations.

Recall memories
Help elderly relatives relive the happy moments in their lives by talking about stories from their past. Recalling memories gives elderly relatives a sense being valued. It is important for them to share their experiences with younger generations and they too value the opportunity to do so.

Smile
It is important to smile and look interested in the conversation. Doing so will make the elderly relative comfortable and feel like other family members want to be around.

When speaking with an elderly relative, take the time to listen to the stories he or she has to tell. Just make sure to have patience and speak clearly, so he or she can fully understand what everyone in the conversation is saying.

How Will Your Role Change When Your Spouse Is Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s Disease?

Even if the news of the Alzheimer’s diagnosis for your spouse did not come as a complete surprise, the day you hear those words still feels like a hard kick in the stomach. As you both take some much needed time to try to get a grasp of this big change in your lives, your spouse may begin to feel a sense of loss or loneliness as a result of the diagnosis.

Immediately, with the words of the Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, your role as spouse has changed significantly. You are now a daily caregiver too, and as your partner’s memory declines you may find yourself taking on some tasks, such as handling the taxes or financial matters or doing some household chores. Although you may not be the one with the disease, you will be living with it each day also. You may even notice a change in the emotional and physical intimacy you once shared as your partner’s cognitive abilities decline.

HealthStar Home Health is honored to be an official sponsor of a new film about Alzheimer’s titled His Neighbor Phil, which was filmed in the small community of Zumbrota, Minnesota. This film tells the story of Harvey, a man whose wife Mary has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. This touching film not only shows the effects of this disease on Mary, but also their entire family and the community they live in. Although the film deals with the honest realities of Alzheimer’s, it mainly focuses its attention on the tireless work of the caregivers and how their lives are also affected by this disease. Take a moment to watch this short video clip via Vimeo about the moving film His Neighbor Phil.

 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association there are some things you can do to help your partner. Ultimately, these ideas will also help you cope and get through these changes to your relationship:

  • Continue to participate in activities with your spouse
  • Find new activities you can do together
  • Attend local caregiver support groups
  • Discuss changes in your relationship with a professional or a clergy member

These ideas and others listed on the Alzheimer’s Association website will help you and other family members adjust to your new normal.

You may find yourself with so many new caregiving responsibilities that you neglect taking good care of yourself. One of the best things you can do for your partner is to stay physically and emotionally strong and avoid caregiver burnout. It can be overwhelming at times to take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, so keeping the stress under control is key and will help both of you. Remembering to see your doctor on a regular basis, stick to your exercise routine and eat healthy each day will greatly reduce stress levels and help to avoid caregiver burnout.

The Alzheimer’s Association lists 10 symptoms of caregiver stress including:

  • Denial
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of concentration
  • Depression
  • Health problems

As many as 70% of families are opting to care for their loved ones at home as long as possible while managing the various stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It will get overwhelming, so if you are experiencing these signs of stress or others on a regular basis, it is time to see your doctor.

Memory loss screenings are the first step of detection and treatment. HealthStar Home Health provided free memory screenings while at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair and we are thrilled to announce we provided over 3,200 free screenings to visitors at our booth in the HealthFair 11 building. That is more than 1,000 more than last year’s state fair screenings! HealthStar knows how important early detection is and we are committed to providing the resources families need. For additional information on dementias and caregiving, visit our website at www.healthstarhomehealth.net.

Listen to Daniel Roebuck, star of His Neighbor Phil, discuss more about Alzheimer’s disease and this important film.

Caring For A Loved One With Dementia: It’s Okay To Ask For Help!

As anyone who cares for a person with dementia knows, trying to do it without help can be overwhelming. That’s why HealthStar Home Health offers dementia care across Minnesota, including Duluth, Bemidji and Minneapolis. Our care allows patients to get all of the help they need and lets relatives have the peace of mind of knowing that their loved ones are being fully taken care of.

In some cases, the need for help stems from the physical needs of the patient. Most people with dementia are elderly, and this can mean that they have trouble moving around or handling things that require dexterity. This becomes a problem when a non-professional caregiver has to do something like get the person out of bed or help lower him or her to the toilet. A professional nurse or similar caregiver will be able to take care of these things in ways that don’t endanger either themselves or the patient.

For many people, help is needed simply because the overall job is too much for one person. Keeping an eye on an adult 24/7 is tiring, and when that adult needs care for all or most things he or she does, the problem is even worse. There is no failing in asking for professionals to come in to take the load off and ensure that everything is being done. It’s also important for the patient’s well-being. Caregiver burnout isn’t like getting a cold or a virus, the symptoms of caregiver burnout can begin slowly, and gradually get worse overtime. Common symptoms include feelings of depression, fatigue, and a decreasing interest in work or other hobbies. HealthStar’s professional team of caregivers can help relieve some of the stress for family caregivers, so they can take care of themselves.

One of the important tasks performed by a professional dementia caregiver is administering medicine. It’s very easy for someone to forget a dose or accidentally give a double one if she is exhausted. A nurse or other practitioner will consider this an essential part of the job duties and therefore make it a top-of-mind priority. The same goes for other demanding aspects of dementia care, such as bathing and feeding.

Even after the nurse leaves for the day, the benefits will continue. This is because the relative who does the care during these times will be much better rested and more alert. The end result is that the patient will remain in better condition than otherwise possible while nobody ends up too exhausted to function properly.

To learn more about dementia care HealthStar Home Health offers, call your local HealthStar branch office.

Managing Alzheimer’s Behaviors

Whether you have cared for someone with Alzheimer’s in their Minnesota home for many years or have just learned that a loved one has been diagnosed with the disease, managing their behavior and personality changes can be very challenging. You may have already figured out that, as a caregiver, you cannot change the person with Alzheimer’s, or any type of dementia, but you can develop strategies to help you better manage any problem behaviors. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

It’s important to know that the patient is not trying to be difficult. Instead their behavior is often a reaction to stress or frustration in an attempt to communicate. Creating a calming routine and environment for the patient at home along with the way you communicate with them will make a huge difference. The Alzheimer’s Association offers their top five tips that can help you manage your loved one’s behaviors.

  1. Try not to take behaviors personally.
  2. Remain patient and calm.
  3. Explore pain as a trigger.
  4. Don’t argue or try to convince.
  5. Accept behaviors as a reality of the disease and try to work through it.

Keeping these tips in mind when caring for a loved one or patient with Alzheimer’s is important. At HealthStar Home Health, we offer many services and programs to assist with the care of those struggling with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. One service we offer is psychiatric home care. This specialty is holistic in its approach, assessing for and addressing the total needs of the patient – physical and emotional. Not only does the patient benefit, the family also benefits by learning new skills to help their loved one remain stable. The health care system benefits from psychiatric home care by maintaining the patient who struggles with persistent psychiatric issues in the least restrictive (and least expensive) setting, which is the home.

HealthStar also offers support for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia through our Alzheimer’s Whisperer program. We understand how overwhelming and difficult it can be to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Confusion, exhaustion and frustration are all common when trying to manage challenging behaviors associated with these illnesses. HealthStar Home Health developed a comprehensive and effective Alzheimer’s and dementia home care program, and is proud to offer this program to assist the caregivers and patients alike. Becoming an Alzheimer’s Whisperer is a unique approach to help support those affected by dementia that live in a home or assisted living setting. The Alzheimer’s Whisperer program is based on the understanding of how the disease affects the brain allowing caregivers to modify interventions so they are appropriate for the person’s cognitive ability. Services are provided by a multidisciplinary team consisting of registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, medical social workers, speech pathologists and home health aides, who work together to improve the quality of life for the caregiver and their loved one.

Other care services we at HealthStar Home Health offer are:

  • Individualized assessment, evaluating cognitive and functional levels
  • Treatment planning
  • Care for patients in a compassionate, empathetic and gentle manner
  • Teach families and caregivers strategies for managing the care needs of their loved one
  • Effectively respond to challenging behaviors such as aggression, agitation, and repetition
  • Address physical health needs
  • Medication management and education
  • Reduce utilization of psychotropic medication
  • Strength development and fall risk reduction
  • Promote independence in dressing, bathing and toileting
  • Assistance with memory, communication and swallowing difficulties

Although your loved one’s sense of what is real may be different than yours, it is still very real to them. By learning to manage the behavior changes you will find yourself reaching some pretty significant goals in the care of your patient. You may notice decreased hospitalizations or use of emergency services, improved functional ability and patient knowledge about their medications, treatment compliance and staying well. All of which can increase your loved one’s quality of life and overall health management.

As a caregiver, even being able to maintain your sense of humor will go a long way in managing the changing behavior of a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s. When that isn’t doing the trick, we at HealthStar Home Health are here for you with expert services and programs available to help you through the stages of progressing Alzheimer’s.

For more information contact HealthStar Home Health directly by calling 651-633-7300.