Healthy Aging

The focus for healthy aging is usually placed on good nutrition and moderate exercise, but mental and emotional wellness should also be priorities for older adults. A good place to start is by staying connected with friends, family, and neighbors. As we age, we tend to become more isolated. Isolation can lead to social anxiety, self-esteem issues, and depression. Interacting with others, be it volunteering, taking a class, participating in a club, or a spiritual group activity, makes you feel better. Here are some other ideas for seniors to stay engaged:

  • Stay informed about what’s going on around you. Educate yourself about current events and how they affect you.

  • Don’t unplug, plug in! Don’t become an old turtle withdrawing into your shell whenever you don’t understand the latest gadget! Technology isn’t likely to slow down, so find an adult education class in your community or try an online service like TechBoomers.com, and learn how to keep up.

  • Interact openly with your doctor. Make a list of questions and concerns to discuss at your next visit. Review your prescription medications and ask about alternative therapies that might enable you to reduce them. Report any changes you may be experiencing and ask about ways you can improve your overall health.

  • Modify your expectations. Don’t despair when routine activities pose new challenges. You might not be able to do all the things that you once did in your youth, but you can find new ways to enjoy life.

  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep refreshes the body, mind, and spirit, but it can be evasive as we age. Aging causes sleep patterns to change, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Relaxation techniques like reading a book, listening to music, or drinking warm milk before bed can help.

  • Find the fun! Connect remotely* or personally with people you enjoy being around and who make you laugh.

Healthy Aging and Home Health:

  • Stay connected with your referral network throughout the month of September by promoting healthy aging

  • Post about senior health and the benefits of home health for post-surgical rehabilitation on your social media outlets.

  • Host classes on elder-care throughout your community. Highlight your geriatric care management, post-acute care, chronic illness care, functional disability therapies, and palliative care.

  • Contact assisted living communities in your service area about helping their residents with limited mobility. Provide information on your physical and occupational therapy services and how they can help residents maintain their independence longer.

Visit tagwebstore.com for all your home health and hospice educational and marketing materials.

*FaceTime, Facebook Messenger app, Skype, What’s App, Google Duo, Viber, IMO

Managing Cancer Pain

Cancer patients should never accept relentless pain as their new normal! All pain can be treated, and even if not totally alleviated, it can be minimized with a comprehensive pain management plan administered by a top-notch caregiving team.

A consistent high level of care is needed for a pain management plan to be effective. Home health and hospice teams provide just that. Home care nurses are trained to recognize tolerance changes that occur as cancer progresses. It can be hard for patients to describe their pain, but It’s important that they convey as much about it as possible. Pain is easier to treat at the onset, and staying in front of it is the key to controlling it.

Patients should participate in their pain management plan by documenting their pain:

  • Where is the pain?

  • Is the pain worse during the day or at night?

  • Rate the severity of the pain, on a scale from 1 to 10 where 10 is the worst.

  • How does the pain feel: sharp, shooting, achy, burning, throbbing?

  • What makes it feel better: ice, heat, exercise?

  • What makes it feel worse: lying, standing, walking?

  • Does the medicine help the pain?

  • How long before you feel any relief after taking the medicine?

Cancer pain can be the result of the cancer itself or of any number of treatments. It can range from dull to sharp, and intermittent to constant. While the severity of cancer pain can vary widely, the frequency of home health visits helps nurses identify unreported symptoms and spot the onset of new site pain before it becomes intense.

A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, and educating patients about their disease and treatment options can be challenging, especially when they are still processing the news. Help your referral partners explain pain management and palliative care services to their new patients. Newly diagnosed patients who are informed about palliative care have an easier time embracing it as their disease progresses.

Always keep cancer care at the top of your marketing strategy but especially during September, National Pain Awareness Month. Highlight the benefits of in-home care for cancer patients with limited mobility, diminished immune systems, and sickness caused by treatments.

Visit TAGwebstore.com for home health and hospice patient education brochures and flyers, as well as referral building tools like our popular Guidelines for Hospice Admission Flip Chart.

Resources: cancer.org, cancernetwork.com

Battling Depression with Home Care

Most people think of Summer as bright, sunny, and pleasant, but someone suffering with a depressive disorder might think of it as dark, dreary, and oppressive.

Depressive disorder, depression, is a serious mental condition most commonly categorized by an acute loss of interest in life and a persistent despondency. Most everyone has incidents in their lives that cause deep sadness, but people who feel extreme sadness and overwhelming despair for an extended period of time are likely clinically depressed. Some factors that contribute to clinical depression include:

  • Chemical imbalances in the brain that adversely alter a person’s temperament.

  • Negative thinking which can increase the risk of depression.  

  • Gender: women experience depression more often than men.

  • Medications which can negatively affect mood and behavior.

  • Genetic predisposition: A family history of depressive behavior can increase the likelihood of developing it.

  • A traumatic life event such as death, divorce, or bankruptcy.

  • Serious illnesses:  cancer, heart disease, diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease cause emotional distress that can evolve into depression.

Home health and hospice provide patients and their families with medical and emotional support. Hospice teams in particular routinely deal with depressive disorder stemming from both traumatic life events and serious illness. Hospice teams include social workers, physiologists, and clergy who are trained to recognize and care for patients and family members suffering with depression. 

Remind your referral sources when making your presentations about the advantage of personalized home care for their patients at high risk of developing depression.

Visit TAGwebstore for patient education materials on specific conditions that contribute to clinical depression.

 

Resources:

ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)

Mental Health America

National Institute of Mental Health

3 Minute Depression Test

Home Care and the Lung Cancer Patient

Home care is available for cancer patients in all stages of their disease, be it home health or hospice care. The majority of those patients are battling lung cancer. The American Cancer Society projects that over 140,000 people will die from lung cancer this year, making it by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women.

The prognosis for lung cancer can vary widely depending on the cancer type and the stage it is in when diagnosed. Lung cancer may be incurable, but it is almost always treatable. Home health care works with cancer patients who are home bound to provide supportive care and help with the activities of daily living.

Home health also provides help with:

  • Explaining the disease process

  • Counseling for patients and their families

  • Managing patient care

  • Observing treatment progress and advising when adjustments are needed

  • Educating about safety in daily activities and emergencies

  • Monitoring medications

  • Evaluating nutritional needs

Lung cancer patients typically have a team of doctors and specialists working together to eradicate their cancer. This collaboration usually consists of: thoracic surgeons, pulmonologists, palliative care physicians, and medical and radiation oncologists.

Much in that same way, hospice uses a team approach to treat patients. Hospice teams are made up of physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, counselors, therapists, volunteers, and chaplains. A cancer patient is generally eligible for hospice care when treatments are no longer effective, and their disease is determined likely to follow its normal path of progression.

Hospice care focuses on quality of life for the patient as well as their family. They minimize patient discomfort through symptom and pain management, while providing respite care, emotional support, and bereavement counseling for family members.

Reach out to the oncologists and cancer treatment centers in your service area with information on how partnering with home health and hospice can improve the quality of care for their cancer patients.

Help your referring partners address the many misinterpretations about hospice and the services they provide for terminally ill patients and their families by visiting the tagwebstore.com : The Real Truth About Hospice Flyer.

Eye Injury Awareness

July is eye injury awareness month which makes this the perfect time to remind everyone about the dangers of fireworks and the injuries they can cause. Thousands of revelers will suffer eye injuries from fireworks mishaps during the four-week span around July 4th.  Fireworks can cause permanent eye damage as result of burns, corneal abrasions, ruptures, and retinal detachment, and according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 14% of all firework injures reported in 2017 were eyes related injuries.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, if an eye injury from fireworks occurs:

  • Seek medical attention immediately.

  • Treat only the most minor eye injuries at home. 

  • Do not rub your eyes.

  • Do not rinse your eyes.

  • Do not apply pressure.

  • Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.

  • Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Injury statistics from 2017 Fireworks Annual Report: Fireworks-Related Deaths, Emergency Department-Treated Injuries, and Enforcement Activities During 2017:

  • There were 8 fatalities and 12,900 Injuries related to firework accidents.

  • Approximately 8,700 of the fireworks-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms during the two weeks prior to and after July fourth. 

  • An estimated 1,200 of those emergency room visits were associated with sparklers.

  • 70% of those with fireworks-related injuries were male.

  • Children under 15 years of age accounted for more than a third of the firework related injuries.

Home Health offers care for the visually impaired. Common conditions other than injury that cause permanent vision loss include age related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and diabetic related eye disease.

Spread the word through your social media posts about celebrating safely throughout the summer. Include tips on sun safety, fireworks safety, and the importance of staying hydrated.

Visit tagwebstore.com for patient information on vision health and other conditions commonly treated by home health and hospice caregivers.