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Atlanta Caregiver & Home Care Articles

Exercise Tips for Senior & Disabled Adults

Posted by Debby Franklin on Jan 29, 2016 4:39:24 PM


With every year that we grow older our muscles tighten and range of motion begins to decrease, especially when we are inactive!  Senior and disabled adults who engage in exercise and physical activities as they age lead healthier lives with a better overall quality of life.  As we grow older, we should focus on four main areas of physical fitness: strength, balance, flexibility and endurance.

Some form of exercise is safe for almost everyone.  You can exercise even with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and many more.  Participating in physical activity has so many benefits!  Here are just a few benefits:

  • Helps to improve mental health.
  • Can provide social interaction. 
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness.
  • Helps joint flexibility, strength, and balance.
  • Helps reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Helps control weight which can help to reduce stroke and other heart health issues.
  • Improves bone density. 
  • Can help decrease pain and weakness associated with arthritis.
  • Helps maintain independence.
  • Can help prevent falls.

If an activity doesn't work for all abilities, it can usually be adapted so everyone can participate in some form of physical activity. Always check with your doctor if you aren't used to energetic activity or if you have other health concerns. 

Tips for getting started:

  • Begin slow and increase your activities and endurance level.  At first you may only be able to be active for 10 minutes at a time.  Do what you can and slowly progress.  
  • When working with strength exercises don't hold your breathe.  Holding your breathe can cause changes in your blood pressure.  Breathe out as you lift and in as you relax.
  • Unless you are on a restricted fluid intake, drink plenty of fluids.  This is particularly important when engaging in any form of physical activity.
  • Warm up before you begin.
  • Bend forward from the hips keeping your back straight instead of bending at the waist.
  • Don't forget to stretch after your muscles are warmed up.

Aerobic Activities:

  • Walking
  • swimming
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Climbing stairs
  • Stationary bike
  • Rowing Machine

Strength Activities:

  • Use hand weights standing, lying, or sitting down.
  • Use resistance machines.
  • Use band or tubes for resistance and muscle building.
  • Use a chair to do leg raises.

Balance & Flexibility:

  • stretch slowly and smoothly.
  • Tai Chi and chair yoga are activities that improve flexibility.
  • Start with the focus on your upper body working your way down to the lower body. 
  • Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.  

For additional information click on:   /blog/bid/89289/Don-t-Give-Up-on-Exercise

To be certain that you are doing exercises or activities correctly, always talk with your doctor, and exercise instructor or physical therapist.  

Since 1994 Easy Living Services has partnered with thousands of Atlanta area families in caring for seniors, disabled adults and chronically ill loved ones in the comfort of home.  Our team of extensively screened and professionally trained nursing assistants are there providing reliable, professional and comforting care. 

For more information call us today at 770-442-8664


Atlanta Caregivers


Topics: aging, Senior Exercise, disabled

Dealing With End Stage Congestive Heart Failure

Posted by Jill Troman on Aug 26, 2013 4:13:00 PM

Caring for a loved one with CHF 

Congestive Heart Failure is a complex disease process that places enormous strain and suffering on patient and family caregivers.  Essentially, CHF presents multiple symptoms that are related to the heart's inability to pump out blood quickly enough. As blood flow from the heart slows down, blood backs up causing fluid to build up in the tissues.  The resulting symptoms are progressive and debilitating.  Shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing are common complaints due to fluid leaking into the lungs.  Swelling in ankles, legs, feet, and abdomen are also typical.  CHF patients will also typically complain of weakness and fatigue because the heart is no longer able to pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body's tissues.  As the disease moves into its final stages, confusion, memory loss, disorientation and impaired thinking may set in.




Patients and their family members learn that it can be a real struggle to manage the "ups and downs' of this disease.  One day the CHF patient can appear to be doing well and the next, excess fluid build up has him wheezing and exhausted.  As the disease progresses, frequent hospitalizations can become the new norm.  Becoming educated and prepared to deal with these "ups and downs" is vital for the family caregiver.  

What are the signs that the disease has moved into end stage?  

Symptoms may  include: 

* Shortness of breath, even while at rest

* More frequent and severe edema.

* Weakness and severe fatigue. Patient may lose interest in anything beyond basic needs.

* Chest pain and irregular heart rhythm.

* Sweating.

* Profound weight loss despite fluid overload in the body.  

* Loss of appetite as fluid accumulates in the abdominal area leading to nausea.

* Distended neck veins.

* Enlarged liver.

* Ejection fraction less than 20% (heart's pumping mechanism is severely impaired.)

Helping a Loved One Manage Difficult Symptoms

For most patients facing end-stage CHF, the goal is to remain home and stay out of the hospital as much as possible.  Family caregivers play an important role in helping patients recognize and treat symptoms before they reach crisis stage.  Caregivers also play a key role in helping their loved ones stick to positive life style choices and reduce anxiety levels. Planning is critical in tracking symptoms and responding appropriately.     

* Keep a daily log.  On a daily basis, record weight, medications taken, diet, activities, quality of breathing, and degree of swelling.  Relying on memory may prove difficult during periods of stress so daily note keeping will take the pressure off you and your loved one.  Your physician will be able to make important decisions about treatment more efficiently with key data readily available.  

* Decide in advance when to call the doctor.  In general, the following symptoms warrant an immediate call...

  • A gain of 3 pounds or more within a few days or a week. 
  • Increased swelling in hands, ankles, feet or abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing or night time coughing.
  • Decreased urination.
  • Confusion, dizziness, faintness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Increased fatigue
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Any distressing symptom
* Discuss appropriate relief measures in advance with physician. In some cases, certain medications may be kept on hand and added as needed to alleviate common symptoms, like edema. Also, "self-care"  actions like 
elevating legs, wearing special stockings, lightly massaging legs, reducing salt intake or other dietary changes may be recommended as 1st response options. 

 Dealing with the Fatigue Factor

A CHF patient will frequently complain of fatigue which will increase with disease progression. Helping your loved one better manage this symptom can go a long way in increasing quality of life.  Encouraging him to conserve physical energy on routine tasks in order to save fuel for the important things like exercise and special activities. 

Plan for the entire day and pace activities. Encourage your loved one to:

  • Allow ample time for what needs to get done. Rushing wastes energy.
  • Alternate activity with rest. Divide large chores into smaller tasks spread across the day or week.
  • Work smarter. Minimize trips up/down stairs. Shop with a list and in as few stores as possible. Cook in quantity and freeze the extra; soak dishes first for less scrubbing later. After a bath, slip on a terrycloth bathrobe instead of drying with a towel.
  • Get help when you can. Have medications and groceries delivered.

Throughout the day, consider opportunities to reduce standing, walking, lifting, and bending:

  • Sit down whenever possible. When cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing, or grooming face and hair, have a stool or seat handy.
  • Create task stations. Lay out supplies at waist height so everything is within easy reach before you start cooking, cleaning, bathing, or dressing.
  • Wheel or wear; don’t go looking for supplies. Use a cart on wheels, a walker with a basket, a pocketed apron, or a fisherman's vest to keep supplies at hand.
  • Use extensions. To avoid bending and reaching, use an elevated toilet seat, a grabber for objects, and elongated handles on shoehorns, brushes, and dustpans.

These simple, energy saving tactics may help your loved one conserve the energy needed to enjoy life to its fullest. 

  *Excerpts from "Living with Congestive Heart Failure", a publication of Delaware Hospice.

This article is dedicated in memory of my father, Donald Cooke who lost his decade long fight with CHF on June 12, 2013.  

End Stage CHF

Topics: Caregiver Information, Home Care, senior care, aging, caring for a loved one, Atlanta Caregivers, Cardiovascular Disease, chronic disease, Chronic Medical Condition

Caregiver Resources: Palliative Care at Home

Posted by Jill Troman on May 16, 2013 1:33:00 PM

What comes to mind when you hear the term "Palliative Care"?  If you are like me, it's synonomous with Hospice Services.  In fact, when a nurse practitioner recently recommended it for my father, I became alarmed.  I knew Dad's COPD, Congestive Heart Failure, and Diabetes conditions were serious but felt unprepared to hear a recommendation for "Palliative Care".  That's because my understanding of the term was flawed. I believed that Pallative care  was designed to keep terminal patients "comfortable" at life's end.  Dad's conditions were serious and definitely difficult to manage but no one had labeled them as terminal.  I came to learn that Palliative care can be a vital addition to an active treatment plan for many serious and chronic diseases.  

Care at home

Are you or a loved one missing out on the benefits of Palliative Care?

With medical advances, Americans in general, are living longer.  However, many find themselves also living with chronic disease conditions.  The burden these diseases place on patient and family members can be enormous.  Where can a family turn for assistance when the chronic medical needs of a loved one are becoming difficult to manage?  For many, Palliative Care can offer patients and their families another layer of support.  

Unfortunately, many people do not take advantage of this resource due to misunderstanding of Palliative Care and its goals.  In fact, research indicates that many physicians often equate Palliative Care with Hospice and therefore, are unlikely to recommend it to patients unless they have a terminal/end stage illness.  The reality is that Palliative Care is beneficial for many patients with serious or chronic illnesses along with curative treatment. 

Palliative Care:  The Definition

" specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses.  This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness, whatever the diagnosis.  The goal is to improve quality of life for the both the patient and family.  Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work with a patients primary doctors to provide an extra layer of support.  This care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment."  

In short, Palliative care is NOT end of life care.  It's designed to enhance the care a patient is already receiving by improving care coordination, better managing and controlling symptoms, and helping families navigate the complexities of living with chronic disease. 

Is Palliative Care Right for Your Loved One?

Consider turning to Palliative Care for extra support if you or a family member are dealing with any of the following issues:

  • Serious illness such as Cancer, Congestive Heart Failure, COPD, Emphysema, Lung Disease, Kidney Failure, Liver Failure, Neurological Disease (ALS, Parkinson's, MS...), Dementia.
  • Unmanaged symptoms like pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, anxiety, depression, poor appetite, nausea, constitpation.
  • Difficult side effects from treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation.
  • Frequent ER visits or hospitalizations for the same symptoms or conditions. 
  • Indecision regarding treatment options...needs assistance evaluating medical choices and finding necessary resources.
  • In need of assistance coping with the stress of a chronic disease and emotional or spiritual support.   

What assistance does Palliative Care include?

Patients and their families gain access to a team of professionals including physician, nurse practitioners and social workers all working together in support of the patient. The team works in concert with the patient's primary medical care team to provide assistance in reducing pain, minimizing side effects and symptoms, connecting patients with complimentary services like acupuncture or massage therapy for stress reduction, disease education and more.  While primary care physicians and specialists are typically focused on treating the disease condition, a palliative care team will devote their efforts to enhancing quality of life.  

Is Palliative Care covered under insurance plans?

With a physician's referral, pallative care is often paid under Medicare Part B, Medicaid and most private insurance plans.  Check with your plan for coverage details and applicable co-insurance fees before initiating care.   

What benefits does Palliative Care Offer?

In my Dad's case, the Palliative care team offered a great deal of education and advice for minimizing his primary concern, frequent trips to the ER and hospitalizations for CHF symptoms and complications.   The team helped us develop a detailed  "Action Plan" to better manage his symptoms.  The plan was presented as a flow chart and detailed the actions we were to take with progressive symptoms.  It really helped reduce anxiety levels for all parties and restored a feeling of control over the process.  

Additionally, Dad had so many specialists who operated independently.  It was often frustrating because there was virtually no coordination between the different physicians. Information frequently wasn't shared between offices and family members were constantly having to follow up.  It was a real relief when the Palliative Care team stepped in to coordinate medical care between the different specialities.  They assisted us in making care choices by educating us on the "pros and cons" of options.  

The team also recommended some complimentary therapies which helped alleviate some of my father's symptoms and discomfort.  Specially trained massage therapists worked to reduce swelling in extremities through lymphatic drainage.  This greatly reduced pain and improved dad's mobility.  Dad was also connected with a social worker who helped him deal with some of the anxiety associated with health conditions.  Most of these services were provided in the comfort of Dad's own residence which was a "plus" for the family.

After gaining a new understanding of Palliative care, I am now able to recommend these services to our agency's clients.   Often, Easy Living caregivers work in conjunction with Palliative Care providers to maximize the quality of life for clients with dealing with serious disease conditions.  

Interested in learning more?   Call Easy Living Services today at
770-442-8664.  We're pleased to help in any way possible. 

Topics: aging, homecare, dementia, cancer care, Diabetes, Atlanta Caregivers, Cardiovascular Disease, chronic disease, Hearing Impaired Seniors, terminal illness, COPD

Exercise Tips for Healthy Aging

Posted by Debby Franklin on Mar 20, 2013 2:36:00 PM

senior exercise, healthy aging, chronic disease, heart disease, Alzheimer'sIf working out makes you cringe, it's time for a mental makeover.  Here are exercise tips for healthy aging and a how to guide on becoming more active and enjoying it.  We all know that exercise is the key to being healthy along with improving sleep, boosting mood and self-confidence, great for the brain, can even reverse some of the symptoms of aging and so much more!  But...for many, it is a challenge to commit to a regular routine or to even exercise at all.

It's time to consider physical activity a part of your lifestyle instead of a bothersome task to check off you "to do" list.  Keep in mind that mixing different types of exercise helps both reducing monotony and improvement in overall health.  The components of a balanced exercise program include:

  • Cardio increases your body's ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and to remove waste over sustained periods of time.  Cardio gets your heart pumping and helps lessen fatigue.
  • Strength Training with repetitive motion using weights or resistance helps prevent bone mass, builds muscle and improves balance.
  • Stretching and Flexibility challenges the joint's ability to move freely and can be done through stationary or moving stretches. Stretching and flexibility exercises help the body to stay limber and mobil.
  • Balance improves posture and quality of walking and helps reduce the risk of falling.  Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates are great exercised to improve balance.
There are lots of ways to make exercise a pleasurable part of everyday life.  Just think about activities that you enjoy and how you can incorporate them int9 an exercise routine.
  • Work out to music that motivates you.  If you love music and like to dance, Jazzercise is a great fitness program that is lots of fun.  The program is designed for all fitness levels and incorporates cardio, strength, stretching and flexibility along with balance in every workout segment.
  • If you enjoy shopping, walk laps at the mall.
  • Join a team sport.  You become more dedicated when the team is counting on you to show up.
  • Take nature hikes or walks and take photos to share with family and friends or for scrap booking.
  • Buddy up!  Get a neighbor or friend to join a program or take classes with you.  
  • Stay inspired.  Read health magazines.  Watching sports, weight loss and healthy cooking shows can help remind you how great it feels to take care of your body.
  • Watch a favorite movie while using stationary equipment.
  • Take a walk through your neighborhood while incorporating stretching and strength training.
  • Always choose the stairs over the elevator and park at the far end of the parking lot on outings.
  • Do a set of wall push ups while waiting for the microwave to finish.
  • Sweep the sidewalk, deck and porch.
  • Rake leaves, shovel snow or work in the garden.
  • Lift weights and stretch while watching the news.
  • Do toe-raises while talking on the phone.
  • Each time you get up from a seated position do knee bends and lunges.
Exercise helps reduce the impact of illness and chronic disease.  It also helps improve immune function, better heart health and blood pressure, better bone density, and better digestive functioning.  People who exercise also have a lowered risk for Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis and colon cancer. And as we age exercise helps us maintain independence.
The most rewarding part of beginning a fitness routine is noticing the difference it makes in the rest of your life.  Even if you begin with just 15 to 20 minutes of heart-healthy exercise, you'll notice an improvement in how you feel as you go about your day.  The best part about working out is that it gives you energy for more activities.  When it becomes habit, you'll never want to give it up!

Topics: aging, Heart Disease, Alzheimers, chronic disease, Senior Exercise

Senior Care: Don't Miss Out on State of GA's Long Term Care Benefits

Posted by Jill Troman on Jan 31, 2013 9:37:00 AM

paying for senior home care

The costs of caring for a loved one, long term, can be staggering and sometimes catastrophic on a family's financial health.  Many families find that they must spend down their entire life's savings in order to qualify for long term care under medicaid.  

The Long-Term Care Partnership Program, administered by the Georgia Department of Community Health, provides an alternative to spending down or transferring assets by forming a partnership between Medicaid and private long-term care insurers. The program was designed to serve as an incentive for Georgia residents to plan for their future long term care needs. 

This public-private partnership creates an innovative program offering individuals quality, affordable long-term care insurance and a way to receive needed care without depleting all their assets.

Only Partnership policies provide Medicaid asset protection. Under the benefit of the Dollar-for-Dollar Asset Protection, every dollar that the insurance pays out in benefits equals a dollar of family assets that is protected.  When the policy holder has exhausted the benefits under the LTC plan and needs assistance under Medicaid, the protected assets are exempt from consideration during the Medicaid eligibility process. 

Here's an example to illustrate how the Partnership program can preserve personal assets...

Bob and Gloria have assets totaling $500,000.  The couple has purchased a shared Partnership Program Long Term Care Policy with total coverage of $350,000 over a 5 year benefit period. Bob has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and is in need of long term care. The policy pays out the benefit of $350,000 for Bob's care.  Without a Partnership Long Term Care Policy, if Bob and Gloria were to file for medicaid relief for LTC costs, they would need to spend down their assets to $2,000, leaving Gloria with no savings.  With a Partnership Policy, the couple would be able to claim $350,000 as protected funds during the Medicaid eligibility application process, leaving Gloria with access to retirement funds. 

Affordable Senior Care

Partnership policies will be tax qualified plans under federal law and provide inflation protection benefits for purchasers.

Partnership policies provide compound annual inflation protection for individuals less than 61 years of age as of the date of purchase. This is one of the distinguishing features of a Partnership policy and also the inflation protection is a valuable benefit regardless of whether policy is a Partnership policy.

Partnership policies provide some level of inflation protection for individuals at least 61 years of age, but less than 75 years of age on date of purchase.

Partnership policies may provide inflation protection, but is not required, to individuals 76 years of age as of the date of purchase.

SOME PARTNTERSHIP POLICIES COVER IN-HOME CARE  as well as other community based services. Individuals should consider looking into a policy that pays for these types of services.

A Partnership policy is ideal for someone who will not be able to afford the high cost of long-term care, but who can afford the reasonable cost of long-term care insurance. The younger individuals are when purchasing a long-term care insurance policy, the less expensive it is.

Individuals who have accumulated resources by saving or investing may be the best candidates for a Partnership policy.

Before purchasing a Partnership policy, you may want to consult with a trusted advisor or long-term care insurance agent so you are able to pick a long-term product that is right for you.  If you want to buy a Partnership policy, you must select a State of Georgia approved vendor....CLICK HERE   for company contact information.   The State of Georgia does not sell Partnership policies; they administer and monitor the Long-Term Partnership Program.

Costs will vary and each company sets its own rates. A local insurance agent can provide specific information related to rates and premiums. Premiums can vary greatly across companies and within companies depending on what features are included in an individual policy.

Need more information?  Contact Easy Living Services at 770-442-8664.


Source: excerpts from Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner



Topics: elder care, senior care, aging, Atlanta Caregivers