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Atlanta Caregiver & Home Care Articles

Arthritis & How To Feel Better!

Posted by Debby Franklin on Jan 11, 2019 12:16:51 PM

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For many arthritis can be a debilitating disease.  It causes decreased mobility, pain, swelling, stiffness and can limit activities.  The five most common and serious types of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gout
  • Rheumatoid
  • Lupus

The key steps to managing life with arthritis in order to feel better are:

  • Keep active - In this case the saying "use it or lose it" rings true.  The less you do from a physical standpoint, the less mobility and flexibility you will have.
  • Maintain a healthy weight - Additional pounds increase stress on the joints which increases pain.
  • Avoid injuries - Falls and injuries can cause the development of osteoarthritis.
  • Develop strategies and healthy skills - Exercise, eating certain foods and avoiding foods that can cause inflammation can keep the body working better and feeling better.
  • Diet - Eat foods that are anti inflammatory and rich in antioxidants.
  • Early diagnosis - Avoid ignoring the symptoms! Establish a plan early on to live a healthy lifestyle.

Foods that fight and block inflammation and offer healthy benefits for combating arthritis are:

  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger 
  • Cinnamon
  • Cayenne
  • Green, black & white tea
  • Coffee
  • Red wine
  • Water-flushes toxins out of the body!
  • Tart & dark cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Grapes
  • Avocado
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Red pepper
  • Olives
  • Onions, leeks, shallots
  • Omega-3's found in fatty acid fish; salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel
  • Nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Popcorn
  • Marine Collagen, the building block for cartilage, bones, tendons, ligaments and skin
  • MSM, a natural anti inflammatory that targets joint tissue
  • Glucosamine, aids joint structure and can provide significant pain relief

Foods to avoid that can worsen and cause pain are:

  • Processed and refined
  • Fats and oils that are saturated fat found in meat, butter and cheese
  • Omega 6"s found in corn oil, safflower, soy and vegetable oil
  • Trans fats
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Reduce sugar
  • Moderate consumption of alcohol

If you or a loved one are struggling with a debilitating condition that can benefit from a little help to make life easier, we are here for you! Since 1994 Easy Living Services and has been an expert resource for thousands of Atlanta families with Home Care needs.

call us at, 770-442-8664

My family needs help with a loved one. CLICK HERE.

Topics: disabled, Lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic disease, senior care, elder care

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

Dementia & Summer Activities

Posted by Debby Franklin on Jul 26, 2013 4:10:00 PM

dementia, Alzheimer's, chronic disease, senior care,The "good ole summer time" brings back many fond memories even for those with Dementia. Summer takes us back to camp, fishing and swimming, boating, family reunions, picking flowers, weddings, and picnics.  Enjoying summer activities with your loved one who has dementia is a great way to engage them in reminiscing the past.  Although your loved one may have limitations on how much physical activity they can participate in, a picnic is a fun outing that may stimulate memories of summers gone by.

  • Plan your picnic - Decide on the perfect spot, perhaps a place that has special meaning for your loved one or a family favorite park or lake.
  • Select a basket - Any container that has a handle will work well.   
  • Decorate - Select a theme and gather items that your loved one can glue or tie on the basket.  Select decorating ideas to fit the abilities and interests of the person with dementia.  
  • Decide on your menu - Make a list of food and drinks that you will want to bring on the outing.  Ask your loved one with dementia to help by telling you their favorite summer foods.  Be sure to include items that represent summer; lemonade, watermelon, potato salad, ice cream, and don't forget the burgers!  Finger foods make picnicking easier, especially for someone who now has difficulty using utensils. Keep items that can spoil quickly in a cooler right before and immediately after serving.
  • Gather the essential items - People with dementia respond better to some things more than others.  For example when selecting a tablecloth, select a solid color vs. the traditional checkered pattern. Dementia can create depth perception problems and patterns are more likely to cause injuries.  Select bold and solid colored picnic ware, studies show that plates that are in sharp contrast to the food and the table help people with advanced dementia more easily distinguish one from the other which may prompt them to eat more.  Using utensils with large handles or finger foods will also be helpful.  Flexible straws or cups with lids can help prevent spills.  
  • Pack items for activities - Is their a special game or outdoor activity that your loved one is fond of such at horse shoes or croquet?  Photo albums of vacations and family gatherings are very stimulating for those with dementia.  Music is a must!  There is so much research on the positive effects of music and dementia.  Even for people with later stages of Alzheimer's music moves and gets a response when nothing else seems to connect.  Select music that are old time favorites for your loved one.
  • Beat the heat - Be certain to bring along proper protection from the blazing sun.  Select a spot in the shade, bring a hat and sun screen, and pack plenty of water for not only the person with dementia but for the entire family.  Remind your loved one to drink water throughout the picnic.  Plenty of water is essential to avoiding dehydration.  
  • Last minute checklist - Avoid rocky, uneven paths or steep hills to avoid trips and falls.  Become familiar with the location of the restroom.  Select an area that is on the quieter side to avoid extra confusion for the person with dementia. 

Lastly summer passes so quickly...organize your picnic and enjoy each and every warm, sunny day!

The above tips were provided by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.

If you are finding it difficult to juggle it all - work, family, errands and other demands that often leave you over taxed.  Where do you turn when a loved ones needs are more than you can manage on your own?  What do you do when some of the care alternatives seem like a complication rather than a solution?  We understand, in fact, we have been there.

Consult Atlanta's most trusted source for quality Home Care, Easy Living Services. Offering flexible care plans designed to guarantee safety, comfort, companionship and personal care and attention to your loved one at home.

Finally, a real solution.  At last, peace of mind.  Call us at 770-442-8664.  


  

Topics: senior care, dementia, taking care of a parent, chronic disease, Alzheimer's

Help for those who suffer with Chronic Medical Conditions

Posted by Debby Franklin on Jul 10, 2013 1:14:00 PM

chronic medical condition, stroke, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, head injury, hyperbaric therapyHyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical treatment which enhances the body's natural healing process by inhalation of 100% oxygen.  This promotes natural healing for persons who suffer with chronic medical conditions.  In the hyperbaric chamber the atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled and is used for a wide variety of treatments.

With normal circumstances, oxygen is transported throughout the body only by red blood cells. With the hyperbaric oxygen therapy oxygen is dissolved into all of the body's fluids, the plasma, the central nervous system fluids, the lymph and the bone and can be carried to areas where circulation is diminished or blocked.  With the hyperbaric therapy extra oxygen can reach all of the damaged tissues and the body can support its own healing process which is great news for anyone suffering with a chronic medical condition.  The increased oxygen greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria, reduces swelling and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas.  This is a simple, non-invasive and painless treatment.  

CONDITIONS WHICH MAY BENEFIT FROM HYPERBARIC THERAPY INCLUDE:

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Arthritis
  • Autism
  • Asthma
  • Allergies                                                   chronic disease, stroke, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Lupus, Brain & Head injury
  • Brain & Head Injury
  • Bell's Palsy
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer's
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Joint Pain
  • Loss of Limb
  • Lupus
  • Lyme Disease
  • Immune Deficiency
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Sports Injury
  • Stroke
  • Wound Healing
  • Diabetes
  • Headaches
  • Body Detoxification
  • Sleeping & Skin disorders
What are the side effects?
The most common side effect is barotrauma to the ears and sinuses caused by the change in pressure.  To minimize this risk, patients learn techniques to promote adequate clearing of the ears during compression. occasionally some patients may experience changes in their vision during their treatment.  These changes are usually minor and temporary.  A rare side effect is oxygen toxicity which is caused by administering too much oxygen.
What information should you discuss with the technician prior to treatment?
  • If you have any cold or flu symptoms, fever, sinus or nasal congestion
  • If there is a possibility that you may be pregnant
  • If there has been a change in any of your medications
  • If you have skipped a meal prior to your treatment
  • If you are diabetic and did not take your insulin prior to your treatment
  • If you have any concerns or anxiety 
How does hyperbaric therapy help brain injury or stroke?
When cells in the brain die, either from trauma or lack of oxygen, blood plasma leaks out into surrounding brain tissue causing swelling and reducing blood flow.  These otherwise normal cells go dormant because they can't function without the appropriate amount of oxygen.  Hyperbaric therapy dramatically increases the oxygen carried in the blood plasma, making oxygen available to heal damaged capillary walls, preventing plasma leakage and reducing swelling.  As the swelling decreases, blood flow can be restored to the dormant tissue and these cells then have the pltential to function again.  
Insurance and Medicare consider coverage for several conditions so check to see if this is an available option prior to treatment. 
The above information is from www.hbot.com additional information is available at this site.

If you are finding it difficult to juggle it all - work, family, errands and other demands that often leave you over taxed.  Where do you turn when a loved ones needs are more than you can manage on your own?  What do you do when some of the care alternatives seem like a complication rather than a solution?  We understand, in fact, we have been there.

Consult Atlanta's most trusted source for quality Home Care, Easy Living Services. Offering flexible care plans designed to guarantee safety, comfort, companionship and personal care and attention to your loved one at home.

Finally, a real solution.  At last, peace of mind.  Call us at 770-442-8664.  

In Home Care For Seniors

Topics: stroke, chronic disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Chronic Medical Condition, Chronic, hyperbaric therapy, brain injury, Lupus

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

"...is 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, chronic disease, Cardiovascular Disease, terminal illness, Diabetes, Hearing Impaired Seniors, cancer care, Atlanta Caregivers, COPD