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Atlanta Caregiver & Home Care Articles

What is COPD?

Posted by Debby Franklin on Feb 8, 2013 1:14:00 PM

COPD, emphysema, bronchitis, In Home CareCOPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is used to describe progressive lung diseases which can include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, non-reversible asthma, and some forms of bronchitis.  Symptoms of COPD don't appear until significant lung damage has occurred, and they usually worsen over time. 

People with COPD are also likely to experience episodes called exacerbations when their symptoms suddenly get much worse.  Symptoms include breathlessness, chromic coughing and wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.  Many people mistake their increased breathlessness and coughing as a normal part of aging when in fact it could be early signs of COPD.

The following information is provided by the COPD Foundation:

  • Approximately 12 million adults have COPD and another 12 million are undiagnosed or are developing COPD.
  • COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • COPD kills more women than mean each year.  In 2006, COOPD killed more American women than breast cancer and diabetes combined.
  • Every four minutes an individual dies of COPD.
  • It is estimated that 210 million individuals worldwide have COPD and total deaths are expected to increase more than thirty percent in the next ten years.
  • Smoking is not the only cause of COPD; second-hand smoke, occupational dust and chemicals, air pollution and genetic factors also cause this disease.
  • COPD is relatively easy to diagnose using a spirometry machine, where the patient exhales as much as po9ssible into a tube.
  • There's no cure yet for COPD but treatments are available to help individuals live with their COPD.

 You can't undo the damage to your lungs, but COPD treatments can control symptoms, reduce your risk of complications and exacerbations, and improve your ability to lead an active life.

Treatments and Drugs (provided by the Mayo Clinic)

Stop smoking - This is the only way to keep COPD from getting worse which can eventually result in losing your ability to breathe. 

Bronchodilators - These usually come in an inhaler, and help relax the muscles around your airways.  This can help relieve coughing and shortness of breath and make breathing easier. 

Inhaled steroids - Inhaled corticosteroid medications can reduce airway inflammation and help you breathe better.  Prolonged use of these medications can weaken your bones and increase your risk of high blood pressure, cataracts and diabetes.  These are usually reserved for people with moderate or severe COPD.

Antibiotics - Respiratory infections such as acute bronchitis, pneumonia and influenza can aggravate COPS symptoms.  Antibiotics can help fight bacterial infections, but are recommended only when necessary.

Oxygen therapy - If there isn't enough oxygen in your blood, you may need supplemental oxygen.   There are several devices to deliver oxygen to your lungs, including lightweight, portable units that you can take with you to run errands and get around town.  Some people with COPD use oxygen only during activities or while sleeping.  Other use oxygen all the time.

Hyperbaric chamber - Hyperbaric oxygen therapy uses a specialized chamber to increase the concentration of oxygen in the bloodstream.  The chamber is pressurized two and one-half to three times greater than normal air pressure, thus forcing more oxygen into the blood and throughout the body.  Originally developed to treat divers, research is slowly uncovering the benefits of hyperbaric treatment for a wide variety of conditions which include wound healing, brain injury, infection and so much more.

Complications can include:

Respiratory infections - You are more likely to get frequent colds, the flu or pneumonia.  This can make it much more difficult to breathe and produce further irreversible damage to the lung tissues.

High blood pressure - COPD may cause high blood pressure in the arteries that bring blood to your lungs which puts great strain on your heart.

Heart problems - COPD also increases your risk of heart disease, including heart attack.

Depression  - Difficulty breathing can keep you from doing activities that you enjoy.  It can be very difficulty to deal with a disease that is progressive and incurable.

Atlanta Caregivers

 

Topics: In Home Care, chronic disease, COPD, emphysema, bronchitis

Keeping The Holidays Simple for Alzheimer's Patients

Posted by Jill Troman on Dec 14, 2012 11:19:00 AM

 

 

Alzheimer's, senior care, atlanta caregiver, Home Care, taking care of a parentThe holiday season should be the happiest time of the year, right?  If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease, the season can bring new challenges and stressors.  It's especially tough for the Alzheimer's patient who may experience anxiety over the increased levels of stimulation.  It's essential to minimize stress by identifying and minimizing triggers.  Simplying your holiday calendar will insure that the holiday memories you make are happy ones.

 

 Tips for Holiday Sanity:

1. Avoid Crowded Venues and Hectic Activities.   You might be be tempted to take your Alzheimer's patient along with you while  shopping at the mall.  Think again.  This little excursion could prove disastrous. The frantic pace, crowds, holiday music and decorations could result in serious overstimulation for an Alzheimer's patient.  The resulting anxiety and behavior changes could linger for days.   

2. Keep Holiday Visits Short.  Alzheimer's patients tire easily.  Consider skipping lengthy events or parties.  As an alternative, families can retain the services of a professional caregiver through an In-Home Care agency to keep a family member with Alzheimer's safe and comfortable at home. Look for an agency with caregivers who have specific Alzheimer's experience and/or training. For additional information on Alzheimer's specific In-Home Care Services, contact Easy Living at 770-442-8664.

3. Minimize Holiday Decor; Reduce & Simplify.   Excessive visual stimulation can also increase anxiety levels for Alzheimer's patients.  Items like blinking lights can be confusing or even frightening. Make it easy on yourself and your loved one by limiting the decorations to a few cherished items.  Instead conserve your energy and take time to reflect on the true meaning of the season.

4. Allow Room for Imperfection.  Your celebrations and gatherings do not have to be "Norman Rockwell" perfect.  If your Alzheimer's patient enjoys hanging ornaments on the tree or decorating sugar cookies; allow him to participate.  The results may be less than perfect but the process will build happy memories for all.

5. Build on Past Traditions and Memories.  Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs and listening to favorite stories. But also experiment with new holiday traditions, such as renting seasonal videos.

6. Maintain the Normal Routine.   Your loved one does much better with routine and consistency.  This is even more important during the holidays when other variables are changing.  Plan adequate time for rest and nutritious meals.

Like any other health challenge, Alzheimer’s always affects an entire family—not just one individual. Celebrating holidays with a family member who has Alzheimer’s can be challenging and stressful. Some advanced planning and a realistic vision for the season can ease stress for all.  Adjust your holiday expecations. Above, enjoy these precious moments with your loved one. 

Atlanta Caregivers

Topics: elder care, In Home Care, caregivers, caring for a loved one, Atlanta Home Care, Alzheimers

In-Home Caregivers Improve Quality of Life for Alzheimer's Patients

Posted by Jill Troman on Sep 13, 2012 4:51:00 PM

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Facing the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease can be one of the most challenging issues a family can face.  Without question, the diagnosis is sobering  but it doesn't have to be hopeless.   Experience shows that for many Alzheimer's patients, quality, one-on-one care can make an appreciable difference in quality of life.

Easy Living Services client Martha Gray's family is an excellent example of a family that refused to give up hope.  Like so many others, the Grays were initially distressed to learn that mom, Martha Gray, was afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. Initially, the only noticeable symptoms were memory lapses and mild confusion.  Mrs. Gray continued to live independently along side her husband, Willard, a practicing Chiropractor. At 87, Mr. Gray managed to provide supportive care for his wife and still remain active in his chiropractic clinic.  Daughters, Debbo, Dawn and Sunny pitched in when needed to give their Dad a break from caregiving.  This approach worked well for some time. After a near tragedy shocked the family, they were forced to face their mom's declining condition and take action.

I remember the afternoon Easy Living received a call from Martha Gray's daughter, Debbo. Deb contacted us to inquire about in-home care options for her mother as a recent incident had made her very concerned about Martha's safety and security.  One rainy afternoon, Martha wandered away from home on foot.  No family members were at home or aware that she had wandered.  After walking over a mile from home, Martha stopped and collapsed on an area bridge. A concerned citizen contacted police to report having seen an elderly woman lying down on a bridge in the rain. Fortunately, Mrs. Gray was not injured as a result of this ordeal.  It was now obvious to all that her mental condition had degraded substantially and Martha could no longer be left unattended.  The Gray family had many questions and some tough decisions to make. 

Was it possible for their mom to remain at home?  Could Easy Living help?

Ultimately, the answer to both of these questions was "yes!"  The Gray daughters formulated a care strategy and approach affectionately dubbed "Team Martha".  Their idea was to combine their efforts to enrich their Mom's life as much as possible and to keep her happy at home for as long as possible.  Each day was to be "all about Martha".  Easy Living Services was selected to play an integral role in "Team Martha" through Certified Nursing Assistant, Lashonda Brisbane.  After careful consideration, we selected Lashonda for the Gray family based on her unique skill set, experience and probably most importantly, positive attitude.   It was clear to all of us at Easy Living that an energetic, upbeat caregiver would be required to keep up with fun loving Mrs. Gray! 

caregivers for alzheimer's patientsWhen care first started, Martha was really a shell of her former self.  Her daughters had described their mom as a once energetic, interesting woman with a zest for life.  Lashonda arrived on her first day to find a much different Martha.  She was quiet, withdrawn and spent much of her day sleeping.  Her memory was significantly impaired and mental state was confused.  She was not eating, drinking or taking her medications with any regularity.  In fact, her family reported significant weight loss. Her blood pressure was frequently too low, resulting in dizziness.  She had become resistant to showering and neglected overall hygiene.  This was a real change for the former Mrs. North Georgia winner!  Overall, it was a pretty grim picture but very much like that of many other Alzheimer's patients. 

 

Fast forward 4 short months and we are pleased to see an entirely different Martha Gray.  Truthfully, Martha wasn't miraculously restored to her "pre-alzheimers" condition.  However, she is now a much more engaged, active, healthy Martha.  Improvements noted following the addition of a personal caregiver to her care team include the following:  weight gain of 7 lbs, stable blood pressure, normal sleep patterns restored, effective medication management, talkative and engaging with loved ones, increased levels of activity, renewed interest in grooming and personal appearance, and improved cognitive test scores as reported by her physician.  

How did "Team Martha" accomplish these amazing results?  Without question the love and committment demonstrated by Mrs. Gray's family was the primary force behind her improvementCaregiver, Lashonda, put her experience from working with other dementia patients to work with Mrs. Gray.  Initially, she carefully observed Mrs. Gray's habits and behaviors without making any radical changes.  She "shadowed" her throughout the day working to build familiarity and trust.  At appropriate times, Lashonda would ask her to join in as she performed routine tasks like folding laundry or putting away dishes.  Pleasant conversation during these tasks allowed the two to become acquainted.  Helping Lashonda increased Mrs. Gray's self confidence and feeling of usefulness around the home. 

Lashonda worked with family members to implement a better medication management system which meant that Martha would receive her medications on time, every day.  Better control of Alzheimer's symptoms with effective use of meds resulted in improved energy, focus and appetite.  Additionally, Mrs. Gray's sleep cycles normalized which further enhanced her daytime energy levels and mood. 

A rough schedule was developed to organize Mrs. Gray's day. Establishing a predictable routine reduced anxiety levels and was soothing. The schedule is "rough" because Lashonda never wanted to force Mrs. Gray to conform or do anything she didn't want to do.  She worked to organize essential tasks like eating, showering, taking meds at times of the day when Mrs. Gray was likely to be most receptive.  She tried to give her opportunities to make decisions and feel some sense of control over her day.  For example, Lashonda would allow her to help make clothing selections and menu choices.   

Slowly, Lashonda worked up to re-introducing activities that Mrs. Gray had enjoyed earlier in her life.  She had been an excellent seamstress at one time.  While she could no longer complete real sewing projects, Lashonda discovered that she could sew together pieces of cloth and enjoyed doing so for long periods of time.   Outside time is always incorporated into their routine.  Nature walks or active gardening work keeps Mrs. Gray strong and connected with the outside world.  I was also tickled to learn that Mrs.Gray holds a daily yoga class and serves as instructor to her favorite pupil, Lashonda.  To retain thinking skills, puzzles and reading is part of the regimen.  A fun game of "Name that Tune" is great for Mrs. Gray's memory and plays off her love of music.  Mrs. Gray's "music class" is also on the agenda...where she gives Lashonda piano instruction.  I have also heard that Martha has returned to doing one of her very favorite activites, singing in the church choir.activities for alzheimers

It's truly heart warming to hear how much progress Martha has made in living life to the fullest despite a tough diagnosis.  Working together, "Team Martha" has far surpassed its initial goal of keeping her safe at home.  She is now thriving at home and re-engaging in a way no one thought was possible a few months ago.  Mrs. Gray's personal physician is very pleased and has attributed her remarkable progress to the In-Home Care she receives on a daily basis.

I had the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Gray a few days ago when she stopped by the office after an outing with Lashonda.  She looked beautiful and happy.  So did caregiver, Lashonda.  It seems that both caregiver and client are benefiting from this fantastic match! 

Alzheimer's disease doesn't have to feel like a hopeless situation to your loved one and to your family.  Want to learn more about how your loved one might benefit from one-on-one care by a seasoned, professional caregiver? 

Call us today at 770-442-8664.  We're ready to help.

 

 

 

Topics: In Home Care, caregiver, taking care of a parent, Atlanta Home Care, Alzheimers, Alzheimers therapies

Senior Care on a Budget; Consider "Live-In" Service

Posted by Jill Troman on Sep 6, 2012 10:12:00 AM

 

There's no question that evaluating care options for a loved one can be quite overwhelming, not to mention costly.  You might be surprised to learn that "Live-In" home care options can be among the best values in senior care. 

The term "Live-In" refers to a caregiver that lives with the care recipient for a specified period of time (usually several days), providing 24 hour coverage. "Live-In" care is typically billed at a flat, daily fee with rates ranging from $175 to $185 per 24 hour period.  "Live-In" rates are considerably less expensive on a per hour basis than standard hourly care.  One qualifier on "Live-In" care arrangements is that the client must sleep on average 7-8 hours per night without needing care.  If regular sleep is not possible for the caregiver, an additional Aide will be needed to provide nighttime coverage, on an hourly basis. 

Before you dismiss "Live-In" care as too costly, consider how comprehensive the care is for the money.  Besides "hands on", personal care services such as bathing, dressing, mobility assistance and companionship, caregivers serve as Household Managers.  Consider the tasks listed below that are rolled into the job of "Live-in" caregiver:  

 

Live In Care, In Home Care, caregivers, Atlanta caregivers

Household cleaning & laundry services--- a $540 per month ($135 per week) value

Personal Meal Planning/Shopping/Preparation Services--- a $450 per month value (30 homecooked, nutritious meals) 

Pet Care (feeding/walking)---a $270 per month ($9 per day) value

Errand & Transportation Service---a $320 per month value (2 local outings per week)

 

These extra services, of course, are in addition to the priceless benefit of one-on-one personal care and companionship in one's own home.  "Live-In" care is especially economical for couples or those requiring significant levels of personal care.

A word of caution---some might be tempted to search for a "Live-In" caregiver on their own. "A friend of a friend" may sound like an attractive option.  This person may be someone that you believe you would be comfortable around.  After all, conern about having a stranger in the home is a major hurdle for most.   You should question the motivation of people who claim they will move in on a permanent basis to care for all of the needs of an elderly person.  Professional Caregivers are real people with families, homes and their own interests. A professional, skilled caregiver will NOT be willing to move in permanently and give up their own lives without a break. He or she should possess the credentials/experience necessary to work with the elderly.  Be skeptical of those who are willing to accept room/board and tiny salaries in exchange for a loved one's total care.  Many seniors have fallen prey to dishonest "caregivers" who take advantage of the situation.

Instead, consider retaining the services of a professional In-Home Care agency. Agency personnel will handle the screening and make certain that the caregiver sent to care for your loved one is skilled, professional and has a solid track record.  Agencies also guarantee coverage if your primary caregiver must miss work.  Agency caregivers receive regular breaks so that when they return to care for your loved one; they are refreshed.professional caregivers at Easy Living

Do you think "Live-In" care might be right for your family?  Call Easy Living Services to learn more...

770-442-8664.  We're here to help!

In Home Care For Seniors 

Topics: atlanta, elder care, In Home Care, elderly care, senior care, aging, caregiver, homecare, taking care of a parent, cancer support, Atlanta Home Care, Alzheimers, Companion Care

Dementia - Spending Quality Time With A Loved One

Posted by Debby Franklin on Jul 27, 2012 11:37:00 AM

Dementia, taking care of a parentDementia is a progressive disease and it may become difficult to visit your loved one when they are in the later stages.  They may not recognize you or even be able to converse making it hard to know how to be supportive.  Make the visit more meaningful by planning your visit in advance.

You might want to bring:

  • A photo album
  • Music you know they love
  • A favorite food
  • A book or church bulletin to read aloud
  • A special memento
  • Lotion for a hand or foot massage
  • A pet, if allowed

Touch can be instrumental to carry out activities such as bathing or dressing.  Research shows that people with dementia can tell the difference between this activity and expressive touch.  Expressive touch is when we hold hands, put an arm around the person, or give a back rub or hug.  This conveys acceptance, nurturing and caring.  A caring touch can trigger the brain to release natural chemicals that suppress pain and depression.  Massage a loved one's hand, brush their hair or apply lotion to the hands and feet.

Be careful to avoid speaking down to your loved one.  If you haven't always called your loved one "sweetie," "dear," or "honey" don't do it now it will only make them more agitated.  Keep in mind that they were high functioning adults and you should respect their dignity in small ways.  Remember to speak slowly, people with dementia take longer to process what you have said.

Keep in mind that the sense of smell is so basic that when we smell a certain odor it can bring back memories from decades ago.  You might want to bring along the following:

  • A rose, a lavender sachet, or a candle that smells like pumpkin or apple pie
  • A favorite perfume or aftershave
  • Aromatherapy oil

We all know the power of music, it can transport you back to a place and time and evoke such vivid memories and sensations.  There has been a lot of research on the positive effects that music has on individuals with Dementia.  Therapist have been using music therapy to promote memory and a sense of self in the treatment of persons with Dementia for an extensive number of years.  Selecting songs that have a personal meaning; a song played at their wedding, songs that were popular during their youth, can have a calming and uplifting effect.  It can provide memory recall, positive changes in moods and stimulate and promote interest.

Some times experiencing different textures can be stimulating to a person with Dementia.  A cozy throw, cool stone or even a stuffed animal may provide comfort.  Wrapping someone's hands or feet in a hot, wet towel might feel very soothing and relaxing.  Opening a window to feel a breeze and also be an enjoyable experience. 

Use your imagination.  Think about what would bring you comfort.  What would feel good to you?  For each visit plan a simple, new, creative way to bring pleasure, serenity or comfort.  The quality of time spent with your loved one will improve for both of you.

 In-Home Care for Alzheimer's

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: In Home Care, dementia, taking care of a parent, Alzheimers