Dementia is an illness that affects people’s cognition, memory, and behavior. Dementia is a progressive condition; therefore, symptoms may be mild at first and worsen over time. People with dementia can require professional dementia care, which varies depending on symptoms.

Those with severe dementia symptoms can require 24-hour care. However, the question is, at what point do dementia patients need 24-hour care?

Signs a Dementia Patient may Require 24-Hour Care

Due to the gradual nature of dementia’s progression over the years, it’s tough to determine when it is time to switch to 24/7 care. Although there is never a “good time” to start, here are some indicators a move to 24-hour-care could be a good move for your family:

Difficulties with Drug Adherence

Most seniors require medicine to manage at least one chronic illness. The National Institute on Aging reports that roughly 85% of people aged 65 and up have one chronic medical condition and 60% have two or more. Medication management may become increasingly challenging as dementia worsens. Most places that provide round-the-clock care, such as a dementia care unit or in-home caregiver, will also administer the patient’s medicine and keep an eye out for any problems that may arise.

Poor Living Conditions

When you see water and electricity bills accumulating, dirty dishes, spoiled food in the fridge, a lack of personal hygiene developing, and so on, it may be time to look into around the clock care. It can be tough to manage your home and your loved one’s while they are struggling with dementia, so looking towards a professional can make life better for every party involved.

When Safety isn’t Guaranteed

Caregivers and family members should monitor the health of their loved one. In dementia patients, a loss of weight, a change in posture, or the appearance of bruises are all indicators that they are no longer safe in their homes. People with dementia face a higher risk of falling due to difficulty maintaining balance. 24-hour care for dementia patients is required if a loved one has frequent falls or cannot move much throughout the day. Six out of ten people with dementia tend to wander, which can lead to falls and other risky situations. Dementia caregivers have the skills to control these behaviors and keep their patients from wandering.

When the Primary Caregiver is Far

In particular, long-distance caregiving becomes extremely challenging when the patient cared for has a degenerative disease like Alzheimer’s or another kind of dementia. Remote help and supervision are pretty demanding. Many trust long-term care institutions to properly care for their loved ones. People with cognitive impairments always benefit from the support of the workers at a memory care center or a professional in-home to provide care that you might not be able to always offer due to distance.

Caregiver Stress

Stress levels can rise quickly while caring for people with dementia. In addition to the already taxing physical and mental demands of caregiving, stress can take a toll on your life and schedule. Caregivers should not neglect their mental health and well-being. Both the primary caregiver and the person with dementia may benefit from a move to 24-hour support if the situation seems to be causing issues in you and your loved one’s life.

Summer and warm weather are here, and that means plenty of time spent outdoors or at the pool, lake or beach. However, excessive sun exposure, especially from UV radiation, can lead to detrimental health effects in the future.

What is ultraviolet (UV) radiation? Ultraviolet radiation is emitted by the sun. There are three types of UV radiation – UVA, UVB and UVC – that differ in wavelength. All of UVC and most of UVB are absorbed by the ozone layer before they reach the earth. However, UVA is harmful to humans since it is not absorbed by the ozone layer about the earth, reaching beyond the top layer of human skin.

A little bit of sun exposure is needed regularly to ensure that the body can produce enough Vitamin D. But too much time spent in the sun over a long period can lead to sun burns, skin cancers or melanomas, cataracts or macular degeneration, premature skin aging and immune system problems.

Mature couple by the pool

Statistics reveal a cause for concern:

· In 2009, more than 1 million people in the United States were diagnosed with skin cancer, making it the most common of all cancers. More people were diagnosed with skin cancer in 2009 than with breast, prostate, lunch and colon cancer combined. About 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

· One American dies of melanoma almost every hour.

· In the U.S., medical costs to treat skin cancer are estimated at almost $2 billion annually.

The following are action steps for sun protection:

· Do not burn

· Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds.

· Generously apply sunscreen. Apply one ounce to cover all exposed skin 20 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 and provide protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and untraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.

· Wear protective clothing. Wearing a long sleeved shirt, pants, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses can help limit your exposure to damaging UV rays.

· Seek shade. When possible, seek shade and breaks from the sun and remember that the sun’s UV rays are most harmful between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

· Use extra caution when near water, snow and sand. All of these can reflect the damaging rays of the sun which can increase your chances of a sun burn.

· Check the UV Index. The UV index provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent sun exposure. The UV Index is issued daily by the National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The index ranges from a 1-11 scale with 1 being low and anything over 6 being high and cause for extra precaution. Visit

· Get Vitamin D Safely. Get Vitamin D safely through a diet that includes vitamin supplements and foods fortified with Vitamin D. Limit your sun exposure.

· If you have fair skin and light hair (blond or red), you are at higher risk for skin cancer. Experts recommend that you see a dermatologist once a year for a skin check.

By using common sense and limiting sun exposure, you can reduce your and your loved ones chances of developing skin cancer and other complications from too much sun exposure. Early detection of skin cancer can save your life. A new or changing mole should be promptly evaluated by a dermatologist.

Sources: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Cancer Society

June has been historically known as National Safety Month. National Safety Month always coincides with the beginning of summer. The National Safety Council celebrates National Safety Month as a time to bring attention to key safety issues. They have broken the month into four areas to pay attention to, i.e. Prevent prescription drug abuse; Stop slips, trips and falls; Summer Safety and Put an end to distracted driving.

Our blog will simply address the Prescription Drug Abuse topic. Medication management is a very common problem in older adults. Unfortunately, older adults are at higher risk for prescription drug abuse because they take more prescription medicines than other age groups. Americans 65 years of age or older make up only 13% of the U.S. population, yet they consume approximately 33% of all prescription drugs. Older adults are also at risk for prescription drug abuse because they often take more than one prescription medicine each day. This increases the risk for mistakes when taking the medicines and for drug interactions. In addition, growing older slows down your liver’s ability to filter medicines out of your body. This means that an older adult might become addicted to or have side effects from a prescription drug at a lower dose than a younger adult.

Pills And Water

If you care for or spend time with an older adult, pay attention to his or her medicines and behavior. A person who is addicted to a prescription drug may:

  • Get a prescription for the same medicine from 2 different doctors
  • Fill a prescription for the same medicine at 2 different pharmacies
  • Take more of a prescription medicine than they used to or take more than is instructed on the label
  • Take the medicine at different times or more often than is instructed on the label
  • Have behavior changes, such as becoming more withdrawn or angry
  • Often think or talk about a medicine
  • Be afraid to go without taking a medicine
  • Be uncomfortable or defensive when you ask about the medicine
  • Make excuses for why they need a medicine
  • Store “extra” pills in their purse or in their pocket
  • Sneak or hide medicine
  • Have been treated for alcohol, drug, or prescription drug abuse in the past

If you see discrepancies in your loved one’s medications, or notice some of the above behaviors, consult his or her primary care physician. Gather medication lists and as much information as you can prior to seeing the doctor.

Sources: National Safety Council & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

An estimated seven to ten million people live with Parkinson’s disease worldwide and as many as 1.5 million live in the United States. Men and women are affected. The frequency of the disease is considerably higher in the over-60 age group, even though there is an alarming increase of patients of younger age.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder. It involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As the disease progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.

There are four key motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:

· Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaws and face

· Bradykinesia or slowness of movement

· Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk

· Postural Instability or impaired balance and coordination

Each of these symptoms can vary from person to person. The disease is diagnosed by performing a neurological examination along with the individual’s description of symptoms they are experiencing. The diagnosis depends upon the presence of one or more of the four most common motor symptoms of the disease. In addition, there are other secondary and non-motor symptoms that affect many people and are increasingly recognized by doctors as important to treating Parkinson’s.

Furthermore, each person with Parkinson’s will experience symptoms differently. For example, many people experience tremor as their primary symptom, while others may not have tremors, but may have problems with balance. Also, for some people the disease progresses quickly, and it others it does not.

By definition, Parkinson’s is a progressive disease. Although some people with Parkinson’s only have symptoms on one side of the body for many years, eventually the symptoms begin on the other side. Symptoms on the other side of the body often do not become as severe as the symptoms on the initial side.

The major symptoms of the disease were originally described in 1817 by an English, physician, Dr. James Parkinson, who called it “Shaking palsy”. Only in the 1960’s, however, pathological and biochemical changes in the brain of patients were identified, opening the way to the first effective medication for the disease.

Currently there is no cure to Parkinson’s disease, but there are treatment options available such as medication and surgery to help manage the symptoms. Research is also being done to find out about the possible causes associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Sources: Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, American Parkinson Disease Association

Have you or a family member broken a limb or had a cosmetic procedure or a minor surgery that will affect you in the short term? Kansas City Home Care can help. We are now offering Short Term Recovery Services to help clients after a procedures and short term setbacks.

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, one out of every four deaths is attributed to heart disease.

What is heart disease and how can we prevent it? Heart disease encompasses several types of heart conditions. The most common type in the United States is coronary heart disease (also referred to as coronary artery disease), which occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries. Plaque is made up of cholesterol deposits which can accumulate in the arteries. When this happens, the arteries can narrow over time.

Plaque buildup can cause angina, the most common symptom of coronary artery disease. This condition causes chest pain or discomfort due to the heart muscle not getting enough blood. Over time, coronary artery disease can weaken the heart muscle. This may lead to heart failure, a serious condition where the heart can’t pump blood the way it should. An irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, can also develop. Sometimes, the first sign of coronary heart disease is a heart attack which happens when plaque totally blocks an artery carrying blood to the heart. It can also happen if a plaque deposit breaks off and clots a coronary artery.

Prevention is the best way to ward off heart disease. Fortunately, many of the risk factors for heart disease can be prevented or controlled. What should you do?

  • Talk to your health care professional. Share your health history, get blood pressure and cholesterol checked, and ask if taking an aspirin each day is right for you.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Regularly monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart disease and stroke. One in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure, and half of these individuals do not have their condition under control. High cholesterol affects 1 in 3 Americans as well and two thirds of these individuals do not have the condition under control. Half of adults with high cholesterol don’t get treatment.
  • Prevent diabetes.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Limit alcohol use.
  • Take your medications.

A good way to remember how to prevent heart disease can be as easy as knowing your ABC’S:

· A – Appropriate Aspirin Therapy for those who need it.

· B – Blood Pressure Control.

· C- Cholesterol Management.

· S- Smoking Cessation.

For more information on ways to prevent heart disease, consult the American Heart Association at

Sources: American Heart Association, AARP, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health.

If you are an adult child of an aging parent, you can relate to the challenges and stresses of care giving. Many middle-aged adult children have their own families to raise and support. Additionally, some adult children also live away from their parents and deal with the challenges of caregiving from a distance.

Caring For Elderly Mother

Adult children face numerous stresses from caregiving. Examples of this include guilt for living in another state, loss of sleep, health concerns caused by stress and parent’s unresolved estate planning and financial uncertainty.

According to the National Institute on Aging, 53% of caregivers said that their health had gotten worse due to caregiving and that their decline in health affected their ability to provide care. Additionally, caregivers’ jobs are oftentimes affected. About 37% of those caring for someone age 50 and older reduced their work hours or quit their job.

So what can you do differently as a caregiver in 2014 to help manage your stress and responsibilities? Here are some ideas (and possibly resolutions) for you to consider:

· Drop the guilt. This only contributes to your overall stress. You can only do as much as you can do. When you are overloaded, consider reaching out to siblings, friends, and colleagues for help.

· Take time for yourself. If you are stressed and worn down, then you are unable to provide care for your loved one. Focus on revitalization and taking time to nurture you. Carve out time for things that you like to do and possibly incorporate one new activity just for you into your schedule each week or every other week.

· Think about attending a caregiver support group session. Many of the national health organizations (Alzheimer’s Association, Parkinson’s Foundation, and American Cancer Society) have local offices and can provide resources. Or reach out to your church or synagogue for care giving support groups.

· Learn to say no. With your responsibility to your aging loved one and your own family, you can only do so much. Be cognizant of your time and don’t feel badly for turning down new volunteer opportunities or additional responsibility at work.

· Seek professional help if you are feeling depressed or worn down. If you have friends or family members who have voiced concerns that you may be depressed, contact your physician.

· Consider the help and support of many of the senior resources in your community. Whether your loved one needs additional in-home care or are getting to the point of needing to move into a retirement community, there are many resources available to provide relief.

On behalf of Kansas City Home Care, Inc., we hope your new year brings you much happiness, joy and prosperity. If you are in need of in home care for your loved one, please let us know. We have been providing the highest level of care for seniors throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area since 1989.

Additionally, Kansas City Home Care offers geriatric care management services. If you are living remotely from your loved one and need additional support, Kansas City Home Care can provide respite and relief as you navigate through the challenges of caring for your aging parent from a distance.

Sources: National Institute on Aging, AARP

Winter is upon us and here in the Midwest it is the time of year to encounter winter storms and cold frigid weather. The conditions can be hazardous, but if you plan ahead, you can stay safe and healthy.

Older adults are at higher risk for hypothermia as they tend to produce less body heat than younger people. It is important to know the warning signs of hypothermia:

  • Lots of shivering
  • Cold skin that is pale or ashy
  • Feeling very tired
  • Confused and sleepy
  • Feeling weak
  • Problems walking
  • Slowed breathing or heart rate

Call 911 if you or someone else has hypothermia.

It is important for older adults to STAY INDOORS when it’s very cold outside and especially so if it’s windy. If you must go outdoors, wear layers. Wearing two or more layers of thinner or loose-fitting clothing is warmer than a single layer of thick clothing. Also wear a hat, gloves or mittens, coat, boots, and a scarf to cover your mouth and nose and protect your lungs from the cold air.

Keep abreast of weather conditions by watching the weather forecast daily or utilizing a weather radio. If bad weather is predicted, plan ahead and make a trip to the grocery store to stock up on food and other items in the event that you will be snowed in. Ask friends, neighbors or family members to pick up groceries for you or run errands if you are unable to get out.

It is easy to slip and fall in the winter. Have your steps and walkways clear to your home. Older adults should utilize caution while shoveling snow. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to shovel snow or do other hard work in the cold. If you are unable to do it, hire someone to shovel for you. Do not walk on icy or snowy sidewalks. Wear boots with non-skid soles. If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth. Medical supply stores also have an ice pick-like attachment that fits onto the end of the cane which can be helpful to avoid slipping while walking.

Adults 65 and older are involved in more car accidents per mile than those in nearly all other age groups. Because winter driving can be more hazardous you should:

  • Have your car winterized before bad weather hits. This means having the antifreeze, and windshield wipers checked and changed if necessary.
  • Take a cell phone with you when driving in bad weather.
  • Do not drive on icy roads, overpasses or bridges. If possible, look for another route.
  • Stock your car with basic emergency supplies, such as:
  • A first aid kit
  • Blankets
  • Extra warm clothes
  • Booster cables
  • A windshield scraper
  • Rock salt or a bag of sand or cat litter (to pour on ice or snow in case your wheels get stuck)
  • A container of water and canned or dried foods and a can opener
  • A flashlight

Indoor safety is also important. Be careful when using space heaters — follow the manufacturer’s instructions and don’t leave them unattended. Do not place a space heater within 3 feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, bedding, and never cover the space heater. Use caution and ensure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard but do not run it under carpets or rugs. Avoid using extension cords to plug in the space heater.

By following these safety tips, older adults can minimize their risk of injury. Use caution during cold weather and inclement conditions. It’s always better to be safe than to take a chance if conditions are questionable. Older adults should use extra care and ask friends, neighbors or family members for assistance during bad weather instead of venturing out into the elements.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AARP, Health in Aging website

More than 65 million people in the United States provide care for chronically ill, disabled or aged family, friends, neighbors or loved ones in any given year.

Those 65 million people, on average, spend 20 hours a week providing that care which is valued at approximately $375 billion a year. This figure is almost twice as much spent on homecare and nursing home services combined.

If you are among the 65 million unpaid family caregivers who are providing help to someone else (usually an aging parent) who needs help performing the daily tasks essential to leading a normal life, thinking you can do it alone can have potentially disastrous outcomes.

Caregiving affects every aspect of your life, from finances to housing to your own health. Many of these caregivers (daughters, sons, wives, husbands, nieces, nephews), don’t call what they are doing “caregiving” but they would rather say that “I’m just helping mom”. To many the word “caregiver” means a full-time or part-time nurse or home health care worker while they equate what they are doing to “simply helping out” or “doing what a good son or daughter would do”.

Although sons and daughters and others don’t receive financial rewards for what they are doing, the services they provide are significant. Also, projected statistics for 2030, indicate that one in every five people in the United States will be at least 65. While the number of older Americans will increase exponentially in the next 15-20 years, the number of paid home health care workers and geriatric specialists is declining and there will be millions more unpaid caregivers in the future.

According to a survey from Met Life, half of the caregivers in the United States are also holding full-time jobs and the cost of lost productivity to their employers is $33 billion annually. Statistics also show that less than a third of U.S. companies have instituted policies such as telecommuting and flextime aimed at helping their employee caregivers.

Kansas City Home Care (KCHC) recognizes the importance of family caregivers and the impact they have in caring for our older adults. Home care companies such as Kansas City Home Care can help provide a respite for family caregivers and allow their loved ones to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Our services assist with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) such as bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, continence and feeding. We also assist with light housekeeping, running errands, transportation, giving medication reminders and checking vital signs.

Our qualified staff of Registered Nurses (R.N’s), Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA’s), and companion caregivers are here to help families as they face the ever growing challenges of caring for aging loved ones. KCHC celebrates and recognizes November as National Family Caregiving Month. Our staff supports family caregivers throughout the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area and, when needed, provides additional assistance in caring for aging loved ones.

Sources: American Society on Aging, American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), MetLife Foundation.

October is National Physical Therapy Month and Kansas City Home Care, Inc. recognizes the importance that physical therapy plays in the lives of older adults. The proportion of older Americans (age 65 and older) will likely reach 20.6 percent in 2050, compared with 8.3 percent in 1950. As America ages, the need for physical therapy will become increasingly important.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapy can restore or increase strength, range of motion, flexibility, coordination, and endurance –as well as reduce pain. Another important role is to retrain the patient to do everyday tasks.

Physical therapists receive specialized training in physics, human anatomy and kinesiology (human movement) and are trained in managing all four of the body’s major systems – musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular / pulmonary, and integumentary (skin). They utilize their training and knowledge of human anatomy to restore and maximize mobility.

Physical therapists can work with you on your exact condition and develop an effective and personalized plan of care. The benefits of physical therapy are many and here are areas in which they can improve your mobility:

· Reduce the Risk of Injury

Everyday activities can result in an injury due to abnormal movement, stress on joints and stain on muscles. Because physical therapists are experts in knowing how the body works, they can design personalized plans to reduce the risk of injury in everyday activities or sports.

· Improve Balance and Prevent Falls

Falls are among the most prevalent and dangerous injury affecting the elderly. According to the National Aging Council, about one in three seniors above age 65, and nearly one in two seniors over the age of 80, will fall at least once a year, many times with disastrous consequences. Physical therapists can help seniors prevent falls by designing an individualized program of exercises and activities with an emphasis on strength, flexibility, and proper gait.

Physical Therapy photo Oct. 12

· Recover from Stroke

According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the number three cause of death in the U.S., and the leading cause of serious long-term disability. Rehabilitation from stroke begins as soon as the stroke survivor is stable, and the physical therapist will develop a customized plan incorporating activities to improve movement, facilitate independence, and help with overall quality of life.

· Live with Diabetes

Statistics from the American Diabetes Association show that diabetes affects approximately 24 million adults and children in the United States. Physical therapists can work with diabetics to design a program that controls glucose and fights complications of the disease such as loss of movement. Aerobic exercise combined with strength training is recommended for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes have reduced muscle mass and, as a result, mobility. Adding resistance training to a diabetes treatment program, leads to improved lean tissue which could aid in overall mobility, resting metabolic rate, protein reserve and overall exercise tolerance.

Kansas City Home Care is pleased to recognize October as National Physical Therapy Month. While we don’t have physical therapists on staff, our caregivers are able to help our clients fulfill the exercise regimes and personalized therapy plans recommended by their physical therapists.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Aging Council, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and American Physical Therapy Association.