It’s tough being a Kansas City caregiver. Even harder to take care of someone who doesn’t seem to appreciate what you do for them, criticizes you, and/or is verbally or physically abusive.Continue reading
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), is a lifelong medical problem. However, there are medical treatments, and also lifestyle changes, that can help improve your quality of life if you have COPD (e.g., chronic bronchitis, emphysema). Here are some things you can try.
- Avoid pollutants. COPD is most often caused by smoking cigarettes, but you can also get it from long-term exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, or chemical fumes. If you’re still smoking, it’s time to quit. Your Kansas City primary care physician (PCP) can help. If you work in a place where you’re exposed to chemical fumes or other types of air pollution (e.g., dust, lead, asbestos), ask your supervisor about respiratory protective equipment.
- See your Kansas City pulmonologist on a regular basis. If you don’t have a pulmonologist, ask your PCP for a referral. Your pulmonologist can prescribe medications that will help you breathe easier. Or adjust your medications if the ones you’re taking now aren’t working.
- Take your COPD medications regularly. Some COPD medications may take up to two weeks to start working, so give them time. Some people also find COPD medications challenging to use. If you don’t get the results you were hoping for after two weeks, call your pulmonologist.
- Go to pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehab can help improve your breathing and your quality of life. It consists of things like:
- Exercise training
- Nutrition counseling
- Education on managing your COPD
- Breathing exercises
- Psychological counseling
- Watch your weight. Being overweight can make it more difficult for you to breathe. On the other hand, severe COPD can cause you to use so much excess energy on breathing, you can’t keep the weight on. In either case, ask your doctor for help maintaining an appropriate weight.
Uncontrolled COPD can lead to other health issues like pneumonia, lung cancer, heart disease, pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the arteries to your lungs), and/or depression. So taking measures to control your COPD can decrease your risk of developing other potentially debilitating diseases.
If you’re having difficulty controlling your COPD and you need help with things like meal preparation, light housekeeping, transportation, exercising, or running errands, contact a Kansas City home health agency.
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Have you stopped eating healthy because cooking’s become a hassle? You’re not alone. A lot of seniors feel that way. But not getting the proper nutrition can weaken your muscles and bones, which will increase your risk for illness and falls.
If you’re a senior who’s looking for easy meals, or a caregiver who’s providing care at home to a parent or other loved one, keep this in mind when it comes to nutrition. Healthy meals should include a mixture of lean protein (e.g., lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans), fruits and vegetables, whole grains (e.g., whole grain breads, cereals, brown rice, whole wheat pasta), and low-fat dairy (e.g., milk, yogurt, cheese). To that end, here are some quick, healthy recipes for seniors. You should be able to find these ingredients in almost any Kansas City (or Independence, or Overland Park…) grocery store:
Healthy Granola Parfait: Spoon 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt in the bottom of a tall glass. Top with 1/4 cup of granola, then 1/4 cup of berries, then 1 tsp dark chocolate chips. Repeat for second layer.
Fruit Smoothie: Put 1 container of plain Greek yogurt in the bottom of a blender. Add 1/2 banana, 1/2 of an 8 oz. bottle of vanilla Ensure Alive, 1 tsp. instant milk powder (optional), and a handful of frozen berries. Blend.
Peanut butter on toast. Spread peanut butter on whole grain toast. Serve with a side of fruit and a glass of milk.
Breakfast Egg Scramble: Beat together two eggs, 1/8 cup of milk, and your choice of seasonings (e.g., basil, paprika, salt substitute, pepper). Brown a small amount of turkey sausage (or you can use diced canadian bacon). Set aside. Add a small handful of diced onions and a small handful of diced green pepper to egg mixture. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a pan. Pour mixture in and scramble. When almost done, add the meat and a small handful of cheese. Continue to scramble until cheese is melted and eggs are set. Serve with a side of fruit.
All-in-One Salad. Start with a 50/50 spring mix (half spring mix, half spinach leaves). Add a chopped, boiled egg, a handful of shredded cheese, some nuts, and some berries. Top with a vinegarette dressing.
Easy turkey wrap. Spread onion and chive cream cheese on a whole wheat tortilla shell. Top with turkey slices, spinach leaves, shredded swiss, diced tomatoes, and cooked turkey bacon (optional). Roll tightly. Serve with a side of fruit.
Fish tacos. Lightly sprinkle cumin on a piece of white fish (cod is a healthy choice; avoid tilapia). Pan fry. Cut in slices. Divide fish between two small whole wheat tortilla shells. Top with lettuce or cabbage, tomatoes, diced onions, lemon juice, and salsa.
Shrimp scampi. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 stick of butter on medium heat until butter is melted. Add 1 lb. of shrimp and one package of shrimp scampi seasoning. Stir until shrimp is pink (3-4 minutes). Add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice. Toss with cooked quinoa pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve with a side salad (50/50 spring mix). Freeze leftovers in one- or two-person portions for later.
- Diced onions and green peppers (and other vegetables you can add to salads or other meals) are available in the freezer section in most Kansas City area grocery stores.
- You can buy 50/50 spring mix, lettuce, and spinach leaves already cut and washed.
- Most Kansas City area grocery stores sell fruit that is already cut up.
- Shredded cheese is also available in local grocery stores.
The last time you dropped by your mom’s house in Kansas City, did you notice an unpleasant odor? And finally realize it was coming from her? Unfortunately, elderly people don’t always bathe as often as they should. There are a number of reasons why. For example, changing clothes can be difficult. Or there could be a fear of falling in the tub. Or they may just not remember they didn’t do it. Here are some things you can do to help if your mom (or dad) has stopped bathing.Continue reading
The thought of a loved one dying can be painful, so it might seem easier not to talk about it. But if you don’t ask about end-of-life wishes, how will you know what your elderly mother in Independence or your ailing brother in Overland Park wants if a time comes when they can’t answer for themselves? Or how will your children (or other caregiver) know what your wishes are when you near the end of your life (especially if they no longer live in Kansas City)?Continue reading
Taking care of an elderly loved one can be a rewarding yet taxing experience. When you need a temporary break, Kansas City Home Care provides respite care to families across the metro. Our certified Kansas City caregivers are available 24 hours a day, serving seniors in the comfort of their own homes.
While the primary family caregiver gets some much-needed relief and rest, our reliable caregivers provide:
- Personal care services, such as bathing, dressing and exercising
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Meal preparation
- Errand running and transportation to appointments
- Entertainment, including crafts, games, reading and more
Whether you need an afternoon off or a week-long vacation, Kansas City Home Care provides respite care by the hour (with a four-hour minimum). Contact us today and we’ll make sure your family is appropriately matched with the best caregiver to meet your needs.
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.
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
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.
The story below is about Mary (name has been changed) who was told by a neighbor she needed someone to help her at home. Mary had some diminished capacity and hired the “friend” that the neighbor suggested. Unfortunately, the circumstances’ surrounding this case are not unusual and demonstrates the necessity of hiring a home care company that provides care management, bonded, insured and supervised caregivers.
Mary’s primary care physician became concerned for her well-being after an appointment in July of 2012. Mary’s privately-hired caregiver exhibited controlling behavior over Mary during the appointment. The physician expressed his concerns to Mary’s Trust Administrator, and after a brief investigation the Administrator realized that the caregiver was financially and emotionally taking advantage of Mary. Acting quickly the Administrator contacted Kansas City Home Care and requested we find a bonded, insured and supervised caregiver to assist Mary with her daily activities of living.
Kansas City Home Care (KCHC) responded quickly and did a complimentary assessment of Mary’s daily living needs. A mature and experienced caregiver was assigned to Mary’s case. At first, Mary was frightened by the changes in her routine and said repeatedly that she missed her old caregiver. However, due to the patience and understanding of the staff at KCHC, Mary accepted a new caregiving team by the end of the first week.
Kansas City Home Care has been providing daily care to Mary for three months. Mary no longer exhibits paranoid-like symptoms when our caregiver or others are in her home. In fact, she now looks forward to a daily visit by our caregiving staff. Mary has a history of high blood pressure and needs to be on a low sodium diet. Unfortunately, her diet had mainly consisted of canned soups and frozen dinners which are high in sodium. Mary has now been eating balanced low sodium meals and feels better and has gained some much needed weight!
Mary’s dementia-like symptoms have also improved and instead of forgetting that our caregiver is coming, Mary eagerly awaits a visit from “her friend” and looks forward to the activities that she and the caregiver have planned each day. Her overall mood has changed dramatically and she appears much less frightened and agitated than she was before we began services.
Mary’s Trust Administrator has commented on the improvements she sees in Mary as a result of our care. About a month after KCHC began caring for Mary, her Trust Administrator went to visit her home unannounced and was greeted by the smell of homemade beef stew cooking in the kitchen. The Administrator told the caregiver on shift that she didn’t know the last time Mary had a home cooked meal. During Mary’s recent appointment with her physician he commented several times that KCHC was taking good care of Mary. He was very pleased to see the improvement in her mood, memory retention, and overall health.
Mary recently visited our office with her caregiver and was in a very good mood. Her color was good and she had just returned from the beauty parlor. She was laughing and talking the entire time she visited our offices. Our staff was happy to see how much Mary’s mood has improved and how much better she seems to feel. Seeing Mary smile and engage in conversation is a testimony to our corporate philosophy of “Clients First.” Making a difference in a client’s quality of life is our goal and obviously we have met our goal with Mary!
The use of privately-hired caregivers is not uncommon and there are situations where the arrangement works well for those needing home care. But, in order for the arrangement to work well there must be someone other than the client who supervises the caregiver–a family member, a trusted friend or a care manager. There can be many pitfalls to hiring someone privately and consumers must be careful. The National Private Duty Association has an excellent paper on “Consumer and Worker Risks from the Use of Nurse Registries and Independent Contractor Companies” that discusses the issues surrounding employing private caregivers. The position paper can be located at www.privatedutyhomecare.org.
One of the hardest decisions family caregivers make is deciding to ask for help—first there are the guilt feelings, then the “who do I call or ask” and then the final step of taking action to get help. Caregiver burnout can be caused by a myriad of reasons that can diminish your ability to provide good care for your loved one. How do you know if you are on the path to caregiver burnout and what can you do about it?
Warning Signs of Burnout:
Lack of sleep and time for yourself
• Caring for another loved one can lead to constant worry and sleepless nights. The struggle between being a good parent, a spouse or caregiver can lead to thoughts of “What happens if I am not there and my mother falls?” or “Am I neglecting my spouse and children to take care of my Dad?” These thoughts and ones like it can come and go throughout the day but many also experience it during times they should be relaxing or sleeping. The lack of rest and doing fun activities can lead to exhaustion and depression.
Shortage of a Reliable Support Network
• If you are perceived as being the “strong” one in the family and you do not ask for help or voluntarily receive it from your siblings, spouse or other relatives you could experience caregiver burnout. Lack of support from family or friends can cause tension, anger, depression and additional stress. Make sure your support system fully understands what it costs you physically and emotionally to be the main caregiver.
Work and Caregiving
• Juggling work, home and caregiving can be exhausting, stressful and frustrating. It is more and more common for workers to take time off to care for their loved ones. It is also becoming more common for employers to understand their workforce might be caregivers to both their parents and their children. Do not hesitate to talk to your employer about your need for time off—talk to your employer about working remotely when necessary or changing your work hours to make your caregiving needs easier.
If these signs sound familiar then you need help. There are many options available to give you the relief you need. Here are some ways you can do so to make your caregiver duties easier and less stressful.
If your loved one has a medical condition, dementia or a chronic illness such as Parkinson’s seek out a support group. Being able to share your experience with others who are going through the same issues will help alleviate stress and allow you a safe place to vent your frustrations.
• Become familiar with the Family Medical Leave Act. Using the Leave Act can help alleviate the pressure of juggling work and caring for your loved one.
• Have an honest and open conversation with your employer. Ask about Flex time or working remotely if necessary.
Friends and Family
• Recharging is important if you are going to be a caregiver. Ask your spouse or another family member to go to the grocery store or sit with your loved one so you can take a nap or read a book. The smallest of tasks can make a huge difference to your level of energy and stress.
Private Duty Home Care
• Paying for an agency to provide you respite is not always inexpensive but it can make a huge difference to your quality of life. Something as simple as having a caregiver come in 4 hours a day or week can give you a much needed break.
• Although paying an agency is not inexpensive it is the best way to insure your loved one gets the appropriate care and is supervised. Hiring the neighbor or someone out of the newspaper is often an unsafe situation and will only add to your stress.
Geriatric Care Managers
• Even if you join a support group, take time off from work, have agency or family help so you get respite, you might also have a hard time dealing with the stress of knowing your loved one is declining. Although it might be difficult to admit you need someone to talk to about your feelings, a geriatric care manager can provide you with the support you need to reduce your stress, anxiety and depression.
• A care manager can also act as an advocate for your loved one in medical situations. As professionals they can help you navigate the health care maze.
Caregiving is difficult, stressful, frustrating and exhausting. But, as a caregiver you must take care of yourself or you will be too exhausted to take care of your loved one. Kansas City Home Care has been providing respite care for caregivers for almost 25 years. As geriatric professionals we can also provide you with counseling and advocacy if needed. Let us know if we can help by calling 913-341-4800.