Blog

Is It Still Safe for Your Elderly Loved One to Drive?

Posted on: January 24th, 2018

Driving gives people a sense of independence and freedom. Having the ability to run out to the store, drive to appointments or meet friends or family on a whim is something many of us with a driver’s license takes for granted. Sadly, there may come a time when it is no longer safe for an aging person to drive. Poor eyesight, mental decline or confusion, side effects from medications, slower reflexes–any of these conditions can make driving hazardous to both the driver and other people on the road. It is never easy to talk to a loved one about their declining health or their ability to drive, but it is important to have a conversation if you have reason to believe they might not be in a position to drive safely anymore. If they talk about getting lost, start getting parking or driving tickets or if their car shows signs of damage, it may be time for your loved one to hand over the keys. Involving their doctor in the conversation can help take the pressure off of you being “the bad guy.”

Fortunately there are organizations that can help your loved one retain some independence. The Independent Transportation Network offers rides to those in need for a small fee. These can be scheduled on the fly or prearranged. Volunteer drivers donate their time to help your loved one stay safe and get to where they need to be. Click here to learn more about Charleston’s ITN network.

What Do You Know About Cervical Health?

Posted on: January 22nd, 2018

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is responsible for nearly all cases of cervical cancer in the U.S. HPV is very common and is spread through sexual activity, which is why it is recommended that pre-teens received the HPV vaccine.

According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, roughly 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. each year. A pap test can detect potentially dangerous changes in cervical cells that might indicate cancer. Since certain genotypes of HPV are responsible for approximately 70% of cervical cancers, testing for these particular variations can help your physician better assess your risk and determine the right screening schedule for you.

According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Abnormal bleeding, such as bleeding between regular menstrual periods, after intercourse, or after menopause
  • Pelvic pain not related to your menstrual cycle
  • Heavy or unusual discharge that may be watery, thick, and possibly have a foul odor
  • Increased urinary frequency
  • Pain during urination

The good news is that cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer, so make sure you talk to your doctor about getting the screening you need to identify or prevent this disease.

For more information on cervical health, visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition’s website.

 

How to Make Resolutions That Really Stick

Posted on: December 28th, 2017

At the start of every new year, people feel inspired to make changes in their lives. For some, it may be a smoking habit they want to kick; for others, weight loss may be at the top of their list. Maybe you want to use the new year to motivate yourself to start that business you’ve been dreaming of or perhaps your goal is to spend more time with family. Regardless of what personal or professional change you are aiming for, how you go about setting your goals and measuring your milestones can have everything to do with how likely you are to succeed. Read on for tips on how to stick with your resolutions this year.

  1. Be Realistic: Maybe your doctor has told you to lose weight or perhaps you’d rather give healthy eating and exercise a shot before committing to a lifetime of prescription drugs to manage high blood pressure or cholesterol. The key to any big lifestyle change is to make it doable. If you never work out, pledging to hit the gym 6 days a week is an unrealistic goal. Instead, commit to going to the gym 3 times a week, and then add in a long bike ride or walk on your “off” days. Try out a class you’ve never taken before, you just might find you enjoy it. Whatever exercise you choose, make sure it is mainly activities that you enjoy, or you won’t be excited to do them. This same logic applies to eating healthier—don’t go cold turkey on all of your favorite foods at once. You will feel deprived and will be more likely to binge. Start by having oatmeal for breakfast 3 times a week, a salad for lunch 3 times a week and meatless meals a few times a week. Cut back on your portion sizes and you can still enjoy the foods you love. As your new lifestyle becomes a habit, add in more healthy meals or longer or harder workouts.
  2. Hold Yourself Accountable: Find a friend who has the same resolution as you. When your alarm goes off early on a cold winter morning, the last thing you want to do is get out of bed to workout. If you know someone is going to be counting on you to meet them at the gym or in the neighborhood for a walk, you’ll be less likely to skip it. Online support groups are everywhere and can offer encouragement and a place to ask questions and raise concerns as you work through whatever personal journey you are on towards a better you.
  3. Reward Yourself: Celebrate your successes, no matter how small! If you made it to the gym a few times this week, reward yourself with positive thoughts and encouragement. Non-food rewards make sense when you are trying to be healthier or lose weight. When you lose 20 lbs you might treat yourself to a new workout outfit or pair of running shoes. If you’ve made healthy food swaps for a few weeks and are shedding a some pounds, have friends over to showcase your healthy cooking or reward yourself with a new cookbook or magazine subscription to Cooking Light. Equally important to rewarding yourself is forgiving yourself when you slip up. It is unrealistic (there’s that word again!) to think that you will exercise or eat healthy or give up smoking without any lapses in behavior. The key is to acknowledge that you’ve experienced a setback (notice I didn’t say failed!) and that it isn’t helping you get to where you want to be as a person. Try to figure out what triggered the lapse and plan for how you can deal with it differently in the future. Stressful day at work? Take a walk as soon as you get home or hit the gym on the way home to relieve stress instead of having a cigarette or binging on junk food. Planning ahead for bad days is key, and sometimes just accepting that you really want that chocolate ice cream but will only have a small scoop is ok too!

Loneliness and The Holidays

Posted on: December 20th, 2017

Tis the season for holiday cheer, but sadly not everyone’s spirit is merry and bright this time of year. Many older adults live alone and far from relatives, and the holidays can exacerbate feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is a emerging as a significant risk factor for cognitive decline. According to a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry feelings of loneliness and depression over the course of the 12 year study were linked to mental decline.

So what can you do if your loved one lives far away? If you can’t visit in person or bring them home for the holidays, call them regularly to check in during the week. Teach them how to use a video conferencing tool like Skype or Google hangouts and schedule weekly video chats so that they can see you and the rest of the family (especially the grandchildren!). Talk with a trusted friend or neighbor to make sure your loved one is still actively engaging in their community—whether it be at the local senior center or their church. Care packages with their favorite snacks or books or just a handwritten note every month can let them know you are thinking about them. If your aging loved one seems lonely or you are worried that they might not be taking care of themselves or the house the way they used to, it’s time for an in-person visit. Arranging for a trusted in-home caregiver from a reputable company like Home Care Plus to help out a couple times a week can ensure they are in good hands when you can’t be there.

Something for Everyone on Your List: Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Posted on: November 30th, 2017

Gift an experience your loved one will never forget:

  • Visit the historic Dock Street Theater for a festive performance of the Christmas Carol
  • Gift tickets to your nature-loving relatives for the Southeastern Wildlife Expo coming up in February
  • Be a tourist in your own town! Historical carriage rides, walking tours, Charleston Harbor Cruise or a visit to a local plantation is always appreciated.

Buy Local this Holiday Season by visiting these stores:

  • Your special someone will love a unique piece of jewelry from Croghan’s Jewel Box
  • You can’t go wrong with a gift certificate to their favorite local restaurant, or perhaps a new one they haven’t tried yet!
  • An out-of-town relative who loves the Holy City would enjoy a subscription to Charleston Magazine
  • Fill a sweetgrass basket with some locally curated goods—tea from Charleston Tea Plantation, spices from Charleston Spice Company, and some Lowcountry Olive Oil

For more holiday gift giving ideas from local small businesses, visit Lowcountry Local First.

Holiday Help is Here!

Posted on: November 13th, 2017

As we enter November, it’s hard not to look ahead to the holidays that are just around the corner. If you are caring for an aging loved one with a chronic disease, you may be feeling more fear than cheer. The holidays can be stressful without the added emotional and time commitments that come with caring for a loved one. As difficult as it may be, setting aside quiet time with your loved one and carrying on family traditions can help everyone feel less stressed and more in touch with what is most important during this hectic time of year.

Don’t forget to ask for help! Our compassionate, dependable caregivers are here to help you and your loved one. We can give you the time and assistance you need and the peace of mind that your loved one is in good hands.

Give Home Care Plus a call today! 843-628-3642.

Exploring Advances in Breast Cancer Research: Blood Marker Tests

Posted on: October 25th, 2017

Advances in breast cancer detection and treatment have come a long way, and promising new technologies are on the horizon. One of these advances is in liquid biopsies, or blood tests.

According to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, blood tests have many positive benefits compared to other methods of detecting and treating breast cancer. Blood tests are non-invasive and quick, which could lead to faster diagnosis and an earlier start to treatments. There are certain markers that doctors look for when determining if a cancer has spread, whether an individual is responding to treatment or if cancer has recurred. These tests are not perfect, however, so it is important to discuss your options with your doctor. According to Breastcancer.org, blood tests are expensive and not completely accurate. Receiving a negative blood marker test result does not always mean you are in the clear.

To learn more about blood tests and other advances in breast cancer research, visit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation or Breastcancer.org.

Falls are a Big Deal for the Elderly

Posted on: September 29th, 2017

While it may seem like no big deal for a young person to slip and fall, falls and their resulting injuries can prove fatal for an elderly person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an elderly person dies from a fall every 20 minutes in the United States.

There are a number of factors that make falls more dangerous for people over age 65. Bone density decreases with age, and weaker bones mean falls can result in fractures and broken bones. The elderly also have to deal with side effects from medications, poor vision and reduced mobility—all of which increase the risk for falls. People are also at risk for traumatic brain injury as a result of a fall. Hospital stays and recovery tend to take longer for the elderly, and according to a study published at the University of Rochester Medical Center, only 22% of fall victims age 70+ were able to regain independent living status after being discharged from a fall-related hospitalization.

Fortunately many steps can be taken to fall proof your loved one’s home. Adding no-slip mats and grab bars in the shower, keeping the floor clear of clutter, and using good lighting can help prevent falls around the house. Taking bone-building supplements and exercising can strengthen bones and improve mobility.

Falls for the elderly are a serious issue, and improving awareness of the risks and preventative steps can go a long way to preserving quality of life for many older Americans.

 

 

Why We Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Posted on: September 24th, 2017

The Home Care Plus team recently participated in the Charleston Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This wonderful event helps raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, research and support. Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a debilitating disease that destroys a person’s memory and cognitive abilities over time. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it currently affects over 5 million Americans and is the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented or cured. Millions of caregivers provide billions of unpaid hours of care each year  to individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website.

National Immunization Awareness Month

Posted on: August 28th, 2017

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and with flu season only a few months away, it is a great time to remind older adults that vaccines aren’t just for kids! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults over age 65 are at greatest risk for complications from the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone age 6 months and above get a flu vaccine by the end of October if possible.

Older adults are also at risk for contracting shingles, a painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. According to the CDC, one in three adults age 60+ will get shingles, and one in six will suffer from long-term pain caused by their bout with shingles. A vaccine can reduce your risk of contracting shingles and, if you do get the virus, it can help lessen the chance that you will suffer from long-term pain.

Be sure to discuss which vaccines are recommended for you with your healthcare provider. Your doctor can tell you which vaccines are appropriate given your age, health history and other personal information.

For more information on the CDC’s vaccination schedule, visit their website