5 Risk Factors for Stroke

A stroke can be a horribly devastating occurrence that affects not just the victim involved, but their entire family. A stroke occurs when the flow of blood to part of the brain is blocked, resulting in a lack of oxygen to brain cells. Without oxygen, the brain cells will start to die.

risk factors for strokeSymptoms of a stroke include weakness that comes on suddenly, inability to move arms or legs, numbness of the face, difficulty speaking, and difficulty seeing. A stroke can cause brain damage or death and, therefore, is a serious medical condition. Emergency treatment is required.

However, just as important as knowing the symptoms of a stroke is knowing the risk factors that can cause a stroke. Numerous risk factors for stroke have been identified by the medical community. The more risk factors a person has the more likely they are to have a stroke. Some of these risk factors cannot be controlled, but others can be minimized. Risk factors that are not able to be treated include:

  • Age – Strokes are most common among those 55 and older.
  • Heredity – Risk of stroke is higher if a family member has had a stroke.
  • Gender – Women are more likely to die from strokes than men.

The factors that patients can influence through changes in diet, habit, and/or medication include the following.

1. Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is known to be the leading cause of stroke. Blood pressure is considered high if it is 140/90 mmHg or above. Many effective blood pressure medications are available to help patients reduce their blood pressure and, therefore, reduce the risk of stroke. In addition, reducing sodium intake is known to decrease blood pressure.

2. Smoking

Over the years, studies have shown a link between cigarette smoking and an increased risk of stroke. Blood vessels are damaged by smoking. Quitting smoking is one effective way to reduce the risk of stroke.

3. Obesity and Diabetes

People who are overweight and those with diabetes are more likely to have a stroke. Losing weight can help with both diabetes and stroke risk. Reducing calorie intake and eating a diet with five or more servings of fruits and vegetables will aid in achieving these goals.

4. Cholesterol

A diet high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol all contribute to high blood cholesterol levels. Again, changing diet will be effective in reducing the likelihood of a stroke.

5. Inactivity

The medical community recommends people get at least 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. Small changes, such as taking a walk, can make a big difference and reduce the risk of stroke.

Life After a Stroke

Although a full recovery after a stroke is possible, in many cases, full recovery takes a considerable amount of time. Some people end up with lifelong disabilities, and many stroke patients require home care. Here are some of the issues that stroke patients face on their road to recovery.

  • Difficulty communicating due to language, speech and memory issues
  • Paralysis or muscle weakness on one side of the body, resulting in a higher risk of falling
  • Trouble with daily activities such as dressing, eating, and personal hygiene
  • Bladder and bowel issues
  • Emotional struggles, such as changes in behavior

At the David York Agency, we understand how difficult and life-changing a stroke can be. The road to recovery is often a long and strenuous one, and it is necessary to have all the support and help you can get along the way. Our experienced healthcare professionals are highly-trained and capable of giving your loved one the care and attention they need following a stroke.

For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. For additional information about stroke risks or about arranging care for a loved one who has suffered a stroke, contact us today.

 

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Your Loved One

As we age, it is common, and even normal, for us to lose some of our mental agility. However, it is important to know the difference between normal aging and more serious signs of cognitive deterioration. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a problem that faces many aging adults, yet is often overlooked as just another part of getting old. This is largely due to the fact that MCI’s effects are less noticeable than Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, MCI can still have an impact on the quality of life of your loved one and puts them at a higher risk of developing a more serious cognitive disorder down the road. Maybe your loved one has been diagnosed, but you’re unsure about what you can do to help them. You may be wondering exactly what MCI is, what it’s treatments are, and what steps you can take to ensure the continued health and safety of your aging loved one.

What is MCI?

MCiMild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is defined by the Alzheimer’s Association as a condition which “causes a slight but noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and thinking skills.” This condition causes cognitive changes. However, these changes are not serious enough to interfere with daily life, and therefore, these changes do not meet the diagnostic requirements for dementia. It is important to note that a person with MCI is at an increased risk for developing some form of dementia. However, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, some with MCI do not get worse and could even improve their condition.

There are two types of MCI.

  • Amnestic MCI is classified as primarily affecting memory. A person with this type of MCI would begin to forget things like appointments, recent events, and phone numbers or addresses.
  • Nonamnestic MCI is classified as primarily affecting thinking skills including the ability to make sound decisions, completing multi-step tasks, and visual perception.

Mild Cognitive Impairment is a clinical diagnosis determined after a full medical evaluation has been completed, although there are no standard tests or procedures for this diagnosis. The diagnosis would be based on the doctor’s professional judgement about the person’s symptoms and medical history.

It is not yet clear what the causes of MCI are, although it is believed to be caused by changes in the brain — similar to the early stages of dementia.

How can MCI be treated?

There are currently no medications approved by the FDA to treat MCI. However, if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with MCI or is exhibiting some or all of the symptoms, there are some positive steps that can be taken to improve the condition and the quality of life of the individual.

  • Perform regular exercise to improve circulation and promote nourishment of the brain.
  • Manage cardiovascular risk factors such as diet and lifestyle choices (alcohol intake, sleep schedule, stress levels, etc.).
  • Participate in mentally and socially stimulating activities such as board games, puzzles, reading, and conversing with friends and family

What can I do?

Helping a loved one with MCI can be as simple as visiting with them and playing a game of cards, taking them out for a walk around the neighborhood, or driving them to a social outing with friends. You should also encourage your loved one to eat a heart-healthy diet that is low in fats and rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish).

If you believe that your loved one would benefit from these activities, but you or other family members aren’t able to assist them (due to work schedules or geographical constraints), you may want to consider employing a compassionate caregiver to assist them part or full-time. A home healthcare professional can provide help completing day-to-day chores around the house, assist with personal hygiene, transport your loved one to appointments or social engagements, or simply keep them company throughout the day.

At the David York Agency, we offer highly-personalized home health care services to assist you and your family with the care of an aging loved one. Our experienced healthcare professionals are highly-trained and capable of giving your loved one the care and attention they need to lead a happy and healthy life. Many of the families we serve come to see our providers as family members, as they quickly become integrated into the everyday lives of the household.

For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to help you and your loved ones. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. For any additional questions about home health care options for your loved one, please contact us.

 

A Compassionate Caregiver Provides the Help You Need to Keep Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s Safe

“Where’s Dad?” Panic sets in when you realize your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease has wandered off alone.  Dealing with a loved one with this dreaded disease can be very challenging at times, if not downright terrifying.  

compassionate caregiverAn Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis can put a lot of stress on a family. While at first it may seem manageable, unsafe situations can arise, such as the loved one getting lost and not being able to recall where he lives or what his name is, or leaving the fire on the stove lit for hours after forgetting they were simply boiling an egg. These events are alarming for family members who feel helpless in the face of this disease. Furthermore, having to make decisions about that loved one’s ongoing care can catapult the family into uncharted territory. The decreased function and changed behavior of the Alzheimer’s patient is a huge adjustment that must be accounted for.

If the thought of a residential facility doesn’t sit well with you, a compassionate caregiver might be the solution. While many nursing homes are more than capable of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, keeping your loved one at home has many advantages. A familiar setting often keeps their precious long-term memories close at hand, possibly slowing the rapid progression of the disease. Additionally, moving a patient out of their home can sometimes cause great anxiety which, in and of itself, can speed the progression of dementia.

If you’ve decided you want to keep your loved one home, but you can’t be there 24 hours a day, you will need to set up a situation where they can be both safe and happy. Elderproofing, much as you would for a baby, will be necessary. You will have to keep doors locked with elder-proof devices. You will need kitchen safety knobs on the stove and latches on the ovens. You will need to make sure the bathroom is safe from fall hazards and that the temperature on the hot water tank is set low enough not to burn. You may also want to put a GPS tracking device on your loved one, in case they get out unescorted. The National Institute of Aging has a comprehensive home safety booklet for Alzheimer’s patients that you might find extremely useful.  

In terms of their day to day care, it might be prudent for you to turn to an in-home caregiver, such as a certified home health aide, to help with tasks you cannot manage.  An experienced, compassionate person can come in to help your family member with meals, hygiene assistance, household tasks or simply to offer a little companionship. When your loved one lives far away, this becomes especially essential. However, even when they are close by, a professional caregiver can ensure that family members are not too taxed and that everyone can go on with their normal routine as much as possible.  

If you think an in-home caregiver is financially unfeasible, it’s important to know your options. If your loved one had the foresight to purchase long-term care insurance, then many of our services are covered under those policies. Also, some of the elderly qualify for Medicaid after their assets have declined.

If you live in the New York City area, the David York Agency offers highly-personalized home health care services so that your family member can stay in the comfort and familiarity of their own home, while all of you deal with the stress of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Our health care professionals are highly-trained and capable of handling not only medical situations but also the day-to-day running of the home. Many of the families we serve come to see our providers as family members, as they become integrated into the everyday lives of the household.

For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might help you and your loved ones. To hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. For any of your questions concerning elder care, contact us.

5 Tips for Serving as a Caregiver for a Loved One

Caring for a loved one can be an emotionally challenging task. Not only is it often a 24/7 job, but it can be especially difficult to find a balance between providing and caring for your loved one and maintaining your own physical and emotional well-being.

21829794_sHere are five practical tips that will help you in your role as a caretaker.

  1. Keep records.

Keeping track of your loved one’s doctor visits, medications, symptoms, and eating habits will help you better manage their care. These records make consultations with healthcare providers more focused on getting the specific care your loved one needs and also give you a more holistic view of their medical history. Strong record keeping is especially essential if you share care responsibilities with another family member or professional caregiver.

  1. Educate yourself.

The best way to support your loved one is to understand their specific medical needs, including any chronic conditions or diseases, and the nature of their treatment. This will help you anticipate potential problems or side effects and prepare for unforeseen challenges in your role as a caregiver.

  1. Understand the insurance.

Know the limitations and allowances of your loved one’s health insurance. This will help you navigate difficult topics such as reimbursement, specialist co-pays, and respite care. By knowing what they are entitled to from their insurance provider, you can advocate for their best possible care.

  1. Plan ahead.

Talk with your loved one about his or her final wishes. Do they have a will or special instructions regarding their estate? Do they have specific wishes for their burial services? These are difficult conversations to have, but both you and your loved one will appreciate the peace of mind, knowing that plans for their future are in place.

  1. Take care of yourself.

Providing care for someone can have a substantial effect on your own personal well-being. If you’re finding that your quality of life is diminished as a result of your duties, consider enlisting the help of a certified home health aide or professional caregiver. This will allow you time to recharge, both physically and emotionally. You want to be there for your loved one, but in order to do that, you need to care for yourself as well.

We understand that taking care of a loved one is difficult. If you need additional support, please call David York Home Healthcare Agency today at (718) 376-7755. David York Agency has provided the highest quality care for the elderly and infirm for over 30 years. We would be happy to give you more information and discuss your case with you. To hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. If you would like to learn more about how our certified home health aides can help provide you the additional support your loved one needs, contact us.

Reversals in Parenting

A recent article in the Deseret News,  recounted the writer’s final months with her father, noting how the roles had suddenly reversed as she found herself taking care of an aging parent. Through it all, it’s important to remember that we are still dealing with the person who raised us and took care of us when we needed them. It can be gratifying to repay them by being there for them as much as possible.

Not only are we living longer, but we are leading healthier and more independent lives. Yet inevitably, there comes a time when we start to slow down. Mobility becomes restricted and sometimes it is even dangerous for an aging parent to be left alone. As eyesight decreases and bones become fragile, moving around safely becomes more of a concern. Aside from physical ailments, mental capacity can also diminish, whether as a consequence of Alzheimer’s, other health issues or medications. As a result, we can often feel that we are parenting our parent.

When the proverbial handwriting begins to “appear on the wall”, sit down with your parent and have a discussion with open and honest questions about choices, so that you can do your best to ensure that your parent’s autonomy is respected. Autonomy is one of the most important factors in an aging person’s life. They worked hard, ran businesses, raised children and took care of homes. They earned the right to make as many decisions for themselves as possible and within reason. This role reversal should not compromise anyone’s dignity.

Parenting our parentsWhen we are caring for a parent, we often find that the time we spend with them is filled with doing laundry and housekeeping, checking to make sure the pantry is properly stocked and ensuring that all their medications are in order and being taken. This can be a difficult time, both for you and for your parent. It’s okay to acknowledge that, but remember that this is also a time to share as many moments together as you can.

That quality time is so important and should be made a priority when possible. “Parenting” activities such as discussing a favorite book, watching a movie or reminiscing over the past can bring a lot of joy to a parent who endures a lot of alone time and can even help them keep alert. Research points to an active mind staving off ill effects of encroaching dementia. Sometimes it’s possible to coordinate with other available family members to ensure that your loved one is not just taken care of, but feeling valued.  Professional caregivers can also free up all involved from mundane tasks in order for you to enjoy quality time with your parent.

Sudden illness in an elderly parent often requires us to rearrange our lives in order to help out. Unexpectedly, our schedules are disrupted. We worry whether or not Mom or Dad is being taken care of or safe when we are not able to be there. Additionally, our parent may live outside our normal radius of travel, meaning that we may need to take some time off work to help out. If we can’t take time off, we need to help make alternative arrangements for doctor’s appointments, trips to the pharmacy and grocery store, and assistance with personal grooming. With so much to think about, frustrations and tensions can often run high, not only for us, but also for the parent who suddenly feels that he or she is a burden.

Try to remember that there is help out there. There are support groups available for those who find themselves caring or helping to care for an aging parent. These groups can offer advice and support when dealing with scheduling, finances, medical care and respite care. And, a home healthcare agency can help find caregivers for all or some of the time. Hiring a professional does not completely remove the burden of the responsibility, but it can be a lifesaver. Professional caregivers are also trained to spot signs of concern about their health. It’s always best to research home healthcare agencies until you feel comfortable with your decision.

When home healthcare becomes necessary, David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services. David York Home Healthcare Agency is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors and can satisfy all your questions. We would be happy to give you more information and discuss your case with you. Visit our website at David York Agency – providing healthcare professionals to the elderly and infirm, with the highest degree of personal service. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. For any of your questions concerning elder care, contact us.

 

Make Elderly Taste Buds Tingle with Good Nutrition

Eating is a sensory experience on so many levels. Not only does a good meal nurture our bodies, but it also awakens all of our senses. Beautiful food has amazing visual appeal. The aroma of home cooking literally makes the mouth water. The texture and crunch of food make our taste buds tingle. When mealtime is fun, it also feeds our souls.

Healthy eating keeps our bodies in better working order, lessens the effects and duration of illness, and increases energy. Leafy green vegetables, nuts and fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can increase mental acuity and may even stave off memory loss. The fact is, when we eat better, we feel better.

Nutrition in the elderly

Our appetites naturally decrease with age as does our sense of thirst.  Thus, many of the elderly do not get the nutrition their bodies need.  Sometimes this is simply because eating has ceased to be an enjoyable experience. The elderly actually experience a decreased sense of taste and smell and the side-effects of certain medications can intensify this. Older adults are also prone to digestive issues that make them cautious and less adventurous about what they will eat. Slower metabolism, poor dentition and depression can also contribute to seniors not getting the recommended daily vitamins and minerals for their age.

The United States Department of Agriculture lists 10 tips for older adults who would like to improve their nutrition.

1. Drink plenty of fluids especially since some medications can dehydrate you.  It’s best to stay away from sugary drinks likes juices and stick to water or even add more soups into the mix.

2. Turn mealtime into a fun social event! Make eating a pleasant experience by sharing the time with others either in your home at a senior center. You can even listen to music as you eat.

3. Plan healthy meals in advance and the National Institute on Aging has a handy tool ChooseMyPlate.gov for building a balanced plate that includes fruits, vegetables, grains and protein.

4. Have an idea of how much to eat – both too much and too little.  There is so much emphasis on how obesity carries health risks that we can sometimes forget that deficiencies in the frail elderly can be just as dangerous. 

5. Vary your vegetables using the old rule of thumb. Follow your mother’s advice and make sure different colored vegetables are amply included in your diet as each is composed of different and important nutrients.

6. Keep your teeth and gums healthy both in terms of what you eat to strengthen them and proper hygiene and maintenance.  Losing teeth can also affect your taste buds, so it is best to take care even in your choice of hard to chew versus softer foods. 

7. Use herbs and spices to counteract any new sense of blandness to your food. A bonus is the newly included spices can bring with them added nutrition such as turmeric with its anti-inflammatory effects and mental acuity. 

8. Keep food safety top of mind.  Often seniors forget how old something is or are hesitant to throw out food due to financial constraints.  Better to be safe than sorry – don’t eat anything that can jeopardize your health.

9. Read those nutrition and ingredient labels.  In addition to calorie, carbohydrate and fat content, they will clue you into the important nutrients contained. 

10. Ask your doctor about personal nutritional requirements and deficiencies and speak to him/her about vitamins and supplements. Many necessary prescription drugs have side effects that deplete your body of important nutrients which are important to replace.  For example, it is important to beware of anemia which can actually contribute to dementia or to take CoQ10 while on cholesterol reducing statin drugs which can zap your strength. 

Healthy eating is a lifestyle choice that promotes good nutrition in the elderly. For additional tips on helping our senior family members stay active and productive, contact us.  David York Agency could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit us on our website DavidYorkAgency.com to become acquainted with all we offer. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

Assistive Computer Technology for the Elderly

With more and more of the elderly using technology, especially our aging Baby Boomers, assistive computer technology can go a long way in helping those whose abilities begin to wane. There are very useful options like automation, voice commands, and dictation, for those in need of assistive technology. These could make otherwise difficult tasks much easier. Elderly assistive technology is a hot area of innovation.

assistive technology

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is a category of devices that assists those with limited physical and sometimes cognitive abilities. It can even help them perform certain activities of daily living (ADLs). These often come into play for seeing and hearing. Below are some elderly assistive technology devices for an easier internet experience.

Apple

Apple has made several assistive technologies and customization options standard in its operating system – from the simple, like choosing higher-contrast color combinations to the more complex, like a sophisticated text-to-speech tool. Below are some of the tools available on Apple products that can aid the elderly who begin to experience visual, hearing and motor challenges.

  • VoiceOver is a screen reader or text-to-speech tool that comes standard with every Mac. This tool allows the user to fully interact with the computer, using gestures, a keyboard, or a Braille display as it reads what is on your screen.
  • Zoom is a built-in magnifier. It allows the user to enlarge the screen better by magnifying the display up to 20 times its original size.
  • Dictation, as the name suggests, lets users talk where they would normally type. Users can reply to email messages, search the internet, or even dictate in documents using just their voice.
  • Inverting Colors is a simple way to allow for better on-screen comprehension and recognition, because a higher contrast helps users better see what’s on the display. Once colors are determined, settings apply system-wide, allowing for a uniform experience in every app and program.

Microsoft

Microsoft products offer similar options in many of their products, through its Ease of Access Center. Centrally located on Microsoft computers, this file allows users to set up the accessibility settings and programs available in Windows. Programs to assist in accessibility on Microsoft machines are similar to those of Apple:

  • Speech Recognition
  • Narrator
  • High-contrast and customizable display settings
  • Filter Keys which can steady a user’s hand by ignoring brief or repeated keystrokes made accidentally, as in the case of a tremulous or shaky hand, which could be extremely useful for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Worth noting, Microsoft also has a database of information and tutorials online, dedicated to specific operating systems such as Windows XP, and programs like Office and Internet Explorer, as well as PDF entitled, A Guide to Transitioning to Windows 7 for People with Disabilities.

As computers become increasingly easy to use, accessible technologies will continue to improve. Consequently, it will be easier for people of all abilities to communicate.

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At David York Agency, we understand that caregiving is a process that demands compassion, caring, patience & expertise. Our office staff is up-to-date with the latest technology and caregiver techniques. We are ready and available whenever you decide to begin service. If you would like more information about home health aides, please contact us at 718.376.7755 or www.davidyorkagency.com and visit our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages.

A Tool to Diagnose Elderly Depression in Type 2 Diabetics

According to a recent article in Home Healthcare Nurse entitled “Diabetes, Depression, and OASIS-C: A Guide for Home Healthcare Clinicians”, among the population 65 years and older, one in six suffers from depression and this is especially true among elderly adults who receive home care.  Identifying depression in the home bound elderly and effectively treating it may be key to decreasing their hospitalization rates and associated health and financial costs. This is so important since the effects of depression can send the elderly adult down a path of negative complications. Agencies should use a special Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2) to screen for depression in home care patients. Emphasis should be on the elderly depression in the patient with diabetes.

Depression Higher in Adult Diabetics

depressionAn additional finding that has some serious implications for our aging population is that research indicates depression is higher among adults with diabetes than the general population.  In fact, diabetics are twice as likely  to suffer from depression.  Under the best of circumstances, our senior citizens have increased chronic and acute diseases; with the interplay of diabetes and depression the rate of mortality, cardiac problems, diabetes related problems, functional impairment as well as hospitalizations increase.  A significant reduction in the overall quality of life ensues. This is largely due to the resulting combination of events of poor self care, functional impairment and significant nutritional issues.

Depression is Treatable

Depression is a very treatable condition.  New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene research has shown that 70% to 80% of patients respond well to treatment and good medical care.

As an essential start, before this issue can be adequately addressed, professionals must be consulted. The patient must be seen by trained nurses and clinicians and a medical doctor should screen for any endocrine disorders.  After other medical issues have been ruled out, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has mandated using a new diagnostic assessment tool.  This is a PHQ-9 questionnaire which is a validated instrument used to screen for depression in home care patients with Type 2 diabetes.  The questionnaire is an upgrade from the one formerly used. It measures the physical symptoms of depression as well as the level of interest in activity and mood.  With a score of 3 or higher, the patient is referred to a clinician by the home healthcare team.

Training a home healthcare provider to recognize symptoms of depression will greatly increase the prospect of its treatment. Especially true in Type 2 diabetics and home bound elderly patients where its prevalence is so much higher.  Cooperation and communication between all the healthcare disciplines is essential in order to achieve successful diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care.

David York Home Healthcare Agency is attuned to signs and symptoms of depression in the elderly. We are eager to be an active player in the treatment plan of the total elderly caregiver team.  Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website at http://davidyorkhomehealthcare.com/.  You could also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.