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Speech Therapy

We as humans are a community that thrives on the ability to communicate with those around us. With many means of communicating, our voices, the ability to speak, serve as an especially valuable and empowering tool that cannot be taken for granted.

There are certain conditions that threaten to take away our ability to speak and sometimes our ability to swallow or hear, both of which also impact our speech and communication. These communication disorders can be a result of stroke, brain damage, muscle weakness or respiratory distress throughout one’s lifetime. In other instances, communication disorders are congenital, in other words, they are present at birth. Regardless of the cause or duration of the communication disorder, losing the ability to speak or not having the ability to communicate is scary and can result in feelings of helplessness or frustration.

microphone

In the older population, speech therapists, also known as speech-language pathologists, are especially beneficial in the recovery processes following a stroke or in the therapy involved in dementia and other physical disorders. These conditions along with others can result in language and communication barriers. Aphasia, characterized by a difficulty in reading, writing, speaking and understanding language and apraxia, characterized by a difficulty in forming words, are two communication disorders that can commonly result from a stroke. Dementia often leads to difficulty thinking of words, trouble remembering thoughts, or losing attention during conversations. Physical weakness of the vocal cords can also result from multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These disorders have the potential to affect us and our loved ones and deeply impact our independence. Recognizing the value in seeking out speech therapy can help to preserve an individual’s ability to speak and communicate for as long as possible.

In such situations, speech therapy is a remarkable service that can alleviate much of the distress that accompanies communication challenges. Speech therapy is a speech and language focused treatment that can aid in communication disorders spanning the lifetime.

Services include assistance with early language skills, voice and sound production, comprehension, fluency, clarity and expression. The therapist will work with patients to create highly individualized treatment plans and can provide additional techniques for the individual to practice on their own. Speech therapy is most commonly available in hospitals and clinics, but BrightSpring Health Services is one of the few home health companies to offer at-home speech therapy. This has a huge advantage, as it offers the potential to receive therapy in the comfort of your own home, which is important during such a vulnerable time. Recovering from and overcoming a speech disorder can be a long process. It requires patience and support from family and friends, and a speech therapist can aid in the journey to recovery.

elderly patient and healthcare provider

The benefits from speech therapy are undeniable. With the help of a speech-language pathologist, you, your family member, your loved one or your friend will feel better, communicate better, regain more independence, and overall experience an improved quality of life.

Sources:

Image 1: https://tutorbin.com/blog/informative-speech-topics-for-2020

Image 2: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/obtaining-older-patients-medical-history

Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22366-speech-therapy

BrightSpring Health Services: https://www.brightspringhealth.com/services/homecare-services/  

Lingraphica: https://www.aphasia.com/aphasia-resource-library/what-causes-aphasia/dementia/

Feeling Thirsty? Time to Drink Water!

As we sweat our way through the hottest months of the year, it is important to make sure we are adequately replenishing all of the fluid we are potentially losing. Between beach vacations, family picnics, and holiday parades, it can be easy to forget the last time you took a sip of water or find yourself in places where there isn’t any nearby. Below you will learn more about what dehydration is, how you can spot it, why it is particularly relevant to the elderly population, and what you can do to prevent it!

hand holding glass of water

What is dehydration?

Dehydration is defined as a dangerous loss of fluid from the body which can occur through illness via diarrhea and vomiting, sweating, or simply not consuming enough liquids. Dehydration can happen to anyone at any age, but it is particularly dangerous and more prevalent in the older population.

How does it affect the elderly?

For a number of reasons, older individuals are more susceptible to fluid loss and dehydration. In general, seniors have less total body water volume than younger adults and children. On top of this naturally lower level of water in their bodies, many older adults have conditions and are taking medications that can affect hydration levels and increase susceptibility to dehydration.

Furthermore, research has shown that one’s sense of thirst decreases as they get older. This decreased sense of thirst can result in underconsumption of water or not realizing one’s thirst until early dehydration has already begun to set in. In some cases, decreased mobility interferes with an older individual’s ability to get up and pour themselves a regular glass of water. Water is a critical component in nearly every function in the human body, and it comes as no surprise that dehydration is commonly behind hospitalizations and illness in the older adult population.

Signs and symptoms

As we discussed, many older adults will not realize they are thirsty until they are already in the early stages of dehydration. This makes spotting dehydration tricky and staying on top of hydration even more important. What you can look out for, especially in the older population, is extreme thirst, less frequent trips to the bathroom, dark-colored urine, fatigue or tiredness, dizziness and confusion. If you notice lasting signs and symptoms in yourself or your loved one, be sure to call a doctor.

Preventing dehydration

Instead of waiting until signs and symptoms of dehydration set in, planning ahead and implementing hydration tactics is the best way to protect against dehydration. For the older adult, there are quite a few ways to incorporate fluids without just forcing glass after glass of water, which can admittedly get boring and can also leave them running to the bathroom every five minutes. If you or a loved one that you are caring for struggles with drinking water, mixing half juice and half water can elevate the taste and make drinking fluids more enjoyable. Be mindful of the older adults with conditions such as diabetes, where sugar consumption will need to be monitored and carefully controlled. Many foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are full of water, which can aid in getting enough hydration if eaten throughout the day. Additionally, consider spacing out fluid and water consumption across a longer period of time during the day so you can tolerate the fluid while remaining hydrated and avoid bloating. Especially for the active older adult, electrolyte supplement packets or beverages can be a useful tool in preventing dehydration. Relevant electrolytes include sodium (salt), potassium, and glucose, and additional vitamins can add benefit. In order for our bodies to uptake water, there must be a high enough concentration of electrolytes and sugars present, which these packets provide.

Drinking these in addition to plain water results in quicker and more efficient hydration. When selecting these electrolyte supplements, be sure to note the concentration of electrolytes versus sugar ratio, as some popular “sport drinks” have higher sugar concentrations, which will be counterintuitive to your hydration status. If you only have access to these higher sugar beverages, use the half and half method of beverage to water to dilute your drink. If you don’t have access to electrolyte or sports drinks, you can make your own! Take your favorite juice, combine it with water, and then add a pinch of salt. Consider purchasing a large water bottle or tumbler that can provide adequate hydration throughout the day and holds enough fluid to require less trips to the filter. Always be aware that your loved one could have co-conditions that require specific fluid monitoring and check with their doctor before making changes to their diet.

elderly couple working outside in garden

References:

Image 1 – https://unsplash.com/s/photos/glass-of-water

Image 2 – https://www.healthline.com/health-news/walking-gardening-swimming-may-prevent-brain-shrinkage-in-older-adults-emb-1pm  

Cleveland Clinic – https://health.clevelandclinic.org/drink-up-dehydration-is-an-often-overlooked-health-risk-for-seniors/

Mayo Clinic –

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086#:~:text=Dehydration%20occurs%20when%20you%20use,fluids%2C%20you%20will%20get%20dehydrated

grieving woman

Anticipatory Grief

When we think of grieving, we primarily think of grief following a loss. However, this is not the only form of grief. Anticipatory grief refers to the feeling of grief that occurs before an impending loss. This can go beyond the loss of the person. It can also be difficult to think about how the roles in your family will change or how different the future will look.

Compared to Grief After Death

While anticipatory grief is very similar to grief after death, there can also be a lot of differences in the experience. In grief after death, you are facing a loss that has already occurred and must figure out how you are going to move forward in your new reality. In anticipatory grief, you know you will have to face this loss at some point in the future, but you can’t know for sure when it will occur. You are in a sort of in-between state where your loved one is still here, but you know your time with them may be limited. This feeling can be more severe for some because you are trying to wrap your head around the idea of life without this person while they are still here.

Hospice

Although they may not think about the term for it, families with a loved one on hospice services are all too familiar with anticipatory grief. When you have a loved one on hospice services, you understand that they have a life expectancy of six months or less if the disease were to run its normal course. This means you are very much aware of the impending loss you are facing, which can oftentimes lead to anticipatory grief.

hug

Bereavement Services

Most people have likely heard about bereavement services that are offered through hospice. What you may not know is that you don’t have to wait until after the death of a loved one to start taking advantage of these beneficial services.

Bereavement services can start at any time throughout the hospice journey, including before death. The feelings of anticipatory grief can be confusing, but our compassionate team of bereavement coordinators can help you sort through these feelings.

It’s never easy to face the loss of someone you love. Although we cannot take away the pain you are feeling, we will do all we can to support you through your grief. If you or someone you love would like someone to talk to, please contact us. We will connect you with a highly trained, caring bereavement coordinator who will walk with you through your grief.  

Resources

How Anticipatory Grief Differs From Grief After Death – https://www.verywellhealth.com/understanding-anticipatory-grief-and-symptoms-2248855

Recognizing Seniors During National Homeownership Month

elderly woman with young child

5 Ways Seniors Can Age at Home During National Homeownership Month

June is National Homeownership Month, a time to celebrate and bring awareness to the various housing and support options available to Americans dreaming of homeownership. It’s also a great time to highlight the options seniors and family caregivers have available to them as they plan for their future continuum of care. This June, get to know the options available to seniors wishing to safely and happily age in place.

The Benefits of Aging at Home

A recent survey by Freddie Mac suggests that the majority of aging adults are planning to age at home in 2022. Of the U.S. adults age 55 and older who responded, 66% intended to age in place. That’s no surprise given the many benefits that aging at home can provide to seniors and caregivers alike – not to mention the emotional value that homeownership brings to adults. Aging in place has shown to dramatically increase adults’ overall happiness, health, and quality of life. With support, aging in place can be a beneficial option, even for a senior who has health issues. Seniors who age at home also have the benefit of decreased risk of exposure to illness compared to their peers in senior living communities. Other benefits of aging at home include:

If you’re not sure what your current options are for aging at home, consider home options that support aging in place.

Home Options For Aging at Home

Multigenerational Living

Multigenerational living has increased within the U.S. over the last several years thanks to its value in helping both seniors and family caregivers who want more housing security. Living in a multigenerational living structure allows a family to combine financial resources for the benefit of the whole family. Since multigenerational family structures allow for a senior to have their own space within the home, seniors have the flexibility to reside in both common areas and personal spaces which has been shown to decrease senior loneliness, increase their overall quality of life, and foster a sense of independence. Another great thing about multigenerational living is that a senior can receive care at home whenever they may need it. Regardless if you’re living with a family caregiver or not, aging at home is easier with a home caregiver. If a big family has a busy schedule, seniors and family members can be assured that their needs are being met with a home health care and hospice care provider to ensure the proper administration of medications, help with personal care, or provide general housekeeping tasks.

Downsizing

Downsizing to a smaller home to better suit a senior’s needs is always a considerable option. For seniors, maybe that means buying a newer home with upgrades and improvements. Perhaps a factor for downsizing is the wish of being closer to family members – or they want to be closer to the city, so transportation is easier. Many seniors want to downsize to a single-level home, or they just don’t want the burden of maintaining a lawn. Whatever the reason, downsizing a home to suit a senior’s needs is always a sustainable option when deciding to age at home. Besides the obvious benefits of downsizing your home, it also brings the possibility of increased independence all around. Less space means less house to maintain and an increased likelihood of having more senior-friendly features like a walk-in bathtub, wider doorways, or even a ramp for easier accessibility.

Home Modifications for Health & Safety

Seniors planning to age at home successfully should always have a home health inspection conducted. In order for a senior to have the best quality of life, they should have access to a safe environment. During a home health inspection, an inspector would look for any potential risks of falling, slipping, tripping, and other immediate risks. Oftentimes, a home inspection also accompanies suggestions or strategies for improving the health and safety of a home. The most common home modifications for seniors include:

Financial Considerations For Aging at Home

Planning Continuum of Care

Before making any substantial changes or plans for aging at home, It’s important to know the options available to seniors wishing to age happily and successfully at home. So the first step is to identify how the senior plans to include support for their continuum of care. Thankfully, the Medicare program provides financial help and assistance to seniors looking specifically for at-home health care and hospice services including medical equipment and supplies, disease and end-of-life care, skilled nursing, and more. Additionally, if you’re a veteran, there’s financial support available for housing, living expenses, and healthcare, just to name a few, and can be extremely valuable in planning your continuity of care. Similarly, if you’re disabled or collect social security, there are specific programs available to ensure you’re able to successfully age in place.

Mortgage and Loan Options

Whether you plan to stay in your current home or buy a new home, there are many mortgage and loan options available to seniors looking to age in place. If a senior homeowner is experiencing financial difficulty, there may be ways homeowners can ease that burden. Before making any extensive plans, seniors need to be aware of their current financial situation and the amount of equity they have, if any, in an existing home. To get a better understanding of your financial wellness, get your updated credit score and see if you prequalify for a mortgage or loan program, and make the best decisions for your housing and support needs.

Utilizing a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is a great way to pay for costs associated with home modification or improvements.

Home equity loans or lines of credit are great because of their low-interest rates and give seniors the ability to use their home’s equity to borrow funds for any home improvement projects. The downside is that if your financial situation changes dramatically in the future, you could be at risk of losing your home.

Another popular choice for seniors to consider is a reverse mortgage, which can be a great option for seniors needing financial assistance. Similar to using a HELOC, a reverse mortgage, or a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, take the home’s equity and disperses it back to a homeowner through monthly payments. As long as the senior is living in the home, payments received from your lender never have to be paid back. However, the loan must be repaid if you ever decide to leave or sell your home.

Regardless of where a senior chooses to age in place, knowing the housing and support options available are the best way to a happy and successful quality of life for the future.

Men, June means it’s time to take charge of your health!

young father and son

The month of June is Men’s Health Month and is dedicated to bringing awareness and providing education regarding all things health for the male population. With chronic disease and sedentary lifestyles on the rise, it is more important than ever to stay properly informed of how you can take steps to preserve your own health. Oftentimes, it can be as simple as making small changes to your daily routines that can prevent illness and preserve your quality of life in the long run.

Leading Health Concerns and Risk Factors

While men and women both share many of the same leading causes of death, studies have shown that men have a higher morbidity and mortality rate than women from coronary heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and cancer, four of the top ten leading causes of death in our country. Though many factors, including genetics, come into play with these diseases that are not always avoidable, many of the biggest risk factors are preventable, including smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, obesity, and high-risk behavior.

Statistics have identified men as being more likely to smoke, drink higher amounts of alcohol, partake in risky behaviors, and put off checkups and medical care, all of which put you in a much higher risk category for chronic disease. Recognizing the risk factors that are most at play for you and reducing their presence in your own life can have a monumental impact on the quality of your life.

statistics graphic

Health Issues Unique to Men

In addition to being at higher risk for universal health issues that can affect everyone, there are several health concerns that are unique to men. These include prostate cancer, benign prostate enlargement and low testosterone. Sometimes signs and symptoms don’t present themselves until it’s too late, and because men are more likely to skip the doctor visits, these diseases can go unnoticed for some time despite treatments being available. Regular checkups and screenings are imperative for men, as they can often identify disease early, even before symptoms occur, making it more likely that treatment will be successful.

Making the Change

Lifestyle changes can be hard but living with chronic disease that could have been prevented is the unfortunate alternative. When you’re ready to consider evaluating some of the risk factors for disease that exist in your own life, start by making a list. Once you’ve made a list, pick one to three things that you can change right away. The change can be as small as drinking one more cup of water each day to as big as hiring a personal trainer or nutrition coach!

Remember, a huge key to success is starting with something you know you will be able to stick to in order to build a strong habit. Reducing risk factors, improving your nutritional choices, and increasing your daily activity levels has a long list of benefits. These include better sleep, improved cognition, less weight gain, decreased levels of depression, and lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type-II diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s and several types of cancers. You have the ability to dictate your quality of life for the rest of your life, starting with the changes you make today.

Use this checklist below as a pocket guide to make sure you’re hitting your health goals and share with the men in your life!

References

Image 1 – https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/content.aspx?ID=10238

Image 2 – https://bppn.org/june-is-mens-health-month/

American Heart Association – https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults?gclid=CjwKCAjwyryUBhBSEiwAGN5OCPrs7yMioBQ6DkruGXplfE6urx91CVQEadSrYxoZHVUrPIkkmpOs0BoC6z8QAvD_BwE

CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/lcod/men/2016/all-races-origins/index.htm

National Library of Medicine – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5756802/

My Health Finder – https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/doctor-visits/regular-checkups/men-take-charge-your-health

Cropped image of military service member holding PTSD block letters

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Awareness, Recognition, and Support

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Life is full of events that cause challenge, fear, or even sometimes pose a threat to us. Those serving in the military are even more susceptible than the general public to these events due to the high-stress, high-risk nature of their occupation. Often and commonly, individuals react to the situation at hand and are temporarily unsettled by these events before returning to normal daily living. In other cases, the event that is experienced can have long-lasting, life-altering negative effects and this is known as post-traumatic stress disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD, as a disorder that develops in individuals who have experienced shocking, scary, or dangerous events who continue to feel stress or fear even after they are safe from the original event.

Signs and Symptoms

While it is common for individuals to be temporarily disrupted by a trauma, especially during combat, PTSD diagnosis is less common and requires an individual to experience symptoms for more than a month and in a great enough capacity to interfere with work and/or relationships. Symptoms are categorized into four subgroups: re-experiencing, avoidance, arousal and reactivity, and cognition and mood symptoms. Below are some examples of each.

Re-experiencing

Avoidance

Arousal and Reactivity

Cognition and Mood

Treatment Options

Whether you recognize these signs or symptoms in a loved one or perhaps in your own behaviors, you are not alone and there are many treatment options available. Treatment by a mental health provider can open up the door to options such as medication or psychotherapy, or a combination of both. The medications that have been studied and utilized most extensively are antidepressant medications which help to mitigate anger, worry, sadness and numbness. Additional medications can be sought out and explored to help alleviate other symptoms such as trouble sleeping and nightmares. Psychotherapy, also referred to as “talk therapy”, can be done one-on-one or in a group setting. Along with specific and individualized therapy goals, treatment should aim to educate individuals about their triggers and symptoms and prepare them with strategies to manage them when they occur.

PTSD can be incredibly isolating and takes a toll on the lives of many individuals in our community. While it may be hard to imagine living without the symptoms, recovery is possible. In congruence with medication and therapy, there are steps you can take on your own to facilitate recovery. Exercise can be a useful tool to improve both physical and mental health, as it is proven to reduce stress and improve mood. A strong support system of family and friends, as well as the veteran community, can be key to recovery. Involving loved ones in your life and engaging in a community that can relate to your experience can help to alleviate the loneliness associated with PTSD. While working with your therapist to build skills to reduce symptoms, consider partaking in activities that previously sparked joy and interest.

Caring for someone with PTSD can take a serious toll on those providing support as well. If you are a family member, friend or loved one of someone with PTSD, it is imperative to

prioritize your health and seek care and support for yourself as well. Look into local support groups within your community or virtual platforms to connect with other individuals in similar positions and keep regular checkups with your doctor. Make sure to set aside time to sleep, exercise and eat while you are offering care. You are not alone in offering care; seek out professionals and encourage the individual you are caring for to get further treatment. The better you care for yourself, the better you will be able to offer support.

Looking to the Future

Research has been underway for years looking into both the mental and biological components of PTSD, and new research directions continue to develop as scientists acquire new information. A subgroup of research studies called clinical trials seek to study if new tests, prevention measures, or treatments are effective. While clinical trials are an excellent method to further scientific knowledge, individuals should be aware that new information is the goal and there is no guarantee of successful treatment. If you are interested in learning more about current clinical trials or being involved in one, you can visit clinicaltrials.gov for a current list of National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies being conducted across the country or visit the NIMH’s Clinical Trials webpage for information about partaking in a study.

Resources for Veterans and Caregivers

Seeking treatment can feel overwhelming and lonely initially, and it is important to know that there are many organizations that are in place to help you find the support you or your loved one may need.

If you are a veteran with PTSD, the Veterans Crisis Line is available to you and your loved ones. You do not need to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to access the 24/7, 365-day-a-year support that this line offers. Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1

If you are a caregiver for a friend, family member, or loved one dealing with PTSD, the VA offers caregiver support in the form of a helpline as well as a caregiver program. To visit the website, go to caregiver.va.gov or call the helpline to speak to someone directly. Caregiver Support: 855-260-3274

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations, abbreviated SAMHSA, has a free and confidential hotline for individuals and family members facing mental health and/or substance abuse disorders. This hotline is also referred to as the Treatment Referral Routing Service and provides referrals to treatment centers, support groups, and community-based programs. The hotline is free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year and is available in Spanish and English. SAMHSA hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Additionally, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) has a Monday-Friday, 10am-10pm, ET. informational helpline as well as an email address, helpline@nami.org, to

provide support and resources to individuals in need. The NAMI is NOT a hotline, crisis line, or suicide prevention line. NAMI helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Thank you to our veterans and their community caregivers.

We see you, and we support you.

References

NIH – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd#part_2241 SAMHSA – https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline https://www.caregiver.va.gov/Tips_by_Diagnosis/PTSD.asp https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

NAMI – https://www.nami.org/help

Image – https://www.heroesmile.com/intersection-of-ptsd-and-veterans/

Physical therapist helping patient get out of bed using a walker

Facts About Home Health Care Services

By: Anonymous

Home health care refers to a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury. This health care option is often less costly, more convenient, and just as effective and high in quality as care you receive in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF). Home health care is one of the most valuable services for those who have Medicare benefits.

What’s Included in Home Health Care?

Skilled home health services may include:

What’s the Goal of Home Health Care?

In general, the goal of home health care is to treat an illness or injury. Home health care can help you:

If you receive Medicare benefits through a Medicare health plan, check with your plan to determine how it gives your Medicare-covered home health benefits.

If you have a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy or another form of health insurance coverage, tell your doctor or other health care provider so your bills can get paid correctly.

Doctors and referring health care providers should provide you with a list of agencies that service your area if they determine that you need home health care. They must tell you whether their organization has a financial interest in any agency listed.

What Should I Expect from My Home Health Care?

Doctor’s orders are required to start home health care. After your doctor refers you for home health services, the home health agency will schedule an appointment and come to your home to talk to you about your needs and ask you questions about your health.

The home health agency staff will also talk to your doctor about your care and keep them updated about your progress. Home health staff must see you as often as your doctor has ordered.

Services your home health staff should provide include:

AT Home Care and Hospice is a leading provider of home health and hospice services throughout Virginia. Fill out our online form today to learn more about our many home health care services.

Elderly couple with dementia putting together a puzzle

Alzheimer’s and Brain Health Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Health Awareness Month. This month, take time to discuss the importance of brain health with your friends, relatives, and elderly adults in your life—especially those who may be at risk for dementia and cognitive impairment. Taking steps to improve brain health early on can often reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders.

What Is the Prevalence Of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 6.5 million Americans. As the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disorder that destroys brain cells and causes the brain to shrink. It is most common among adults over the age of 65.

Memory loss is the primary symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s can also affect a person’s concentration, judgement, and decision-making ability, leading to problems with carrying out essential daily tasks like bathing, getting dressed, and cooking. Many people with Alzheimer’s often require hospice care so they can get help with performing these activities.

The Importance Of Early Screening

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that develops gradually over time. There is no designated screening test for Alzheimer’s, though your doctor can review your medical history and perform an evaluation to determine your risk.

Ways to Improve Your Brain Health

Maintaining optimal brain health is key to reducing your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If you are caring for Alzheimer’s patients, you can work with them to improve their brain health and reduce the severity of certain symptoms.

Eat Healthy, Nutritious Foods

Leafy greens, fatty fish, and almonds are some of the many foods that contribute to good brain health. Foods like these are loaded with nutrients, including vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, that are shown to boost brain health and delay the progression of Alzheimer’s. Eat a higher amount of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, and nuts to improve your cognition.

Stay Social

Socializing with others on a regular basis can stimulate your memory and attention, strengthening neural networks to improve overall brain function. Being social can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, boosting the quality of life in people with Alzheimer’s. Go dancing, join book clubs, and attend social events at community centers. Many hospice care providers can help you find social activities geared toward older adults and seniors.

Exercise Regularly

Physical activity offers a wide range of benefits for cognition and brain health. It improves your circulation and blood flow, boosting your memory and problem-solving ability. It can even help ward off anxiety and mood disorders, including depression. Schedule exercise into your daily schedule, even if it’s only a 10- to 15-minute walk. Better yet, join exercise classes for seniors, such as water aerobics and yoga.

Challenge Your Brain

Learning new skills and challenging your brain can lead to the formation of new connections between brain cells, which reduces your risk for cognitive problems, including Alzheimer’s. Play board games with your relatives and other seniors in the community, or take classes that teach you a new language or how to cook a certain cuisine. You can even download and play brain games on your smartphone, such as Wordle, Lumosity, and Candy Crush.

Hospice Care With AT Home Care

AT Home Care is a leading provider of home health and hospice services throughout Virginia—including hospice services for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Fill out our online form today to learn more about our services.

Senior woman walking on outdoor trail

5 Things To Do On National Senior Health and Fitness Day

Staying fit and healthy year-round is essential for a fulfilled lifestyle. But as people age, it becomes increasingly more difficult to remain active and feeling your best. ​​If you have been struggling with your health or fitness lately, then May 25th is the perfect day for you. This year, May 25th is National Senior Health and Fitness Day, and to kick off the celebration, here is a list of our favorite things you can do to improve your well-being on this inspiring day, and throughout the year.

Get Active Outside

As the weather starts to turn in May, now is the perfect time to dust off your walking shoes and get outside. For seniors, low-intensity activities are safer and easier to do on your own. They still promote increased heart health and strength while putting reduced pressure on your joints and muscles. Some activities can include walking to the park with your family, doing lawn work, or riding a bike. These are all great ways to get outside and get active, and the best thing is, seniors of all ages can enjoy them without pushing themselves to their limit. The bottom line is as long as you are getting outside and moving your body, you’re taking steps in the right direction to leading a healthier life.

Get Active Inside

We all know the weather can be very unpredictable at times, especially during the spring months. At times, it can go from rain to sunshine within the same hour. That’s okay because there are plenty of ways that you can still stay active indoors, no matter if you’re living independently or in a community living setting. For example, yoga and dancing are great options because they work all parts of the body, are low impact, and can be performed indoors. If you need something a bit more tangible to do, look into using resistance bands when doing some basic exercises. These bands are much safer than weights and will not take up nearly as much space.  While you might have to get a little more creative if you’re working with less space indoors, there are plenty of ways you can get your body moving inside even just by walking up and down the stairs. Your local gym or YMCA also may offer a dedicated space for activities such as swimming to get active while still staying indoors.

Schedule Your Health Screenings

Maintenance is key to living a long and healthy life. The best way to maintain your health is by staying on top of your regular health screenings. If you find yourself in the situation of not having been to the doctor in a while, now would be a great time to schedule an appointment. Keep in mind that your health goes beyond just your normal primary care. Scheduling a cleaning with your dentist, getting new prescription eyeglasses from your optometrist, and getting a head-to-toe skin check at your dermatologist are all commonly skipped areas of health maintenance. If you can’t remember the last time you addressed these areas of your health, use today to take that step in scheduling your health screening appointments so you can ensure you live the longest, healthiest life you can.

Eat A Healthy Meal

I’m sure you have heard the saying that “food is your fuel”. The food that you put into your body plays a major role in how you feel and operate on a daily basis. Don’t wait, start eating some healthy meals today! To begin, try and get your daily serving of greens, whole grains, and protein. While they are all important, eating an adequate amount of protein each day can help prevent the muscle breakdown that most seniors will face as they age. Another thing to keep in mind is the roles that certain foods have. For example, if you’re having a hard time with digestion, try eating more fiber as it helps food move through your digestion system. Lastly, staying away from processed foods and sugar as a whole can make a world of difference for your overall nutrition.

Meet With Your Friends/Family

Happiness is a foundational building block of your health, and don’t let anybody tell you anything different. Make time to visit with friends and family today; even if it’s only for a half-hour. Grab a coffee, eat lunch at your favorite local spot, or even invite company over. Not only does seeing your loved ones show that you care, but it also allows a space for happy memories to be created. In addition, being happy has been shown to fight stress, reduce blood pressure, and may even extend your lifespan. Take the opportunity to get out of the house, enjoy some great company, and reap the benefits that come along with it.

AT Home Care Thanks You

Even though AT Home Care acknowledges the importance of our seniors every day, National Senior Health and Fitness Day gives the larger population an opportunity to shed light on the importance of their health and wellbeing too. No matter what you do on this day, the memorable lesson is that you’re acting upon the matter and seizing the opportunity to better yourself.

We are looking forward to seeing how you participate this year. We hope you enjoy National Senior Health and Fitness Day 2022.

Person’s meditating hands in a grassy field

Importance of Self-Care In Grief

We all grieve differently, but one thing remains true for everyone: the importance of taking care of yourself. Whether you’ve found yourself in a state of just going through the motions or you’ve put all your focus on taking care of your loved ones, it can be easy to put your own needs on the back burner when facing the loss of a loved one.

However, it’s absolutely imperative that you take time to focus on yourself, too. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are discussing the importance of self-care throughout the grieving process.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month dates all the way back to 1949 when the National Association for Mental Health (now known as Mental Health America) first organized the observance in the month of May to help raise awareness and lessen the stigma attached to mental illness.

For a long time, society looked at mental illness as being just one thing. There was always a negative stigma attached to the term, and people often thought of those living with a mental illness as having ‘gone mad’. However, that is simply not true. Over time, we’ve learned more about the many layers and types of mental illness.

Mental illness is the term used to describe mental health conditions that impact a person’s mood, thinking, and behavior. Common mental illnesses include:

How Grief Impacts Mental Health

Losing a loved one can be a traumatic experience. You may feel as though you lost a part of yourself and that your life will never be the same. While there is some truth to this, it’s important to remember that you are still here and must go on living your life.

“We don’t move on from grief. We move forward with it.

–          Nora McInerny

Feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness, and hopelessness are all common throughout the grieving process. However, these feelings can sometimes develop into chronic grief which can in turn become a mental illness. In some cases, grief can lead to depression.

Symptoms of chronic grief can include:

How Self-Care Improves Mental Health

Self-care used to be thought of as bubble baths and pampering yourself, but there is much more to self-care. Just like the grieving process, self-care can look different for everyone. But the overall concept is to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

To take care of yourself physically is pretty simple: eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and practice healthy hygiene habits. However, taking care of yourself mentally is a little less cut and dry. This is where it really differs from person to person. To take care of yourself mentally and emotionally, you need to take time to do the things that make you feel good and happy. Hobbies are a good place to start when focusing on taking care of yourself mentally. Maybe you enjoy sitting outside and reading a good book, maybe you are an artist, maybe you enjoy taking long walks with your dog. Whatever it is that leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled, do it!

Research shows the more you practice self-care, the more confident, creative, and productive you are. This also leads to experiencing more joy, making better decisions, building stronger relationships, and communicating more effectively. Overall, you will be in a better frame of mind, making you a better version of yourself. This is not only good for you, but it’s also good for those who depend on you.

When you take time to take care of your whole self (physically, mentally, and emotionally), it will help you to process your feelings of grief in a healthier way.

How Hospice Can Help You in Your Grief Journey

Always remember that you do not have to face the journey of grief alone. Lean on friends and family to help you through. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings. Sometimes we feel the need to be strong for those around us. If this is the case and you would feel more comfortable talking to someone outside the family, lean on the support of your hospice bereavement team. Our kind, compassionate bereavement coordinators are always available to talk or just listen. Never hesitate to reach out.

If you or someone you love is struggling with their feelings of grief and would like to talk to one of our bereavement coordinators, please contact us at (804) 358-3480.

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