Celebrating the Holidays when a Loved One is in Hospice

This time of year can be challenging for those who have a terminally ill loved one. If this friend or family member is in hospice, the holiday season may feel “off” or a little less joyous this year.

While there are certainly challenges you will have to face, there are still ways you and your family can celebrate the season with your loved one in hospice. We’re here to provide you with some encouragement to navigate this time of year.

Coordinate with hospice staff.

Those working in hospice are not just there for the patients during this time, they are also there for the families. Hospice staff serve as a crucial resource for trying times like these and are more than willing to assist. They can help coordinate visiting schedules to work around holiday events, offer suggestions for support groups, and make arrangements for any holiday traditions you’d like to celebrate with your loved one. Among many other tasks, hospice staff are there to aid you this holiday season.

Adjust your holiday traditions.

While it may seem difficult to change any holiday traditions you have to better suit your loved one in hospice, just know that it will be wroth it. Including your loved ones in these traditions is what the season is all about, so making certain they are a part of some of the traditions you enjoy the most will bring everyone closer together and create a special meaning this year.

Above all, enjoy time with your loved ones.

We know this may sound hard – maybe even impossible. It’s important to use this time to bring everyone together and create memories while you can. Surrounding yourself with friends and family can serve as a reminder that you are not alone in this process.

We’ll leave you with this question – What’s your reason for this season? Is it to cherish another holiday with your loved one?

Keeping Dignity | Caregiver Tips

Your loved one can no longer do the many tasks they once could. They now depend on you for many of these things. The easiest solution may be to simply take over and make decision, but it’s important to be respectful of your loved ones. As a caregiver, you want to protect your loved one’s dignity and sense of self-worth.

Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine if your independence had slipped away. You can no longer drive, walk, or get out of bed. These once simple tasks now require help from someone else. How would this make you feel? You may feel frustrated. This loss of freedom would most likely cause you to want to keep control over as much as you possibly could.

Here are some helpful suggestions:

  • Put yourself in your loved one’s place. How would you want to be treated if you were being cared for?
  • Educate yourself on your loved one’s condition. This can prepare you for what’s ahead.
  • Help them do what they can on their own for as long as possible. This will give them a sense of control.
  • Talk openly and honestly with your loved one. Try to involve them in decisions and be a good listener.
  • Be flexible. Try an accommodate reasonable requests if you can.
  • Give positive feedback if your loved one does a task on their own.

AT Home Care earns recognition from HomeCare Elite

Blue Stethoscope in Heart formation in blue color theme

HomeCare Elite has recognized AT Home Care Williamsburg as a top-performing home health agency for 2018. HomeCare Elite is a compilation of U.S. Medicaid- certified home health agencies annually reviewed by ABILITY and DecisionHealth. The review is conducted using public information evaluating overall performance in quality outcomes, best practices, consistent improvement, and financial health.

Recognition is given to the top 25% ranks home health agencies and further to highlight the top 100 and 500 agencies. HomeCare Elite is unique in a way that it is the only performance recognition of its kind in the home health industry.

Thanks to the AT Home Care Williamsburg team for their continual hard work and dedication to improving the lives of others. Also, thanks to all the families that entrust AT Home Care to provide the care needed for their loved ones. Our team is humbled to be recognized with this prestigious award and hope to continually exceed expectations as the new year arrives.

Green and Grey HomeCare Elite 2018 badge with stars
AT Home Care blue logo

To find out how AT Home Care services can benefit you or your loved one, please contact us.

Sepsis Concern? We’ve Got You Covered.

Sepsis is a severe response to infection that can quickly become life-threatening. More than 1 million cases occur each year. The Washington Post calls Sepsis a medical emergency. Sepsis can be caused by any type of infection, anywhere in the body and is one of the top diagnoses for patients being readmitted to the hospital. This infection is more  likely to occur in the elderly and those with chronic or severe illness or weakened immune systems.

AT Home Care has a Sepsis Program designed to promote quality of care and improve outcomes for those at risk for developing sepsis and those recovering from sepsis. We have the resources and expertise to provide our patients with state-of-the art care for dangerous conditions such as sepsis.

In consultation with your physician and according to Medicare, you have the freedom to choose any qualified agency to provide your care. Be sure your agency is qualified by checking its credentials, specialties, and reputation. AT Home Care is proud to enjoy an outstanding reputation serving our community. We are a Medicare Certified, CHAP Accredited agency that provides the highest quality of traditional and specialized services. It would be our privilege to care for you.

Call us anytime. We’re available 24/7. (866) 497-2110

AT Hospice: Improving Family & Patient Lives in Virginia

No one ever intends for tragic things like cancer to enter their lives. Often times, it comes on suddenly and acts quickly, leaving people and their loved ones with tough decisions to make about their futures. Kelly is one of these people. In early 2015, her husband was diagnosed with cancer. He endured months of treatment, but a few days before Christmas that year, he took a turn for the worse. They knew he didn’t have very much longer to live, so he and Kelly decided for him to go home where he could spend Christmas and live out his days in a familiar environment surrounded by family and friends. That’s when Kelly recognized they needed hospice care.

At first, the family chose the hospice recommended by their hospital, but it turned out to be a terrible fit and ended up doing more harm than good. Eventually, Kelly was told about AT Hospice, and decided to give them a chance. AT Hospice’s amazing team of professionals stepped in, and the family noticed an immediate improvement! The nurses, aides, social workers and chaplains all demonstrated true competence and concern, and Kelly could finally relax, knowing that her husband and family would be taken care of. Throughout the rest of Kelly’s husband’s life, the AT Hospice team could be reached whenever they were needed, jumped at the chance to help out in any way, and helped the family prepare for what was to come. “They were angels,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s experience with AT Hospice was so positive that when her mom’s condition with Alzheimer’s began to worsen, and it became evident that she would need hospice care, Kelly made sure to call AT Hospice again. The response from the company was “We wouldn’t have it any other way.” As before, AT Hospice staff demonstrated their true desire and ability to help. Their relationship with Kelly and her family strengthened, and they were there to help Kelly through the shock of another loss. Kelly noted that the nurse was at the bedside talking to her mother after she passed, showing the type of exceptional care and regard that the AT Hospice team made part of their daily routine.

“I couldn’t begin to thank them enough,” Kelly said. To this day, she still keeps in contact with many of the people who helped care for her mother and husband. One AT Hospice staff member even adopted Kelly’s mom’s dog, giving her a loving home and keeping Kelly updated with stories about the dog’s adventures. People from the company continue to show support as Kelly begins to transition into a new part of her life. When she comes across people in need of hospice services, Kelly recommends AT Hospice. “There are a lot of hospice companies out there,” Kelly stated, “but this one is definitely the best.”

Family New Year’s Resolutions

The holidays are a time of family traditions and celebrations. People connect and make memories, but as with every year, holidays come and go. Once Thanksgiving and Christmas have passed, many people look forward to the new year as a fresh beginning. For seniors, it can be more challenging to get excited about the new year.

Understanding the apprehension a senior feels about the new year is important for helping them develop a better perspective. Typically, New Year’s resolutions have something to do with self-improvement. For an aging senior, these types of vows may not be as attainable as they were years ago. Of course losing weight, eating better and exercising daily is important, but it’s not necessarily the best focus for a senior. A team effort may be just the ticket to jump start 2016.

Related: Winter safety tips 

Here are some ideas for how to build a new tradition with family by sharing a resolution that will last all year long…

Get tech savvy – Believe it or not, seniors are the fastest growing demographic on social networks. If older loved ones don’t already have a computer or tablet, now might be the right time to introduce one. Once past the initial learning curve, technology and social media are excellent ways to share pictures, communicate remotely and to keep them engaged with something. If your loved one is intimidated, teach them the basics. Not only will it build a platform to connect in the future, but it could bring you together in the present as well.

Start a letter journal – Seniors come from a generation when handwritten letters were the norm. Many still view letter writing as a personal way of keeping in contact with family near and far. Starting a letter journal might even provide your family with a fun, new tradition that will last for years. You can start by picking out a journal together. Take turns writing letters before returning it to the next family member to write inside. Sharing a letter journal with your loved one is a unique way to strengthen your connection and get to know each other better.

Share an activity – For most of us, free time is limited, but there is bound to be a shared interest that family members can find time to connect over. Whether it’s once a month or once a week, participate in an activity together. It can be difficult for seniors to get out and be active by themselves, but there are many options for getting together. Make it a regular occasion to join them at church or community socials or sign up for a volunteering opportunity together. It can even be as simple as setting a monthly date for a family dinner at home. Remember, don’t let one outing end until the next one is on the calendar!

New Year’s resolutions help everyone feel a greater sense of purpose, and this couldn’t be more true for a senior. Take the time to understand what your loved one wants to get out of the new year, and create a family resolution that helps them achieve it. For more ways to help the seniors in your life make the most out of 2016, contact AT Home Care at (804) 359-3400.

Aging in Place: Home Living Trends

Aging in place is the optimal choice for seniors who want the highest quality of life as they age. While health and physical ability are key factors for aging in place, the decision is also largely based on the livability of the home. In order to successfully age in place, the environment must promote safety, comfort and independence.

In most cases, the homes where you’ve raised your family, and even some newer homes, aren’t senior-friendly. But, the decision to remodel or relocate isn’t always feasible or desirable. So the greatest challenge of aging in place is oftentimes how to adapt the existing environment to better support the needs of aging bodies and minds.  

Related: Aging in place technology  

There are a number of recent trends to follow in adapting the home for successful aging in place. Achievable without remodeling or moving, these trends require a small investment and some professional help, but in the end, offer a safe and livable solution.

Top Home Design Trends

Level Entry – Easy access to the inside of a home is key. Whether it’s raining, icy or you simply have a handful of groceries, there must be a safe point of entry for the home. Modifications to the space between a garage and the home or for exterior doors leading inside are popular trends in home design for those aging in place. Depending on the slope, this may be as easy as installing a ramp.

Easy Reach Cabinets and Accessible Storage – High cabinets aren’t desirable because they require climbing, reaching and lifting. Installing shorter cabinets is great, but if new cabinets aren’t an option, there are other alternatives for fixing hard-to-reach cabinets. Simple drawer modifications or extensions can offer plentiful storage at waist level.

User-Friendly Appliances – Most ovens, dishwashers and refrigerators are designed with doors, but some newer models contain drawers. Drawer appliances are becoming popular with seniors because they are more comfortable in height, and eliminate the need to bend over. These types of appliances reduce back strain that develops from loading and unloading items.

No Threshold Bath and Shower Entry – Statistics show 80% of falls happen in the bathroom. Safe entry into the bath or shower is critical. Your bathroom doesn’t need to undergo a major renovation, rather a tub or shower conversion that provides safer entry. Installing grab bars are another way to reduce bathroom hazards.

Open Spaces – Achieving an open floor plan may sound like a big undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. Sure, opening up living spaces is attainable by knocking down a wall or two, but you don’t have to undergo demolition to create open rooms. Replace traditional doors with recessed or pocket doors, even try folding, accordion style doors. Not only does this widen space to get from one room to the next, but it eliminates the potential hazard caused by a propped open door. Don’t just focus on the door, but also check out the many user-friendly hardware options to compliment them.

As seniors strive to age in place, new trends are emerging to make the transition easier and safer. While some home modifications may require more money and the help of a professional contractor, there are government and nonprofit programs available to help seniors make the changes necessary to stay in their homes. For more information on trends in home design for seniors aging in place, contact AT Home Care today at (804) 359-3400.

What is Long-Distance Caregiving?

Every day, people are faced with the task of caring for a sick, disabled or aging loved one. Statistics indicate 44 million adults in the U.S. provide care for someone over the age of 50. It’s a common misconception that caregiving can only happen when everyone resides within close proximity. Actually, a large percentage of family caregivers are also long-distance caregivers.

Long-distance caregiving is a unique and challenging situation where the caregiver lives long distance–typically an hour or more away–from the family member who needs their help and support. This occurs more than you might think, and takes a great deal of planning and organization. Research from AARP suggests that nearly 1/4 of people caring for elderly relatives do so from a distance.

Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving

Create a caregiving team. This includes individuals local to the relative; people who can check in on them when you’re not in town. Neighbors, friends, church members, and when necessary in-home health care, are all important components to a caregiving team. Don’t forget about yourself…Arrange for family and trusted friends to help you maintain things at home while you’re away.

Consider hiring an elderly care manager. This is an individual experienced in managing all aspects of senior in-home care, including arranging qualified help, supervising health care services, assessing financials and deciding on housing options. An elderly care manager helps evaluate your loved one’s situation and guides you through important decisions.

Take advantage of technology.  Even if your older loved one isn’t comfortable using a smartphone or tablet, it doesn’t mean you can’t utilize apps for your own organization and planning purposes. Many apps are free, or cost a small one-time fee. They can log pertinent information, invite friends to help, create shareable lists, give medication refill reminders, etc.

Related: Introducing seniors to technology 

Don’t forget about yourself. It’s easy to become stressed especially when you are far away. Make time for what’s important to you whether it’s reading, volunteering, exercising, socializing or simply relaxing. Don’t neglect your own health and keep regularly scheduled doctor visits. Look into caregiver support groups. It’s also possible your place of employment offers caregiver benefits like flextime or job sharing to free some hours for caregiving duties.

Long-distance caregiving is a team effort—not one person can possibly do it all. For assistance in creating a caregiving team, contact AT Home Care today at (804) 359-3400.

Eyesight and Hearing: How Sensory Processing is Affected by Age

The five senses—sight, sound, smell, taste and touch—tell us all about what’s happening in our surroundings. However, as we age, it’s common to notice changes in sensory processing. In order to process sensations and gain information from them, we need full capacity of our senses. Take for example the aromatic smell of food in the kitchen, the sound of the telephone ringing or feeling a wet floor or sharp utensil. These are all experienced through a person’s sensory processing skills.

It’s natural for the strength of the senses to deteriorate with age—generally this starts happening around the time a person reaches 50. As time goes on, family members, friends and caregivers may notice a loved one starts wearing bifocals, increasing light bulb wattage, adding extra seasoning to food or turning up the volume on the TV or radio. Although many of these symptoms are entirely normal and no cause for worry, they oftentimes impede on a senior’s ability to carry out daily activities with enjoyment, confidence and independence.

Sight and sound are two of the most important senses to interpreting the world around us—unfortunately, these are the first affected by age. 


Decline in eyesight can have a huge impact on quality of life, as well as jeopardize a person’s ability to live independently. Cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma are very common eye conditions that affect one’s ability to see things closely, to notice what’s in the distance and to pick up small details. Whether you’re diagnosed with an eye condition or simply notice changes, it’s important to acknowledge, accept and learn ways to cope.

Related: Tips for improving eye health 

If you’re the caregiver or loved one to a person with poor vision, there are several things you can do…

  • During conversation, sit or stand where the person can see you and give them plenty of time to focus
  • Provide good lighting and control glare
  • Assess the home for safety risks, throw rugs, cords and other fall hazards
  • Use skid-resistant mats in the bathroom
  • Accompany the senior to doctor visits to learn more about their challenges and how to provide support


Hearing loss gradually occurs with age. Oftentimes, it’s not until someone reaches their 50’s or 60’s that they begin to notice changes in their ability to hear high frequency sounds. This makes it difficult to not only hear the pitch of sounds, but distinguish one similar sounding word from another. Central nerve loss, or hearing deafness, is a permanent type of hearing loss typically caused by excessive noise, chronic conditions or the natural process of aging.

If you’re the caregiver or loved one to a person with poor hearing, there are several things you can do…

  • During an interaction, get their attention before beginning to speak
  • Use a normal tone of voice, speak clearly and distinctly
  • Turn off any background noise
  • Sit still—many seniors with hearing loss depend on the movement of your lips to aide in comprehension
  • Attend doctor visits to better understand their condition; learn the benefits of auditory assistance devices

For more information on helping loved ones deal with declining sensory processing, particularly changes in eyesight and hearing, contact AT Home Care today at (804) 359-3400.

Maintaining Bone Health

It’s a common misconception that bone loss and susceptibility to fractures are a natural part of aging.  Many people assume that when they reach a certain age, low bone mass and tissue loss are inevitable.  But, that isn’t necessarily the case.  There are a number of precautions you can take to slow or reverse bone and tissue loss, as well as prevent bone fractures.

Here are the key factors that impact bone health…

Nutrition plays a huge role in bone health.  The right diet can impact how strong bones are as we age.  The most important food group for maintaining healthy bones is protein—eggs, fish, poultry, meat, beans, etc.  It just so happens that most seniors don’t get enough protein in their daily diet.  Dairy products and leafy greens are important as well.  Some of the nutrients and food groups associated with bone health can also be taken as supplements if diet alone doesn’t provide required daily intake.  Talk with your doctor about a well-balanced diet and find out how to get these nutrients into your daily routine.

Vitamins and supplements are also important components.  Calcium and vitamin D are two essential nutrients for keeping bones strong and healthy.  The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium daily.  Exact recommendations vary based on age and gender.  Both men and women age 50 and above require 800-1,000 IU daily of vitamin D.  Vitamin C is also known to maintain bone mass and minimize the risk of hip fractures.

Regular exercise is directly linked to preserving bone mass.  This includes not only physical activity, but strength and weight-bearing exercises as well.  A person’s age and health lays the foundation for what’s a suitable type and amount of daily exercise.  Fortunately, regular exercise doesn’t have to take place in a gym.  Activities such as walking, gardening and dancing are all ways to stay active.   Of course, it’s always recommended to talk with your doctor before starting any new activity or exercise routine.

RELATED: Stay active even during the winter using our activity tips

Home safety is an underrated element to bone health.  According to the CDC, each year one in three adults 65 and older falls.  Doctors and organizations involved in bone health have the motto “home safety is bone safety”.   Using common sense precautions in the home is an easy way to help prevent falls and injuries.  Things like establishing clear pathways, eliminating hazards–like throw rugs and cords, using non-slip bathroom products and enhanced lighting are all ways to ensure home safety.

For more information on how diet, exercise and home safety impact bone health, contact AT Home Care today at 804-359-3400!