Be a Friend

Friendships on earth are precious and should not be taken for granted. True friends that will stick with you through the hard times are few, and a blessing. If you are blessed to have true friends, count yourself fortunate. Whether you do or do not, you have the opportunity to have an impact on others by being that friend. True friendship should not have any social, financial, racial or geographic limitations. Friendship should not be just about having common interest or mutual relationships. These certainly can enhance friendships, but true friends are ones that have a heart of compassion and understanding that is blinded from the influences of the world.

You may have old friends that you have become less connected to due to yours or their physical limitations. Fortunately, we live in an age where no one is too far away for communication. A phone call or email can sometimes be all that is needed to change the outlook we have about our day. Reminding an old friend of good days past and that you are always here for them, and thinking of them can be the single inspiration needed to positively impact their attitude and decision making. Being a friend does not at all have to be because of past acquaintances. Challenge yourself to become a friend to a new acquaintance, or someone you have not even ever spoken to. You may know of a shut in, or physically challenged person who seems lonely, so reach out to them. Tell them you would like to be their friend and see what kind of reaction you get, most likely it will be positive and rewarding for you. If it turns out that you are their only real friend left in the world, is that not special! Christ set the example to us of being a servant, and what better way to serve than to provide some needed companionship to a lonely soul.

If your acquaintance does not have their mental facilities because they suffer from forms of Dementia, this does not prevent friendship. One word that typically transcends memory challenges is friend. Even if they do not know your name or recognize your face, reminding them that you are their friend can bring them comfort. At Touching Hearts at Home, our professional caregivers offer many services, but one of the most needed at times is companionship. Some of our clients do not remember our names or why we are there, but they take comfort in knowing they are accompanied by friends. This also brings peace of mind to their families. We can be reached anytime at 731-613-2526, or on the web at www.touchingheartswesttn.com.

Hydration is Key to a Healthy Lifestyle

The hydration status of a person refers to their body water balance. Dehydration occurs when people do not have enough fluid in their bodies. Many older people have problems with dehydration which is a serious problem can result in death if it is not taken care of, but dehydration is very easy to prevent.

The ability to feel thirst lessens with age, so seniors may not realize when they need to drink more. Also, many seniors may find they have to use the bathroom more often so they are losing more fluid. In the aging process, people’s bodies start losing muscle and gaining fat. Remember that muscle holds water but fat does not, so as a person ages, their body water decreases. Medications that increase urination or help constipation can also cause dehydration.

Did You Know ???

Dehydration is ranked in the top ten most frequent reasons for Medicare hospitalizations and half of all patients hospitalized with dehydration as the primary diagnosis, die within one year.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

Water does not have to be the only source of fluids! What you eat also provides a significant portion of your fluid needs. On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake, while the remaining 80 percent comes from water and beverages of all kinds.

For example, many fruits and vegetables — such as watermelon and cucumbers — are nearly 100 percent water by weight. Beverages such as milk and juice are also composed mostly of water. Here are some helpful tips to remain hydrated:

  • Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink; by this time you are already dehydrated
  • Carry a water bottle with you and drink from it regularly
  • Drink at least eight cups of water every day
  • Keep a full water bottle in the refrigerator door and take a drink every time you open the refrigerator
  • Drink extra in extreme heat to replace the water lost from sweating
  • Start and end the day with a cup of water
  • Do not replace water with alcohol or caffeinated drinks
  • Know the symptoms of dehydration

Symptoms of Dehydration

Dehydration can be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, overheating, diabetes, diuretic medications, high fever, or excessive sweating. If you have any of these, be aware and make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids. Here are some warning signs (symptoms) that can be overcome by simply drinking water:

  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Fatique
  • Irritability

Life threatening symptoms that will require a person to go to the ER or contact a physician immediately include:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling of blacking out when sitting up or standing
  • Confusion
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Sunken eyes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate

As with most illnesses, prevention is the key. Making sure you stay hydrated now is much easier than being treated for it later. The elderly are vulnerable especially if they suffer memory loss where they may not be always aware of what they have consumed or of their symptoms. This is where trained support can be a great asset. At Touching Hearts at Home, we provide Caregivers who go through comprehensive training and are Insured and Bonded giving the family peace of mind. We are licensed by the State providing Non-Medical In-Home care services including Homemaker and Personal services. We offer a free in-home consultation and services from four hours through 24/7. We can be reached anytime at 731-613-2526 and viewed on the web at www.touchingheartswesttn.com

Time to Accept Help

We as humans have a natural tendency to procrastinate, putting off things we know we need to address. We also can be very stubborn in admitting when we need help.  It is not necessarily a fault, as God has given us a measure of faith and drive to attempt to overcome obstacles. But he also gave a us a brain to decimate and understand when we have limitations.  As we age into the golden years, one of the hardest realizations is that we cannot always function totally on our own. We feel that if we give in to having assistance, that our lives are over and we have become worthless. This is not at all true, as our contributions to the those around us and the world can continue to our last breath.

Allowing assistance as our bodies begin to limit us is not giving up, but rather can be a stepping stone to prolonging our opportunity to enjoy life and contribute to others. Most good caregivers will admit that they feel they get more rewards for their efforts than the senior they are assisting. While you may need some physical assistance to carry on your activities of daily living, with your knowledge and experience in life, you can be a mentor to the younger generation, including those caring for you.  True wisdom is cultivated from many years of life experience and studies.

Way too often, the decision to bring some assistance into the home is put off until there is a crisis situation, such as a fall or medical emergency. When this happens, and help is sought, it creates a dramatic change in the lifestyle. The senior goes from having no one in their home to 24/7 care, which is a lot to adjust to. Those who seek assistance when it is first needed can benefit from a gradual transition. Using a caregiver selectively for assistance on a limited basis can allow you to have the help you need without the culture shock of someone around the clock. Even more important, however, is the by having some limited assistance when you first have the need, you can prevent the major events that might totally handicap you. As they have said for centuries, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

At Touching Hearts at Home, we specialize in professional caregiving that addresses only the specific needs. We develop a customized plan of care to address the unique needs of each client. We work with the client and family to ensure there is a smooth transition, and that the client always remains in charge. We are there to assist in maintaining and improving the quality of life, but not to take over. We are licensed by the state and employ comprehensively trained caregivers who are insured and bonded. We can be reached at 731-613-2526 or on the web at www.touchingheartswesttn.

Managing Stress

Stress is rampant in modern America, and Seniors are not immune to this disease. Though it is a product of our fast paces lifestyles, and can seem hard to escape from, there are ways to minimize the impact on your life. Here are (7) suggested ideas for minimizing your personal stress levels:

  • Identify and Control your Stressors
    • Stress is mainly triggered from the outside, according to Judith Belmont, a psychotherapist, mental health speaker and author. But “it is our attitude and our perceptions that determine how stress affects us”, she says. From this perspective, stress is a result of our personal interpretations of events. So, even if you cannot eliminate all your stressors – deadlines, finances, hosting the holidays – if you can control your inner state, then you can control your stress levels. Perhaps the most direct way to do this involves mindfulness meditation.
  • Meditate
    • Taking a few minutes to meditate daily helps relieve stress and increases one’s sense of well-being.
  • Reframe the way you thank about Stress
    • All too often stress is negative and something to be avoided, but we need some stress to be successful both personally and professionally. Stress can give us motivation and energy and passion. It only becomes negative when it handicaps us, and we see it as out of control and unmanageable.
  • Exercise
    • In addition to mental practices, regular physical exercise is a time-tested way to reduce stress. If you cannot wake up early enough to take a morning run, a 20-minute walk during the day will help you feel more in control of your mind as well as your body.
  • Stay Positive
    • Start the day out with at least one positive intention. Think of an action or resolution that will help you put a positive spin on the day. Tell yourself, Today I will make an effort to smile more, and greet everyone with cheer.
  • Unplug
    • During family dinners, put your cellphones and tablets on silent and leave them in other rooms. And do not check emails or texts while you are in the presence of company. You will be pleased at how your stress levels decrease, plus you will be a more pleasant person to be with.
  • Eat Well
    • We don’t typically associate diet with levels of stress. However, we can help manage internal stressors by watching our food consumption. Studies have shown that eating a good breakfast increases your metabolism, which helps keep your weight down and helps with your mood swings. In addition, certain supplements, like Omega 3s, have been shown to help with anxiety, stress and depression. Vitamin B6 increases the serotonin, which regulates mood to calm and heal. Foods to avoid are stimulants that increase your stress and anxiety, such as energy drinks, too much coffee or tea, sugar and excessive alcohol.

At Touching Hearts at Home, we cannot promise that we will take away all your stress while we provide care for you. However, our Caregivers are trained in providing you or your loved one with comfort and person centered compassionate care. We will assist you in working towards your goals, both short and long term. We develop a customized Plan of Care to meet the unique needs of each client. Please visit us on the web at www.touchingheartswesttn.com or call us anytime at 731-613-2526.

Senior Abuse

No one wants to imagine this scenario: A senior, trusting of their independent caregiver, becomes a victim of theft. Well one family in West Tennessee experienced this tragedy recently. Just this week, a caregiver went before a judge on accusations of neglecting a disabled woman she was hired to take care for and stealing property from the woman’s home (as reported by WBBJ7 Eyewitness News). The report stated that the caregiver “is accused of stealing more than $1,000 worth of the victim’s property as well as being intoxicated and leaving the bedridden woman unattended for an unknown amount of time”.

The sad realization is that this is not an isolated case and elder abuse is on the rise in our country. With the increase in abuse of our seniors (through mental, financial or physical means) increases, so should vigilance and advocacy for seniors.

From the National Adult Protective Service Association

  • Elder abuse is vastly under-reported; only one in 44 cases of financial abuse is ever reported
  • Abused seniors are three times more likely to die and elder abuse victims are four times more likely to go into a nursing home
  • 90% of abusers are family members or trusted others
  • Almost one in ten financial abuse victims will turn to Medicaid as a direct result of their own monies being stolen from them
  • Cognitive impairment and the need for help with activities of daily living make victims more vulnerable to financial abuse
  • One in nine seniors reported being abused, neglected or exploited in the past twelve months; the rate of financial exploitation is extremely high, with 1 in 20 older adults indicating some form of perceived financial mistreatment occurring in the recent past

Ways to help reduce your risk of theft or fraud:
-Be weary of who you invite in your home. The elderly who stay at home often need some extra help. While most agencies require background checks and supervise their staff, an independent caregiver will not be as regulated.

-Keep all personal and financial information in a safe place. Whether in a bank safety deposit box, a safe at home, or a lockable file cabinet, keeping important data out of the hands of dangerous parties could save you from fraud and theft.

-Check all bank statement and bills. Look for any type of suspicious activity. Most banks and credit card companies have programs to keep you informed of any unauthorized purchases or debits.

-Contact a trustworthy person or agency to help you keep up with your finances. If you are unable to pay bills or be responsible for your finances, a power of financial attorney might be an option for you.

-If you hire in-home care, make sure the company employees caregivers who are insured and bonded.

At Touching Hearts at Home, all or our caregivers are carefully selected, including detailed background screening. Upon hiring, the caregivers go through a comprehensive training program followed up with an on-going training program.  All caregivers are bonded and insured to provide peace of mind for our clients. For more information or if you have any questions about how we can help with your elder care needs in West Tennessee, please contact us at 731-613-2526 . You can also visit us on the web at www.touchingheartswesttn.com.

Re-Invent Yourself

Are you pleased with yourself, your health, your outlook on life, how you treat your family and friends, your accomplishments each day? If the answer is no, you are obviously not alone. As we age, it is common for us to lose self-esteem and sense of having purpose in our daily activities. You have two choices, accept your current position, or Re-Invent yourself. You think it is too late, it is never too late. Tips for Re-Inventing yourself:

  • Do not act your age, or at least what you think your current age should act like. What was your best year so far ? 28 ? 45 ? 60 ? Now ? Picture yourself at that age, and be it.
  • Be positive in your conversations and your actions everyday. When you catch yourself complaining, check yourself right there and change the conversation to something positive.
  • Do you have negative friends who complain all the time and constantly talk about how awful everything is? Drop them! As cruel as that may sound, distance yourself from people who do not have a positive outlook on life. Do NOT let others bring you down.
  • Walk like a vibrant, healthy person. Come on, you can do it.
  • Stand up straight ! You can knock off the appearance of a few years with good posture.
  • How’s your smile ? Research proves that people who smile more often are happier and healthier.
  • Lonely? Do something about it now. Right this minute. Volunteer your time, Take a class, Invite someone to meet you for lunch, dinner or coffee.
  • Start walking not only for your health, but to see and interact with neighbors.
  • Make this month the time to set up your annual physical and other health screenings.
  • Find your inter artist. Who says taking music lessons is for young people. You may have an artist lirking inside you just waiting to be tapped.

Yes, your health may limit some of your activities, but all of us still have talents and skills remaining that can be put to use. Pity parties only add to our demise, and they become contagious. Well, the good news is that healthy attitudes are also contagious. We at Touching Hearts at Home promote a positive attitude through all of our caregivers. We strive to set an example of keeping a positive outlook and living each day to maximum. Touching Hearts at Home provides In-Home caregiving service in West Tennessee. We are licensed by the state, and employ comprehensively trained caregivers who are all insured and bonded. We can be reached anytime at 731-613-2526, and on the web at www.touchingheartswesttn.com.

Pet Owners are Healthier

The unconditional love of a pet can do wonders for emotional and physical health. Studies show pet owners are less likely to experience depression, are better able to cope with stress and may have lower blood pressure. According to the Mayo Clinic, research has shown that dogs and cats can:

Relieve Stress. Playing with a puppy or cuddling a cat can help you unwind after a long day or comfort you if you are sad or lonely.

Help your Heart. In a comparison study examining the heart rate and blood pressure of pet owners and their non-pet owner counterparts, people with pets had lower heart rates and blood pressure levels. The pet owners also had less increase in their heart rate and blood pressure when exposed to stress, and their blood pressure dropped faster following a stressful event.

Protect your Heart after a Heart attack. Scientists discovered that dog owners were more likely to be alive one year following a heart attack than were those who didn’t own dogs.

Help keep you fit. Walking the dog is a great way to get some exercise.

Great asset for Seniors. Seniors can especially benefit from the companionship that a dog or cat can provide. Dogs and Cats can be a 24 hour friend, which is especially beneficial for those who spend the majority of their days without human contact. They provide both entertainment and loving support to the owners.

When making the decision to acquire a pet, it is important to remember the responsibility that goes along with pet ownership. There is time required to give the pet the attention necessary, cost involved with proper veterinarian support, space required in the house and any maintenance needed.

Although Pets are not for everyone, they can fill a void in the life of the owners, especially the elderly. The added benefit of adding to your health can make per ownership a fulfilling investment. At Touching Hearts at Home, pet care is one of the many services our trained caregiving staff can perform. Please visit us on the web at www.touchingheartswesttn.com to learn more about our services. We are licensed by the State and employ carefully selected caregivers who are insured and bonded and go through a comprehensive training program. We offer a free in-home consultation where we can assess the client’s needs and determine the proper plan of care. We are available anytime at 731-613-2526.

Advantages of One-on-One Companion Care

Sometimes life goes more smoothly when you have a companion.  Not only does one-on-one Caregiving give you someone to talk to, you also acquire a friend who can help you maximize the quality of your life. Sometimes as we age, we lose our friends, and when that happens, life can seem lonely and even unbearable. Everyone’s situation is different, so there is a not one that works for all, but adding a companion into your life can have many rewards.

Building a Relationship

Having a familiar face providing service in your home can build a relationship of trust and love. As with any type of relationship, your first experiences may seem a bit awkward and perhaps even uncomfortable. After all, you are total strangers and you will need time to get to know one another. You have your routine, and your specific approaches to all that takes place in your home. Even though the caregiving agency strives to understand your world prior to beginning service, it does still take some time for both you and the caregiver to get on the same page. But soon enough you will be very comfortable with your new companion.  Typically, it is not long before you become friends, and they become a shoulder to cry on,  a friend to laugh with, and an advocate to speak up for your needs.

And if your personality and that of the caregiver do not work together as needed, the Agency will make the appropriate changes to ensure you have the Caregiver that meets your specific needs. The advantage of having regular schedules is that it does allow for utilization of the same caregiver, or team of caregivers. With the same individual(s) in your home, you can’t help but build a relationship.

Remain in Familiar Surroundings

The fact that this person is coming into your home is perhaps one of the biggest advantages of in-home care. Rather than being uprooted, you get to remain in your home, a familiar place that is filled with your belongings and all your memories. Your life can be proudly shared with your caregiver, giving more meaning to the items you have hung on to. Knowing more about who you are is going to help your caregiver understand you and your needs even better.

By understanding you and your individual needs better, the quality of the service you receive will only increase. You will find yourself less burdened, no longer feeling you are carrying all the weight of your world alone. In addition, your family will have more peace of mind that,  not only are your needs being met, but also that you have a friend to rely on. This is especially beneficial if you are not blessed to have family living close by.

At Touching Hearts at Home, we work to enter inside your world to understand your needs. Next, we  develop a plan of care that is customized to meet your specific needs. We then match your needs and location with our pool of trained Caregivers to ensure the best possible match. Our Caregivers all embrace the “give-first” mentality that our business is all about. We are available from at least 4 hours through 24/7, and we will develop a specific schedule around your desires. We offer a free in-home consultation with no obligation. You can reach us anytime at 731-613-2526, and visit us on the web at www.touchingheartswesttn.com.

Depression May Contribute to Dementia

A large body of research has linked late-life depression to social isolation, poorer health and an increased risk of death. Now, a new study finds that depression is associated with subsequent vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, conditions poised to expand dramatically with the aging population.

The report, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, is a meta-analysis of 23 previous studies that followed 50,000 older adults over a median of five years. The researchers found that depressed older adults were more than twice as likely to develop vascular dementia and 65 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than similarly aged people who were not depressed.

“We cannot say that late-life depression causes dementia, but we can say it likely contributes to it,” said Meryl Butters, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a co-author of the paper. “ We think depression is toxic to the brain, and if you are walking around with some mild brain damage, it will add to the degenerative process.”

Previous research has shown that a history of depression is linked to a doubling of the risk that someone will end up with Alzheimer’s disease. But this is the first analysis to demonstrate an even stronger association with vascular dementia, a condition caused by strokes or other interruptions to blood flow in the brain.

This does not mean a causal relationship between depression and dementia has been established. Nor is there solid evidence yet that forestalling depression will prevent dementia.  So, what biological mechanisms might account for a relationship between depression and dementia? Some evidence suggests that people who are depressed produce high levels of the hormone cortisol, which in turn has an adverse effect on the hippocampus – a part of the brain responsible for new learning and short-term memory. Other evidence suggests that depression contributes to chronic inflammation that damages blood vessels and impedes blood flow to the brain, leading to the deterioration of neural networks.

Whatever the underlying mechanism may be, the implications for older adults are clear. If someone in later life develops depression, they should get early, aggressive treatment, and if they do so and recover, they should try to prevent recurrence.

While there is no guarantee that doing so will prevent dementia, treating depression in older adults at least improves one’s quality of life, reliving suffering and reducing other health risks.

At Touching Hearts at Home, we provide initial and on-going training on memory care with all our Caregivers. Dementia and Alzheimer’s is a serious and sad disease, but proper attention and trained care can make a large difference in managing the quality of life for those affected.  Touching Hearts at Home is state licensed, and employs Trained Caregivers who are bonded and insured for peace of mind. We can be reached at 731-613-2526 or on the web at www.touchingheartswesttn.com

Dementia’s Signs May Come Early

The man complained of memory problems but seemed perfectly normal. No specialist he visited detected any decline. “He insisted that things were changing, but he aced all of our tests,” said Rebecca Amariglio, a neuropsychologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. But about seven years later, he began showing symptoms of dementia. Dr. Amariglio now believes he had recognized a cognitive change so subtle “he was the only one who could identify it.”

Patients like this have long been call “the worried well,” said Creighton Phelps, acting chief of the dementias of aging branch of the National Institute on Aging. “People would complain, and we didn’t really think it was very valid to take that into account.” But now, scientists are finding that some people with such complaints may in fact be detecting early harbingers of Alzheimer’s.

Studies recently presented at an Alzheimer’s Association conference in Boston showed that people with some types of cognitive concerns were more likely to have Alzheimer’s pathology in their brains, and to develop dementia later. Research presented by Dr. Amariglio, for example, found that people with more concerns about memory and organizing ability were more likely to have amyloid, a key category called “subjective cognitive decline,” which is people’s own sense that their memory and thinking skills are slipping even before others have noticed.

“The whole field now is moving to this area, and saying maybe there is something to this, and maybe we should pay attention to these people,” said Dr. Ronald C. Peterson, chairman of the Advisory panel to the federal government’s new National Alzheimer’s Project.  Dr. Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s center, said preliminary results of a Mayo study of healthy older adults in Minnesota suggested something similar.

“Lo and behold, those who had a concern about their memory in fact had more likelihood” of later developing mild cognitive impairment, an early phase of dementia, he said. He said study participants with memory concerns were 56 % more likely to be given a diagnosis of such impairment, even when results were adjusted for factors like education, genetic risk and psychiatric issues like anxiety and depression.

“These people are sensing something, and there’s some biological signals that correlate,” Dr. Petersen said. “I think it is real”.