All posts by Hillary Hollman

Traveling as a Senior: Helpful Travel Tips

Written by Jeff Smith

Traveling can be complicated at any age, from packing the right clothes to printing flight tickets to making a schedule that everyone enjoys. Traveling as a senior has even more complications. Seniors have the added stress of needing to remember medications, packing important emergency documents, ensuring they get the proper care while they're traveling, packing and managing medical equipment, and taking special considerations based on their condition and their destination.

That being said, there is absolutely no reason why we can’t enjoy travel as we continue to age. As a matter of fact, it’s likely the best time of our lives to travel as often as possible. In the spirit of making senior travel simple without sacrificing any important health and luxury comforts, we put together this list.

Respite care is a useful service when traveling as a senior. Find out more about the services we offer, and the respite care Tampa families and Florida residents trust.

Packing Medications

Medications should be the first thing packed before any trip. Make sure that all of your prescriptions are filled, and you have enough medication to last the duration of the trip, with some extra for emergencies or delays. The last thing you want is to be stranded without important, potentially life-saving medication on hand.

Medication should be packed in the original pill bottle (with the prescription label). If for some reason bringing the original bottle isn’t reasonable, having the proper label is still a necessity. If something happens and you need to refill a prescription away from home for any reason, you will need proof. And TSA requires proper identification of your medications as well as you move through the airports.

Don’t Forget Important Documents

Important documents that seniors should never go on an extended trip without include things like: a medication list, full contact information for your primary care doctor in case of emergency, and an allergy list to be used in the event of medical treatments. It is also always advisable to travel with an additional paper copy of your photo id and passport, just in case you lose the originals.

Be Careful with Medical Equipment

Even simple medical equipment requires special consideration when packing for an extended trip. If you wear hearing aids be sure to replace the batteries before leaving home and bring additional spares. If you don’t already own a carrying case you should consult your doctor so you have somewhere safe to put spares.

If you rely on oxygen you should be sure to have a medical professional check your tank before leaving home. A leak or problem with the nose piece could put a serious damper on your trip, so it’s always best to make sure that problems never even present themselves.

It is also important to make sure you have spares and care supplies for more minor medical equipment like glasses and dentures. While it wouldn’t be a trip-ender, not having dentures for an entire trip wouldn’t make for a great time. It is recommended to bring two sets of anything you can, that way you always have a back up in case of emergency.

Airport vs. Car Travel

There is a substantial difference between traveling as a senior in the airport versus by car. Both come with a unique set of advantages and challenges.

The greatest advantage of traveling by airplane is...

  1. The overall time of travel between point A and your destination (point B) is much shorter.
  2. Cutting down on travel time is a great way to minimize the inherent risks of long trips
  3. Shorter travel time typically results in a much more comfortable journey
  4. Seniors also have access to restrooms for the majority of flights, so no pulling over for pitstops, and no discomfort from holding it in.
  5. Traveling by plane is safer overall. Car traffic-related incidents happen significantly more often than flight-related incidents.

Traveling by airplane does come with a set of disadvantages as well, however:

  1. Potential severe discomfort some seniors can feel when rapidly changing elevations.
  2. The shift in air pressure can cause pain, especially in individuals that have sinus issues.
  3. Pressure shifts have even been known to cause issues with pacemakers.
  4. Flying for extended periods also inherently means sitting for extended periods, if you are the type of person that needs to stretch every-so-often, or is prone to blood clots, flying may be a no go.
  5. The largest disadvantage is transporting medical equipment if you need to. Traveling with oxygen, spare batteries, additional electronics, or even pacemakers can cause trouble not only with TSA but also with your equipment.

Traveling by car, on the other hand, is a great way to make sure you can be fully packed and supplied for any journey. Some benefits of car travel as a senior are:

  1. It is easy to pack spare medical equipment and ensure that it is well taken care of since it’s sitting a few feet away from you. You can also pack other comforts that you might have had to leave behind when packing light for a flight.
  2. Changes in elevation and air pressure are far more gradual when traveling in a car as well, so they are a non-issue.
  3. You can also stop and stretch your legs as often as you’d like, so the stiffness or blood clot dangers involved with long flights aren't an issue when driving.

Then again, trips in cars do have some downsides:

  1. Traveling by car takes substantially longer than flying to your destination.
  2. Seniors often require frequent pitstops, and the amount of time spent driving without interruption is much lower.
  3. Longer trips mean amplified levels of risk of health issues developing and overall discomfort.

At the end of the day it is up to you and your family to decide which travel option is best for you and your specific needs.

Pack for Your Destination

Packing for your destination is valuable travel advice for anyone, regardless of age. Seniors should especially make sure they are properly packed for the weather where they are traveling. Check annual weather patterns and check the weekly forecast before packing to ensure you have clothing packed for the full range of potential temperatures. The last thing you want to do is step off the plane in Florida ready for fresh fall weather, only to discover there is a warm front and the temperatures will be up to the 90s again, and all you have is sweaters! Not only is it generally uncomfortable, it can be downright dangerous for seniors.

If you or a loved one would like help preparing for travel, or you are interested in a consultation to gauge travel readiness, we can help. We refer qualified and compassionate care providers who can help with many different services to help your loved one feel safe and happy when traveling, including respite care in Tampa. For more information about our services and coverage area, contact us to speak with a Client Care Liaison.

Preparing your Senior for a Hospital Discharge

preparing a senior for a hospital discharge

Is your senior loved one facing a hospital discharge?

After a hospitalization or stay in a medical facility, older adults often need additional care in order to have a full recovery. A successful hospital discharge, and subsequent in-home care support, helps older adults stay on track with their their recovery, and regain health and independence.

So what does being discharged really mean for someone’s health? We have gathered some information to help you understand what a successful discharge is, why many seniors aren’t prepared to leave the hospital, how a discharge checklist improves recovery, and how to get seniors to accept the continued help they need.

What does a hospital discharge really mean?

When someone is discharged (released) from the hospital, or a short-term stay in a facility, it means their doctor (and/or nurses) have determined that they’ve recovered enough to no longer need hospital-level care. It doesn’t mean they’re fully recovered.

Even though the older adult is able to leave the hospital or facility, they will still need additional care at home to recover. They might even need an intense level of care for weeks or months.

Depending on the needs of the older adult upon discharge, and the doctor’s plan of care, an in-home care company can match your loved one with a care provider(s) to come to their home and assist them with recovery.

Why aren’t some seniors well prepared for a hospital discharge?

A successful discharge means that the older adult leaves the hospital and continues their recovery without any major problems or returns to the hospital. This should be the goal of every discharge.

However, hospital discharge nurses are often loaded with many cases, meaning they are unable to spend a lot of time helping patients and families understand everything they need to know about post-hospital recovery.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure you and your elderly loved one have all the necessary information before leaving the hospital. It is also important to find an in-home care company that you trust to become your advocate during this time and to assist with transition and recovery.

How can a discharge checklist help your loved one recover?

During your loved one’s stay at the facility, their doctor and staff will work with you to plan for their discharge. You can use this checklist to prepare. Talk to your loved one’s doctor and the staff (like a discharge planner, social worker, or nurse) about the items on this checklist. Check the box next to each item when you have completed it, skip any that don’t apply to your loved one’s situation, and take additional notes as necessary. An in-home care provider can help you with many of these items, and to make sure the transition out of the facility goes smoothly.

Your Discharge Checklist:

What's Ahead?

◊ Ask about care options after discharge. Make sure in-home care is an option.

◊ Prior to discharge, contact the in-home care company to get a care provider that is right for your loved one’s needs. Make sure you have help arranged BEFORE discharge.

Your Loved One's Health

◊  Ask about problems to watch for and what to do about if they arise. Get an emergency contact at the hospital.

 ◊  Create a drug list for all prescriptions, over-the-counters, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Share this with hospital staff and caregivers.

◊  Ask if your loved one is ready to do these activities. Circle the ones they need help with:

  • Bathing, dressing, toileting
  • Climbing stairs
  • Cooking, food shopping, house cleaning
  • Getting to doctors’ appointments
  • Managing prescription drugs

Recovery and Support

◊  Ask if you’ll need medical equipment (like a walker). Who will arrange for this? Get a contact in case you have questions about equipment.

◊  Ask the staff to give your care provider a detailed plan of care and written discharge instructions for your loved one.

◊  Ask the staff to show you any tasks you might be able to perform yourself to help your loved one remain comfortable.

◊  Ask to speak to a social worker if you’re concerned about how you and your family are coping. Write down information about support groups and other resources. Social workers can also help you understand your payment options for in-home care.

◊  Create an appointments page to write down any appointments and tests your loved one will need in the next several weeks. Bring the drug list and discharge instructions with you to all appointments.

American In-Home Care and our sister companies can help you or your loved one prepare for a hospital discharge, and be comfortable during the transition. We have a special package called the Welcome Aboard package that specifically assists patients who are discharging from a hospital or facility, and are on their way back home. Contact us today for more information.

 

How to Avoid Hovering & Smothering Your Aging Parents

home health agency St. Petersburg

Helicopter Parenting is a buzzword that has been gaining more attention recently. Studies have shown that this method of constantly hovering can have developmental impacts on children, and it often leads to children becoming frustrated and lashing out. So what does it mean to be a Helicopter Child, and how can you avoid hovering and smothering your aging parents?

What does it mean to be a helicopter child?

Just like when parenting, adult children can sometimes have the helicopter tendency to constantly hover around their aging senior parents. While they have the best intentions, this method of controlling and hovering can often cause more problems than it solves. Caring for a senior loved one is similar to caring for a growing child in many ways. There is a fine line between being an appropriately concerned caregiver, and one that is overly worried, controlling, and smothering. The best rule of thumb is if your senior parent can still function on their own, you shouldn’t limit them or nag them to try to slow them down.

It is easy for humans to start feeling paternal or maternal when they take on responsibility for someone else’s care, even if the individual they are caring for is their own parent. Often, adult children can unknowingly start treating their parents like children, telling them “Don’t do that” or “You have to do this.” Most senior parents don’t handle the concept of their children taking on a parental tone with them very well, especially when it comes to making decisions about their independence.

How can you provide support without becoming a helicopter child?

When your parents start to age, it is natural and important to step in to be a bigger part of their life, offering help when necessary. However, you should be wary about imposing your will forcefully, unless it is clear that your aging parent is losing his or her physical or mental functions completely, or is in real danger of hurting themselves.

For example, if your mother doesn't want to wear her hearing aid because it bothers her, and she feels like she can hear well enough without it, don’t constantly push and pester her to put it in. However, if the situation could be dangerous - i.e. your father is starting to have serious issues going up and down steps, and you are seriously concerned about their safety because of a fall -  then it's time to take action and gently enforce a responsible decision.

Adult children of aging parents should always ask themselves if they are intervening to legitimately improve or maintain their parent's well-being, or if they are doing it for themselves, to alleviate their own worries. You might feel much more comfortable about the safety of your aging parent if they are under 24-hour observation, but is it truly required? Remember that independence is incredibly important to aging with dignity and happiness. So, while you should absolutely feel comfortable being more involved in your parent’s care and well-being, you shouldn’t smother them or remove unnecessary independence. If mom or dad can still garden, drive, and get themselves out of bed in the morning then they really shouldn’t be limited, and chances are they would resent you trying.

The In-Home Care Decision

A certified care provider can help seniors maintain their independence and safely do the things they love, while offering support and reassurance to their families. If you or a loved one believe that a certified care provider would be right for your circumstances, contact us today. We refer qualified, screened care providers that are compassionate and ready to help. Contact us to schedule your free in-home consultation to discuss options for home and respite care in Tampa and surrounding areas from 14 offices across the state of Florida.

A Nursing Story: Nurses Week 2018

home health Clearwater

Written by Jeff Smith

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and runs through May 12th  - over the course of 7 days, a huge range of events are put on across the U.S. to honor nurses. The celebration ends each year on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, the woman who is credited as being the founder of modern nursing.

For the past 16 years, nursing has been rated the most honest and ethical profession, so this week is when we show appreciation for everything nurses do for us and our loved ones. Hospitals and facilities all over the nation offer special gifts of appreciation to their nursing staff. Nurses are also extremely important to the in-home care industry, and to show appreciation for nurses and all that they do, we are going to share one story that highlights one of these incredible people to help show what makes nurses so special.

The Inspiration of Nursing

Cheryl spent 20 years traveling the world with her husband while he was active duty in the Navy. They had three children during those years - all of which grew up as Navy babies - living in multiple cities and countries, and always on the move. Cheryl cleaned the house, made dinner, took the kids to school. She held a constantly moving home together with the sheer power of her maternal love on a single income, in foreign lands, without her family back home to lean on.

So, what does a woman with so much love to give do when they come back home, after 20 years of being her family's rock? She becomes a nurse of course! Cheryl got her CNA license not long after returning home to Okeechobee, a small town in Florida, and began working at a local nursing home. She supplied compassionate care to every single patient she met, but she realized that her ability to help was being limited by her license as a CNA, she wanted to do more, so she immediately began pursuing her nursing degree. Cheryl had truly found her calling in caring for others.

What Nurses Are Made Of 

Being a mother of 3 while living 45 minutes out of town and holding down a full-time CNA job isn’t easy. Add in nursing school, and it’s a miracle that she managed to make it through, but at no point did Cheryl ever show her stress. The sheer force of will required for a woman to go through the pressure she was going through, all while never missing a single little league game, opportunity to go above and beyond for a patient, or nursing class is staggering. She did it because she is a nurse, and that’s the kind of stuff that nurses are made out of.

One of the single proudest moments of her life, and for good reason, is the day she graduated nursing school. The pay was obviously a huge bonus, especially for a 5-person family, but more than anything she was finally empowered to give even more care to her patients. Cheryl has been a full-time RN for over a decade now, and she has never wavered on her dedication to caring for every single patient that walks through the door of the facility she is in. She has worked at a nursing home, home health company, and the local hospital in various roles including the admin role she is in now.

A Nurse's Love

Cheryl has more cringe-worthy medical stories than anyone probably should, the kind that nurses share like badges of honor. She’s seen enough blood, vomit, and various other fluids to last a lifetime, and dealt with enough people to give a licensed psychiatrist a run for their money. All of these things might make the job seem like a chore, but Cheryl loves her job and loves that she is has worked her way to be the veteran nurse that doctors consistently call on, and other nurses come to for advice. She has worked hard to be where she is today, however, one thing hasn’t changed from the start.

The one constant that has always stood from the moment she decided to get a CNA certification to the dedicated position she holds now, is a nurse’s love. Nobody is beyond saving, and every single patient deserves the type of care that only a nurse can provide. But she is so much more than just a nurse at the local hospital. She’s the medical journal for her entire extended family, the matriarch that everyone comes to for everything from a stubbed toe to a hernia, and everyone’s go to “does this look a rash” person. She is a nurse in the truest form, and an incredible, dedicated, and caring individual.

Thank You Nurses!

Women and men like Cheryl exist in the nursing field all over the world, people that place the wellbeing of others in front of their own. Pulling back-to-back-to-back 12 hour shifts to make sure that their patients get the care they need. As inspiring as her story is, it is one that been repeated a thousand times over by others in her field. It’s not a matter of coincidence that incredible men and women across the world find themselves in nursing. It is a profession absolutely filled with strong, beautiful souls.

The truth is, nursing could not be done by anyone else, so we should thank our lucky stars every day that people with the capacity for this type of compassion exist. This National Nurses Week be sure to thank a nurse for everything they do!


If you or your loved one believe that a certified care provider would be the correct fit for your circumstances, contact us today. We refer qualified, screened, care providers that are compassionate and ready to help. Contact us to schedule your free in-home consultation to discuss which care options are right for you and your family.

A Grandmother's Diagnosis with Parkinson's Disease

elderly care Jacksonville

Written by Jeff Smith

Neurological diseases - such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s disease- affect millions of Americans every year, and are particularly common amongst seniors, often (and unfortunately) leading to a loss of independence and lowered quality of life.  However, maintaining a high quality of life after you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a neurological disease is possible, especially with the help of a dedicated care provider.

As April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, we are going to share with you the personal story of Marie, a grandmother, who with the help of a qualified and compassionate care provider, regained her independence and quality of life, even with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

A Diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease

Marie began to feel the effects of Parkinson's shortly after her 70th birthday. At first, she noticed a slight tremor while brushing her teeth in the morning. She used to joke that she would never have to buy an electric toothbrush again. She was still getting around fine, watering her roses every morning, taking her grandkids to theme parks, and living completely independently at home. At this point, Marie didn’t even think of mentioning the occasional tremors to her doctor, she just chalked it up to getting older, and added it to the list of things she refused to let slow her down.

By her 71st birthday Marie started to feel a little slower and more rigid while she was going about her daily business. But even still, her roses never went a single day without pruning and watering, even though it took her much longer to make it outside. She still attended every single outing and theme park trip with her grandkids as well, she just needed a scooter occasionally. There was still no way to really tell, at least to the untrained eye, that her health had started declining due to Parkinson's disease.

At 72, Marie fell on the way to water her roses. She was going through the same motions she went through every day, but her shuffling gait and the overall muscle tightness she couldn’t shake finally got the better of her. She was in the ambulance within 15 minutes, and at the hospital within 30. She was wheeled out a day later, with the diagnosis of some superficial bruising and strains, with the underlying cause of Parkinson's disease. A diagnosis that was very hard for Marie to accept.

She was a woman that spent her entire life as a matriarch. She worked from age 13 until the day she managed to retire at 60. Marie didn’t know the meaning of the word “quit” and had never allowed life to hold her down. But now, she was facing off against a disease that took her control away - her independence had nearly vanished overnight.

The In-Home Care Decision

For the next month Marie lived with her daughter and grandchildren. Her grandson (now grown) remembers giving up his bedroom for his grandmother Marie to sleep in, but being happy to do it. He recalls that he didn’t really understand what was going on at the time, just remembering being excited that he got to see his grandma every day. He knows now how difficult that month of living in her grandchild's bedroom was for Marie, although she never let her family see her without a smile on her face.

However nice it was for Marie to have the support of staying with her family, her roses needed tending, her shelves needed dusting, and more than anything she needed her independence; to feel strong again. Her children first discussed potentially sending Marie to a Senior Living Community - her response to that discussion is the only time that her grandson ever remembered seeing his grandma cry.

She didn’t want to give up the life she had known and resign herself to a life of dependence for all of her remaining years. She knew that losing her independence by moving into a facility would shorten the amount of time she had to be with her family, and she knew that her quality of life would drop substantially. She wanted to live in the home that she and her husband had built together 40 years prior when they first got married.

After getting the scolding of a lifetime from Marie, her children decided to look into more options. There had to be a way that she could still be Marie, tending her garden and enjoying life with Parkinson's, without moving to a facility and giving up her independence and everything she held dear. Turns out there was: hiring a professional in-home care provider to help her live her life with Parkinson's at age 72 the same way she was living at age 65.

A Cherished Care Provider 

Over the next week, Marie had women and men in white coats and scrubs in and out of her house at what seemed to be a never-ending pace. Finally, she met Jenna, a care provider that was cherished by the whole family, even the grandchildren, as they recall that she gave them Cow Tails. With Jenna’s help, Marie regained her independence and quality of life in her own home.

Jenna helped introduce an exercise program as the first service to restore Marie's health living with Parkinson's. Along with a solid regimen of medication, the exercise and Jenna's dedicated care got Marie moving around the house on her own again within a month. Jenna even helped with some simple remodeling projects around the house to make everything more accessible and safe for Marie. After two months with her professional care provider, Marie was watering her roses every morning again. She was still a little shaky, but she was independent again.

Professional in-home care, and a dedicated care provider allowed Marie to live in true happiness during those years. Jenna didn’t do everything for her, instead of she created an environment where my grandma could thrive. Although Marie has since passed, her grandson shares that he knows his grandmother Marie was happy that she got to live her life, post-Parkinson's diagnosis, on her own terms, and he fully credits Jenna, their dedicated and compassionate care provider, for giving Marie that opportunity.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, like Marie, we can help. We refer qualified and compassionate care providers that can help with many different services to help your loved one feel safe and happy at home. Contact us to speak with a Client Care Liaison for more information 1-844-505-0004.

For more information about neurological diseases, please see our posts about ways to Lower Risks for Alzheimer’s, Increase Dementia awareness, and exercise regimens for people with Parkinson’s.

 

 

Spring Cleaning for Seniors

Written by Jeff Smith

It’s a time-honored tradition, every spring the closets get emptied, the trash bags and storage boxes come out, and the house gets turned upside down - spring cleaning. It’s a great way to welcome the warmer months with a fresh start and a clean house.

Spring cleaning is especially important as you age. Removing clutter and preventing your home from becoming overly crowded has an important impact on seniors' mental health. The positive mental effects of being in control of your surroundings should never be discounted.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin spring cleaning either for yourself or with an aging loved one:

1. Remove trip hazards

Many aging adults have spent their entire lives collecting various odds and ends, and they were often taught growing up to never throw out anything that might be useful. This mentality results in homes that can be stuffed to the brim and cluttered with potential trip hazards, especially for seniors that have a hard time getting around. A stray lamp wire, an extra lazy chair, or multiple rugs on the floor can easily cause a fall, which is one of the most dangerous risks to seniors. Any potential obstacles that aren’t easily navigated should be removed to make the home less dangerous to move around in.

2. Clean out the medicine cabinet

Another important task is cleaning out medicine cabinets and pill boxes. Also check anywhere else in the house that prescription medications could be kept. Medication that is no longer actively prescribed or that is expired should be disposed of immediately. It is hard enough for most seniors to sort through their daily medication without having to thumb through extra pill bottles and check expiration dates.

3. Go through the kitchen

Next step is to go through the refrigerator and kitchen cupboards. Throw out any expired foods or drinks to prevent potential issues with mold and bacteria. Organize the cupboard so that foods are easy for seniors to reach and to find. Also take this opportunity to make sure your loved one's kitchen is stocked with the proper nutritious foods.

4. Organize personal effects

Help your loved one go through their personal effects, keepsakes, mementos, and other important objects that they have kept over the years. As you sort through, enjoy reliving the memories together, and then create groups of the items, organizing the items into a group that your loved one would like to keep, and a group that they can give away to friends and family or sell. With the things they want to keep, go one step further and help them organize the items either to display safely in the home, or to store neatly in boxes that are labeled in a storage area.

5. Do the general cleaning routine

As you are going through the home, open and clean out as many cupboards and cabinets as possible, and remove as much general clutter as you can. On top of that, make sure that all of the smoke detectors have fresh batteries, store winter decorations and clothing, and go about all of the other standard deep cleaning activities.

Unfortunately, spring cleaning, like most physical activities, only gets harder as we age. That’s where a licensed care provider could come in handy. Professional care providers can help with various housekeeping and cleaning tasks including laundry, dusting, vacuuming, and most other simple requests. Plus, who better to assist you with disposing of old medication than a licensed professional? Professional care providers also understand how to best organize homes for maximum safety.

If you would like to explore additional assistance as an option for your loved one, American In-Home Care can help. We refer qualified and compassionate care providers that are matched directly with your loved one's personality and needs. Contact us today at 1-844-505-0004 to discuss your care needs.

AMD: Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Written by Jeff Smith

February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration month. We feel that it is important to bring awareness to this disease during this month and all months that follow because, like many age-related diseases, early detection is crucial to lessening symptoms and even preventing the disease itself. If you or someone you know suffers from AMD, it is important to be aware of any changes in your vision, and be proactive with regular trips to your eye doctor.

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Commonly referred to as AMD, age-related macular degeneration is a disease in the retinas of the eyes that affects more than 10 million Americans, and it is by far the most common cause of blindness in adults over the age of 55. AMD begins with blurred vision and progresses over time, with the blind spot eventually spreading to the rest of a person’s vision, causing total blindness.

AMD is primarily caused by genetics - researchers have found several genes with direct links to causing AMD. This has led to major breakthroughs in easing the symptoms created by the disease. Other risk factors include diet, smoking, too much bright light, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.

Dry AMD

90% of all AMD cases are classified as dry AMD, thankfully it is the milder form of the two possibilities. Dry AMD is caused by a buildup of protein and fat deposits underneath the retina, it is nearly impossible to detect aside from following the trends in your vision loss over a long period of time. Dry AMD doesn’t usually cause total vision loss, but it will make an individual’s vision noticeably worse, and could eventually lead to wet AMD.

Wet AMD

Wet AMD accounts for the other 10% of AMD cases. When suffering from wet AMD, an individual’s retina is flooded with blood and fluid from abnormal blood vessels - hence the title “wet” AMD. If dry AMD is ignored, wet AMD is often the result. Wet AMD progresses very quickly and can cause substantial and permanent vision loss if not treated in a timely manner.

Early Symptoms

The first obvious symptom of AMD is blurred vision when attempting to focus. You may notice that your peripheral vision is still perfect, but objects you are attempting to focus on directly are blurry. If your entire field of vision is blurry, you may be suffering from a number of other issues, including Glaucoma, but you should still get checked for AMD.

As AMD develops, straight lines may appear to warp or distort. A good way to test if this is happening to you is to look at a piece of wide ruled notebook paper. If the lines don’t look entirely straight, you may be showing early signs of AMD. Over time, the blurriness will began to give way to true blind spots in your vision, and after complete loss of central vision, the rest of your vision will likely follow. It is also common that if one eye is showing symptoms, the other eye is likely to follow.

Treating AMD

AMD is one of the most well-studied ocular diseases, which has led to some groundbreaking treatments that can help to prevent and reverse some of the damage caused by this terrible disease. While reversing total blindness is beyond the scope of any existing treatments, early detection and treatment of AMD can often result in extremely positive results. The most common treatments involve regular ocular injections to halt the growth of blood vessels that commonly cause AMD. However, medications like the AREDS Formulation, EYLEA, Lucentis, and Avastin are growing increasingly popular as preventatives and symptom relievers.

Realistically, the most important aspect of avoiding potential vision loss related to AMD is to stay proactive. Like most age-related health issues, avoiding the problem altogether or catching it early can result in little to no long-term damage. The rule of thumb is that any time you feel your vision is shifting, make a visit your eye doctor.

Your Heart, Your Health: American Heart Month

companion care jacksonville

Did you know that heart disease is by far the leading cause of death in the United States, even outranking cancer? In 2017 alone over 600,000 people died due to heart disease. That is 1,736 Americans a day, or an average of 1 death every 38 seconds.

While the first paragraph paints a pretty bleak picture of heart disease, it’s not actually as black and white as the numbers make it appear. Why is that? Because roughly 80% of ALL heart disease is entirely preventable with a proactive approach to heart health and proper education. In the other 20% of cases, heart disease is caused by genetics or other uncontrollable factors, but even those with genetic predispositions towards heart disease can minimize, and sometimes prevent issues related to their hearts.

What Causes Heart Disease?

Heart disease can include problems like heart failure, heart arrhythmia, and heart attack, and is defined by the heart beating ineffectively, causing poor circulation.  High blood pressure is a major contributor to heart disease, and actually causes most cases. Essentially, the higher your blood pressure is, the harder your heart has to work to effectively pump blood throughout your body. Sustained high blood pressure puts your heart through such significant stress that it often begins presenting symptoms that are irreversible if ignored.

Another major factor in developing in heart disease is atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup. Plaque buildup causes your artery walls to thicken and stiffen, which actively inhibits blood flow to your organs and tissues. Like high blood pressure, atherosclerosis is avoidable because it is typically caused by controllable factors like an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, being overweight, or smoking.

A portion of the population with heart disease and issues related to heart disease receive it through unavoidable genetic issues. However, even those with genetic predispositions towards heart disease can minimize, and sometimes prevent issues related to their hearts. It is also important to note, that the number of uncontrollable cases is much smaller than the number of heart disease cases that are entirely avoidable due to diet and lifestyle choices.

So how can you minimize or prevent your chances for developing heart disease by lowering blood pressure and plaque buildup? Follow these heart health tips:

Do More Physical Activity

Physical activity is a major focus of American Heart Month every year, and for good reason. Sedentary lifestyles mixed with dietary issues have led to a steadily growing global weight issue. While many people can lead happy and healthy lives no matter what their weight, studies have shown that being overweight drastically increases your chances of suffering from heart disease.

Exercise helps strengthen your heart against the every day wear and tear involved in serving as the center of your entire circulatory system. The more efficiently it can pump blood, the less likely it is that your heart will develop chronic issues. You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to improve your heart health either, just make conscious decisions to be physically active in your everyday life.

Here are some tips for adding more physical activity into your everyday life:

  • Long dog walks (this is great for your pup’s health as well!)
  • Move around the house while you’re on the phone.
  • Exercise in place during at least one episode of your favorite show at night.
  • Park further away from the store and walk the longer distance.
  • Take the stairs; skip the elevator.

Eat Heart Healthy

In a previous blog post on Preventing High Blood Pressure we mentioned the importance of a heart healthy diet for avoiding serious diseases, including heart disease. In that article diet and exercise are described as the closest you can come to a “magic solution” in relation to heart health. It is incredibly rare for anyone that is active and enjoys a healthy diet to experience heart related issues.

What does eating heart healthy really mean? Number one: reduce sodium intake. Sodium accounts for the majority of issues related to high blood pressure. An average American eats 3,400 mg of sodium every single day, that’s 1,100 mg higher than the FDA suggested daily average - which many say is too high already. One meal at a fast food restaurant is more than enough to place you well over your daily value of sodium.

Another important item to cut out is sugar. We know, sugar is the painful one to let go, everyone loves sugar; and it seems like nearly everything has sugar and sodium in it nowadays.  The USDA found that the average American eats nearly half a pound of sugar a day on average, that’s 150 pounds of sugar every year. Wow. But it’s easier to believe when you consider you can’t even eat something like a hamburger without taking in several grams of sugar. Sugar hides in most processed foods, and increases blood pressure, and has even been found to cause the liver to dump more harmful fats into the blood stream.

The USDA also found that Americans eat nearly 75 pounds of added fats and oils every year, and the ratio of healthy vs unhealthy fats consumed has gone in the wrong direction in the past several years, which can contribute to inflammation. Good fats are important to our health and should be consumed regularly - these fats are known as omega-3 fats and can be found in fresh fish and nuts and olive oils. Bad fats are called omega-6 fats and can be found in processed oils that coat many processed foods such as french fries, chips, burgers, etc. Diets that are disproportionately high in omega-6 fats cause plaque buildup and inflammation in major arteries, and leads to weight gain which can cause more problems related to heart health.

The guide below is a quick and easy reference point for a heart healthy diet.

Do Eat

  • Fresh fruits (NOT fruit juice)
  • Fresh veggies
  • Fish (omega-3 supplements are also good)
  • Nuts and Beans
  • Natural Oils (Olive, Coconut, Sesame) NOT vegetable oil or peanut oil

 

 Do Not Eat (In Excess)

  • Saturated Fats
  • Vegetable Oil and/or Peanut oil
  • Sodium
  • Fatty Red Meats
  • Sweets
  • Junk food i.e. chips, french fries, anything you can buy at the gas station convenience store
  • Soda/Alcohol

The most important message you should take away from American Heart Month is that you can take control of your heart health, and you can start today! You don’t have to start running marathons and shift your diet overnight, but do swap out a Big Mac for homemade fish tacos, and start taking the stairs and parking farther away at work, and you’re well on your way to a healthier heart.

If you or your loved one could use help preparing a heart healthy diet and getting active, consider bringing a qualified care provider into your home. American In-Home Care always refers qualified, screened, care providers that are compassionate and ready to help with services like meal preparation, diet monitoring, recording vital health data, and mobility assistance. Contact us at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free in-home consultation to discuss which care options are right for you and your family.

 

Upcoming Community Events in Florida!

Cure PSP Awareness & Memorial Walk

 

Saturday, March 10  |  10:30 AM - 1:30 PM  |  Frank Mackle Park, Marco Island, Florida

Cure PSP is a non-profit organization that helps families affected by rare, neurodegenerative brain diseases through education, support, and advocacy, along with educational programs for physicians, public awareness, and worldwide research efforts.

Help us support the CurePSP organization by joining us on Saturday, March 10th to walk! You can either join in the walk, or come to the event to support and enjoy other entertainment.

There will be a Silent Auction, Raffle Prizes, and Live Entertainment. Our American In-Home Care sister company, Advocate In-Home Care, will also have a booth set up.

Registration is $25 per person or $10 per student (Cash and check only at the event, credit cards accepted online). Registration includes lunch and t-shirt!

To register, donate, or for more information, go to:
www.swflpspsupportgroup.wixsite.com/swflsupportgroup

home health care tampa community walk