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How to Know it May be Time for Hospice

Watching someone you love suffer from Alzheimer’s or another memory debilitating illness is incredibly difficult, and it can be even more challenging to decide when it’s time to consider hospice care. Our latest video discusses the following five signs that indicate it may be time for hospice for an Alzheimer’s patient.

1. Physician determines they are at or beyond stage 7 of the Functional Assessment Staging Scale

The Functional Assessment Staging (FAST) Scale is a tool used to determine if changes in a patient’s condition are related to Alzheimer’s disease or another condition. If due to Alzheimer’s, the changes will occur in sequential order. Alzheimer’s disease-related changes do not skip FAST stages.  

2. Unable to ambulate independently

This means a person is no longer able to get around on their own. For example, they require assistance getting from room to room.

3. Requires assistance to dress or bathe

Without assistance, you may notice they put their shoes on the wrong feet or their day-time ‘street’ clothes on over their pajamas. They are also unable to bathe without assistance.

4. Becomes incontinent

This includes urinary or fecal incontinence or both.

5. Unable to speak or communicate

This may begin as the patient only saying 5-6 words per day and gradually reduce to only speaking one word clearly until they can no longer speak or communicate at all. This will also include the inability to smile.

Why Choose Hospice

Hospice care is for patients with a life limiting illness and a life expectancy of six months or less. The main focus is to manage pain and symptoms and ultimately keep the patient comfortable. When you choose hospice for your loved one, their care team can help you to understand what to expect in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. They will also provide support to you and the rest of your family throughout the end-of-life process. If you would like more information on hospice care for Alzheimer’s patients, please contact us. We are here to answer any questions you may have.

Changes in Communication

As Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month continues, we want to discuss a very important topic- communication and Alzheimer’s. As the disease progresses, a person’s ability to communicate gradually diminishes. Changes in communication vary from person to person, but there are several common issues you can expect to see, including difficulty finding the right words and organizing words logically.

Effective Communication

If someone you love is living with the disease, you know it can be challenging at times to communicate with them. The video above discusses the following ten tips for effectively communicating with your loved one.

  1. Never argue. Instead, listen.
  2. Never reason. Instead, divert.
  3. Never shame. Instead, distract.
  4. Never lecture. Instead, reassure.
  5. Never say ‘remember.’ Instead, reminisce.
  6. Never say ‘you can’t.’ Instead, remind them what they can do.
  7. Never say ‘I told you.’ Instead, just repeat.
  8. Never demand. Instead, just ask.
  9. Never condescend. Instead, encourage.
  10. Never force. Instead, reinforce.

Help Make Communication Easier

In addition to these tips, there are steps you can take to help make communication easier, including:

You also want to encourage the person to communicate with you. You can do this by doing things like holding their hand while you talk and showing a warm, loving manner. It is also important to be patient with angry outbursts and remember that it is just the illness talking.

If The Person is Aware of Memory Loss

Since the disease is being diagnosed at earlier stages, many people are aware of how it is impacting their memory. This can make communication even more sensitive because they may become frustrated when they are aware of the memory loss. Here are some tips for how to help someone who knows they have memory problems.

Additional Resources

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and how it impacts communication, visit the links or reach out to the contacts below:

** NIA Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center

800-438-4380 (toll-free)

adear@nia.nih.gov

 

** Family Caregiver Alliance

800-445-8106 (toll-free)

info@caregiver.org

 

** Alzheimer’s Association

LGBTQ Aging

A 2020 Gallup study observed Americans’ identification as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), by generation. The findings report that only 1.3% of the Traditionalist generation (born before 1946) and 2.0% of Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) identify as LGBT. This number increases dramatically over the generations, reaching 15.9% for Generation Z (born 1997-2002). The question is – does the higher percentage of younger Americans reflect a true shift in sexual orientation? Or is it simply reflecting a greater willingness to identify as LGBT?

Although those who make up the younger generations were born into a world where huge progress has been made in the gay rights movement, the older generations of the LGBTQ community experienced much less accepting times. It wasn’t until 1961 that Illinois became the first state in the United States to get rid of its sodomy law. It then took another ten years before 20 more states followed their lead. So even though Traditionalists and Baby Boomers were around to witness the progress that has been made, many may still have the mindset that society will not accept them for who they are.

It is this fear of discrimination that may play a part in their hesitation to seek the help and support they need as they near the end of their life. As a result, the LGBTQ community has been historically underserved by hospice. A 2011 study reported that 20% of LGBTQ seniors that were surveyed did not even reveal their sexual orientation to their primary physician for fear of discrimination. Beyond hospice services for the patient, their grieving partner often misses out on bereavement support as they care for their partner in their final months and days.

Resources for the Aging LGBTQ Community

Hospices are now working harder than ever to understand the specific needs of the aging LGBTQ community and to do all they can to accommodate those needs. The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is a resource center focused on improving the quality of services and support offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender older adults. Their website includes resources that cover a variety of topics, including end of life decisions. You can also use the interactive map to find resources in your area.

No one should miss out on the benefits of hospice care for any reason, especially for fear of discrimination.

Happy Pride Month!

June is…

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. This month-long celebration provides the opportunity to focus on raising awareness for the 50 million people worldwide living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. It causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you notice any of these ten signs and symptoms:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

Visit the website for the Alzheimer’s Association for more information on these signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for.

Take Action

There are several ways to get involved in Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month! On June 20th, join the cause by celebrating ‘The Longest Day’ through a fundraising activity of your choice! There are a variety of ways to get involved, including virtually and in-person.

So put on your purple gear, share your story of why you go purple, and join the fight to #EndAlz!

Soak Up the Sun…Safely

Summer is just around the corner, which mean barbeques, swimming, and SUN! And while most of us enjoy getting outside and soaking up a little Vitamin D, it is important to remember to be safe when heading outside into the sun. Per the American Academy of Dermatology Association, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and unprotected UV exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. With that being said, it is important to follow these three steps to protect your skin:

Signs of Skin Cancer

Finding skin cancer early, before it has spread, makes it much easier to treat. If you know what to look for, you can often spot warning signs early on. Doctors recommend checking your own skin about once a month using a full-length mirror in a well-lit room. You can also use a hand mirror to check areas that are harder to see. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, while basal and squamous cell skin cancers are more common but are usually very treatable. The American Cancer Society’s website discusses these types of skin cancers and what to look out for.

Melanoma

Use the “ABCDE” rule to look for some of the common signs of melanoma:

Basal Cell Carcinomas

These types of skin cancers typically grow on parts of the body that get the most sun, such as the face, head, and neck. However, they can still show up anywhere. Here is what you should look for:

Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Similarly to basal cell carcinomas, these typically grow on the parts of the body that get the most sun but can appear anywhere. You should look for:

Talk to Your Doctor

Although these are good examples of what to look for, some skin cancers may look different than these descriptions. It is important to talk to your doctor about anything you are concerned about, such as new spots and other skin changes.

Better Hearing and Speech Month Facts

Each year, Better Hearing and Speech Month in May provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and other hearing and speech problems. The event also serves as a reminder to people to get their hearing checked. Early identification and intervention is very important, and getting your hearing checked is the first step!

According to the CDC’s website, the World Health Organization’s first World Report on Hearing found that:

  • Noise is acknowledged as an important public health issue and a top environmental risk faced by the world today
  • Over 50% of people aged 12-35 years listen to music via personal audio devices at volumes that pose a risk to their hearing
  • Keeping the volume below 60% is a general rule of thumb for safety
  • You should consider using noise cancelling earphones or headphones rather than turning the volume up
  • Listening through personal audio devices should not exceed 80dB for adults or 75 dB for sensitive users, such as children, for 40 hours per week

Building Connections

“Building Connections” is the theme for 2021! You can find a variety of resources, broken down by week, on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website. Week 4’s focus is “Summer Skill Building, Hearing Protection for School-Aged Children.” Below are some examples of the resources available. Be sure to check out the ASHA’s website for more!

Early Identification

And remember to get your hearing checked as a first step in addressing any potential issues. Early identification is important!

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder for which there is currently no cure. However, there are many different treatment options to manage symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms

Symptoms typically develop slowly over the years, but this can vary from patient to patient. While one of these symptoms on their own is not cause for concern, you should contact your doctor if you are experiencing more than one.

Living with Parkinson’s

It can be challenging to live with Parkinson’s, but – in addition to working with your doctor and following recommended therapies – there are things you can focus on to help maintain your quality of life, including:

Raising Awareness

In honor of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, the Parkinson’s Foundation invites you to take the #KnowMorePD quiz to see how much you know about the disease. Anyone who takes the quiz during the month of April will be entered in a weekly drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. At the end of the month, one grand prize winner will receive a new Kindle Paperwhite pre-loaded with 12 of the foundation’s educational books on PD.

Resources

You can find an abundance of resources on the Parkinson’s Foundation’s website, including, advice for newly diagnosed, living alone, and Veterans and PD.

Personalize Your Plate with National Nutrition Month® 2021

This year’s theme of “Personalize Your Plate” emphasizes the importance of understanding there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to nutrition and health. We are all unique and our approach to healthy living should be, too!

Creating healthy eating habits can be a daunting task, with an overwhelming amount of information thrown at us, the latest eating trends, and buzz-worthy ingredients. However, good nutrition really is all about having a well-rounded diet.

Nutrition Made Simple

Keeping in mind that we all have different nutrition goals which require different approaches, the CDC website provides the following four general tips for working towards a well-rounded diet:

  1. Add healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, olives
  2. Reduce overall sodium intake – start by reading ingredient labels and recipes to find alternatives to sodium
  3. Increase fiber for digestion
  4. Aim for a variety of colors on your plate during every meal

Test Your Culinary Skills!

National Nutrition Month® is the perfect time to learn new and healthy recipes! With the internet at our fingertips, there are endless resources available to you. Most recipes include the nutrition information at the bottom that will help you to determine if the recipe meets your nutritional needs.

For those of us who just don’t know where to begin, there are meal kit services like ‘Hello Fresh’ and ‘Blue Apron’ that delivers recipes and the necessary ingredients to your home based on your nutritional preferences at a frequency of your choosing. These services can be a great starting point and helpful resource in a busy world where we don’t always have the time to dedicate to planning our meals.

If you are still lost on who to turn to for help, Registered Dietician Nutritionists can assist with developing a customized plan tailored to our unique bodies and nutritional needs.

So let’s use National Nutrition Month® as motivation to put our healthiest foot forward and strive for a well-rounded diet. And remember to Personalize Your Plate!

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