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healthy eating for seniorsIt’s challenging to create a diet that provides healthy eating for seniors when advice on proper diets seems to change from one moment to the next. We’d been told that saturated fats from sources such as butter, red meat and fried food were detrimental, but later research indicated there wasn’t enough proof that those who gave up these delicacies improved their heart health – and so, we were given the green light to choose butter over margarine once again.

Nonetheless, as described in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers now note that the lack of wonderful results when lowering saturated fats is probably related to equally bad dietary choices made in place of those fats – such as refined carbs. People who had replaced the saturated fats with more nutritional options, like whole grains and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, did lower their risk of heart disease by as much as 25%.

According to one of the researchers in this study, Adela Hruby, “We know that people don’t just drop 10% of their calories…and not replace them with other things. What they are adding in to replace what they’re not eating is really important.”

Research, led by Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was quite thorough, following the results of approximately 130,000 men and women over a period of thirty years. Tracking dietary choices and any heart-related conditions, it was determined that those who replaced saturated fats with carbohydrates were realizing a nearly equal risk of heart disease – a fact missed in previous studies that determined there was no benefit to cutting back on those saturated fats.

So what can we learn from all of this? Perhaps we’d be best served by not only reducing saturated fat, but by choosing healthy replacements over processed flour-based products and those with a high sugar content.

Cascade Companion Care in Mountlake Terrace, WA is also always on hand to plan and prepare meals that provide heart healthy eating for seniors. They’re not only nutritious, but delicious, helping seniors reduce their risk for heart attacks and disease. We can also help ensure that seniors are:

  • Making wise dietary choices, and can assist with picking up groceries so fresh, healthy foods are always readily available
  • Taking medications on time and correctly
  • Engaging in doctor-approved activity programs
  • Safely brought and accompanied to appointments with the doctor and other outings
  • And much more

Give us a call at 425-361-0044 to learn more.

Linda Senn on February 10th, 2017

elderly parentsCampaigns against bullying are everywhere these days. No longer can a rough and tough ten-year-old get away with teasing and tormenting his classmates; we’re now a zero tolerance society when it comes to bullying. However, is it possible there’s an alternative, less obvious kind of bullying going on – that of bullying elderly parents where we’re crossing boundaries with them through role-reversal by trying to parent our parents? Our parents may make different choices than we would, and that is OK. We should respect their choices as often as we can, keeping safety in mind of course.

Sometimes it can be hard to know where the line in the sand is between being a helpful care provider for parents and taking over for them in areas they can safely manage on their own. And added in, are often unsettled issues from childhood that can resurface – feelings of bitterness and resentment that may find their way into an adult’s caretaking decisions.

To illustrate, there are various areas of contention that often arise between senior parents and their grown children:

  • Medical related decision-making
  • Planning for end of life
  • Recommended safety modifications
  • Knowing when to stop driving
  • Managing finances

These tips can help diffuse sticky decision-making situations more respectfully and effectively:

  • Try negotiating a safer alternative for a worry like driving, such as driving only in the daylight and only on short, local trips.
  • Start with “easy to digest” suggestions that may be more acceptable to parents, like moving cords away from walkways, adding no-slip strips to the bathtub, or taping down rugs.
  • Keep in mind that your parents’ wishes should be respected as much as possible as long as safety is not compromised. Ask for their input without speaking down to them, and you’re more likely to work together for a successful outcome.
  • Put yourself in the elderly person’s shoes. How would you feel in a similar circumstance, and how would you want to be treated?
  • If there are health or safety concerns, however, don’t hesitate to contact a social worker or the senior’s physician.

And keep in mind that oftentimes, this type of serious discussion is often better received in the presence of a trusted medical professional or clergy member or through an objective third party. Need additional resources for softening the blow of tough topics so you don’t feel like a bully to your elderly parents? Contact Cascade Companion Care in Arlington, WA at 425-361-0044 for trusted, professional assistance in keeping your older loved ones safe, while allowing them to remain as independent as possible where they’re most comfortable – at home.

Alzheimer's TreatmentScientists are shedding some new light on strategies to potentially have an impact on Alzheimer’s disease: light therapy. The benefits of light are only just starting to be tapped into, and already are displaying some intriguing and encouraging results for new forms of Alzheimer’s treatment.

For instance, MIT researchers are testing a type of flickering light therapy, in which the visual cortex of mice is showing a temporary reduction of beta amyloid plaques. Although there’s no indication yet about how exactly this may correlate to human studies, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Another study having quite positive results in seniors with Alzheimer’s is exposure to light having a blue tint, that’s thought to help normalize the body’s circadian rhythm – resulting in better sleeping patterns. Dr. Guerman Ermolenko, a geriatric psychiatrist, and Mariana Figueiro from the Lighting Research Center at New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, tested the effect of blue light exposure during the daytime on a few patients with Alzheimer’s disease who were not able to sleep through the night.

After the blue light therapy, each of the treated seniors was once again able to sleep through the night. Interestingly, the thinking behind these effects comes from the theory that the bluish light imitates the blue sky, encouraging our circadian rhythm to be in wake-up mode, and that it may also increase our levels of melatonin during the evening – leading to more wakefulness during the daytime and a more restful night’s sleep.

A word of warning: some Alzheimer’s patients have become over-stimulated by being exposed to blue light. It’s necessary to carefully monitor seniors’ responses, and increase yellow light as necessary if negative effects are noticed.

At Cascade Companion Care in Arlington, WA, we’re aiding those in need of Alzheimer’s treatment and help, as well as the families who take care of them, with a selection of personalized services to enhance wellbeing. Our specially trained, patient and thoughtful caregivers offer family caregivers the ability to have a much needed break, knowing their older loved one is well cared for. We work hard to make sure aging adults are safe and living life to their highest potential at all times. Contact us at 425-361-0044 to learn more.

Linda Senn on January 15th, 2017

Heart Attack RecoveryWhen a heart attack strikes, as it will this year for many thousands of people, the countless ways their lives will change and the many questions they will have during heart attack recovery are overwhelming and exhausting. As with anything, the best defense is a good offense, and being prepared now can (literally!) help you save a great deal of heartache down the road.

Hopefully neither you nor your elderly family and friends will be impacted by a heart attack or heart-related illnesses, but just in case, it’s best if you write down and keep these questions handy for future reference:

  1. Will I have to give up activities I enjoy? After a period of recovery, it is most likely that you will be able to enjoy your favorite pastimes again. It’s important to let your doctor know about any activities, interests, and physical activity regimens you’d wish to return to, and she or he can help you work towards that objective.
  2. What eating modifications may be called for? It’s important to consult with the physician to create a dietary plan that’s not simply heart-healthy, but one that you will stick with long-term. Keeping salt and fat to a minimum is important, but does not mean you necessarily should avoid them altogether.
  3. How can my loved ones help? Select a number of responsible loved ones and friends to help hold you accountable to your lifestyle changes, and to give you support emotionally as you adapt to these changes.
  4. Will I be able to travel? There’s really no one answer that fits all when it comes to traveling when recovering from a heart attack. An overall rule of thumb is usually to steer clear of flying for at least two weeks after placement of a stent. Having a conversation with your cardiologist about when and where you’d wish to travel is always a good suggestion, to consider the risks vs. the benefits.
  5. What are the long-term effects I can expect? The objective, naturally, is to avert another heart attack, which means ongoing, regular medical appointments and testing. Following your doctor’s prescribed dietary and treatment plan will go a long way towards keeping you healthy in the future.

Cascade Companion Care in Arlington, WA provides specialized assistance and support to those recovering from a heart attack. This includes preparing heart-healthy meals, running errands such as picking up groceries and prescriptions, and providing encouragement with adhering to an exercise regimen. Call us any time at 425-361-0044 for further tips, resources, and in-home care services.

Respect for EldersSweetie, honey, dear – terms of endearment like these may very well be appreciated when spoken by our spouse or when said to our very young children, but how do senior citizens respond to them? In short, many are totally offended. And while doctors, restaurant staff, hair stylists as well as others may have great respect for elders and have the very best of intentions when linking these labels to seniors, the actual message is one of vulnerability, frailty, and inferiority.

And just as bothersome, or maybe even more so, is speaking over seniors to address their family members instead, just as if the seniors are not able to communicate competently.

There is another tendency – and again, it is generally well meaning – to try and take over tasks for the seniors, without recognizing they are often more than able to do things by themselves. Noticing a mature man or woman moving with a walking cane or walker, for instance, often results in someone nicely offering help. However, according to Judy Jellison Graves, a cancer and polio survivor, “It’s annoying when people feel like I need help with something I have no problem doing myself.”

Coined “elderspeak” or “ageism ”, this sort of conduct is even considered a form of bullying by Dr. Vicki Rosebrook, Executive Director of the Macklin Intergenerational Institute. “It’s talking down to them. We do it to children so well. And it’s natural for the sandwich generation, since they address children that way.”

Improving our view of elderly people is a nationwide need, starting with the impressions we pass on to the next generation. Research recently points to a very negative reaction to growing older by children from preschool through elementary school, who figured that becoming elderly would be “awful.”

The lesson for all those who interact with older adults? Exchange coddling and stereotypes with straight forward, genuine respect for elders. Cascade Companion Care is taking strides each day towards this particular end, by providing senior care to further improve independence and quality of life, with a focus on always maintaining dignity and individuality.

Our Washington home care services always start with the development of a customized care plan, bearing in mind each person’s needs, desires and interests, and that plan is modified ongoing as needs change. Contact our agency in Arlington, WA, at 425-361-0044 or contact us online if you’d like to explore a partnership with us to help your senior family member.

Family Home CarePick a senior, any senior, and you’re likely to hear the same sentiments: the vast majority of older adults agree that they’d prefer to spend their elder years at home over moving to a nursing home facility. However, there are a number of misunderstandings about who pays for senior family home care. Medicare? Medicaid? Insurance? The reality, per CPA Jerry Lowe, is, “For the most part, the clients who have home care are private pay.”

Although Medicare does cover home health care on a limited basis, if it’s deemed to be medically necessary, it does not cover homemaker services – and, most health insurance and Medicare supplemental plans don’t cover any sort of in-home care.

According to Rod Perkins, VP of insurance regulation of the American Council of Life Insurers, “Baby boomers have seen their parents have long-term care needs and weren’t prepared. And it’s not just an old-age product. You could need in-home care as a result of an accident.”

If you and your senior family members aren’t prepared to pay out of pocket for family home care, however, be assured that there are a few other avenues to explore, for example:

  • Veterans’ assistance (click here to check eligibility requirements)
  • PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly)
  • Long-term care insurance policies that specifically include in-home care services
  • Reverse mortgages
  • Organizations geared to help with certain needs, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, the ALS Association, and Easter Seals, may supply respite care vouchers
  • Community support, such as through religious organizations, the local Area on Aging, the United Way and area senior centers

The Benefits.gov site is also a great resource to determine which federal benefits you could be eligible for. And, get in touch with Cascade Companion Care in Arlington, WA, for further resources and assistance with making certain no stone is left unturned when considering providing family home care for your precious elderly loved ones. We’re skilled at checking out every possible avenue to help families find out any benefits for which their senior loved ones qualify. Allow us to help make professional in-home care services a real possibility for you! Call us today at 425-361-0044.

Senior HealthcareThe National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has reported that family caregivers are “routinely marginalized and ignored within the health care system.” With about 18 million family members providing healthcare assistance for senior loved ones, this report is alarming, as it points to the possibility that these seniors are at risk for harm due to possibly inadequate, uninformed family care.

Here’s what you can do to ensure you are seen, heard, and given the correct information and resources to help keep your elderly family member safe:

  • Be sure to list your name and phone number in your family member’s medical records as an emergency contact.
  • Inform your loved one’s medical professionals what you are and are not capable of handling with regard to his or her care.
  • Address the limits of your schedule – i.e. if your loved one may require care while you are away at work, outside care help must be arranged.
  • Ask for training in the senior’s specific health care requirements, such as dressing wounds or catheter care.
  • Search for and access resources such as disease-specific businesses, the local Area Agency on Aging, and a dependable professional home care agency for supplemental/respite care.

It’s also important to clearly understand HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations. There’s a common misconception that because of HIPAA, family members are not able to gain access to their older loved one’s medical records. The truth, however, is that as long as the senior has assigned someone to serve as durable power of attorney for healthcare information, it’s the duty of doctors and hospital personnel to share all medical records with that family member.

The bottom line? Make sure that you stand up for yourself and your family member. Richard Schulz of the University of Pittsburgh advises, “Advocate for your rights and make sure your caregiving contributions are recognized and supported to the extent they can be. You’re an important person in the health care system.”

Call on Cascade Companion Care at 425-361-0044 or contact us online for further useful information on providing the very best healthcare assistance for your senior loved one, as well as assistance in filling in the care gaps with fully trained and experienced in-home senior caregivers.

Linda Senn on December 11th, 2016

Pill OrganizersBecause seniors typically take anywhere from 15 to 18 different prescriptions on any given day, it isn’t hard to see how errors and skipped doses can occur, but were you aware of the health risks that happen because of those missed or incorrect doses? Enter the creation of the pill organizer: a simple way to organize medications by placing them each within the correct slots for the different days or times of the day. Problem sorted out, right?

But, research actually points to a far different outcome. Older persons comfortable with taking medications straight from the original packaging who changed to a pill organizer were overloaded with health issues, including falls, hypoglycemia, and in one case, an individual unable to get out of the tub until eventually a rescue 12 hours later.

The research involved 29 aging adults over age 75 who were not using pill organizers and were, unintentionally, not taking their prescriptions as directed by their physicians. For 60 days, half of the seniors began using a pill organizer, while the other half continued taking their prescriptions as they always had.

Interestingly, it was the seniors who had begun to use pill organizers (who hadn’t previously used them) who were the ones to experience health concerns. The theory behind these results was that the seniors were skipping doses or taking their prescriptions incorrectly prior to using the pill organizer, and were then having to deal with negative effects from taking full doses of their medications after using the pill organizer.

Lead researcher Dr. Debi Bhattacharya stresses the need for those getting ready to change to a pill organizer to first discuss with their physician or pharmacist to verify dosage amounts. And she explains, “People who are already using a pill organizer without any ill effects should not stop using it as they do seem to help some patients take their medication as prescribed. It’s the switching stage which appears to be the danger.”

Cascade Companion Care of Arlington, WA can help with medication reminders to confirm aging adults take prescriptions when they are supposed to, can help with transportation to get prescriptions, and assist with noting any negative medication effects that can be reported to the physician immediately. Give us a call at 425-361-0044 for critical assistance with keeping your senior loved one safe and healthy.

Alzheimer’s CaregiversAs care providers, we’re always thrilled to share the latest developments in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease, but nothing has looked quite so promising as the latest: aducanumab. In its first medical study, experts noticed a large decline in the amount of amyloid plaque in the patients’ brains, and even more interesting, “This is the first antibody tested where the people who had the greatest removal of amyloid from their brains also saw the greatest stabilization of their clinical decline,” according to Dr. Adam Boxer of the Memory and Aging Center at the San Francisco University of California.

Unlike existing treatment options with limited and short-term effects, aducanumab’s halting of further memory loss offers an unprecedented level of hope – and may be available to patients in as early as five years. The aim will be to assist those who are known to be at risk for developing Alzheimer’s before the start of symptoms.

As exciting as these developments are, we know as Alzheimer’s caregivers that there are potential problems to tackle. When the highest dose of the drug was given in the initial tests, some brain bleeding and swelling occurred. The next trials will include a larger amount of participants, for a longer amount of time, and careful evaluation of risks vs. benefits.

Currently having an impact on as many as 5.3 million Americans, and proposed to increase to an estimated 16 million by the year 2050, the consequences of Alzheimer’s disease are devastating. One in three seniors dies with some form of dementia, and at this point it’s the only cause of death within the top ten in our country without a cure or prevention.

If that weren’t troubling enough, the financial burden is harmful to our nation: $236 billion in 2016 alone, with half of that cost attributed to Medicare – which is expected to grow to an amazing $1.1 trillion by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

At Cascade Companion Care, it’s our dream as caregivers to see the day when the struggles of Alzheimer’s disease become a memory. But for the time being, we’re here with patient, professional dementia care, provided by trained caregivers who bring improved quality of life and well-being to Alzheimer’s patients. Whether help with care is needed, such as transportation and errand-running, bathing and dressing, light housework and laundry services, or just a kind, patient companion to encourage the senior to perform to the greatest of his or her ability, Cascade Companion Care can assist.

Give us a call at 425-361-0044 or contact us online for more information and caregiver resources, or to allow us to share more about how we can walk beside you and your loved one throughout the stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia SignsMom seems to be a tiny bit puzzled lately. A couple weeks ago, she mistakenly used salt rather than sugar in her legendary chocolate chip cookie recipe. She called the puppy by my sister’s name. And she misplaced her handbag, only to find it in the medicine cabinet. Is it feasible she’s developing Alzheimer’s disease or a different sort of dementia?

Although there are various other possible reasons behind dementia-like indicators and symptoms like these – medication side effects or depression, for example – these kinds of signs help doctors evaluate if dementia may be the most likely culprit:

  1. Mental functioning deficits – determined by communicating with both the person and people closest to her, accompanied by cognitive screening.
  2. Changes in previously mastered abilities – comparing the ability to perform tasks that were once easily accomplished against new difficulties.
  3. Troubles with functions of day to day life – assessed through concerns expressed by close relatives.
  4. Various other physical conditions – reviewing underlying situations that could bring on delirium, which imitates dementia, such as infections, thyroid issues, electrolyte imbalances, and more.
  5. Mental history – a comprehensive analysis of mental problems that may come into play, which include depression or schizophrenia.

Should your family member be identified as having these dementia signs, call Cascade Companion Care in Arlington, WA at 425.361.0044 or contact us online by clicking here. Our compassionate, skilled dementia health care team is prepared to assist.