Eating Right for Seniors: Curbing the Sweet Tooth

elderly senior being brought meal by carer or nurseIt’s no secret that seniors like to eat sweets. Spend any time with a senior citizen and you’re likely to be offered candy, desert, or a cookie. While tasty forms of hospitality, this growing love of sugar among the elderly is the result of a natural human progression that we will all experience.

 

The sense of taste is directly correlated to the number and sensitivity of taste buds. Humans have between 10,000 and 15,000 taste buds at our best. However, as we age we lose taste buds and the ones we have left become increasingly less sensitive. As a result, sweets and salts take over our cravings as we try to get the same enjoyment out of eating. Unfortunately, these foods often come with increased calorie counts and greater amounts of fat. The lack of nutritional value in these foods can be particularly dangerous for a senior’s diet, putting them at risk for severe health concerns.

 

Our senior home care professionals experience this everyday while working to keep their patients eating healthy. It can be hard to curve the senior sweet tooth, but there are good tactics to keep them eating healthy while still enjoying the foods they eat. Below are some healthy snacks that make for great substitutes to sugary treats:

  • Cut fruit mixed with flavored yogurt
  • Applesauce with cinnamon
  • Seedless grapes with honey
  • Vegetables with nut butter dip

 

If a senior has trouble swallowing or digesting solids, a great solution is blended drinks. Preparing fruit smoothies can be a healthy treat that also has great nutritional benefits.

 

When it comes to preparing foods for seniors, it’s important to not deny them their cravings. It’s important to maintain a good balance of sugary treats with nutritional food options in a senior meal plan. With home care resources and professional caregiver support, Best Home Care helps personal care assistants and the family caregiver build healthy senior home care plans. Contact our Twin Cities home care professionals to learn more!

Eating Right for Seniors: The Warning Signs of Poor Nutrition

Five Things Every New Family Caregiver Needs to Know  - personal care providersWhether we realize it or not, the food we consume everyday impacts our overall health in major ways. While we typically associate poor eating habits with weight gain and obesity, poor nutrition can present itself in many different ways and intensify the severity of existing health conditions. This is especially true in the case of those receiving senior home care services over the age of 65.

 

According to FeedingAmerica.org, 1.2 million households with seniors living alone experienced food insecurity in 2014. Many times these seniors have the money to purchase food but were unable to access the resources or ability to prepare meals for themselves. As a result, food insecure seniors are at an increased risk for chronic health conditions:

  • 60% more likely to experience depression
  • 53% more likely to report a heart attack
  • 52% more likely to develop asthma

 

In-home supportive services from a trained personal care assistant or family caregiver can support the nutritional health of senior. A home caregiver must also be aware of the warning signs of malnutrition in seniors and know how to respond appropriately. Below are several common signs to look out for if you believe your home care patient or loved one is suffering from malnutrition:

 

  • Observe Eating Patterns and Habits: Keep a log of what and when the senior home care patient eats. Be sure to only list foods that were consumed. This will help you get a better understanding of what (if any) problem exists. Be sure to look for any significant gaps in meal times or lack of nutritional foods.
  • Watch for Weight Loss: Along with a meal log, track the patient’s weight on a daily basis. Depending on age, any significant weight loss may be an indicator of malnutrition.
  • Other Warning Signs: Wounds healing poorly and easy bruising are two other symptoms of malnutrition.

 

Being proactive is the best practice when providing senior home care services in order to prevent malnutrition from growing into a larger issue. The home care professionals at Best Home Care assist hundreds of PCAs as they provide at-home care for seniors in the Twin Cities. Contact our team to learn more about incorporating malnutrition prevention into your home care plan and find caregiving resources to help you provide the best home care possible.

Eating Right for Seniors: Nutritional Drinks

Home Care Plans, Home Care NutritionIt’s not uncommon for seniors to lose their appetite and begin eating less as they age. In fact, under-nutrition due to a lack of eating is one of the most common health concerns faced by seniors today. Not getting enough nutrients can lead to serious health issues and can make existing health problems even more severe.

 

To make it easier for seniors to get the appropriate nutritional intake, many nutritional drinks have popped up on the market. These nutritional supplements are meant to provide seniors with the nutrients they need in a convenient and tasty drink however, are these products right for everyone and what should home caregivers look for in a nutritional supplemental?

 

Below are several points that should be kept in mind when incorporating nutritional drinks into a senior’s home care plan:

 

Different People Have Different Nutritional Needs

Always consult with a doctor before incorporating regular nutritional drinks into a senior’s home care diet. It’s important to address what is causing the lack of appetite and understand what specific nutrients are needed most before selecting a drink.

Not to be Used as a Meal Replacement

While many nutritional drinks will market themselves as “meal replacements”, the nutrients found in regular food are vitally important for a senior’s diet. Instead of being the sole source of nutrients, a senior’s home care plan should treat nutritional drinks as a snack or dietary aid used in addition to regular meals.

Know Your Medications

Nutritional drinks have been shown to interact negatively with different medications. For example, vitamin supplements may have adverse effects when combined with blood thinners. Be sure to speak with a doctor before regularly consuming nutritional drinks to know if any medications you’re taking will interact negatively with the drink.

 

Nutritional drinks should be seen as a convenient way for seniors to get additional calories and nutrients, not as a meal replacement plan. Caregivers should take care to ensure that their at-home care clients are getting the majority of their nutrients through regular food.

 

The home care professionals at Best Home Care can help organize a meal plan for senior home care clients. Contact us to see how nutritional drinks can benefit your senior home care plan.

Eating Right for Seniors: Special Dietary Needs

Options for Senior Care“Eat your vegetables and drink your milk if you want to grow up healthy and strong.” We all remember hearing these words in younger days. However, for the older generations, this saying may be even more important. It should come as no surprise that as we age, a healthy diet becomes vitally important for our physical and mental health. Simply put, a nutritional diet for seniors promotes a better and longer life.

 

At Best Home Care, our personal care assistants understand the importance of a nutritional diet in a senior home care plan. Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at some good tips and resources to help PCAs and family caregivers ensure their at-home care patients eat nutritiously and stay healthy. The first topic in this blog series is how to meet the special dietary needs of seniors.

 

As we age, our bodies require fewer calories and therefore, each calorie consumed must be packed with nutritious benefit. Listed below are five nutrients that are especially important for seniors as well as foods where they can be found:

 

  1. Vitamin B12

Important For: Maintaining healthy nerve functions and creating red blood cells

What to Eat: Meat, poultry, eggs, and milk

  1. Folic Acid

Important For: Lack of folic acid can contribute to anemia

What to Eat: Breakfast cereals, fruits, vegetables

  1. Calcium

Important For: Building and maintaining strong bones

What to Eat: Milk, yogurt, and other dairy products

  1. Vitamin D

Important For: Preventing osteoporosis and protecting against chronic conditions like arthritis, M.S. and type 1 diabetes

What to Eat: Meat, poultry, eggs, and milk

  1. Potassium

Important For: Maintaining cell function and reducing high blood pressure

What to Eat: Bananas, prunes, and plums

Source: WebMD.com

 

For more information on preparing nutritious foods for seniors, contact Best Home Care. Our teams of senior home care professionals enjoy assisting at-home caregivers and can provide you with valuable home care resources to help you provide the best home care services possible.

 

Check back soon for the next entry in our Eating Right for Seniors blog series.

At-Home Safety Tips for Seniors Living Alone

elderly senior being brought meal by carer or nurse

Maintaining our independence becomes more and more important as we grow older. Seniors often have a hard time adjusting to life in a nursing home which is why many choose to stay living in their home as long as possible. Home care professionals and personal care assistants can play a vital role in helping seniors stay in their home as long as possible.

According to the Administration on Aging, 28% of seniors age 65+ that do not live in nursing homes, live alone. In addition, nearly half (46%) of all women age 75+ live alone. While living alone can be a positive factor in maintaining independence as we age, it can also present some serious obstacles and increase the likelihood of suffering a serious or fatal injury. While many older adults have no problem living alone, precautions should be taken to ensure that safety remains a priority.

Here at Best Home Care, our personal care assistants help many seniors continue to live in their home and maintain their independence. Regular visits to provide in-home supportive services can help a senior stay safe and healthy while allowing them to maintain living where they are most comfortable.

 

Below are some safety and health tips for seniors living alone:

Eating, Health, & Exercise: The best way to stay safe at home is to stay healthy! A healthy diet and regular exercise will help keep the mind sharp and resist sickness. Personal care assistants can help organize a home care plan that focuses on preparing healthy meals and getting daily exercise.

Avoiding Falls: Each year, falling sends 1.6 million older Americans to the emergency room. Install non-slip mats and handrails in all areas of the home that might be slippery (bathroom, entryways, etc.). Also, ensure that all rooms are properly lit and important items in cupboards are on the lower shelves and easy to reach.

Socializing: Seniors living alone are at an elevated risk for depression. Scheduling times to meet with friends or taking part in social activities are great ways for seniors to stay engaged with those in their community.

 

As a leading Twin Cities home care agency, Best Home Care is proud to help seniors maintain their independence with expert at-home care and PCA services. Our employees strive to provide the best senior home care services in Minneapolis. Contact us to see how we can help you or your loved one continue living in the home where they are most comfortable.

It’s Never too Early to Start Planning for Medical Assistance

twin-cities-homecare-training-bA study from the University of Minnesota found that 60% of middle-aged Americans believe it is unlikely that they will require home care service. In reality, 70% of adults will need in-home supportive services at some point in their life. This disparity in expectations can be blamed for the tens-of-thousands of Americans who delay saving for their future at-home care needs.

 

“Our study found that middle-aged Americans have unrealistically low expectations about their need for future health care, putting added pressure and strain on family members and friends,” said Carrie Henning-Smith, M.P.H., M.S.W., and lead author of the article. “The public needs to be aware that most will need care and there’s a need to plan ahead.”

 

This pressure and strain on the family is often the result of the rising costs associated with medical and PCA services. Insurance will likely cover some of these bills however; it’s wise to have a plan in the event that your coverage runs out. In these instances, the financial burden often falls on family members and it can quickly become too much to overcome. It doesn’t take long for home care costs to deplete assets that took decades to accrue.

 

At Best Home Care, our home care professionals answer questions about paying for home care services every day. With so many things to save for, preparing for future medical assistance needs often falls to the bottom of the list. Here are some easy guidelines for ensuring that you will have enough to cover your costs when the time comes:

 

  • Start saving now! Open a separate savings account specifically for your home care costs and contribute regularly
  • Consult your doctor and the home care professionals at Best Home Care to better understand how much you will need for future costs
  • Visit a financial adviser to organize your account and make sure you are on track towards your savings goals

 

Your health is your most valuable asset, shouldn’t you invest in it? Contact Best Home Care to learn about medical assistance planning and how you can start preparing for your future today!

Providing Home Care for Those Living with HIV/AIDS

Providing Home Care From A DistanceAccording to the CDC at the end of 2012, 1.2 million individuals over the age of 13 were living with HIV or AIDS in the United States. Even more interesting is that 1 in 8 of those individuals don’t know they have the disease. While most prevalent during the 1980s, HIV/AIDS is still a very real issue in America today. Great progress has been made to improve the standard of living for those affected by the disease. In addition, at-home care and PCA services can have great benefits for those living with HIV/AIDS.

 

Here at Best Home Care, we have helped a number of personal care assistants and family caregivers provide home care services for a loved one living with HIV/AIDS. While there is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS, the symptoms can be treated to allow individuals to comfortably continue their day-to-day life. In home supportive services compliment these treatments by fostering a health focused and supportive environment for the individual.

When it comes to providing HIV/AIDS home care, there are three areas that caregivers should focus on:

Proper Nutrition

Consuming healthy foods is essential to help maintain a strong immunes system and can even help treatments be more effective. As a caregiver, you should develop a meal plan that emphasizes healthy foods and always take care to prepare food properly and safely.

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

HIV/AIDS patients are statistically more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; which can interfere with treatment and lead to even more dangerous health problems. As a home caregiver, you should actively monitor your client for signs of excessive alcohol or drug use and guide them towards help if necessary.

Treatment

Treatments often include many different medications that can be confusing for a patient to keep track of and understand. As a personal care assistant, you should build a treatment plan that clearly shows what and when medications should be taken as well as tracking when they will need to be refilled.

 

HIV/AIDS home caregivers provide an invaluable service for their clients. Best Home Care is proud to support the work of these personal care assistants as they provide a better quality of life for the individuals they care for. Contact us today to learn more about home care giving services for HIV/AIDS or how our home care professionals can support you!

At-Home Caregivers Can Greatly Help Amputees Adjust to Home Life

amputee home care, amputee safetyAdjusting to life after an amputation not only requires a good amount of medical and physical care, but also emotional support as the individual learns to live without their limb or limbs. Whether the amputation was the result of a combat injury or a debilitating disease, transitioning to this new life can be a difficult process. The first few weeks after returning home from the hospital are typically the most trying as the individual is forced to relearn how to perform basic tasks around their home.

 

Home caregivers play a vitally important role in this process. The majority of the time, family members and friends serve as home caregivers for amputees and help guide in the transition to their new home life. Family caregivers greatly help amputees adjust to living at home by creating a safe and accessible living environment.

 

Below are some smart tactics to help create a more livable space for recent amputees returning from the hospital:

 

Entryway: If steps lead to the home’s doorway, temporary ramps should be installed to make getting in and out of the house easy.

Lighting: Motion-sensing lights can be installed inside and outside the home.

Doors: Traditional round doorknobs can be replaced with levers to make it easier for upper limb amputees to operate. In some cases, it may make sense to remove doors completely to make it easier to enter with a wheelchair.

Shower: Purchase a shower bench and grab bars to make getting in and out of the shower safer for lower limb amputees.

Kitchen: Lowering the sink and counters will make the kitchen more accessible for those in wheelchairs but can be costly. Other options include using the kitchen table for food prep and moving important items to lower shelves in cupboards.

 

For more information and guidance on providing home care for amputees, contact Best Home Care. Our team of home care professionals has helped many amputees receive the at-home care they need to adjust to their new home life.

Navigating Home Care’s Red Tape: Traditional PCA Option

studying-703002_1280As mentioned in the previous post in this blog series, paying for home care services is no easy task. Understanding the details of the many regulations and programs available can be overwhelming for those just getting started with at-home care. Add to this the large amount of paperwork and administrative tasks that must be completed on a regular basis and it’s easy to become lost in the process. The State of Minnesota’s Traditional PCA option is a great choice for individuals who don’t want to deal with the extra work that comes with managing their home care services.

 

One of the most important roles of a PCA agency is to oversee many administrative tasks for their clients. This can involve everything from accounting tasks to evaluating the performance of a personal care assistant. The Traditional PCA option gives a home care agency the power to perform these tasks and more for their clients.

 

Under the Traditional PCA option, the provider home care agency is responsible for:

  • Finding, hiring, training, scheduling, and firing personal care assistants for their clients
  • Finding back-up PCA staff
  • Overseeing the home care services that are provided
  • Evaluating the work of the home care professionals

 

In addition to these tasks, Traditional PCA provider agencies complete background checks on their home care professionals, ensure their staff has completed the required PCA training, manage taxes for PCAs, bill the State for home care services performed, and more.

 

The Traditional PCA option requires those receiving in-home supportive services to work with the PCA to:

  • Ensure health and safety needs are met
  • Develop a home care plan
  • Evaluate the home care services that are provided

 

Those receiving home care are also required to certify the services performed by the home care worker by signing the time sheet at the end of each pay period.

 

Best Home Care is proud to be a leading Traditional PCA provider agency in the Twin Cities! Our employees specialize in home care administration and take pride in helping clients receive the care they need without the confusing hassle. Contact us today to learn more about the Traditional PCA option and see if it’s a good match for you!

Navigating Home Care’s Red Tape: PCA Choice

Tips to keep organized as personal care assistant

When it comes to paying for home care services, complicated doesn’t begin to describe the process. Paying out of pocket is convenient however; the reality is that most individuals in need of at-home care do not have the means to afford this option. The good news is that programs exist at both the state and federal level to provide financial assistance specifically for in-home supportive services.

 

In the state of Minnesota, the PCA Choice option is a financial assistance program for home care services that gives the recipient a greater amount of control as to how their personal care services are provided. Under the PCA Choice option, an individual receiving PCA services is responsible for:

  • Hiring their personal care assistant
  • Organizing home health care training
  • Scheduling their home attendant’s visits
  • Creating a PCA care plan
  • Monitoring and tracking the quality of home care provided

 

In order to take advantage of the PCA Choice option, a recipient must work with a PCA Choice provider agency. The PCA Choice agency assists the recipient in paying and accounting for the medically necessary covered PCA services. In addition, the home care agency also serves as a knowledgeable resource for the recipient, answering questions and guiding them through the process of starting PCA services.

 

Getting Paid to Take Care of a Family Member

Perhaps the greatest benefit of the PCA Choice option is the ability to hire a family member or friend to work as your home caregiver. Under this option, recipients are able to train and hire a loved one to provide home care services for them on a regular basis. Not only does this option compensate family caregivers for their services that would otherwise go unpaid, it also gives the recipient peace of mind by having someone close to them provide home care.

 

Best Home Care is proud to be a PCA Choice home care agency in the Twin Cities. Everyday we help individuals unravel the complexities of paying for and starting home care services. Contact our home care professionals to learn more about the PCA Choice option and how to get paid for caring for a family member today!