2013 │ Edition 2
Dear SHC Clients,
A lot has happened since our last newsletter. Most notably, this is the first time that I write you from our new office. Conveniently located right next door to the old office, the larger building is much better suited for our increased staff and resources. It will also serve as a terrific venue for ongoing caregiver training and education.
I'm excited to announce that SHC will once again have a poodle on staff.
Around June 30th, I meet my new standard poodle, Gigi, who will serve as SHC's new mascot when she is ready for office visits.
For the second year, SHC caregivers and office staff kicked off the summer by participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. As always, it was great time for a great cause.
Don't forget to mark your calendars for our annual SHC Family Picnic, to be held on September 7th, in Blackburn Park. It's going to be another great event and I hope to see everyone there.
Yours in service,
Kit Whittington R.N., B.S.N.
Founder, Seniors Home Care
Pet Therapy - Senior's Best Friend
From guiding the blind to fetching the Sunday paper, "man's best friend" has proven to be a great friend indeed. It seems that as research increases, the benefits provided by our four-legged friends do as well - particularly for seniors.
Studies show that senior pet owners make fewer doctors' visits than those without pets. Pet therapy, or animal-assisted therapy, is a process that uses animals to help people recover from or cope with health problems. The method has been linked to an impressive number of benefits, including:
- Decreased heart rate and blood pressure
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Enhanced mood
- Increased physical activity
- Lessening isolation and promoting social interaction
- Helping maintain a daily routine
- Giving a sense of purpose
- Offering safety, security and companionship
Pets can also help seniors with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. One study concluded that Alzheimer's patients with a pet in the home suffer less stress and have fewer anxious outbursts. Animals offer positive, nonverbal communication. Interaction and gentle touch from a well-suited pet can sooth a dementia patient and decrease aggressive behavior.
Reaping the rewards of pet therapy does not require owning one. Organizations (such as Love On A Leash) offer specifically trained animals to visit people in hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospice programs and other areas.
There are also organizations for seniors and caregivers who are willing and able to have a pet in their home. These programs help make informed decisions and find a well-suited pet. Seniors for Seniors is a program offered by shelters and rescue organizations to match senior dogs and cats (typically over 7 years of age) with senior citizens, based on the elder's lifestyle and housing situation.
The St. Louis group Senior Dogs 4 Seniors both places dogs with seniors and offers nursing home and hospital visits. They also provide service options for seniors needing assistance with the continuous care that pets require.
The organization has such a commitment to finding an ideal match that, like Seniors Home Care, they conduct a home assessment before finalizing arrangements.
There are many factors to considering pet therapy but the overall consensus is that, whether it's a longtime companion, new adoptee, brief visit or member of a pet therapy program, an animal may be just the addition to improving a senior's quality of life.
Source: Ted Ryan, SHC
Except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, but it can be successfully treated. Screening tests can find cancer early, when it's most treatable.
1. Know your risk
- Talk to your family to learn about your family health history
- Talk to your provider about your personal risk of breast cancer
2. Get screened
- Ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you if you are at a higher risk
- Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk
- Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at 20, and every year starting at 40
3. Know what is normal for you
See your health care provider right away if you notice any of these breast
- Lump, hard knot or thickening
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly, sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one spot that doesn't go away
4. Make healthy lifestyle choices
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Add exercise into your routine
- Limit alcohol intake
COMMUNITY SHRED DAY
SAVE THE DATE: AUGUST 3RD
Have a box of items that needs to be shredded?
Bring them by the Seniors Home Care office for shredding... FREE!
Limit 4 boxes.
Assessing Elderly Drivers and the Interesting Results of a New Study
Confronting the declining driving skills of an elderly loved one can be a daunting task. A recent study in Canada suggests that perhaps this conversation should include more than an aging driver's family or caregiver.
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study found that doctors may have more influence on this touchy subject.
Researchers spent several years tracking more than 100,000 patients who received a medical caution for being potentially unfit to drive. Comparing the severe crash rates before and after the warnings, researchers found a 45 percent drop.
However, the study also revealed a number of reasons that physicians may be reluctant to administer warnings. Of the patients that received warnings, about one in five changed doctors. There was also an increase in reports of depression.
Currently, few U.S. states require doctors to report patients suspected to be unfit drivers. Though doctors are not trained or required to evaluate driving ability, this report suggests that they certainly have some wisdom in knowing when to restrict drivers.
To help identify unfit drivers, the American Medical Association recommends the following simple tests:
- Walk 10 feet down a hallway, turn around and comeback. Taking longer than 9 seconds is linked to driving problems.
- On a page with the letters A to L and the numbers 1 to 13 randomly arranged, see how quickly and accurately you draw a line from 1 to A, then 2 to B and so on. This test measures memory, spatial processing and other brain skills. Doing poorly has been linked to at-fault crashes.
- Check if people can turn their necks far enough to change lanes, and have the strength to slam on the breaks.
These tools and continued research will help to productively identify and assist at-risk elderly drivers and ideally prolong safe driving. Additionally, AAA proves tips for evaluating senior driving and information about maintaining and improving driving skills.
Source: Ted Ryan, SHC
A TIP FROM SHC NURSING
6 helpful ways to prevent missing taking your medications:
- Coordinate taking your medication with a daily activity. For instance, when you brush your teeth in the morning.
- Use alarms on clocks.
- Use pillboxes or other special medication holders to organize your medications.
- Keep your medication in an obvious place (for instance, on the bathroom counter).
- Use a medication diary or calendar.
- Put reminders around your house. Stick Post-it notes asking yourself if you've taken your medicine to your front door, purse, or keys.