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Sundowner's Syndrome
The AT Home Care Blog By host on 4/29/2015 10:53 AM

What is Sundowner's Syndrome?

Sundowner's syndrome is the term to describe the combination of symptoms, like agitation, anxiety, confusion, irritability, mood changes, etc. that many seniors with dementia or cognitive impairment experience. The term “sundowner” appropriately hints towards the time of day these unfavorable symptoms tend to surface. While Sundowner's can strike at any time of day, for most seniors it appears in the late afternoon and early evening.

Medical research suggests that it is the shifting of the biological clock in seniors with dementia that makes them more susceptible to Sundowner’s. Since human’s natural circadian rhythms respond to the loss of sunlight during this time of day, it’s only natural to feel more depressed in the evening. These theories as they relate to Sundowner's symptoms do make sense. However, it's just a small glimpse to shed some light on this mysterious, and oftentimes misunderstood, condition.

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Warm Weather Safety
The AT Home Care Blog By host on 4/29/2015 10:48 AM

Warm Weather Safety for Seniors

Hot weather and extreme temperatures can pose a threat for people of all ages. When a person’s body is unable to compensate for the heat and cool itself down properly, they experience heat-related illnesses. Summer sun and heat are particularly dangerous for the elderly, and those with chronic medical conditions are more at risk. Recent research indicates that nearly 40% of all heat-related deaths were among people over 65. Unfortunately, climate changes may increase these numbers even more in the upcoming years.

There are several reasons for a senior's vulnerability to heat. The elderly have a particularly hard time adjusting to changes in temperature. A person’s ability to recognize changes in body temperature also decreases with age. A senior is not nearly as aware of their body temperature as a younger adult. For a person on prescription medication, it can contribute to dehydration which intensifies the threat e ...

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Pets + Seniors
The AT Home Care Blog By host on 4/29/2015 10:43 AM

Animals—Companions and Healers

Animals can have a special healing effect on people of all ages. While health care is typically viewed as a combination of diagnostics, procedures, and medications offered in a medical setting, animals are becoming more and more of a popular, yet unconventional alternative. In fact, research actually shows that animals have the unique ability to heal in ways different than traditional medicine.

Animal-assisted therapy and visiting animal programs are popular in hospitals, long-term care facilities and nursing homes across the country. Whether a senior is bedridden or handicapped, struggling with dementia symptoms or undergoing intensive rehabilitation, programs are available that draw on the kind, gentle nature of animals as a source of healing. Ever notice that many doctor offices have fish tanks in their waiting rooms? Research indicates that watching fish, turtles or other amphibians swim can help patients relax.

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Tips for Staying Healthy through Flu Season
The AT Home Care Blog By host on 1/29/2015 7:28 AM

Every year our country sees varying levels of flu activity. Some year’s numbers are so high it’s described as an epidemic. Others we see far fewer cases reported. The Center for Disease Control recently reported that current flu activity is elevated for most of the country. The CDC measures ongoing flu activity by compiling data on reported symptoms, confirmed diagnoses and flu-related hospitalizations. Each of these numbers is on the rise compared to previous flu seasons.

The influenza vaccine is the most common way to protect yourself against the virus that causes the flu. It’s recommended that all individuals over 6 months of age obtain the vaccine as soon as it’s available. With reported cases continuing to rise, doctors and medical professionals are urging unvaccinated people to get the vaccine because it’s not too late. Regardless of whether or not you’ve received the flu vaccine, there are some extra precau ...

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Helping Seniors Avoid Isolation
The AT Home Care Blog By host on 1/29/2015 7:25 AM

Reports indicate that more seniors are living alone in their homes today than ever before. In a recent AARP study, it’s stated that at least 90% of seniors over 65 want to stay at home as long as possible. This statistic isn’t surprising. However, what is alarming are the findings that close to half of all seniors living alone suffer from social isolation.

While aging in place is liberating, and helps seniors maintain a sense of independence, it’s also lonely and even sometimes dangerous. Homes must be adapted and modified for safe, independent living, but a senior aging in place also needs a strong support system and regular companionship. If all of these elements are in place, living at home alone can be a great choice for many seniors.

As we grow older, it’s inevitable that social connections and activity will decline. Whether this is due to illness, lack of mobility, retirement or deaths of family and friends, i ...

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Winter Safety Tips for Seniors
The AT Home Care Blog By host on 1/29/2015 7:24 AM

Wintertime draws in a whole new set of concerns when it comes to safety. As temperatures drop and inclement weather arrives, seniors are more at risk for health related problems and injuries.

Whether you are living alone, with a spouse, or are the friend or caregiver of a senior who is aging in place, there are a number of things you should know about staying safe and healthy this winter. Here are a few helpful ideas …

  • Slick, icy conditions are the main cause of slips, trips and falls. For seniors, these injuries can result serious complications like concussions, as well as hip and wrist fractures. Stay off of slick surfaces if possible, and always wear shoes with traction and non-skid soles. Replace the tip on walking canes or use a pick-style insert to help with walking on slippery surfaces.

  • Seasonal illnesses and cold-weather conditions are common for seniors this time of year. Get th ...
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Hospice Savings
The AT Home Care Blog By host on 3/31/2013 12:39 PM

A new study in Health Affairs finds that hospice saves Medicare money and reduces hospital and ICU stays near the end of life. The researchers looked at several lengths of stay (days and weeks) as well as patients who stayed about two to three months (53 to 105 days.) It didn't look at the very long stays that had been in the spotlight as potentially inappropriate, particularly in for-profit settings. But the authors note that efforts to curtail hospice spending and length of stay "may be misguided." Instead of working to reduce Medicare hospice spending and creating a regulatory environment that discourages continued growth in hospice enrollment, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should focus on ensuring that patients' preferences are elicited earlier in the course of their diseases and that those who want hospice care receive timely referral.


As Nurse Lay Dying, Offering Herself as Instruction in Caring
The AT Home Care Blog By host on 3/31/2013 12:39 PM

By ABBY GOODNOUGH
The New York Times

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. — It was early November when Martha Keochareon called the nursing school at Holyoke Community College, her alma mater. She had a proposal, which she laid out in a voice mail message.

“I have cancer,” she said after introducing herself, “and I’m wondering if you’ll need somebody to do a case study on, a hospice patient.”

Perhaps some nursing students “just want to feel what a tumor feels like,” she went on. Or they could learn something about hospice care, which aims to help terminally ill people die comfortably at home.

“Maybe you’ll have some ambitious student that wants to do a project,” Ms. Keochareon (pronounced CATCH-uron) said after leaving her phone number. “Thank you. Bye.”

Kelly Kean ...

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When Treating Cancer Is Not an Option
The AT Home Care Blog By host on 3/31/2013 12:33 PM

By JANE E. BRODY
NYTimes.com 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018
Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

When my husband learned he had advanced lung cancer, he didn’t even want to speak to an oncologist about chemotherapy. He saw no point in treatment that could not cure him and might make him feel worse.

Not so, though, for a majority of patients diagnosed with cancers of the lung or colon that have spread well beyond their original site and are currently not curable by any drugs in the medical armamentarium. Most patients with these so-called stage 4 cancers who choose to undergo chemotherapy seem to believe, incorrectly, that the drugs could render them cancer-free.

That is the finding of a recent national study of nearly 1,200 patients with advanced cancers of the lung or colon. Overall, 69 percent of those with stage 4 lung cancer and 81 percent of those with stage 4 colon cancer failed to underst ...

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On the Way to Hospice, Surprising Hurdles
The AT Home Care Blog By host on 3/31/2013 12:27 PM

By PAULA SPAN
NYTimes.com 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018
Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

I’ve often wondered why more families don’t call hospice when a loved one has a terminal disease — and why people who do call wait so long, often until death is just days away.

Even though more than 40 percent of American deaths now involve hospice care, many families still are trying to shoulder the burden on their own rather than turning to a proven source of help and knowledge. I’ve surmised that the reason is families’ or patients’ unwillingness to acknowledge the prospect of death, or physicians’ inability to say the h-word and refer dying patients to hospice care.

But maybe there’s another reason. A study in the journal Health Affairs recently pointed out that hospices themselves may be turning away patients because of certain ...

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