Is It Time for Hospice Care?

By THE MEDICAL TEAM

The term hospice care is one most families would rather not hear, and many people firmly decline this type of assistance until the need is imminent. However, the real benefit of hospice care comes through early intervention – in fact, the sooner hospice care is initiated, the more services the person will be able to access, resulting in a higher quality of later life.

So exactly when should hospice care be considered, and what does it entail? The in-home care experts at THE MEDICAL TEAM have some answers.

What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care enhances comfort for patients in the final stages of life. Care can and should begin as soon as the doctor provides certification that an individual’s particular condition generally results in a life expectancy of six months or less.

Hospice allows the person to remain at home, if desired, under the care of a professional team that includes a physician, nurse, social worker, chaplain, therapists, pharmacist, bereavement counselor, and volunteers. Each member of the hospice care team works together to provide personalized, holistic care to cover the person’s full range of needs.

One of the many benefits of hospice care includes specialized pain management, ensuring that the care recipient remains comfortable at all times and can quickly receive adjustments to medications as needed. In-home accessibility supplies are also provided as needed to enhance quality of life, such as a hospital bed, lift chair, or portable oxygen tank. And, hospice staff are available on-call at all times, giving both the patient and family members peace of mind.

When Is the Right Time for Hospice Care?

At THE MEDICAL TEAM, we firmly believe that hospice care should begin as early as possible to be most effective. Although the guideline is to provide services for individuals with a life expectancy of six months or less, services will continue as long as needed following that six-month period, with a simple re-certification from the physician to confirm the person’s continued eligibility.

Families who put off calling in hospice until the very final stage of life miss out on the opportunity for the hospice care team to provide the full range of assistance that makes such a difference in the patient and family’s end of life experience.

THE MEDICAL TEAM provides professional hospice care services from our Northern Virginia, and Michigan locations to support individuals nearing the end of life as well as the families who care for them. Services can begin immediately – usually within two hours of receiving the doctor’s referral – and we collaborate closely with the patient’s health care team to ensure seamless care at all times. Contact us to arrange for a free in-home consultation to learn more.

How to Identify and Ease Caregiver Depression

By THE MEDICAL TEAM

The rewards family caregivers receive for their selfless acts of service are priceless: feelings of making a real difference in another person’s life; the joy in bringing a smile to the face of a loved one; and the satisfaction in realizing a loved one is able to continue to live and thrive where it’s most comfortable – at home.

However a number of challenges come with the benefits of care at home. It’s not easy to balance meeting the needs of a senior loved one with meeting the many needs of our own lives. Sometimes the stress of feeling out of balance and overwhelmed can lead to caregiver depression.

It’s important to be able to recognize the signs of clinical depression in yourself or others who are providing care, and to know what to do if depression is suspected. THE MEDICAL TEAM’s care specialists offer the following information to help.

Risk Factors

Family caregivers are at a greater risk for depression if they are:

  • Caring for a loved one for at least 36 hours each week
  • Caring for a spouse
  • Caring for a parent

These factors also increase the likelihood of caregiver depression:

  • Limited social and emotional support
  • Challenging behaviors displayed by the care recipient
  • Issues of conflict with health care providers

Signs of Depression

  • Change in sleep patterns – either too much sleep or too little
  • Trouble with concentration and decision-making
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Loss or gain of weight or appetite
  • Reduced interest in formerly enjoyed activities
  • Suicidal thoughts

Family caregivers should seek immediate attention from a medical professional for assistance in both diagnosis and treatment of depression. Help and respite is available, and necessary, both for the caregiver herself and the senior for whom he or she is providing care.

THE MEDICAL TEAM can help family caregivers, and those they love, by providing the safe, dependable, in-home care services that allow family members to take a much-needed respite and time for self-care while knowing their loved one is in the best of hands at all times.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help restore balance and quality of life. We’re helping families throughout New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Dallas, and the metro DC area, and would love to assist you as well.

Are You at Increased Risk for Alzheimer's Disease?

By THE MEDICAL TEAM

Although the jury is still out on what actually causes Alzheimer’s disease, the pieces of this puzzle are slowly coming together. Experts do know, for instance, that there are certain risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of developing the disease.

To help those at risk to take steps to get tested and, if needed, to be treated in the earliest stages of the disease, THE MEDICAL TEAM’s Alzheimer’s care experts share these top risk factors.

  • Physical factors:
    • Obesity (a BMI of 30 or greater) triples a person’s risk
    • High blood pressure in middle age is a strong indicator of later-life Alzheimer’s
    • Abnormalities of the brain that impact Alzheimer’s risk have been identified by scientists
  • Lifestyle choices:
    • Smokers are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s
    • A poor diet, such as eating too few fruits and vegetables, increases the chance of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis
    • Staying mentally active through continuous learning, reading, and engaging in puzzles and games can decrease Alzheimer’s risk
  • Natural factors:
    • Two particular genes guarantee a person’s development of Alzheimer’s
    • Those who are older are at greater risk
    • Women are as much as 1.5 to 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men

For those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, specialized care is available from THE MEDICAL TEAM’s fully trained and experienced staff. We begin by providing a full assessment of the senior’s functional status and home environment, and then develop a personalized plan of care to address specific needs. We also work with families to provide education on coping strategies, can coordinate care between physicians, and improve quality of life throughout the stages of the disease.

We invite you to contact the Alzheimer’s care experts at THE MEDICAL TEAM to learn more about our New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Dallas, and metro DC professional home care services. We’ll be happy to provide you with a helpful family caregiver handbook specific to Alzheimer’s disease, and to answer any questions you may have or to schedule a free in-home consultation.

Top Tips for Diabetes Self-Management

By THE MEDICAL TEAM

Those with diabetes know that staying on top of the disease requires patience, persistence, and endurance. With 29 million Americans diagnosed, and likely as many as 86 million more in the pre-diabetic stage, we can all benefit from learning what it takes to keep the disease under control.

Educate yourself. Knowledge is power, and learning as much as possible about diabetes, the most recent research findings and treatment options, and recommended lifestyle changes is crucial.

Keep a record book. This can be as simple as a file kept on the computer or in a notebook that documents A1C, cholesterol, blood pressure and other readings by date. Sharing this with the doctor at each appointment makes it easier for him or her to provide the best possible care.

Form a network of support. In-person and online support groups can be so helpful for diabetics to connect with others who understand first-hand the challenges associated with diabetes and what has helped or not been helpful in managing the disease.

Follow a healthy diet and exercise plan. This can’t be emphasized enough; making wise food choices and determining to exercise on a regular basis are key to staying as healthy as possible. Check with the doctor or a nutritionist for recommendations on a diabetic-friendly diet and exercise regimen.

Adhere to the doctor’s orders. Taking medications exactly as prescribed, testing blood sugar levels and blood pressure accordingly, and maintaining a routine schedule of check-ups allows the doctor to best monitor the disease and adjust treatments as needed.

Although it can seem overwhelming to adhere to the rigorous requirements of successfully managing diabetes, there is help available! THE MEDICAL TEAM’s in-home care services for diabetics can include:

  • Medication reminders
  • Meal planning and preparation in accordance with any recommended dietary needs and restrictions
  • Encouragement and motivation to remain physically active
  • Running errands
  • Accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures
  • Help with personal care needs
  • And much more

To learn more about how we can help those with diabetes or any other condition of aging improve overall health and wellbeing, contact THE MEDICAL TEAM. Our services are available in New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Dallas, and the metro DC area.

Losing Weight & Feeling Great After 70

By THE MEDICAL TEAM

Anything worthwhile takes time and effort, and that’s certainly true for maintaining a healthy weight. It may seem even more difficult for older adults to lose the extra pounds that can lead to serious health concerns. Research shows that as many as 25% of seniors in America over age 65 are obese, placing them at a greater risk for diabetes, heart attack or stroke, reduced mobility, depression, and more.

So how should older adults who want (and need) to lose weight begin? THE MEDICAL TEAM has put together a simple step-by-step process to help.

First and foremost, schedule an appointment with the doctor. The senior’s doctor should perform a full physical and provide guidance on whether obesity is a concern and how to address it.

Review the senior’s current dietary plan. Evaluate the senior’s main meal choices and portion sizes. Keep in mind that for each decade of life, we typically require about 100 fewer calories per day.

Determine to make a few small changes at a time rather than many changes all at once. For a senior whose diet has consisted mainly of fatty foods and carbs, it will be difficult to abruptly change to a diet loaded with fruits, veggies and whole grains – and sets the senior up for discouragement. Try making one healthy substitution to start, and gradually build to healthier overall dietary choices.

Add in physician-approved activities. It may be as simple as taking a daily walk. Research shows that as little as one to two-and-a-half hours of brisk walking each week reduces the risk of death by as much as 25%.

Make healthier living a habit. Sticking to changes in diet and activity level can be a challenge, but given time, these changes will become part of the daily routine. It also enhances the chance of success when partnering with a companion to provide the motivation and encouragement to continue with a healthier lifestyle.

THE MEDICAL TEAM wants seniors to know they’re not alone in reaching their goals! Our senior caregivers are skilled in planning and preparing meals that are both healthy and delicious, in participating in activities that get seniors up and moving, and in serving as a companion to cheer them on every step of the way.

To learn more about our senior care services in New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Dallas, and the metro DC area, contact the in-home care professionals at THE MEDICAL TEAM today!