Dakota Home Care Blog

Planning for Care

Planning for Care as You Age at Home: Long-Term Care Planning

No matter how old we get, most of us still feel young inside. It’s hard to imagine that, if we or our parents live long enough, some body parts will start to wear out, and we or they will need help doing at least some of the daily tasks that now seem easy for us. Research shows that one out of two North Dakotans will need additional care sometime during their lives. The risk that eventually you or your spouse will need care that you or other family members can’t provide is 65 percent. If you or a loved one suddenly needs care without prior notice or planning, many difficult decisions will have to be made quickly under duress. Fortunately, you can reduce the stress of making last-minute decisions with long-term care planning. Many people don’t realize that helpful options and many decisions can be worked out in advance, providing a plan of action when your situation changes and helping you and everyone in your family to feel more secure before the need for additional care arises. You may already have some of the knowledge you need to make informed decisions. For example, if one of you has a condition such as diabetes that could become debilitating, you can ask your doctor what lies ahead and what care might be required. My Personal Experience with Long-Term Care Planning I guess you could say that I and my family were lucky that my husband had a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia several years before he could no longer care for himself. Even though it was difficult for him to come to terms with his diagnosis being accurate, we began immediately to make plans for the days ahead. Most of the things we did would be smart for anyone to

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CHF Exacerbation

Reduce CHF Exacerbation by Responding to These Signs

Congestive heart failure, or CHF, is a health condition that occurs when the heart isn’t pumping blood as effectively as it should. CHF can be caused by several conditions, including high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. People with CHF may experience flare-ups, or abrupt worsening of symptoms. Caregivers from Dakota Home Care, a top provider of at-home senior services in Bismarck, Mandan, and Fargo, can help seniors with CHF watch for signs of a flare-up and take measures to better manage the condition. CHF exacerbation can flare up any time; recognizing the signs and responding quickly is an important part of effectively managing the condition. If you or a loved one has CHF, watch for these changes that could signify a flare-up: Rapid weight gain. If you gain three or more pounds in a period of just a day or two, it could be an indicator that your body is retaining fluid. Excessive fluid can exacerbate CHF. You should measure your weight each day and keep a record of your daily weight. This way you’ll know if there are changes your physician should know about. Swelling of feet, legs or abdomen. This can be due to a buildup of fluid in the body. The swelling can be painful or cause queasiness or constipation. Contact your doctor right away if you see that your legs, feet or abdomen are swollen. Shortness of breath or coughing. These symptoms are often the result of excess fluid in the lungs, which makes it hard to breathe freely. Symptoms to look for include shortness of breath when carrying out easy tasks, such as getting dressed; shortness of breath when resting or lying down; or waking up during the night feeling as though it’s hard to breathe. At your next appointment, let your physician know

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senior woman listening to music

The Many Ways Technology Can Help Seniors Stay Healthy at Home

When our parents were younger, phones were attached to walls, mail was only the paper variety, and if adult children lived far away from their parents, checking in on them was as easy as asking someone nearby to stop in to visit. If someone was not able to leave home because of sickness or injury, feelings of isolation could rapidly set in. Social circles became smaller, and long-distance family members frequently felt helpless if they could not be there to assist in person. But life has significantly changed since then, and technology has evolved, improving how we can communicate and manage the everyday activities of living. With these new advances, technology can help seniors remain independent and safe in the comfort of home. Technology for older adults has provided for innovation in home care and improved the quality of life for those who otherwise may not have been successful living on their own. With the boost in smart technology, social media and interactive telecommunications programs, remaining independent throughout aging is easier than ever, allowing for stronger connections and increased comfort and engagement. A variety of new types of technology are now available, with countless applications for home care for older adults, from health-related apps to advanced social engagement functionality. Not only can these types of technological tools bring peace of mind to seniors and their loved ones, but, even more importantly, they offer a higher level of freedom, additional independence and an improved overall quality of life and wellness. Even if somebody is home alone, they can still connect, converse and engage with those outside of their immediate environment. Not only that, but should a medical emergency arise, technology helps keep seniors safe and cared for by providing more immediate care and aiding the continuity of care. Here are a

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The Needs of Aging Parents: What they Want (And What They Don’t)

As we go through life’s various stages, our independence takes on different connotations. There are important occasions, like leaving our parents’ home or getting married, and smaller occasions, such as finishing a difficult task you were determined to finish. Later, as we grow older, maintaining independence becomes the focus – the ability to stay in our own home safely and securely. This desire to age in place at home is often the greatest wish for seniors, regardless of their state of health or ability to perform tasks of daily life independently, even in the face of injury, sickness or chronic health problems. For adult children, caring for senior parents at home is often very complex, with physical, mental and social considerations. Adult children may discover the need to increase their responsibilities when providing care for an older parent, as they find themselves increasingly involved in the daily tasks this critical role necessitates. At the same time, they have to balance their loved one’s autonomy along with the needs of other family members. Along the way, we are trying to constantly evaluate the needs of aging parents and how they may evolve over time. It’s not hard to get swept up in the role of caregiver when the situation arises—our parents have done so much for us, and when they have the need for help, it’s instinctive to want to do anything we can to support them. But it’s extremely important to keep in mind that, for the vast majority of seniors, maintaining independence is a key component in their wish to age at home and, if we really want to do them a favor, we must help them preserve their independence. While our efforts may certainly be well intended, it can be easy to go from providing care for aging

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Choosing an Agency

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home Healthcare Agency

If you or a loved one need more care than your family can provide, a wide range of in-home care services are available. When faced with this situation for the first time, many people have no idea where to turn. What you might not know is that you don’t have to go to several different places for medical and non-medical in-home assistance, or for day, night or hourly services. A professional home healthcare agency can help you with all of these needs. If you live in one of these North Dakota communities, Dakota Home Care can provide quality, affordable, personalized home care services, regardless of your age or health challenges. You can call us at (701) 663-5373 to schedule a free in-home consultation to learn how our experts in home care can help. Whoever you talk to, it is good to have a list of questions to be answered that will make you feel comfortable and assured you are getting the quality services and care you are looking for. Every situation is different, so make note of which of these questions and related services are most likely to enable you or your loved one to get the care needed to stay at home. Do you have references I can talk to about their experience with the type of services I need? If I just need a break from caregiving now and then, do you provide respite care? If my loved one is in good health but can no longer manage all the tasks of daily living and/or self-care, do you have certified home health aides that can assist with a range of home care needs? (click for examples) Are your aides screened, trained and supervised by a skilled professional? What times of the day or night and for how long

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Help Seniors Enjoy the Holidays

How to Help Seniors Enjoy the Holidays

Even though the yuletide season is commonly thought about as a time that is joyful, busy with visiting family and friends who are near and dear to us and finding the perfect gifts, for older individuals, it can be anything but merry and bright. The combination of lost loved ones, memories of past holidays, health problems and more can bring feelings of lonesomeness and sorrow for older adults and all of us. With all of these stressors, how can we help seniors enjoy the holidays? At Dakota Home Care, a leading provider of elder home care services in Mandan, Fargo, and throughout the nearby areas, we care deeply about making sure seniors enjoy the holidays, feel included in the celebrations and make new memories of a joyful holiday season. The following recommendations can help everyone enjoy the wonder of the holiday season together: Develop a cookbook with recipes from all family members. Gather all the recipes, and distribute copies of your new family cookbook. Take a drive to enjoy holiday lights in an old, familiar neighborhood. If your loved one experiences challenges putting out holiday decorations, offer to help! This is a great way to share memories of past holidays and the stories behind different decorations. The caregivers at Dakota Home Care can also provide assistance with holiday decorating. For a holiday that is really relaxing, schedule time together at a local salon or spa. You can even consider having a local beautician or masseuse come to the home if possible. Safety precautions may come up for your older loved one for a variety of reasons: increased fall risks with the addition of the holiday decorations in the home, challenges adhering to a prescribed dietary plan, and for those with dementia, interruption to routine, additional visitors to the home, and higher noise

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contemporary large multi-generation family sitting by served festive table on Christmas day

Enjoying the Holidays With Seniors: Tips for Family Caregivers

Holidays can be both a joyful and a stressful time for all of us, no matter what stage of life we’re in. But as a family member ages, it can become more and more difficult to continue the family traditions everyone expects, and at the same time juggle our elderly loved one’s mental, physical and emotional needs. Caregivers often struggle with how to plan meals and family gatherings that won’t be highly stressful, confusing or even depressing for an elderly family member, but at the same time will meet the hopes and expectations of others. How can you make celebrating holidays with seniors enjoyable for the entire family?   Solutions vary based on the health, mental, and mobility issues of your elderly family member, but at least some of these 10 tips for enjoying the holidays with seniors could help families and a loved one they care for find more joy during the holidays:   Simplify your holiday season. Caregivers with younger families of their own have a lot on their plates during the holidays. Over-the-top expectations and an “I want to do it all” attitude can bring on a lot of stress. Simplify routines and modify traditions to reduce stress by making a list of all of your chores and then eliminating those that aren’t truly necessary. Plan ahead. If older family members tire easily or are vulnerable to over-stimulation, limit the number of activities they are involved in or the length of time they are included. The noise and confusion of a large family gathering can lead to irritability, confusion or exhaustion, so consider designating a “quiet room” and schedule time for a nap, if necessary. Modify festivities to accommodate individual limitations. Figure out how to continue traditions but perhaps in slightly new ways that include your loved

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iday Activities for Seniors

Find Joy in Holiday Activities for Seniors with These Tips

The holiday season is chock-full of get-togethers, celebrations, and parties. Yet for many seniors, holiday outings require a little extra planning. Dakota Home Care has compiled some recommendations to help family caregivers plan for relaxed and fun holiday activities for seniors. Prior to leaving the house, think through: How much walking will be required, and if there will be parking close by Whether the location is flat or has hills or steps to climb Whether or not it is wheelchair-accessible (if appropriate) If there is cover and shade Where the bathrooms are located Whether or not there is seating available in the event Be prepared for a wide variety of possible plan changes with the following: Ensure that you have all necessary medications available, and bring an additional supply, in case the outing lasts longer or takes an unanticipated turn Have appropriate clothing in addition to rain and sun protection Bring something to eat and drink, in case of a delay Need some suggestions for holiday activities for seniors that get the family moving? Consider the following ideas for outings: Take a relaxing family drive to look at the area holiday lights. If it is feasible and welcomed, invite the older person to your home to help with decorating for the holidays. Take your loved one to a holiday party at the local senior center. Go to community performances; in addition to the local theater, there are affordably priced plays and other shows given by area schools. When engaging in any holiday activities for seniors, allow plenty of time and create a relaxing environment to make sure older adults are comfortable and content. The caregiving experts at Dakota Home Care can offer support by increasing a senior’s independence while providing exceptional in-home care throughout the holidays and all through the year!

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Large family gather for Christmas meal

Holiday Tips for Diabetics to Bring Joy and Good Health

This season of holiday celebrations is a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends, but let’s be honest: it’s often also a time for overindulgence in less-than-healthy meals. With a wide range of fatty, rich, and sugary special treats to pick from at every turn, it’s hard to follow a nutritious diet, which can bring about serious health problems for people with diabetes. These diabetic diet guidelines, however, can help those with diabetes remain safe during the holiday season without feeling deprived of special treats. Make sure to consult with a physician for his or her approval on any meal choices that stray from an approved nutrition plan, and then try these holiday tips for diabetics: Determine your top picks. Consider choices during a holiday meal, and select your favorite two carbs to enjoy. For example, figure out if you’d prefer to have dressing or bread, or choose between sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, as opposed to indulging in all of the food choices. Provide your own. When attending a holiday get-together at someone’s house, check with the host concerning accommodation of your dietary restrictions so you know what to expect, and offer to bring a healthy dish to share, such as a tray of vegetables and fruits or a sugarless dessert. Have a snack first. Enjoying a healthy snack in advance of the holiday meal will help keep blood sugar levels consistent and aid in reducing the urge to go overboard. Healthy snack options for individuals with diabetes include nuts, veggies with hummus, celery and peanut butter, cottage or string cheese, or an egg. Stay hydrated. Drinking a glass of water before sitting down to the meal will help give a sense of fullness, reducing the chance that you’ll be tempted to overindulge.  Remain physically active. After

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When Is It Time to Find In-Home Dementia Care for a Loved One?

The time is long past when one has to feel guilty for not being able to provide every service their loved one needs, or to keep going until you can’t go on any longer, either physically or emotionally. Too many caregivers wait to get help until caring for their loved one becomes a 24/7 job, and their own health is in danger. Taking care of yourself–the caregiver–is as important as taking care of your loved one who needs care. Looking into what services are available should begin as soon as you assume that position, or if your loved one receives a long-term-care diagnosis, such a dementia. If you’re reading this, you’re already on the Dakota Home Care website. When you’ve finished, return to the Home Page and click on Home Care Services. That will give you an idea of the wide variety of services we offer. Home care isn’t just for older adults with dementia. Our personalized long term care services are appropriate for anyone in need of help at home. An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia might mean that life can go on at home with only a few changes to accommodate for noticeable differences in cognitive or physical abilities, such as helping with finances or installing safety bars. Dementia progresses at a different rate and with different symptoms in each person. It’s important to check in with your loved one regularly to assess the situation. If you’ve noticed one of these 10 signs that your loved one can no long provide all of their own care, you’ve probably already stepped in to help: Feeling isolated; no longer able to go out Declining health; becoming more frail Frequent accidents, falls or injuries Unable to maintain a tidy or clean home Poor hygiene; infrequent bathing or changing clothes

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diabetes management

Tips for Effective Management of Stress and Diabetes

From sunup to sundown, every day in the life of those with diabetes is loaded with a number of tasks to control the disease. Between medicines, insulin needles, monitoring blood sugar levels, physical exercise, and handling nutritional requirements, it’s common for people to have to manage stress and diabetes at the same time. Dakota Home Care understands the obstacles and struggles of diabetes care management, and share the following ideas to help manage stress and diabetes to remain in ideal health: Remember, none of us is perfect. Effective diabetes care doesn’t require being perfect with care every single day. It is common for some days to be better than other days and it is crucial to be forgiving of the occasional glucose fluctuation, creating opportunities to make note of lessons learned for better management in the future. Recognize care barriers. Barriers to diabetic care management can include: Requiring additional information/education on how to best provide diabetes care Avoiding situations that could affect the necessary care schedule Excuses to eliminate about getting adequate exercise Eating habits that might be influenced more by emotions than hunger Depression or other mental health concerns Remain upbeat. Throughout all obstacles, a positive mindset can go a long way. Rather than thinking, “I’ll never be able to manage my diabetes—I might as well resolve myself to always having health problems,” try thinking instead, “I didn’t pay enough attention to my portion sizes at breakfast; that’s why my blood sugar is too high. I am going to plan in advance and keep food portions in line with my meal plan or cover with extra insulin if I eat more than I meant to.” Accept help. Friends, family members, and coworkers often provide a caring shoulder to lean on. It can be helpful to advise them what is

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fun activities for seniors

Create Fun Activities for Seniors from Everyday Tasks

Is a senior loved one participating in activities on a routine basis, or is he or she stuck in a rut that predominantly consists of TV-watching, eating, and sleeping? Particularly during this time of quarantining and solitude, it can be tough to maintain an active and engaged way of living – but it’s vitally important for the health and quality of life of aging adults. There are many benefits of finding new and fun activities for seniors to help enrich their days. At Dakota Home Care, we believe that our clients should be honored with activities that engage them and help them continue to be involved in living life to the fullest every day. This means individualizing activities to correspond to each senior’s distinctive interests, hobbies, and ability levels. Our person-centered care starts with discovering as much as possible about the older person’s likes, dislikes, hopes and dreams, interests and life history. We get to know the senior through an interview that may include other family members if desired, and then develop a personalized plan of care to include a variety of appropriate enrichment activities. Some of the benefits of enriching and fun activities for seniors include: Lessen boredom and lack of motivation Enhance self-confidence and independence Restore or enhance purpose and meaning to life Help improve memory Restore physical abilities Foster a sense of wellbeing for seniors struggling with a chronic illness Efficiently increasing older adults’ everyday experiences means not just personalizing their activities to meet their particular preferences and tastes, but also making certain that their daily routine has some variety. This means that on a particular day we might work on activities that are designed to boost their creativity with a simple but meaningful art project. On the next day, the focus may be on just having

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MRI Test

Advances in Tests for Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

If you are postponing having yourself or a loved one tested for possible Alzheimer’s disease because you’ve heard it can only be conclusively diagnosed by a brain autopsy after death, wait no longer!  Research completed and reports released in the last 10 years, show that new advances in tests for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease now make it possible to determine with a high degree of certainty whether or not Alzheimer’s is the cause of common behavioral indicators of dementia. Having an early diagnosis helps people with Alzheimer’s and their families: Plan for the future Take care of financial and legal matters Address potential safety issues Learn about living arrangements Develop support networks Have opportunities to participate in clinical trials for possible new treatments Reluctance to go to the doctor when you or a family member has memory problems is common. Some people hide their symptoms, or family members cover for them. That’s understandable, because Alzheimer’s dementia is associated with loss—loss of independence, loss of a driving privileges and loss of self. People may wonder if there’s any point in a diagnosis, if there’s no cure for the disease. They don’t want to know. My family benefitted greatly from a somewhat early diagnosis. My husband started showing signs of cognitive impairment about two years before he consented to be tested. Then, through a combination of in-person testing with a neurologist and brain imaging, in 2016 we were given a conclusive diagnosis that he had a combination of both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Because he had more than one cause for his dementia, he was not able to participate in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s treatments, but he was started on FDA approved medication to help slow its progression, and we knew to watch for signs of TIAs or small strokes. As a family

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Benefits of Senior Activities

The Benefits of Senior Activities and How Dakota Home Care Can Help

Countless Americans are finding themselves in the role of providing senior care for an older family member, and although serving as a family caregiver is extremely fulfilling in many ways, the daily duties involved with senior care may come to be tedious for both the caregiver and the older adult. Dakota Home Care has a personal caregiver in Fargo, ND and surrounding areas, who wants to assist you in putting the fun back in your loved one’s day-to-day schedule. All it takes is a little inventiveness! Try some of these suggestions to help brighten your loved one’s day and make everyday senior care more enriching: Add Style These recommendations can add some style and fun to getting dressed, doing laundry, and other chores: Ask your loved one to assist with laundry (sorting/folding/putting away). Utilize this time to discuss your day, a TV show you both like to watch, etc. Look at magazines and catalogs for fashions you think the other person would look good in. Make choosing clothes and accessories to wear every day an enjoyable occasion! Spice Up Meals Food defines our culture, family history and heritage, and is linked to numerous emotions. Make mealtime more fun by: Including the senior in washing/drying dishes. Inviting the older adult to help in fixing a traditional family meal. Enjoying meals outdoors when weather allows. Try Something New There’s always something new to be learned, and no better time than today to explore a new hobby or pursue a goal. There are numerous virtual classes available, with some geared particularly to seniors and offering lower (or no-cost) rates. Look for opportunities to learn: A new language How to play a musical instrument Skills like knitting, culinary arts, gardening, painting – the options are limitless! Dakota Home Care’s professional personal caregivers understand that

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Communicating with Gestures

15 Tips for Communicating with Mid- to Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Sufferers

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, people often becomes confused and have difficulty communicating. They may struggle to find the right words to express themselves, or may forget the meaning of words and phrases. They also may rely more and more on gestures, especially as their verbal skills decline. Home care that is focused on the patient and aligned with that individual’s choices ideally includes communication between the individuals living with the disease and their entire care team. Despite the challenges, there are ways to communicate more effectively with a loved one or client who has Alzheimer’s disease, even when they completely lose the ability to put their thoughts into words. There are several strategies you can use to improve communication. In addition to what is said, remember the importance of non-verbal communication. The presence, touch, gestures, and attention of caregivers can help to communicate acceptance, reassurance, and love to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. In all cases, do your best to treat the patient with dignity and respect, no matter how frustrating communication may become. 15 Tips for communicating with mid- to late-stage) Alzheimer’s patients or loved ones: Make eye contact. Always approach from the front and speak face-to-face. Speaking from the side or from behind can be startling. It is vital that you know their attention is focused on you. Read what they are saying with their eyes. Try to understand what is being said based on the context. If the person is struggling to get an idea out, offer a guess. Be at their level. Move your head, bend your knees or sit down to be directly in front of them. Don’t stand or hover over them. That can be intimidating and scary. If they are focused on their fear, they can’t focus on you and what you are

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