Dakota Home Care Blog


Senior Vision: Warning Signs that May Indicate Impairment

Talking about health concerns is difficult for many seniors. They might think their health issues are their business and not anyone else’s, or they might possibly be fearful that if they admit to experiencing problems, they might compromise their ability to continue to live independently. This is quite often the situation regarding vision loss.  An older adult who is experiencing signs of senior vision impairment may do his or her best to conceal the issue from family and friends. As a result, it’s helpful to know how to identify changes in behavior and appearance that could possibly signify a senior ought to visit the doctor or eye care professional. Watch for these warning signs that could be the result of vision loss: Bumping into objects, tripping, moving very carefully or touching the wall while walking Seeming to be visually confused in a familiar place Under-reaching or over-reaching for objects Stopping certain favorite activities like reading, watching TV, driving, walking, or getting involved in hobbies Tilting the head or squinting to see, or positioning reading material close to the face Struggling to identify other people’s faces, objects or colors Stained clothing or clothing color combinations that do not match Seeking out more or different kinds of lighting for reading or other activities Having trouble cutting or serving food, or knocking over glasses In addition, if the aging adult complains about the following items, it could be an indication of losing vision: Mentioning seeing halos or rings around lights, or witnessing spots in front of his or her eyes Expressing eye pain Being afflicted by diminished night vision, double or distorted vision Losing vision does not have to mean losing self-reliance. With a little assistance from Dakota Home Care, older individuals experiencing signs of senior vision impairment can find an in home

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How Dakota Home Care’s Employer of Choice Award Benefits Our Clients

When a loved one is in need of care in order to remain safe and independent at home, having professional, high-quality in-home care can give family caregivers peace of mind. A huge part of building a quality home care agency that provides exceptional service to seniors lies in hiring and retaining the very best caregivers. At Dakota Home Care, we know that inviting a caregiver into your home is an act of trust. That is why we strive each day to ensure our caregivers are not only top-notch when hired, but enjoy their work once they become part of our team. Happy caregivers spread their joy to each of the clients they serve. This year, Dakota Home Care has been named one of the Best of Home Care Employer of Choice award winners. This designation is based on caregiver satisfaction ratings collected via telephone interviews by Home Care Pulse, an independent satisfaction research firm. Agencies that have earned this award are considered best-in-class for caregiver satisfaction. Each month, Home Care Pulse surveys our care team to help us learn more about our caregivers and notice any areas that need attention so we can ensure ongoing employee satisfaction. This award means that our clients and referral partners can be assured that when they work with Dakota Home Care, they are working with caregivers and nurses who find their work meaningful, important and fulfilling. For many years, hospitals have measured employee satisfaction through companies like Press Ganey, and as the home care industry is gaining more recognition from the greater medical industry, we believe that agencies need to also measure and improve satisfaction from clients and employees. The insight that Home Care Pulse’s surveys provide allows us to make improvements that impact not only our caregivers, but the seniors and families that

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Home Modifications to Help Seniors Impacted by Reduced or Low Vision

When you think about our senses, our sense of vision is conceivably the one for which we’re most thankful. So much of our life’s experiences are a result of the things we view in the world around us. Our vision also saves us from a multitude of hazards. Seniors with reduced or low vision can find it more difficult to steer clear of the dangers and barriers they encounter, both inside and outside of the home.  If you are providing care for someone who struggles with reduced or low vision, an innovative use of colors and contrasts can improve the senior’s level of safety and self-reliance. It’s not as complicated as you might think! For instance, keep these guidelines in mind:  Solid, bright colors such as yellow, red, and orange best reflect light, and therefore are easiest to see. Light-colored items positioned against darker backgrounds intensifies contrast. For example, putting a white sheet of paper on a black desk stands out more than on a beige surface. Similarly, darker objects are easier to see against light-colored backgrounds. A dark green chair can be seen best when placed against a lighter-colored wall. When arranging furniture and other objects in the home, bear in mind that certain colors are so similar that differentiating between them can be a struggle for people with low vision. The color groups that cause difficulties are: Black, brown, and navy Blue, green, and purple Light green, yellow, and pink Utilizing light-reflecting tape or brightly colored paint on the top edge of the first and last steps on a stairway can make them stand out more. Runners for hallways in bright, solid colors can help better identify walking areas. Of course, before executing any changes in a loved one’s home who struggles with low vision, it’s vital to

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Award for Employer of Choice 2021

Dakota Home Care Wins Coveted Best of Home Care Employer of Choice Award

At Dakota Home Care, we are not only honored to provide our clients with exceptional in-home care services, we also take pride in providing a meaningful work environment for our care team. That’s why we are thrilled to announce that we have been named a Best of Home Care Employer of Choice by Home Care Pulse.   The Best of Home Care Employer of Choice award is based on caregiver satisfaction ratings collected via telephone interviews by Home Care Pulse, an independent satisfaction research firm. Agencies that have earned this award are considered best-in-class for caregiver satisfaction.   At Dakota Home Care, we value the feedback from our caregivers so much that we work with Home Care Pulse to survey our care team each month in order to help us learn more about both the strengths that we have an employer, and the areas that we can continue to develop and improve upon. Here are just a few comments from our caregivers from a recent Satisfaction Survey:   “One thing that I love is that the company takes care of their staff.” “I like that it is a small facility and that I’m close to my supervisors.” “I like that they are family-focused and they stick to their values.” “They make me feel so good at this place. My director reached out and told me how she has [heard] from a client that I do a really good job.”   The Employer of Choice designation is awarded to a select number of agencies who meet a high standard of employee satisfaction, and Dakota Home Care was one of just three agencies in the entire state of North Dakota to earn the award.   “We’re excited to congratulate Dakota Home Care for their well-deserved achievement on earning the Best of Home

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caregiver helping senior read a piece of paper

When to Bring in a Case Manager for Care Coordination

We all want what’s best for those we love. But in many cases, we may not know what care services are best or what care equipment might be helpful or even how to find those services or equipment. This is when it is helpful to seek the assistance of a professional third party, like a case manager for care coordination services. RN case managers have the skills necessary to guide families in understanding what type of care a senior loved one needs and how to most effectively coordinate that care. Consider a case manager as a “family member,” a nurse who has expertise in the resources available to help seniors with a wide range of needs and difficulties. Just a few of the many ways a case manager can help include: Collaborating with other care providers, including the older person’s medical team Visiting the home to evaluate needs and recommend appropriate services Developing care plans and goals Providing support and education to family caregivers Recommend and coordinate care services Assist with home care equipment needs Case Managers and Home Care One of the benefits of using a case manager to coordinate care is that he or she has been trained to work with many different types of people and organizations. A case manager can help coordinate medical care and coordinate home care services. Home care agencies like Dakota Home Care who work with case managers further ease stress for families and improve quality of life in the home. To learn more about Dakota Home Care, the experts in care coordination and home care assistance in Bismarck, Mandan, Fargo, and nearby areas, contact us any time online or  at (877) 691-0015. We offer a free in-home assessment to share more about how we can help in your particular circumstances.

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professional caregiver helping senior with medicine

The Role of Care Coordination in Meeting Health Needs

Managing the various doctors’ appointments, treatments, tests, medications, lifestyle adjustments, and more is all in a day’s work for the many seniors living with health conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an astounding 85% of older adults have at least one health care need, and as many as 60% are living with two or more. The challenges may seem overwhelming. But there’s one crucial element to help older adults effectively manage health needs: care coordination. Diagnoses such as diabetes, COPD, heart disease, and others are life-altering. They affect a senior’s mental as well as physical wellbeing, and it’s important to enlist help and support in meeting all care needs. Case managers are skilled registered nurses who perform care coordination duties and have an expertise in meeting a variety of client care needs. Here’s how care coordination works: The Assessment An initial, in-depth assessment, performed in the senior’s home, allows the case manager to fully understand the senior’s particular concerns and challenges. The case manager will assess cognitive, physical, nutritional, and mental acuity, along with the overall safety of the home environment. With this in mind, a detailed plan of care is then implemented. The Care Plan The senior’s customized care plan will include a wide range of recommendations, such as: Training as needed to improve the senior’s care management Referrals to local resources How to ensure medications and other care needs are managed effectively Home modifications to improve safety and reduce fall risk And more The End Result Following the plan may include, as appropriate: Coordinating and collaborating with the older person’s health care team and network of support Problem-solving to remove any barriers to appropriate care and management of health conditions Advocating for the older adult Serving as the “eyes and ears” for loved ones

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Brain Bulb

This Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Is Just the Beginning

The first and only medication that could slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, aducanumab (brand name Aduhelm), was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 7, 2021. Other Alzheimer’s drugs on the market can only attempt to alleviate the disease’s debilitating symptoms. The news about this Alzheimer’s breakthrough has created a lot of excitement, and with good reason. Most of us have seen the slow and torturous effects of the disease on a member of our family, a friend or a family member of someone we know. And with the numbers of those expected to contract it  going up rapidly, we all worry about who will be next. Patient advocacy groups welcome the FDA’s decision Kristen Clifford, chief program officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, calls the announcement of this Alzheimer’s breakthrough a “landmark moment” — one that signifies “the beginning of a new future” for people living with Alzheimer’s and their families. “We know that slowing decline, particularly with early diagnosis, could add days, weeks, months, maybe even years of active life for individuals and families.” Harry Johns, president and CEO, said, “On behalf of those impacted by Alzheimer’s and all other dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association welcomes and celebrates the historic FDA approval of aducanumab.”   Jeffrey Cummings, a research professor in the Department of Brain Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a leading expert of Alzheimer’s clinical trials says, “The most important thing about aducanumab’s approval is the time it gives back to patients as it slows the deterioration of brain function. In one of the trials, participants who received high doses declined 22 percent more slowly than those who didn’t get the treatment.”   Approval energizes Alzheimer’s research Aducanumab’s approval will be a boon for Alzheimer’s research, Cummings predicts. “Seeing the fact

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Grandmother and granddaughter washing hands with soap in bathroom sink

COVID-19 Safety Precautions

Even though the number of COVID-19 cases is dropping and there are fewer hospitalizations and deaths, the virus is still out there. If you and your loved ones were careful enough and lucky enough to avoid contracting it, and even if your family has all been vaccinated, there are still COVID-19 safety precautions that you should continue to follow in order to keep from catching and spreading COVID-19 and other diseases. One reason why many elderly people have few, if any side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccination is that age has compromised their immune systems. Their bodies have a more difficult time fighting diseases of all kinds, and so they do not react as strongly to the perceived threat of the vaccine entering their bodies. For that reason alone, safety measures that were so effective during the pandemic should still be followed as reason directs. Contact us online or call us at (877) 691-0015 to learn more about how we can help with personal caregiver services. Many of us can say that while we were frequently washing our hands for 20 seconds, disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces, wearing masks, and avoiding close contact with others outside of our home, we didn’t catch anything—not even a cold. Flu cases were at an all-time low. Surely it makes sense to continue some of these practices, especially when there is still a chance of exposure to COVID-19 or other viruses and bacteria that can be life-threatening, especially to the elderly. Even younger people don’t want to miss work or school because of a cold or a stomach virus. Hand Washing In his best-selling book Better, a Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, author Dr. Atul Gawande devotes an entire 15-page chapter to “Washing Hands.” He states that, “Each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, two

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Dental Care

The Importance of Maintaining Senior Oral Health

Maintaining good oral and dental health can get more and more complicated as your loved one ages. At the same time, senior oral health becomes more and more important, and caregivers must assume more responsibility. It should not be neglected, because oral health is necessary for good overall health.   At first, regular trips to the dentist and simple reminders to brush twice a day and to floss daily might suffice. Other tips include drinking tap water that contains fluoride and making smart choices about diet. As dementia or other diseases such as arthritis, Parkinson’s, and movement problems progress, it becomes more difficult physically and mentally for an elderly person to take care of their mouth and teeth on their own. Tasks that were once simple to do become challenging or impossible, and help from a caregiver is required.   Several lifestyle changes also can make it more difficult to keep teeth healthy. As the number of medications increase, so can the side-effect of dry mouth, which can be damaging to tooth enamel. Teeth can become less sensitive to pain, making it more difficult for the elderly person to detect cavities and other mouth problems. When you’re caring for someone with a number of health problems, it’s easy to overlook senior oral health. This can be dangerous, because bacteria from the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs and cause pneumonia.   Medications, Dry Mouth and Cavities As we age, we become more cavity prone. A frequent cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a given in aging. However, it can be a side-effect for more than 500 medications, including those for allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Tell the dentist about any medications your

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Activity Walking

Activities for Loved Ones or Clients who Have Alzheimer’s

As loved ones or patients who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia slowly lose the ability to plan, initiate and complete even simple things to keep busy and engaged, families and home health professionals often need ideas for activities that the person can do or that a caregiver can do with them.  It can be especially difficult to find meaningful activities for Alzheimer’s that will contribute to the person’s mental health and physical well-being, rather than just a time-filler, like watching TV for hours on end. “The biggest thing to remember with a person with dementia is that they’re a person with dementia,” says Cameron Camp, Director and Senior Research Scientist, Myers Research Institute. “There will always be part of that individual who wants to help, participate, and succeed. Although as the caregiver you will want to find activities that take into account lost abilities, you should always focus on the person and not the disease. Even if your loved one does not remember the activity or the joy he feels from taking part in a project, big or small, it leaves a positive effect and contributes to an overall sense of happiness.” (See our review of the book “Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer’s Journey” for more advice and ideas.) Contact us online or call us at (877) 691-0015 to learn more about how we can help with in home caregiver services. Start with these basic guidelines for choosing activities: Consider interests and abilities and try to find activities that match up. This may become increasingly difficult as dementia progresses and formerly enjoyed activities become impossible to do, so don’t feel guilty if you’re having a hard time. Sometimes all you can do is focus on keeping your loved one safe and content. Follow familiar routines that create

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Lady with sunset behind her

The Mystery of Sundowner’s Syndrome

The Mystery of Sundowner’s Syndrome I had my first experiences with Sundowner’s Syndrome when I was the primary family caregiver for my Dad. In his 90s and experiencing increasing short-term-memory loss, Dad frequently experienced some of the classic symptoms of increased memory loss, confusion, agitation, anger and even hallucinations. What Dad and many elderly people with some form of dementia experience is called Sundowner’s Syndrome or Sundowning, because it most commonly occurs in the evening or early morning when the amount of light is changing. It can be frightening and exhausting for both patient and caregiver. Triggers & Symptoms of Possible Sundowner’s Syndrome One of Dad’s triggers was the onset of an infection, like his frequent bouts of aspirational pneumonia. He became highly agitated, heard and saw people who weren’t there, imagined things he needed to do but really didn’t have to. He had other bouts of it when he was moved to the hospital or a rehab center. Once he adjusted to being his new surroundings, he was fine again. The symptoms and causes of Sundowner’s Syndrome are unique to the individual. While one person may show several signs at the same time, another may only exhibit one of them. Because the signs very in severity and frequency, you might not notice a pattern at first.   The most typical signs of Sundowner’s Syndrome are: Rapid mood changes Anxiety, fear Anger, crying Pacing, agitation, restlessness Depression Stubbornness Repeating questions and interrupting the answerer Hiding things, feeling paranoid Wandering, rocking   Of course, these symptoms may have other causes, as well. They are attributed to Sundowners when they occur during the transition between daylight and darkness. Sundowner’s Syndrome is most often associated with early-stage Alzheimer’s, but it has been known to affect the elderly recovering from surgery in hospitals or in

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The Council on Quality and Leadership

Dakota Home Care Launches Two New CQL-Accredited Programs

Dakota Home Care is expanding our service offerings to include two new programs: the Residential Habilitation program and the Community Support Services program. Erica Muchow, RN, BSN, Program Director at Dakota Home Care, stated, “The Residential Habilitation and Community Support Services programs will allow Dakota Home Care to serve more people in our community, allowing individuals with physical disabilities to remain in their own home with help.” Each of these programs have been awarded the three-year Quality Assurances Accreditation from CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership. This designation confirms Dakota Home Care’s commitment to person-centered solutions and to improving quality of life for individuals and families receiving supports and services throughout North Dakota. “CQL will help our agency improve the quality of support we provide to our clients,” according to Nikki Joersz, RN, BSN, Director of Nursing at Dakota Home Care, “and will allow our agency to offer services to a wider range of people in our community.” Residential Habilitation The Residential Habilitation program is offered in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Human Services, and provides Medicaid-eligible individuals with nursing facility level care in the comfort of their own home. Residential Habilitation is an all-inclusive 24-hour care service for individuals who may be able to benefit from one or more of the following: care coordination, community integration and inclusion, adaptive skill development, assistance with activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living, social and leisure skill development, medication administration, homemaking, protective oversight supervision, and transportation. Eligible participants can live alone or with individuals who are not capable of or obligated to provide care. Residential Habilitation is a great option for cognitively impaired individuals, as well as those seeking assistance with socialization and self-help skills. The training and skills maintenance component will allow program participants

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Take Keys

When to Take the Keys Away to a Senior’s Car

Most of us think we know when an aging loved one should stop driving, but most elderly people think they still can drive safely, and they strongly resist giving up the keys to the car.   Would you know when it’s time when to take the keys away from yourself? The chances are good that the answer is “No!” We are all loathe to give up the independence that driving gives us, and it’s hard for us to recognize that our driving skills, or other physical and mental skills, are not as good as they used to be.   State laws: As a group, seniors age 80 and older have the highest rate of fatal crashes per mile driven — even higher than for teens — according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Only 19 states make seniors renew their licenses more often than younger drivers. North Dakota drivers who are 70 years of age or older at the time their current driver license expires are generally required to renew their license in person at a local DMV office. There are no other restrictions on senior drivers. All licensees must take a vision test before renewing a license and may, in certain situations be asked to take a written test, as well.   Because most states aren’t much help, it’s up to families to act when a loved one is no longer a safe driver. As you observe your elderly parent driving, watch for these 10 common warning signs of unsafe driving: Slower reaction times Drifting from the middle of the lane Being late to enter turn lanes, turning from the wrong lane and/or not signaling Backing up or changing lanes without looking back or checking mirrors Taking too much time to accelerate when merging onto the freeway Driving below or above

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Healthy Meal

Type II Diabetes and Eating Well After the Holidays

“Diet” and “exercise” are typically buzzwords we’re all thinking about this time of year. After the excesses of the holidays, they are on a list of New Year’s Resolutions for almost anyone who makes one. They are also difficult resolutions for all of us to keep, but especially for seniors. Ironically, to not keep them is an even bigger health risk for people over 60. You can work on keeping those resolutions with tips for managing diabetes and eating habits after the holidays.   As we get older, the risk for Type II diabetes increases. Almost 50 percent of people with Type II diabetes are older than 60. In fact, in the United States about one in four people over the age of 60 has diabetes. Many people with diabetes are unaware they have the condition and may go years before they are diagnosed. This can be especially true for seniors, whose symptoms can be less apparent, overlooked as “normal aging” or not apparent at all.   Small changes can lower the risk of Type II Diabetes. Being overweight has a big impact, but losing just 10-15 pounds can make a big difference in risk. Staying active can help to control weight and affect health for other reasons. Just a 20-minute walk after dinner can reduce blood sugar levels. Adding 30 minutes of exercise throughout the day, even if it’s only 5 or 10 minutes at a time can lower the risk of heart disease. It’s smart to consult with a physician before beginning any type of exercise program. We all know but don’t always remember that feeling our best is closely related to the food we eat.   Ensuring Your Senior Loved One Eats a Balanced Diet Many seniors are not eating a balanced diet, no matter whether they live

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Protein Shake

Why Seniors Don’t Want to Eat & What You Can Do About It

Many seniors are not eating a balanced diet as they age, whether they live on their own, with family or in a senior living facility. Seniors who live alone are at increased risk because there is no one to observe their eating habits. There are many causes for why seniors don’t want to eat, why they’re under-eating, over-eating or not eating nutritious meals. By the time he was 97, my father had multiple problems that made it difficult for him to eat a balanced diet. During the last few months of his life, the only thing he ate willingly was strawberry ice cream. The assisted living center he called home provided 3 nutritious meals a day and snacks in between meals on request. They were very accommodating with his diet–limiting sweets and carbs, cutting everything into small pieces and eliminating foods known to be a choking or swallowing hazard. However, unless a family member was there with him at meal time to encourage him to eat or even help to feed him, he rarely ate vegetables and expended most of his energy and appetite on small bites of protein and the ice cream that easily slipped down his throat. Causes of poor nutrition Some of Dad’s problems could be similar to what’s causing your elderly loved one to under-eat, over-eat or not eat a balanced diet. Watch for these risks and hazards interfering with a balanced diet, and consider what can be done to prevent or get around them: Poor appetite – not motivated to eat: Many seniors’ sense of smell and taste diminish with age. Nothing looks good or tastes good, and often times there’s no one there to direct them toward healthy choices and encourage them to “eat to live.” They often don’t associate what they are eating

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