National Home Care Month ~ Celebrating Caregivers!

Every year, the month of November is recognized as National Home Care & Hospice Month. For the past three weeks, we have been celebrating home care month by celebrating our employees! Their hard work and dedication to our company and our clients deserves a special thanks!

The job of a caretaker in any capacity is so important but can be incredibly difficult. Some of our clients require a lot of physical care, some require overnight shifts and some clients wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning if it weren’t for their home health aide or PCA. That means getting to the client’s house no matter what the circumstance, even in a snow storm. The care our staff provide every day allows our clients to remain living in their own home. If you know a caregiver, whether they work in a hospital, clinic, skilled care facility or in home health care, take a minute to thank them for the work they do. And don’t forget the caretakers who don’t get paid – the family and friends who dedicate their lives to care for a loved one.

Happy Home Care Month and a HUGE thank you to all of our employees for everything you do for our clients! Our company wouldn’t exist without you!

Celebrate Home Care!

10 Simple Ways to Increase your Physical Activity

Regardless of your shape or size, physical activity has been shown to add years to your life and life to your years. But believe it or not, the benefits of physical activity are not restricted to exercise performed in the gym. In fact, one of the easiest ways to improve your health may be through increasing the amount of low intensity physical activity you perform throughout the day. For example, simply increasing the number of steps that you take each day is very likely to reduce your risk for diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Below are some practical ways that you can incorporate physical activity into your daily life. Try one or two of the options and once they’ve become part of your routine, try a couple more.

1. Take the stairs as often as possible.

This one is as simple as it sounds. If you have to go up two floors or less, opt for the stairs. The same goes if you have to go down three floors or less. Remember, every time you take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, you are making a decision that will positively affect your long term health.

2. Drink plenty of water.

If you are constantly sipping water throughout the day, you are going to have to use the restroom at least once an hour. Every time you have to go to the bathroom, you have a guilt-free excuse to go for a 5-minute walk to the restroom and back. It’s easy to forget to take a 5-minute walk-break every hour, but it’s impossible to forget to go bathroom!

*Added bonus – staying well hydrated may also reduce feelings of hunger so this is really a win-win.

3. Park as far from the front door as possible.

Another simple but effective tactic. Whether you’re at the mall, work or school, parking the car at the edge of the parking lot forces you to walk just a little bit further than you are used to. It will only add a few seconds to your trip, but if you do it everyday it could add years to your life.

*Added bonus – less chance of getting dinged by shopping carts and bad drivers.

4. Clean your home regularly.

Most people don’t realize what a good workout cleaning can be, especially if you have a large home. Cleaning involves plenty of walking, lifting, and stretching – all of which are very good for your body. Washing dishes by hand can also be an easy way to burn a few extra calories.

5. Gardening and yard work.

Yard work is great because not only does it increase your physical activity, it also gives you an excuse to be outside. Pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedge and raking leaves are all very physically taxing and like cleaning, they use a range of muscle groups.

6. Disconnect your cable for the summer.

Time spent watching TV is an independent predictor of disease, especially for kids. It’s not surprising when you think about it – the only time that most kids aren’t moving around is when they’re sitting in front of the TV. Get rid of the cable and suddenly you’ve got one less reason to spend your days sitting on the couch.

7. Buy a pedometer.

Pedometers are beeper-sized gadgets that count the number of steps that you take each day. They are a terrific way to measure the amount of physical activity you are getting and can also serve as a great motivator to make the decision to walk whenever possible. Aim for at least 10,000 steps each day. However, any increase you make is likely to bring health benefits, so don’t feel bad if you can’t get up to 10,000 right away.

8. Use active transportation.

Walking, roller blading, and biking are all great ways to get around, and they often take a lot less time than you’d expect.

9. Take a walk during lunch.

In an ideal world, we would all have 45 minutes for a relaxed lunch. If you happen to enjoy this luxury, consider taking half your lunch break to go for a walk either alone or with someone else you work with. It will help wake you up for the afternoon as well as giving you a chance to chat with your co-workers.

10. Go for a family walk after dinner.

It’s a great chance to spend some time together, enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise all at the same time.

Disclaimer: While the activities suggested are all low to moderate intensity, speak to your physician if you have any health concerns before increasing your physical activity levels. The information here should be used as a general guide only, and should not be construed as specific medical advice.

Dress in Layers to Survive (& Enjoy) MN Winters

The wind is whipping and the forecast says the “polar vortex” is looming again. Days like today it would be nice to stay in my pajamas and slippers and never leave the house. For most of us, staying indoors all day is just not possible and I do like to get outside and embrace our winter season. I am going to give you a few tips about how to dress in layers to keep warm outside while enjoying the winter weather. Most of these apply to when you will be outside for an extended period of time.

My daughter enjoying winter at Powder Ridge.

My daughter enjoying winter at Powder Ridge.

To be outside on those really cold days you do need to dress warm. Buying a few pieces of warm clothing can make all the difference. I have found base layers to be a must. Your base layer is your next to skin layer. Many are made to “wick” or transfer sweat away from your body to your outer layers where it can evaporate. I have found this out the hard way. When I dress too warm and am not wearing a base layer with wicking ability I sometimes sweat and now that sweat is making me very cold! Once you get cold it can cause a misery so deep that you may never want to leave the comfort of the indoors again. With your base layers you can remove your heavier outer layers as you get warm. There are different ratings to base layers which depend on the level of activity you are doing and the outdoor temperatures. I find it best to be too warm, rather than too cold! 

After your base layer you have you mid layer. These are your everyday items such as tee-shirts and lightweight pants. These provide insulation and protection. You can also find mid layer clothing with wicking ability. I usually put on a tank top and long sleeve tee shirt (or two!) 

You can then move to your insulating layer. The purpose of this is to retain your body heat and provide warmth. I usually wear a larger loose sweatshirt or fleece sweatshirt as my insulating layer. You can buy pieces of clothing made specifically to be used as an insulating layer. 

Your last layer is your outerwear or shell layer. This is your jacket and snow pants. The purpose of this layer is to protect your whole body from wind and precipitation. There are so many of options to choose from in this category.  Ultimately, I find that if wind or water (especially wind!) can get through this layer, you will be miserable! It also needs proper ventilation, otherwise moisture (your sweat) will not be able to evaporate. I finally invested in a down parka which I love.   Although not very fashionable, it is very warm! Good gloves are also important and those little disposable hand warmers are amazing too. Throw one in your pocket and when your hands start to get cold put one inside your glove. I found I only need to use one and just alternate between hands to warm them up. I like to wear two pairs of socks as well. I wear a thinner pair of socks with warmer wool ones over that. I have had the same pair of black snowmobile boots for years and my feet hardly ever get cold. Again, they are not very fashionable, but they are warm! 

If you are starting from scratch you could be spending more money than you would like on these warm clothes. However, most of us Minnesotans have some of these pieces that we can add to. (Sporting Goods stores like REI, Cabela’s, and Scheels have a great selection of winter clothing.) I believe myself to be a true Minnesotan and love all four seasons. Winter is my least favorite season, but I have found many things to love about it. We all live here for a reason so let’s quit the complaining and get outside!  Well… you can complain a little bit!

This blog post was written by Stephanie Swanson, RN, Hospice Director at Divine Hospice Care.

 

What is Glaucoma?

(This blog post was written by Sarah Johnson, Marketing Director for Divine Home Care.)

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month and I wanted to take the opportunity to touch on this serious topic. Glaucoma is caused by damage to the eye’s optic nerve and will cause vision loss or blindness. There is no cure for this disease once vision is lost. However, by getting regular eye exams, you can help protect your eye sight and slow the progression of glaucoma if you’re already affected by it. It is the leading cause of preventable blindness, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

This is me after my first surgery to remove the cataract.

This is me after my first surgery to remove the cataract.

Glaucoma is a really important topic to me personally because I am monitored regularly for the disease. I was born with a congenital cataract (a clouding of the lens) in my right eye. I had the cataract removed when I was two years old, wore a bright blue contact for five years and spent a few years wearing a patch over my “good” eye to strengthen my “bad” eye. The patch was the hardest part for both my parents and myself. When I was seven, I had a lens implant surgery and have regular eye exams to make sure the implant is where it should be and more importantly, to monitor the inner pressure of my eye (IOP).

Preparation for my lens implant surgery.

Preparation for my lens implant surgery.

A brief overview of our eye anatomy (stay with me):

The front part of our eye has fluid that flows through the pupil and absorbs in the bloodstream. The eye’s drainage system helps this process. When it is working properly, we have normal eye pressure, but when the drainage system becomes clogged, fluid builds up in the eye and the pressure increases. Normal eye pressure is different for everyone. When eye pressure is at a level that is higher than the individual can tolerate, the optic nerve can be damaged, causing glaucoma. Therefore, high eye pressure can be a serious risk factor for glaucoma. Another risk factor is high blood pressure. Divine Home Care works hard to educate people on the importance of heart health and this is another reason why. Other risk factors of glaucoma include:

  • African Americans: glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African Americans than Caucasians
  • People over the age of 60, especially if you are Hispanic
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Trauma to the eye: most common cause is sports-related injuries

What you can do:

Know the risk factors – do you fit into one of the categories above? If so, schedule an eye exam right away. Because glaucoma usually doesn’t have any symptoms, early detection by your eye doctor is critical. There are many different tests that can be done to diagnose the disease. Whenever I visit my eye doctor, she measures my inner eye pressure – it is a totally painless test. Make your eye health a priority in 2014 and schedule an appointment with your eye doctor today!

Make Happiness a Priority in 2014

What brings you happiness and joy? Are you able to easily name a few things or do you Happinessreally have to stop and think about that question? Do you feel like you are just too busy to enjoy the little things life has to offer? In my opinion, being able to relax and enjoy life should be a priority.  Without occasionally taking a break from the stressors of life, we don’t give our minds and bodies time to relax.  We run down easier and this can can lead to illnesses and emotional instability.  [Read more...]

Nursing Scholarship Winners

This was a very exciting spring for us at Divine Home Care! It was the first year that we gave away $1,000 scholarships to five seniors going to college in the fall to pursue a degree in nursing. In order to be considered for the Divine Home Care Nursing Scholarship, students had to meet the following criteria: 1. Plan to pursue a degree in nursing 2. Graduating with a GPA of 3.0 or better and 3. Be passionate about caring for others in the healthcare field. We were absolutely blown away by the talented, involved and caring seniors that applied. Below are our scholarship winners! [Read more...]

May is National Stroke Awareness Month

With June 1st right around the corner, I wanted to make sure to squeeze this blog in before then. May is National Stroke Awareness month and it’s an incredibly important issue to bring awareness to. If you take only one thing from this post, take this: call 911 immediately if you or someone else is having a stroke. Early treatment will save lives and help prevent extensive damage caused by the stroke. [Read more...]

Paying for Home Care – Utilizing your Medicare Benefit

“How much does it cost?” This is one of the first questions people typically have when it comes to utilizing home care services. Divine Home Care accepts all forms of payment, however, I am just going to focus on utilizing your Medicare home health benefit in this post. [Read more...]

Employee Spotlight – Showing Appreciation for our Caregivers

This month, Divine Home Care launched a new program to recognize our caregivers. We know the importance of hiring and retaining great employees to help make our company the best it can be. The Office Manager from each of our offices will choose one of their staff to feature in the Employee Spotlight section of our quarterly employee newsletter. Below are this quarter’s recognized employees! [Read more...]

Brighten Dark Winter Days – Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder and the Winter Blues

I was asking around the office this morning to see if anyone had any ideas about a blog topic I should write on today. One of the nurses said, “Write about Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s that time of year and I’m really noticing the winter blues myself.” This sounded familiar so I went back through our old blogs to see if I’d written on this topic before. Wouldn’t you know I wrote on this very topic exactly one year ago today! A sunny, warm beach is definitely on my mind and I find myself feeling very sluggish on a daily basis the last few weeks so I thought I would post the blog again to remind myself and all of you how to cope with the winter blues. [Read more...]