Freudenthal Home Health Blog

Freudenthal Home Health salutes family caregivers in the St. Joseph, MO area who are giving wonderful care and help to their senior loved ones each and every day. Our goal with this blog is to give information and resources to help and support St. Joseph, MO area family caregivers.

Blood Cancer: What You Need To Know

Anytime we hear the word cancer it can be scary and confusing. There are so many different types of cancers, but today we’re going to focus on blood cancers. Blood cancers affect the production and function of blood cells, makes sense right? Most of these cancers start in our bone marrow where blood is produced. Stem cells in your bone marrow mature and develop into three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. In most blood cancers, the normal blood cell development process is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of an abnormal type of blood cell. These abnormal blood cells, or cancerous cells, prevent your blood from performing many of its functions, like fighting off infections or preventing serious bleeding. There are several types of blood cancers and several subtypes within each blood cancer.

My loved one or friend was just diagnosed with blood cancer - how can I help?

It depends on how much you want or can do to help. One of the most important things you can do to help is to stay in touch with the loved one or friend. You can help with little things, or perhaps even take on larger tasks. Mowing the lawn on a weekly basis may seem like a small thing to you; however, it is a huge thing that a loved one wouldn’t have to worry about. Driving them to appointments may not seem like "really helping out;" however, to the family it is one less issue that needs to be resolved.

Other ideas:

  • Make dinner

  • Offer to come over and do laundry weekly or clean the house

  • Do weekly grocery shopping

  • Walking their dog or helping take care of other pets

Being available for whatever your loved one or friend needs is one of the greatest gifts you can offer. Even if you’re not a family member, by simply being there, you can be a genuine gift to your friend and their family caregivers. Remember it can be a long road. Oftentimes it can be easy to become burned out, especially if you are a family caregiver. When those moments happen it’s important to have resources to help pick up the slack and give respite care. Freudenthal offers many services that can help fill in those gaps and help smooth out the bumps in the road. Don’t hesitate to call us with questions at 816-676-8050!

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Preventing Falls & Saving Lives

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The effects of falls are staggering and sometimes even fatal. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among older adults, and the most frequent reason for non-fatal trauma as well. Statistics show that every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall and every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. 

Family caregivers can help their senior loved ones stay safe, whether they’re living with them or separately. The National Council on Aging suggests following these steps:

1. Discuss function levels, medications, eyeglasses.

Family caregivers can only do so much. Many seniors believe they won’t fall — or they won’t get seriously hurt. Discuss their current health conditions and if they need help managing their medications. Ask them if any of their daily tasks are more difficult than usual, and try to ensure their eye prescription is up to date.

2. Look for warning signs and take action.

If your parent is holding onto walls, furniture or other people when walking, it’s time to speak with their physician about having a Freudenthal physical therapist do an assessment. Some aging adults may be resistant to using a cane or walker as they see it as a loss of independence.

3. Get a fall risk assessment.

Is the carpet on one pesky step torn? Is the kitchen step stool wobbly? Is the bathtub slippery? Contact Freudenthal for a safety assessment. Our professionals will walk through the home, looking at lighting, stairs, bathrooms, bedrooms, the kitchen and common spaces to ensure the fall risk is minimal and pointing out what could be changed.

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Peace Of Mind That Saves Lives

Freudenthal ERS not only brings your family peace of mind, but it can also save your loved one's life in more ways than one. Listen to these success stories...

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Hospice Volunteers: A Light In The Darkness

When someone enters into hospice care, it's always with a terminal diagnosis. It can be a moment of darkness facing our own mortality, but there are a special group of people who are shedding light during these moments of darkness. Volunteers help to brighten the lives of hospice patients in various ways. 

“Facing the end of life takes courage, perhaps especially for the family members of patients. Facing that approaching loss is a difficult thing. But, we don’t have to face it alone. This is the real gift of hospice services—support for both patients and their family members at every step of the way. And, with support, we can find comfort and even beauty in coming to terms with end-of-life and the process of grief.”

The value of hospice volunteers is immeasurable. They bring a sense of normalcy to the hospice patient and the family. This can also allow them to build very strong and personal relationships with the hospice patient and their family. 

"I’ve been a hospice volunteer for a decade. I provide respite for caregivers of terminally ill people. I know that sounds depressing in itself….honestly, it’s rewarding work. Volunteers are asked to take blankets to patients on hospice. The blankets are crocheted by generous, kind souls that enjoy their craft."

Not all hospice volunteers make visits, some create blankets or other comforting items that other volunteers take out to the patients. Volunteer roles can vary based on the talents they offer to share. 

"...she happily shared with me memories of trips she had taken, documented carefully in numerous scrapbooks. We spent hours together going through those scrapbooks.   After several months, as Ann Marie’s condition improved, she was discharged from hospice..."

Not every hospice case ends in death, conditions can improve and they can be discharged. Sometimes a little bit of light in a dark moment can be enough to change hopeless into hopeful. Being a hospice volunteer can change not only your life but the life of the patient and their family. If you're interested in applying to be a volunteer, fill out our application here, or contact our volunteer coordinator Stefanie Nold.

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Avoid Hostile Takeovers: Gauging When To Step In

One of the hardest decisions as a family caregiver for an aging parent, is knowing when to take over and when to let things go. Rarely do you find a family caregiver who relishes taking over the monitoring of daily activities for an aging loved one. It involves a lot more work and even more emotional stress. No one wants to feel like they're taking away their loved one's dignity, and many times this leads to a lot of watching and waiting, sometimes until it is too late.

Safety Isn't The Only Factor

While safety is one of the biggest factors, it shouldn't be the only one helping to make the decision. One common struggle that illustrates this idea is medication management. Many family caregivers have the common story of setting up the pill box on Sunday, and by Wednesday it's in disarray. The wrong pills have been taken on the wrong day. In this example, we have to not only consider their safety but also their physical health. If they are not getting their meds in the right doses or at the right times, it could lead to serious health issues and even hospitalization. Here it might be good to make sure someone is watching them take their pills or even implementing the use of a med box that only distributes medicines based on a time. Each of these options is readily available as part of the medication management services provided by Freudenthal in-home care.

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On the other hand, your loved one may just want to be able to use the restroom on their own. In this case you may be able to use various items like a raised commode seat and bars in order to help them maintain that sense of dignity. In each of these cases there needs to be an open and honest discussion with your aging loved one, and a willingness to listen to their point of view. 

Start The Discussion Early

Too many times the conversation about a contingency plan for aging loved ones doesn't happen as early as it should. It gets placed on the back burner until the loved one is already experiencing issues both mentally and physically. Start talking with them early, when they can be an active part of the conversation and planning. This can help to alleviate some of the emotional stress for both the family caregiver and the aging loved one when the time comes to make a change.

Avoid A Hostile Takeover

Try to take an incremental approach to taking over or helping with your loved ones activities of daily living. This can be achieved by keeping the care discussion going at regular intervals. Encourage your loved one to do as much as they can but also to reach out for help when they need it. It can be a hard balance to find, but keep the communication lines open.

Don't Hesitate To Reach Out For Help

As family caregivers, there can be a certain amount of pride, guilt, and sometimes even financial concerns, that keep us from reaching out for help. We want to take everything on our shoulders and that just isn't possible. When you find yourself in moments of doubt, anger, depression, or any other number of emotions that linger on the edge of burn-out, give Freudenthal a call, we can help.

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7 Myths About Hospice

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Myth #1: Hospice is a place.

Hospice is not a place. It is a philosophy of care. Wherever a patient calls home is where hospice care is provided: residence, assisted living facility, nursing home, inpatient facility (hospice house) or hospital.

Myth #2: Hospice patients cannot live longer than six months.

Patients can be on hospice for longer than six months. Once an individual becomes a patient at Freudenthal, he or she continues to receive services for as long as they are required and appropriate as determined by their physician. Hospice services are NOT discontinued unless they are deemed to no longer be necessary or appropriate by a physician, or the patient chooses to stop them.

Myth #3: Hospice care is only for people with cancer or those who are bedridden or very ill.

Although many patients do have cancer, Freudenthal hospice serves terminally ill patients with all types of progressive and chronic diseases. Many of our patients are able to enjoy life as much as they did before their diagnoses. This fact is especially true if care is accessed early in their illness.

Myth #4: Hospice care is expensive.

Hospice care is actually less expensive than care provided in a traditional medical setting. Additionally, MedicareMedicaid and most other insurances cover the cost of hospice care.

Myth #5: Hospice is for patients who do not need a high level of care.

End-of-life care is extremely complex. The Freudenthal hospice team is composed of specially trained professionals who provide comprehensive medical care.

Myth #6: Hospice means “nothing more can be done.”

When a cure is no longer an option, there is still a great deal that can be done to control symptoms, and provide care, comfort and support. The Freudenthal hospice team includes nurses, physicians, hospice aides, social workers, chaplains, bereavement counselors and trained volunteers. Team members visit patients and families wherever they call home and are available 24/7 for support and care.

Myth #7: Hospice is just for the patient.

Hospice focuses on providing comfort, dignity and emotional support to the patient and their loved ones. Quality of life for all concerned is our highest priority. Freudenthal surrounds you and your family with first-class care.

These hospice myths are just a few examples of the many misconceptions regarding hospice care. The Freudenthal hospice team specializes in openly discussing end-of-life wishes and assisting in development of a first-class care plan. Let us help you get past the myths and choose the path that is right for your situation.

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Are You Really Prepared?

Floods, earthquakes, tornados, snowstorms . . . here in the midwest any one of these can happen and create an emergency situation. Granted the earthquakes we've had in the past weren't nearly as severe as those in California, but they still can and do happen.

As family caregivers, it's times like these that you'll be thankful for having prepared for such a situation, especially when your loved ones have very specific care needs. Even at Freudenthal we have a disaster plan for making sure all of our clients still receive care in the darkest of situations. 

Here is an easy to follow checklist to help you get prepared:

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Give Your Eyes A Break From The Sun — Or Else...

It’s well known that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can cause skin damage, but many studies show that UV light can also increase the risk of cataracts and other eye conditions.

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Oxidative stress refers to harmful chemical reactions that can occur when our cells consume oxygen and other fuels to produce energy. It’s considered a major contributor to normal aging and unfortunately, cataract formation in the lens of your eye.

A study, led by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, suggests that UV light can damage lens proteins in a distinct way that is typically seen in cataracts and in cells damaged by oxidative stress. In other words, UV light can substitute for oxygen to trigger harmful oxidative reactions in the lens.

Many misconceptions exist about the right sun protection for your eyes. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Not all sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays. 
  • Remember to wear sunglasses even when you're in the shade. Although shade reduces your UV exposure to some degree, your eyes still will be exposed to UV rays reflected from buildings, roadways and other surfaces.
  • Sunglasses are important especially in winter, because fresh snow can reflect 80 percent of UV rays, nearly doubling your overall exposure to solar UV radiation.
  • Even if your contact lenses block UV rays, you still need sunglasses. UV-blocking contacts shield only the part of your eye under the lens.
  • If you have dark skin and eyes, you still need to wear sunglasses. Although your dark skin may give you a lower risk of skin cancer from UV radiation, your risk of eye damage is the same as that of someone with fair skin.

You need not fear the outdoors and sunny days, as long as you are equipped with the correct eye protection to reduce your UV exposure.

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Happy Independence Day!

 

Your Freudenthal Family would like to wish you and yours a safe and blessed Fourth of July!

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Medicare Has Homebound Criteria For Home Health Care?

Yes they do, and it can make a big difference in the care they are willing to pay when it comes to home health care. Does your loved one meet homebound criteria? No worries if you don't know, Freudenthal has an amazing staff that can help you figure it all out. In the meantime, here is a helpful info graphic that illustrates the different eligibility requirements that might apply to your loved one. Just remember it's always better to give us a call to be sure. 

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Why New Joints Require Physical Therapy

Knee and hip replacement surgeries are becoming more common every day. The procedures themselves are even getting more streamlined and better every year. Should you have knee or hip replacement surgery, your doctor will insist you do physical rehabilitation afterward. A regular physical therapy program is a key part of recovery from these surgeries. Building up strength in the muscles around your new joint, will help you get back to your normal activities.

Benefits of Rehab

  • Restore normal movement in your joint
  • Build up strength in the joint and surrounding muscles
  • Ease pain and swelling
  • Continuing your normal activities
  • Help with circulation, particularly right after surgery, so you don't have problems with blood clots

Rehab Right After Your Operation

If you've just had surgery, your doctor will have you start moving your joint very soon. If you're not in too much pain, you may actually start the day of the operation. At first you'll sit up on the edge of the bed, and maybe stand and walk a few steps with some help.

During your hospital stay, you'll work with a physical therapist on some simple exercises. For instance, they may ask you to pump your ankles or tense and relax your thighs. They will also have you get up and walk around with the help of crutches or a walker.

Rehab Once You Get Home

Your doctor will show you a list of companies that offer physical therapy, like Freudenthal. Our physical therapists come to your home for regular visits and, more often than not, will give you exercises to work on between sessions that help you improve your range of motion in the new joint.

You'll gradually add more strengthening exercises as you build up your endurance. You should exercise 20-30 minutes, two or three times every day – or as much as your doctor suggests. Walking several times a day may also help. Start with only 5 minutes, and work your way up to 20-30 minutes, several times a day. Use a cane if you need it.

Whether you work with our amazing therapists at Freudenthal or on your own, stay as active as possible for your overall health. Now that you have a new joint, you need to keep it in good shape!

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To Screen or Not To Screen: That is the Question!

There are many confusing reports around the screening of prostate cancer. Depending on which agency suggestions you go by, some say you should be screened starting at the age of 40 and others at 50. Some agencies like the CDC recommend against the use of prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests, while others like the American Cancer Society endorse it for early detection. That begs the question, "What do they agree on?"

All of them agree that screening for prostate cancer must start with a conversation with your doctor. The conversation should include questions like:

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  • Am I at a greater risk for prostate cancer?
  • Should I start to think about screening for prostate cancer?
  • What are the side effects or risks of a screening?

When should you have this conversation? You should at least broach the subject with your doctor if you are over the age of 45 or if you are experiencing any symptoms of prostate cancer. If you notice any of the following symptoms you definitely need to call your doctor and schedule an appointment to discuss screening options.

  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder completely
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away

Even if you're not experiencing symptoms it's not a bad idea to have a conversation with your doctor about any risk factors that might increase your chances of being affected by prostate cancer. 

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Happy Father's Day!

May you and your families have a blessed day!

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Could A "Granny Pod" Help You Live At Home Longer?

There is a new trend for seniors, but it doesn't have anything to do with fashion. "Granny Pods" are the latest rage in modular homes designed specifically for keeping aging seniors close to their family caregivers. The "Granny Pods", produced by MEDCottage, are full of amenities and features designed specifically for monitoring and caring for aging loved ones. 

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Starting with a 12x24 footprint, these homes are ADA compliant allowing for easy wheelchair access and there’s also something called a “virtual companion,” which will play messages like, “it’s time to take your medication.” There are other cool features including a camera system so you can check in on your loved one during the day and soft floors in case your loved one should fall.

Even with all these wonderful features, there still is the question of will it make the life of the aging senior better? This is where the family caregiver makes all the difference in the world. All of these features are meant to aid the senior and their family caregiver in the activities of daily living (ADLs), and should be treated as such. Features can never take the place of a family caregiver and the care they deliver day in and day out, but, they can certainly make life easier. 

 

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Warning Signs of Heart Disease in Men

Usually the first sign of heart disease that men pay attention to is often a heart attack or other serious event. But, there are a few important signs that can help him recognize problems before they come to a head.

In the early stages, symptoms that seem like mere annoyances may come and go. For example, he may have:

  • difficulty catching his breath after moderate physical exertion, like walking up a flight of stairs
  • a sense of discomfort or squeezing in his chest that lasts for 30 minutes to a few hours
  • unexplained pain in his upper torso, neck, and jaw
  • a heartbeat that is faster, slower, or more irregular than usual
  • dizziness or fainting

Heart disease that involves blood vessels is often signaled by:

  • angina (A.K.A. chest pain)
  • shortness of breath
  • changes in your extremities, such as pain, swelling, tingling, numbness, coldness, and weakness
  • extreme fatigue
  • irregular heartbeat

These symptoms can be signs that your blood vessels have narrowed. This narrowing, normally caused by plaque buildup, makes it more difficult for your heart to circulate oxygenated blood throughout your body.

If you or a loved one experience these symptoms, make sure to call your doctor BEFORE a serious event occurs. Taking notice in advance can lengthen the years you stay living at home!

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The Tests That Could Save Your Life!

It's time to look at one of the big health issues for both men and women that can possibly be prevented by a simple screening. Colorectal cancer is one of the major cancers that affects a large number of men and women, in fact 72% of cancers occur in the colon.

Almost all colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. These polyps can be in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops. The best way to catch these polyps is with early detection screening. There are several types of screening and it's best to discuss which one is right for you.

 CDC: Screen for Life Fact Sheet

CDC: Screen for Life Fact Sheet

Types of Screening Tests

It's recommended that adults aged 50–75 be screened for colorectal cancer. If you are aged 76-85, ask your doctor if you should be screened. There are a few different screening tests that can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. They include:

Stool Tests

Guaiac-based Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT): uses the chemical guaiac to detect blood in stool.  

Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT): uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool. You receive a test kit from your health care provider. 

FIT-DNA Test (or Stool DNA test): combines the FIT with a test to detect altered DNA in stool. 

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

For this test, the doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum. The doctor checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon.

Colonoscopy

Similar to flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the doctor uses a longer, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. Colonoscopy also is used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other screening tests.

CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy)

Computed tomography (CT) colonography, also called a virtual colonoscopy, uses X-rays and computers to produce images of the entire colon. The images are displayed on a computer screen for the doctor to analyze.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are 50 or older, getting one of these colorectal cancer screenings could save your life. So it's time to ditch the fears of being checked and live a longer and fuller life at home with your family.

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We Remeber

 

This Memorial Day we join you in remembering our loved ones...

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We Love Being Your Favorite!

Thank You St. Joseph for Choosing Freudenthal as Your Favorite Home Health Provider!

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Changes Caused By Stroke

Your brain controls how you move, feel, communicate, think and act. Brain injury from a stroke may affect any of these abilities. Some changes are common no matter which side of the brain the injury is on. Others are based on which side of the brain the stroke injures. 

 Graphic courtesy of the American Heart Association. 

Graphic courtesy of the American Heart Association. 

What are the most common general effects of stroke? 

  • Weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech or trouble swallowing
  • Fatigue 
  • Loss of emotional control and changes in mood 
  • Problems with memory, judgment, problem-solving or a combination of these 
  • Personality changes, improper language or actions 
  • Decreased field of vision  and trouble with visual perception

What are common emotional effects of stroke? 

  • Depression 
  • Apathy and lack of motivation 
  • Frustration, anger and sadness 
  • Reflex crying or emotions may change rapidly and sometimes not match the mood 
  • Denial of the changes caused by the brain injury 

Will I get better? 

In most cases people do get better over time. The effects of a stroke are greatest right after the stroke. How fast and how much you improve depends on the extent of the brain injury and your rehabilitation. 

  • Some improvement occurs spontaneously and relates to how the brain works again after it’s been injured. 
  • Stroke rehabilitation (rehab) & therapy programs, like those offered by Freudenthal, help you improve your abilities and learn new skills and coping techniques. 
  • Rehab begins after the stroke is over and you’re medically stable. 
  • Depression after stroke can interfere with rehab, so it’s important to discuss treatment with your doctor as soon as you notice the signs. 
  • Most improvement often occurs quickly in the first months after a stroke. It will also continue over the next few years, perhaps at a slower pace. 

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It's National Nurses Week!

 

IT'S NURSES WEEK! Freudenthal would like to give an extra special THANK YOU to our AWESOME staff of Nurses who go above and beyond to care for the seniors of our community!

 Right to Left: Vickie Schubert, Tearany Hendrix, Cassie Walker, Peggy Hardy, Denise Curran, Trisha England

Right to Left: Vickie Schubert, Tearany Hendrix, Cassie Walker, Peggy Hardy, Denise Curran, Trisha England

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